Corner Safety: How To Stop A Motorcycle In A Corner

Nothing is more scary than coming around a corner and finding a hazard or some debris blocking the road. If this happens and you don’t know what to do, you are going to panic and make things worse. That’s why it’s important you know how to handle these situations.

So, how do you stop a motorcycle in a corner? The first thing you are going to want to do is roll off the throttle while you straighten out the handlebars and cancel any lean angle. Then begin to apply gradually increasing and even pressure to both the front and rear brakes until you come to a complete stop.

While that might seem like all there is to it, it isn’t. If you want to learn more and find out what you should do if there isn’t enough stopping distance, read on.

How to stop a motorcycle in a corner?

Even if you only ride in the city on roads you are familiar with, there will come a time when you are going to have to stop mid-corner. If you don’t know what to do, you are probably going to make a bad decision and crash your motorcycle.

Luck, it’s not that difficult to stop mid-turn or in a corner. There are only a few steps, but the order and how you complete each step is crucial. So make sure you do it in the correct order and follow the tips and advice I am giving you.

The first thing you are going to want to do is start to gently roll off the throttle, don’t just chop it. If you chop the throttle, you run a good chance of low siding your motorcycle. So be gentle when you are rolling off the throttle.

While you are rolling off the throttle, you are going to have to cancel out any lean you have and straighten out your handlebars. The motorcycle must be upright and the bars straight before you begin to apply pressure to the brakes.

There are two important reasons for this, the first is to increase the amount of traction and grip you have, the second is to prevent you from accidentally high-siding the motorcycle when you start to apply the brakes.

Before we go on, I would like to quickly explain what a low-side is and what a high-side is. A low-side crash is when the motorcycle falls towards the inside of the turn or the direction it is leaning.

While a high-side crash is when the motorcycle falls away from the inside of the turn or the way you were leaning. When this happens, it usually causes the rider to be thrown from the motorcycle and through the air.

These are the worst kinds of crashes, often a high-side will result in much greater injuries and increased chance of broken bones compared to a low-side. So you don’t want to “high side” during a crash.

Ok, with that out of the way, let’s get back on topic. Once you have removed any lean and the motorcycle is fully upright with the handlebars straight, it’s time to start applying pressure to the brakes.

This is done in a controlled and calm manner, it’s not the time to grab a fistful of front brakes. You need to gradually and continuously increase the pressure on the front and rear brake. Keep doing this until you come to a complete stop, then put your left foot down.

That’s pretty much all there is to it, but there are few points to help you make it a little smoother.

When you are braking, the force is going to start to shift weight forward onto the front tire. That’s fine. The problem is, it increases the chance of the rear tire locking up and skidding. Let off pressure on the rear brake slightly when you feel the weight shifting forward and begin to reapply as needed.

Notice how I didn’t say anything about changing gears, there is a good reason for it. In most quick stop situations when leaned over in a turn, you simply won’t have time for it. Your only goal is to stop as quickly as possible.

So it’s better to leave the clutch alone and let the engine braking help lower your stopping distance. If you are not in an emergency situation, then perform all the previous steps for stopping. Just add in changing gears as needed if you want.

This whole process might sound straightforward and simple, that’s because it is. But at the same time it isn’t. You need to practice it before you need it, that way when time comes you won’t think, you’ll just do. This could mean the difference between stopping in time or slamming into the back of a pickup truck.

The only way to get good at it is running a few drills in a controlled and safe environment. Here is a good one that I use all the time. It’s designed to work on getting you used to stopping quickly in a turn.

Set up some markers as shown here.
Get your speed up and begin to stop at the 3rd marker. Try to stop before the 4th marker.

Run this drill for 15 minutes at a time, do so a couple times a week and it should become second nature. When you are running the drill, try to work on shortening your stopping distance every time you do it.

If you like that drill, there are a ton more in this helpful guide “Ultimate Motorcycle Parking Lot Practice Guide” I wrote.

What do I do if I can’t stop in time?

If you are going too fast to stop in time, then honestly you are travelling too fast for the road conditions and you skill level. If you pick the correct speed for the road conditions and you are scanning ahead, you should be able to avoid most close calls.

But let’s assume it’s a freak situation. You are travelling at the correct speed and something just happens out the blue. What do you do?

If this happens, you are in a bit of trouble. You cannot stop, so your only option is to try to avoid the hazard. You are going to have to take an evasive maneuver. These are incredibly difficult in a corner.

You can either try to introduce more lean to miss the object, or remove lean to miss the object. Just be careful if you remove lean you don’t run wide and end up in oncoming traffic.

Not the best of options, that’s why it’s just better to try to pick a speed on the road that allows you to stop if something pops up.

One thing you should never do is “lay her down”. This is the absolute worst thing you can do when trying to avoid a crash. Once you lay it down, you are no longer trying to avoid a crash. You have crashed, it defeats the purpose. You’re better off to continue to apply brakes or swerve around the object. Don’t lay it down.

Is there anything I can do to make stopping in a corner easier?

There are a few things you can do. You can start and make sure you are ready to brake when you are in a corner. Keep your fingers over the brake, be ready to get on the brakes as soon as you can. That split second can mean the difference between crashing and a close call.

Try to predict when it’s most likely for a hazard to be in a turn. If you are on a highway off ramp, there is a good chance there are going to be cars backed up, especially during peak traffic times. So slow down a bit for these corners, be ready for it. Don’t let it surprise you.

If you are going to be riding in forested areas, be ready for animals to dart out, wet leaves, branches or slow moving vehicles can be hazardous as well.

Never assume it’s all clear roads ahead. Every corner can have a hazard in it. So slow it down. Even if your buddy just went around the corner 30 seconds before you. A lot can happen in 30 seconds.

You can use a technique called trail braking. Trail braking is where you apply the brakes before you enter a turn and continue to use them into the turn. You then start to release them or trial them off in the turn.

It’s a more advanced technique and not something new riders should mess around with. But using this technique will make your stopping distance much shorter.

I hope you enjoyed the article. Until next time happy riding!

Jordan Baker

Hi, I’m Jordan. I’ve been riding motorcycles for a few years now(9+ years). Along the way I’ve learned a bunch, made mistakes and picked up a thing or two. I’ve also spent countless hours practicing and working on improving my skills, something I try to do a few times a week. That’s why I made this website. So I can share my love for riding and everything I’ve learned over the years. Hopefully you’ll stick around and check out a few articles.

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