Steering into corners too early is a common trait that can be observed through a large portion of track riders. From budding track day goers to seasoned club racers.
It’s a trait that comes from a less than ideal corner entry approach, with a few skills potentially contributing to the reasons why they do it.
In this article I want to specifically touch on why steering into corners too early is often bad, and some steps you can take to notice and correct it.
When you steer into a corner too early it isn’t corner entry that suffers, but rather what comes after corner entry.
This trait is most detrimental in more simple, smaller radius corners where turning in early means you’re going to be waiting longer at corner exit to get the bike pointed up the track in the direction you want to go.
This is going to delay your exit drive because you cannot stand the bike up as early as you want to, but it can also create some dangers too.
This delayed throttle drive can leave you feeling impatient. You’ve passed the apex and you know you should be beginning your exit phase and driving out, but because you can’t stand the bike up you’ll be tempted to applied more throttle before you’ve been able to get the bike up off the side of the tyre. This is dangerous.
It also creates more urgency when you can eventually pick the bike up, and instead of a smooth progressive drive out of the corner, throttle application is more immediate. This will reduce quality of bike stability and traction, and you’ll probably end up shredding tyres quicker too.
The biggest indicator will be how you feel at corner exit. If you feel like you can’t start your bike pick-up and drive out as early as you feel you should, it’s likely because your entry line was too shallow.
You may also find that you’re frequently running out of space at corner exit too. This can come from your impatience brought on from the delayed drive, meaning you try to start picking the bike up too early for the line you’re on and the amount of space you have.
If you’re feeling like your you’re losing out at corner exit as well as frequently running out of space, then those are sure fire signs that your line into and through the corner needs to be looked at.
As a side note to the above, your entry point isn’t the only factor in the line you have at corner exit. For instance, being too eager with your mid-corner stabilisation throttle, or being too eager to start your exit drive can also send you wide and create these sensations.
However, your entry point and the angle you create to the apex is a very large factor, and this will often be the cause of your problems.
So we know why it’s bad, but how do we prevent it from happening. Here are some of the skills that can contribute to the habit of steering into corners too early.
Visual Skill: Without any solid references for where you want to begin steering you’ll have a tendency to drift into the corner early as you naturally perceive it to be the safest approach to take. Having a solid point to aim for and then finding it correctly with your eyes is going to help you create a better line into the corner and minimise the tendency to drift in early.
Now, turn markers aren’t essential for every single rider. More experienced riders can get by without them, instead using the picture of the corner ahead to judge their entry. That being said I would always recommend finding and using turn markers if you’re still learning track riding because it’s a more concrete way of knowing where you want to begin steering, as well as knowing if you actually hit the correct spot.
Steering Confidence: If you’re only able to steer the bike slowly and have little confidence to steer quicker, you’re always going to have to enter the corners earlier to compensate. If you tried to steer later and didn’t steer any quicker, you’d simply miss your apex by some margin.
By having a greater confidence to steer the bike quicker, it’s going to be much easier to enter the corner later knowing you can confidently get on the line that means you hit your desired apex.
Trail Braking: The more you try to attack the corner on the brakes, the earlier you’re likely to steer as you work to leverage the front tyre at corner entry. Using heavy trail braking into a corner means you cannot steer quickly, therefore you must steer early.
A good example of this can be seen in racing. Riders use a shallow entry line with a lot of trail braking most often as a defensive line, or as an overtaking line. Now in a racing environment where the goal is to simply beat the other rider this isn’t really a bad thing, but in terms of outright speed through that corner and whatever proceeds it, it’s still likely to cost you time.
For instance, in racing riders will often attempt an overtake like this, but the rider being overtaken will simple steer later into the corner to create a better line at corner exit and re-pass them down the next straight, possibly even creating a decent gap to the other rider if the straight is long enough.
If you have the ability and confidence to attack the corner with a lot of trail braking and it’s something you do regularly, then this could very well be the approach that’s causing your issues at corner exit.
The best way to know if this is a problem for you is to be receptive to how you feel and the results you’re getting at corner exit.
If you feel you’re losing out in this area, the first thing I would look at is your corner entry point and your approach line to the apex. For newer riders it isn’t uncommon to get much better results at corner exit simply from steering a little later and quicker in the entry phase.
Some corners are going to be more affected by this than others, however. In some long radius corners an early and shallow entry point is favourable as riders look to create a double apex line through it, or if the corner is followed closely by another corner going in the same direction you’ll take a similar approach.
With that said, the best thing you can do is look to the places where you feel that you’re not getting what you want at corner exit. From there consider your corner entry approach and if it’s possible to change it.