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  1. #1
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    Crazy Cornering Technique Question

    Question:

    Assuming you corner with pedals level, is there a "better" foot to have forward depending on the direction you are cornering or the slope of the hill you are on? In other words is there an "ideal" pedal to keep forward in a given situation if you are ambidextrous with them?

    Discuss.
    Quote Originally Posted by buddhak
    And I thought I had a bike obsession. You are at once tragic and awesome.

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    FM
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    Chocolate foot!

    From the other thread, Superstock lookin' smooth....


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    FM
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    BTW- I've linked to this article before, excellent explanation on benefits of pedals-level cornering.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FM
    BTW- I've linked to this article before, excellent explanation on benefits of pedals-level cornering.
    Thanks. This quote was what I was looking for:

    As an experiment, think about which foot can help you get the best traction over both of your wheels. If you corner with your outside foot forward, you'll not only be able to keep weight over the front wheel but also be able to get on the gas as soon as you are through the apex of the corner. This will also help you open your hips and point your torso (3rd eye!) in the direction you need.
    Italics mine.

    This is generally what I was thinking. Any contrary opinions out there?
    Quote Originally Posted by buddhak
    And I thought I had a bike obsession. You are at once tragic and awesome.

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    FM
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enel

    This is generally what I was thinking. Any contrary opinions out there?
    When cornering with pedals level, I put my right foot forward. No reason really, thats just my chocolate foot and so this is the same footing I would use approaching a jump or drop or any other technical feature. And thats the benefit IMHO, you dont need to change your footing if theres a technical feature mid-corner or at the exit!

    With that said, I do still like the "outside foot down" technique in some situations (like off-camber corners)... and when cornering with my feet level, I do sometimes temporarily drop the outside foot just a few inches right at the apex of sharper corners- kinda like ratcheting the cranks.

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    FM
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    By the way, the reason I get stoked on this topic is that it's one area where some coaching (with Wayne Goss / MMR) made me rethink everything I thought I knew about "basic" technique. Totally relearning something that seems so simple, after 16 years of riding trails, was really cool and reminded me that you can always learn something new & fun on a bicycle!

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    It depends, do you want to slide or not? It is far easier to undercut the rear wheel and slam it into a berm with your inside foot backwards (basically kick the friggin chainstay into the corner). Of course, you can do this in the other direction too, an it's a good idea to develop that technique equally in both directions, especially since keep your feet level through the whole thing lets you recover and get back on the gas before you're even through the corner.

    Someone mentioned that keeping your outside foot forward will give you a bit more weight on the front. Since you do subconsciously tend to weight your outside foot a little bit more unless you are in a BMX berm, look at where you want your weight to be front to rear as well. Steep corner, loose corner, decreasing/increasing radius, etc, etc. Then decide from there.

    Hint: Watch videos of Mick Hannah riding. The only time you see him drop a pedal is on a flat fast corner when he needs to recover right away.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FM
    Totally relearning something that seems so simple, after 16 years of riding trails, was really cool and reminded me that you can always learn something new & fun on a bicycle!
    Good words

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    Do you guys hit corners with petals level a majority of the time or is it just in turns where you’re not in danger of sliding out sideways? Such as turns with a steep berm or low entrance speed turns.

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    JMH
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil_S
    Do you guys hit corners with petals level a majority of the time or is it just in turns where you’re not in danger of sliding out sideways? Such as turns with a steep berm or low entrance speed turns.
    Your question made me curious so I clicked through these Flickr shots from last fall: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9169486...7607421453294/

    For some weird reason I get better balance, push, and hips with my inside foot forward. Don't know why, but it's right. I definitely practice with my opposite foot all the time.

    The turn with the slate and flower pots is ridiculously tight for such a low berm, so you have to be 100% confident to get through it with any speed. If you look at all these pics you see a variety of cornering techniques, but you only see level pedals.

    IMO this applies regardless of where you are riding. I might get sloppy from time to time but I still ride and corner with my pedals level, it just makes pumping over terrain, pushing into turns and pedaling out so much easier.

