Skills school: 'A rapid turn for the better'


If you want to boost your riding pace, first you need to learn how to steer like a total pro

turning on bike

Dave’s done a 123mph lap of the TT, rides an Aprilia Tuono V4 on the road, and is crew chief for Rapid Honda’s British Superbike

Welcome to the fifth instalment of MCN’s Skills School series. This week, the experts at Rapid Training explain how to take your steering to the next level. A lot of this expertise comes from the professional racers on Rapid’s team, who broke down exactly what they did to steer a bike approximately four times faster than most road riders. And because you can’t increase your pace without steering fast, this has huge implications for road riders.

Why steer fast?

Firstly, it’s a safety tool, giving you the ability to avoid sudden hazards. Secondly, it lets you ride faster, with a greater safety margin. The logic here is that if you go from upright to the lean angle you need in a short space of time, that lean angle will be less than if you spend longer on the steering process because there’s less delay getting the bike onto its line.

If you take longer (ie, turn slower), the bike will run wide and you’ll then need to deploy more lean angle to compensate. This is one of the reasons we see intermediate track riders carrying massive lean angles, yet their Rapid coach behind them is doing the same speed with far less lean angle.

Bike POV during turn
Engage your core before the turn

How to steer fast

In the first instalment of this series we outlined how to steer precisely, using a single, crisp push to the inside bar. Steering faster takes this counter-steering technique to the next level.

Before you push, make sure you’re ready. Your core needs to be tensed and your legs locked in place – if your core is floppy or you’re shuffling your backside to the inside as you push, it won’t work as well. Get all your movement done before turning the bike.

The steering push on the inside bar needs to be firm and quick without being jerky. You’re aiming to briskly set the bike on its new course, then relax – after that initial push you can let the bike track round the corner with no further input. The faster you’re travelling, the more physical you have to be to turn

“Ride faster, with a greater safety margin”

close up of hand
Be ready to make a single crisp push

Lean your body

Your body position can change the effectiveness of quick steering. Leaning out of a bend while trying to push the inside bar counters the steering input, slows the steering and means the bike has to lean further to make the same bend at a given speed. On the other hand, leaning into a bend improves the steering action and reduces the lean angle required – that’s a good thing because the tyres will grip better and there’s potential for more speed. We’re not suggesting you go the full Marquez and hang off the inside of the bike – that’s wildly over the top at road speeds. A slightly inward-leaning upper body position is all you need to optimise the steering action, reduce the lean angle, and improve stability.

Read more on how to perfect your technique in the latest issue of MCN, head to stores to grab your copy now, or subscribe to MCN so you can keep up with MCN’s Riding Masterclass every week.