Basic Cornering Techniques On Your Dirt Bike

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There is definitely an art to cornering correctly on your dirt bike. There are so many different techniques used for various conditions and situations which you should learn once you get the basics right. This page is about basic cornering skills. By getting your technique right, you can quickly learn to nail those corners with speed and ease. You’ll also find that you use a lot less energy by not ‘fighting’ with your bike.

It’s better to slow your speed down to focus on the correct technique rather than trying to go flat out, balls-to-the wall with your arms, legs and bike all over the show. Over time the speed will come and you will end up being able to ride much faster than if you didn’t focus on the right skills.

Just like any other aspect of riding, you need to actually think about what you’re doing rather than just going through the motions. Break everything down into steps while you’re riding and practice them until you get it right. Focus on one particular corner if you can and keep hitting it over and over so you get some kind of momentum going behind your efforts.

How To Corner On A Dirt Bike:

  • Picking your entry line into the corner is critical. Sometimes you are better off going wide if there are brake bumps or other obstacles on the main path. Are there ruts you can use to your advantage? Or, are you better off avoiding them?
  • For seated cornering – You want to brake leading up to the corner (usually in the standing position), and just as you begin going through it you must transfer your body weight to the very front of the bike in one smooth movement. Hug that petrol tank and keep your elbows up nice and high. Lean into the corner and raise your inside leg up and forward with your toes pointed so your heel doesn’t catch in the dirt.
  • Look ahead at where you want to go – you will naturally follow the direction of your focus. Don’t zone in directly on your front wheel which seems to be the natural thing to do especially in challenging, rutted corners.
  • Gear selection is important too. You want to be in a gear that will produce strong, smooth power once you push through the corner. When you do accelerate out of it – use steady throttle control and work the clutch. You want to put the power to the ground in a controlled manner without the rear wheel losing grip.



  • Flat or off-cambered corners – Again, lean your bike into the corner. But this time sit on the topside edge of the seat with your butt cheeks on either side of it, and place your weight on the outside foot peg for better traction and grip. You should be able to feel your right leg working hard if you’re riding through a left hand corner, and vice versa for a right hand corner. This will help prevent the bike sliding out from under you. Remember to apply smooth throttle control and raise your inside leg in front of the bike.
  • Cornering while in the central standing position – Once you’re comfortable with seated cornering you should try cornering while in the central standing position. This is a fantastic technique to use on bush trails when a lot of standing is required. It’s a little bit trickier to learn but in certain situations can help you conserve energy and travel faster through corners. Basically you just need to lean into the corner and weight your inside leg on the footpeg. E.g. place more weight on your left foot when riding through a left hand corner.

Try this next time you’re out riding: Find a flat paddock of some sort and ride in a straight line in 2nd gear while standing. Shift your weight to the left footpeg to steer the bike to the left without turning your handlebars. Now try the right side. You can actually control and steer your bike by using your lower body weight.

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Jim Harmer

I'm the co-owner of Dirt Bike Planet. I live in Star, Idaho and enjoy dirt biking with my wife and two boys throughout the Idaho mountains.

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