    EDIT: Good points about lousy traction and slides, I didn't think about the fact that I definitely have my inside pedal up in these situations, with perhaps a foot out.

    JMH
    Last edited by JMH; 03-05-2009 at 06:37 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil_S
    Do you guys hit corners with petals level a majority of the time or is it just in turns where youíre not in danger of sliding out sideways? Such as turns with a steep berm or low entrance speed turns.
    Level pedals in most all situations. You can really carve corners with your pedals level.
    The exception is on slippery off-camber corners where I will often drop the outside pedal and sometimes take the inside foot off the pedal for better stability.

    As for which foot forward, I naturally ride left foot forward. I have spent some time experimenting with cornering 'switch' and can see a benefit in some situations. The question is can you get comfortable enough riding opposite foot forward to take proper advantage of this?
    I have not been able to competently do this yet, the corner is fine but if it dumps into a tech section of trail I ride too awkwardly if I'm not able to clock the pedals back to my normal stance.
    I ride with a guy who can ride equally well either foot forward, he actually switches his stance as he rides to keep his legs rested (instead of always leading with one leg). This has always impressed me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1soulrider
    The question is can you get comfortable enough riding opposite foot forward to take proper advantage of this?
    I have not been able to competently do this yet
    Me either. The thought in my head is that if I practice switching the forward foot in easier sections of trail, it will become more automatic and I can break myself of my left foot forward dependence. I just don't know which situation is the best to have a certain pedal forward.

    Hard for me to know if it is best to have your torso towards the corner (outside foot forward) as the article suggests, or torso out from the corner (inside foot forward), leaning slightly backwards. I know from water skiing that I turn way better when leaning back from the corner, but the forces in that situation are a lot different.

    I also think about the slope of the hill (when traveling across the slope). If my pedals are level and I accidentally hit the upslope of the hill I would rather it be with the rear pedal.
    Quote Originally Posted by buddhak
    And I thought I had a bike obsession. You are at once tragic and awesome.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enel
    Me either. The thought in my head is that if I practice switching the forward foot in easier sections of trail, it will become more automatic and I can break myself of my left foot forward dependence. I just don't know which situation is the best to have a certain pedal forward.

    Hard for me to know if it is best to have your torso towards the corner (outside foot forward) as the article suggests, or torso out from the corner (inside foot forward), leaning slightly backwards. I know from water skiing that I turn way better when leaning back from the corner, but the forces in that situation are a lot different.

    I also think about the slope of the hill (when traveling across the slope). If my pedals are level and I accidentally hit the upslope of the hill I would rather it be with the rear pedal.
    To FM's point about having to re-think everything I'd done on a mountain bike before I went to Shaums' (MMR) clinic a little over a year ago, one of the things I picked up (but don't always do ) is turning my torso into the turn to help with the feeling of carving. For me, cornering technique on a MTB has started to parallel the feeling I get when I'm carving turns on my skis.

    Good points everyone. Keep it up.

  14. #14
    JMH
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enel
    Hard for me to know if it is best to have your torso towards the corner (outside foot forward) as the article suggests, or torso out from the corner (inside foot forward)
    If you are turning your hips and head to spot the exit, then whether your inside foot is forward or back is academic. Try it both ways and see which feels better and makes you quicker. I personally like to switch my feet depending on the direction of the turn, but lots of people don't. It's the torso that counts, and I really can't recall seeing people going fast facing the torso OUT of the corner.

    JMH

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    Great question Enel, like FM I'm a grad of the school of MMR and wish I'd gotten educated on cornering and braking a loooong time ago .

    Sounds like 1soulrider and I have the same thing going on. I like to refer to my rear foot as my control foot and draw parallels with surfing where my rear foot is my right/control foot. I became more aware of the dominance of my right foot when I started having pain behind my right knee and realized that it was from jumping, landing and cornering with increased/constant pressure on the right foot. This led me to start being more conscious of the switching my forward foot when cornering and it's something I need to concentrate on, hope that it becomes instinctive someday. Having trouble heading into jumps with my "wrong" foot forward though.

