Where Does ‘Quick Steering’ Actually Help Us on the Track?

Quick steering, or the ‘quick flick’, is a popular tool in the motorcycle world that brings with it a number of benefits to a variety of different cornering situations.

We’ve already spoke in the past about what exactly quick steering is, and we’ve also compared it to trail braking to better understand its application and to see which is best, so we won’t be going too deep into that here.

In this article I wanted to look more specifically at quick steering and talk about some of the more specific instances where quick steering is beneficial to us as riders.

Recap… What is Quick Steering?

Quite simply, it’s the act of steering and leaning the bike over quickly to get the change of direction completed in a short space of time and set your line for the approaching corner.

And that’s all I want to talk about here; where does flicking the bike over as quick as possible benefit us?

Chicanes / Fast Direction Changes

In chicanes or when two corners follow closely from one another and are at similar speeds, a fast rate of steering is a key component to unlocking speed in that situation.

Typically in these situations you won’t need to use the brakes in between the first and second apex, so it then falls on your ability to steer the bike to get through the section as quick as possible.

All things being equal, the rider that can go from full lean left, to full lean right (or vice versa) the fastest will be able to carry more speed through a section of track like this.

Watch any MotoGP rider through fast ‘flip flop’ sections and you’ll see they are lightening quick going from one direction to the other.

If they weren’t lightening quick, at the speeds they’re travelling they’d quickly find themselves running out of race track.

When a More Balanced Bike is a Priority

Another benefit of getting your steering finished quicker and earlier is that it allows you to get back to the throttle in the middle of the corner to stop the bike slowing down.

Stopping the bike slowing down means it is better balanced from a front and rear suspension perspective, so it can better deal with whatever the track surface throws its way.

In situations where the middle of the corner has less desirable conditions (dips, bumps, ripples, cracking etc), it’s better for the bike to be balanced as you run over them so it can be in the best position to deal with these imperfections.

In my experience these situations don’t come by very often, but sometimes it can be beneficial to get the bike on-line earlier (by steering quicker) so that you can get back to the throttle and stabilise the bike over these rough patches.

Racing Situations (The Cut Back)

One of the options that a fast rate of steering offers up is the option to steer later into the corner and get the steering finished quicker and earlier. This will create a line that allows you to stand the bike up and drive out of the corner earlier, giving you greater exit acceleration and a higher top speed down the proceeding straight.

Using a late and quick steering action to ‘square off’ the corner is an effective way to increase corner exit speed.

However, while it provides you with a lot of speed at corner exit, it might not necessarily be the faster way through the whole section of track (the corner along with what comes before and after it) because you need to sacrifice speed at corner entry to make it work (because you now need to run a tighter radius arc to hit the apex).

Where you will see the benefits clear as day though, are in racing situations where riders are battling for places.

If you’ve watched Andrea Dovizioso and Marc Marquez battling it out in recent years then you would have seen this many times. Marc would often try to overtake Andrea on the brakes and block him from the corner, but because Andrea was so good on the brakes, Marc would end up running deeper into the corner than he wanted.

Time and time again Andrea (04) would simply run a little deeper into the corner himself, steer later and quicker and cut back and drive past Marc (93) at corner exit, sometimes creating a gap if the proceeding straight was long enough.

Dovi’s ‘cut back’ has been a common plan for fighting Marc and keeping him behind.

In some cases you may even see it as a strategy of the chasing rider. They’ll steer later and quicker for better exit drive so they can be close enough at the end of the next straight to attempt an overtake on the brakes going into the next corner.

It’s Useful, But Not Universal

There will be many situations where a quicker rate of steering will benefit you compared to a slow and lazy steering input.

However, there will come a point where simply trying to flick the bike over quicker and quicker in every corner will begin to have a negative impact on your outright lap speed.

As front tyre technology has moved on, that smaller piece of rubber up front can be better leveraged with the use of trail braking, which requires a slower steering input compared to an ultra-fast flick.

Again, neither technique (and everything in between) is universal for every corner, but being able to steer the bike quickly will benefit you in some places out there, the biggest one being fast direction changes where no brakes are required.

For that reason it’s still a tool I would recommend you sharpen.