If you’ve spent any time talking to seasoned riders or track-day junkies, you will have heard the terms “apex” and “line,” “entry” and “exit.” These are all terms we use to describe parts of and our path through a corner. If you don’t know what an apex is, or why you’d choose a delayed apex, or even how to choose a line through a corner, we are here for you.
The cheap and easy way to describe a good path through a corner is “out, in, out.” That is, enter the corner on the outside, steer inside to hug the crest of the curve or apex, then exit toward the outside again, away from that apex. Choosing that line and getting it right is awfully satisfying and it is the habit of getting those lines right that makes motorcycling such an enjoyable sport for a lot of us.
I’ve heard some riders say they don’t like twisty roads and I bet it is because they never learned how to navigate a turn properly. Each turn presents its own hazards. We motorcyclists love a challenge, don’t we? We learn first to “look through the turn” and that is a great habit but only the beginning of all the things we need to learn to really tackle all the challenges motorcycling throws our way.
Turning a motorcycle quickly, positively, and efficiently requires countersteering. Once a rider has mastered that, cornering becomes a game of precision. Putting the bike exactly where you want it through any given corner can be a game masterfully played.
Sometimes, the way to get through a corner is to delay that apex. To do this, keep your cornering line relatively wide until very late in the corner, and then positively drop the bike into the turn aiming for the apex. This gives you a better view of the whole corner, in case there are obstacles blocking your view. It increases the radius of any given corner compared to simply following the line of the pavement.
Of course, every corner is different and can vary with traffic situations; there are times when an early apex is the best course, especially when there might be a large vehicle coming the other way, crowding your lane in the process. Getting into the habit of planning your cornering means you’re not just looking through the turns, you’re thinking through them too.
In addition to the video above and for some great reading on this subject, I highly recommend Ken Condon’s Riding In The Zone website and book. He has some fantastic videos and, more importantly, diagrams that make cornering lines obvious. This info, and practice, will make you a rock star at your next track day!