    It's a good feeling when I get a rhythm going through a series of corners switching my leading foot and I've surprised myself on some tight switchbacks with the amount of momentum I've been able to carry through the turns.

    The thing that surprises me the most is how the past few years my riding has progressed in more of a mental aspect, all those years before it was always so brainless, now I'm analyzing and focusing on technique like it's golf or something.

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    Donít often go level-pedal through a corner but when I do itís always outside foot forward. Two reasons: you can resume pedaling sooner and if you need to kick the inside foot out for control youíll want to drop the outside foot to the bottom. (As quickly as possible)

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1soulrider
    The exception is on slippery off-camber corners where I will often drop the outside pedal
    That is almost everything I ride. Very loose when dry. No loam here.

    Probably the fastest cornerer that I ride with lived in Mammoth CA (moon dust riding, even slipperier) for 15 years. He drops that outside pedal almost always and then proceeds to drop me soundly

    He feels the benefit is getting his bike leaned over more than his body so the side knobs on his tires can dig in better in the loose terrain.

    All I know is that he is fast as all get out if it is loose and not techy. He also outweighs me by 50 lbs which I would not think is an advantage. Maybe it is for descending? Trail hugging weight?
    Quote Originally Posted by buddhak
    And I thought I had a bike obsession. You are at once tragic and awesome.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Enel
    He also outweighs me by 50 lbs which I would not think is an advantage. Maybe it is for descending? Trail hugging weight?
    50lbs is a huge descending advantage.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Enel
    That is almost everything I ride. Very loose when dry. No loam here.

    Probably the fastest cornerer that I ride with lived in Mammoth CA (moon dust riding, even slipperier) for 15 years. He drops that outside pedal almost always and then proceeds to drop me soundly

    He feels the benefit is getting his bike leaned over more than his body so the side knobs on his tires can dig in better in the loose terrain.

    All I know is that he is fast as all get out if it is loose and not techy. He also outweighs me by 50 lbs which I would not think is an advantage. Maybe it is for descending? Trail hugging weight?
    50 pounds of extra momentum is a huge advantage. I outweigh my wife by+-40 pounds and can pace her coasting while she pedals down a slope. It drives her crazy, she can out-pedal my extra momentum but she has to work at it.

    I ride at Mammoth several weekends a year, so I know those conditions well. I still level my pedals when drifting the kitty litter, you exit your corner way faster and in better control. Again, there are some corners there that I will drop the pedal and hang out a foot on, but usually as a last resort. It is really tough to get on the gas exiting a corner when you are all out of position like that.

  20. #20
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    good thread.

  21. #21
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    I corner many corners with my feet level, and can swap feet although it is not that often that i do.

    Regarding the people posting about having the outside foot forward and weighting your outside foot more and therefore weighting the front tyre more... I am not sure that it actually makes any difference. If you really were weighting the outside foot more, then your pedal would be at the bottom of the stroke and your inside foot at the top. If your pedals are level you are balancing the weight going through each!!

    Weighting of the front wheel comes from your forward and back balance and I dont think it makes any difference which foot is forward, you can still weight the front wheel by leaning your weight forward while standing with the pedals level. Lean forward with your right foot forward will put the same amount of weight as leaning forward with your left foot forward.

    Having the outside foot forward makes sense from the point of opening your torso towards the exit of the corner... but if that is at the expense of your stability and balance then is it a good thing??

    Dunno. Just my thoughts on it

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1soulrider
    50 pounds of extra momentum is a huge advantage.
    I agree, but how does he keep the bike from sliding out from under him with all that extra weight in loose conditions. You have to reel that in some how.

    Perhaps the extra pounds of increase the tire's grip more than enough to compensate for themselves.

    I have no moto experience, but have heard that they can stop crazy hard in loose conditions simply because the tires are so massive and they weigh so much.
    Quote Originally Posted by buddhak
    And I thought I had a bike obsession. You are at once tragic and awesome.

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    Quote Originally Posted by inzane
    If your pedals are level you are balancing the weight going through each!!

    Weighting of the front wheel comes from your forward and back balance
    Good points.
    Quote Originally Posted by buddhak
    And I thought I had a bike obsession. You are at once tragic and awesome.

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    My take on it

    I personally see turning like this: If you have good traction, use the pedals level position, if traction is limited, use the outside pedal down position. Putting all of your weight on the outside pedal lowers the effective CG of the bike and you will get better traction but it has its costs. Although you're not supposed to hit brakes in the turn, if you do while in the pedal down position, the bike will stand up due to the uneven side to side weighting. Plus, this position makes it very hard to pump the turn. The pedals level position responds better to braking and enables you to pump and gain speed through the turn.

    I like to keep my shoulders level to the ground when turning. I also like to look where I'm going with my head level and chin forward. You body balances better with your head level and turning is all about balance. If you're in a berm, you can stay centered over the bike and lean as a unit and keep you shoulders parallel to the ground. Pedals level is perfect for this scenario. If you're on a flat turn, lean the bike down while keeping you body over the bike some. This will help you keep you shoulders parallel to the ground and having the pedal down accommodates this position. Look at this picture of Justin Havukainin from the US Open a couple years ago:



    Flat turn, outside pedal down, bike is leaned more than the body, head up, looking forward and PINNED!

    Another thing to consider is try to carve a smooth arc. A couple years ago, I was practicing the downhill at Sea Otter. I saw Steve Peat hit this turn up top incredibly fast. I had no idea you could enter that turn with so much speed. When I tried it, I washed out. What did Peaty do different? I can still see it in my head how he hit that turn. He came from the outside and carved a perfect arc through the loose, sketchy turn. His bars barely moved at all. He was keeping a nice constant lateral load on his tires to maintain traction. When I did it, I was making adjustments in the turn and the tires were seeing uneven lateral loads and eventually broke free.

    If you have turn with good traction, you can try countersteering similar to what is done on streetbikes. In basic physics terms, when you enter a turn, your lean and speed must match the arc of the turn. If you enter a turn and your speed does not match your lean (lets say you're too fast), you can a) go wider such that you have a bigger arc, b) hit brakes such that speed it adjusted for lean or, c) lean more. Its hard to adjust the lean once in the turn but if you countersteer, the bike will help lean you over more. To do this, push down and forward on the inside grip. For some reason, I find it a bit easier to countersteer with the outside pedal down but the picture that FM posted above is showing a countersteer with pedals level. Although its probably more for a slide correction.

    What do you do if your front wheel begins to give? Get more weight on the front tire by dropping your chest down. What if both tires go? Switching to pedal down also helps get the traction back. FM mentioned a pedals level to pedal down 'ratchet' technique. In the 5 spot turner video, you can see me do this at time 48. Its a loose turn but is bermed up so I come in level, the bike starts to go and I drop my outside pedal down until traction is regained and then I go level again:

    <object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="https://www.youtube.com/v/Hw3i8iotToE&hl=en&fs=1"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="https://www.youtube.com/v/Hw3i8iotToE&hl=en&fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

    As far as the original question goes, I always keep the same foot forward unless I get into a half-crank situation.

    S

  25. #25
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    Great points Superstock...I agree with every one of them. I would add that another way to steady the front wheel (should it break loose) is to scrub the rear brake. Also, I think people really underestimate the turning potential in the hips...wherever you point them, the bike will want to go.

    Like you, I use the same foot forward (left)...but I'm trying to train myself to switch up


  26. #26
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    Yep, great thread.
    I've always enjoyed watching superstocks videos, killer cornering technique dude.

    I wanted to add a a few more thoughts to this thread. In my lesson with Wayne, he really emphasized the importance of weighting the front end and getting low over the bars in corners. Low bars help, but I found that I really had to pay attention to my elbows when cornering to make pedals-level cornering work. When it really clicks, I feel like I am extending my inside arm and straightening the inside elbow, while I am pulling the outside grip up towards my chest and bending the outside elbow. I think this is just "how it feels" to be low over the front end, and leaning the bike without necessarily leaning with it.

    Another thing I had played with, was standing on the outsides of my flat pedals in corners. This opens your hips up, which gives you a little more room to lean the bike over without having to lean with it.

    I'm not sure any of these techniques make me faster, I'm not really one to care about being fast. But they do make corners "flow" better and I'm all about that!

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enel
    Good points.
    Another thing to think about. With your pedals level you can easily adjust your forward/back balance (weighting front to back of bike). With the outside pedal down it is more like trying to balance on one leg. So how good are you at balancing on flat ground on one leg?? Now throw some cornering forces in as well. I know I would rather have my weight balanced between two 2 feet!

    I think I use the outside foot down technique when traction runs out in my normal pedals level position.

  28. #28
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    Great thread because recently I have been noticing I need some help in my cornering dept.

    Especially turns that aren't bermed, just flat turns. I always noticing myself having to tap the brakes mid turn, and I feel I can go faster.
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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by FM
    I'm not really one to care about being fast. But they do make corners "flow" better and I'm all about that!
    I haven't raced DH in a couple years...but I totally agree that "flow > speed"!

    PS. Scott, good points about the elbows & staying low over the front. That may be one of the hardest things to conquer...the steeper it gets, the more you naturally want to drift back in your stance.


  30. #30
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    For any of the "feet level" technique to be effective, your hips have to have open and letting the bike move underneath you too.

    BTW, the fastest guy at Mammoth keeps his feet level through everything.
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  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by DHidiot
    BTW, the fastest guy at Mammoth keeps his feet level through everything.
    I think this is related to a rider's skill. A better rider will be able to get enough traction to stay pedals level whileas a less experience rider may need to rely on pedal down to get enough traction in the same turn.

    I remember when I drilled the rear end on my previous gen DHR to lower the BB. I rode the same run up at Big Bear on Saturday, drilled out the swingarm Sat nite and rode the same trails on Sunday. Corners that I felt like I need the outside pedal down on Saturday I was hitting pedals levels on Sunday. The lower BB was giving me better cornering traction and I was able to modify my technique ...

  32. #32
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    Put me down as inside footer, I also find turning my hips at a sharper angle than my frame in relation to the corner.....you can accentuate the action by slightly pivoting on your pedals, my d647 allow for a little bit, on flat pedals this really rips........new tire tech has helped too, the square profile tires allow me tilt the bike over beneath and get that nice corner bite similar to carving a ski turn, I love my Hutch Barracuda's! In fact why don't we add tire choice to a way to get better technique? I run a square prof tire out front and a faster rolling round prof tire in back.

    I think what I mentioned about body positioning is a semantic approach to what Jncarp, and DHidiot have said.
    I like bikes.

  33. #33
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    Tried it too, even worse trying to jump switch.

    Quote Originally Posted by 1soulrider
    Level pedals in most all situations. You can really carve corners with your pedals level.
    The exception is on slippery off-camber corners where I will often drop the outside pedal and sometimes take the inside foot off the pedal for better stability.

    As for which foot forward, I naturally ride left foot forward. I have spent some time experimenting with cornering 'switch' and can see a benefit in some situations. The question is can you get comfortable enough riding opposite foot forward to take proper advantage of this?
    I have not been able to competently do this yet, the corner is fine but if it dumps into a tech section of trail I ride too awkwardly if I'm not able to clock the pedals back to my normal stance.
    I ride with a guy who can ride equally well either foot forward, he actually switches his stance as he rides to keep his legs rested (instead of always leading with one leg). This has always impressed me.
    It's so funny this came up as I've found my back leg (L) to be getting much bigger than my front leg (R), I've tried to ride switch to rest my back leg, get better at it, and to throw better right side moto whips and I've found that I tend to drift scarily in the air when I launch stuff switch maybe cause one legs weighs more than other or boosts differently or something. In regards to cornering I can somtimes do a pedal stroke as I'm nearing the end of the corner, only when I'm making a hard left switch I'll rotate through to my dominant side by the time I exit so I pop out regular..........plus it helps me accelerate out of the corner well too!
    I like bikes.

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