To some people, cornering fast on an ATV doesn’t seem that difficult. But to those of us who have tried it, we know there is a lot going on all at once to make that quick turn. If you want to race like a pro you need to have every aspect of riding perfected. Starting, jumping, straights, and especially cornering. If you’re not quick in the corners, you will be losing a ton of time every lap.
You need to focus on body position, throttle, clutch, brakes, and steering to get that perfect corner. Entering and exiting is just as important as what you do in the turn. In this post I will go over everything you need to know to make your cornering better and faster on the track. Doing this is a lot of fun, and I use these techniques when trail riding, this isn’t just for racing.
There are two popular ways to take on a corner like a pro. Squaring it off, is when you come in tight to the inside and head out straight to the outside making a quick snappy turn. Rounding it off, is when you come into the turn wide following the outside edge keeping up your momentum. Deciding which method to use depends on what your goals are for the turn. You may be trying to pass, preventing someone from passing you, or lining up for the next obstacle.
If none of the above apply to your turn, then it is up to you to decide which method will be faster for you. It takes experience to know what method to use in a turn. Have fun learning what works best for you.
Squaring it off and staying tight to the inside of a corner isn’t always fastest, but is one of the most widely used defensive moves. Another option to consider, is to square off on nice berm. This way you will get a downhill drive, helping you gain some speed out of the turn. You could try to take up most of the track, you want to be able to protect your line to prevent someone else from swooping in on you.
Entering The Turn
How you enter a turn is an important first step to cornering properly. Do not coast into the turn. Stay on the gas until the last possible second, this keeps your speed and up and saves time. Apply your brakes to the max, remember you are hard on the gas up to this point. Enter the corner at full throttle, chop the throttle at the same time you apply full brakes to avoid any coasting.
You should be paying attention to your body position as well. Get yourself into a nice crouch with your butt off the seat and your weight towards the rear when approaching the corner. Do this to have more weight over the rear wheels when you hit the front and rear brakes. Just having your arms resting on the handle bars will be enough weight to push the front tires into the dirt while braking.
Do most of your braking while traveling in a straight line. Your brakes are more effective in a straight line then any other way. Limiting the amount of time spent braking allows you to spend more time on the throttle.
If your on a smooth track such as a speedway, you can stay seated. Just slide your weight back on the seat to get better braking from your rear tires.
While you’re doing the first stages of braking, it is best to pull in on the clutch and make your downshifts at this time. Keep the revs up with the throttle throughout this part. Start feeding out the clutch in the middle of the turn. The middle of the turn is considered the apex. You should be feeling for the rear wheels to gain some traction before you hit full throttle.
Make The Apex
The apex is when you hit the exact middle of your turn. After you’ve applied the brakes enough to make the corner, you want the front of the machine to have good grip to prevent from lifting your quad up onto two wheels. To get this done right, you need to move your body weight to the front and to the inside of the machine while in the corner. The surface you’re riding on, the tires you’re using, and the width of your quad all need to be taken into consideration when deciding how far forward and to the side you need to shift.
The wider your quad is, the less you need to hang off the machine. Eventually, this will become instinct to you the more you do it. This is another thing that comes with experience, and it sure is a lot of fun learning.
Pro tip: When in the middle of a corner, drag the front brake slightly. Doing so will give you more traction when turning. When squaring off the corner, hit hard on the rear brake as you turn the handle bars. This will get you into a bit of a brake slide. Do these moves in the apex with the clutch in while revving the throttle.
Try to keep in mind while performing these maneuvers that you need to be ridiculous with them. You don’t need your foot in the air hanging way off the side of your quad. If you use deliberate movements and keep your weight low, your corner will be a lot smoother. Feel your machine and what it is doing to help better decide where to shift your weight for traction.
Getting Out Of The Corner
Getting out of the corner is just as important as how you enter the corner and how you handle the apex. To make a quick corner you need to get back on the gas as fast as possible. It doesn’t matter how great you handled the entrance and the apex if you mess up the exit.
Here are three things to watch for when exiting a corner:
- Traction to rear tires
- Pointed straight towards next corner
- Keep the front end down
Ease the clutch out while revving the engine to the point where your rear tires almost break traction. Align yourself to be pointed in the right direction and let loose on the throttle. Your weight should already be near the front from the corner, that’s great at first for keeping your front end down. But now, you want traction on the rear wheels. So slide yourself back a bit on the seat, this will allow you to give maximum throttle without the rear wheels slipping too much.
Focus on weight transfer and throttle control to exit the corner perfectly. Make sure you don’t pull a wheelie accelerating through the straight away after exiting the corner. That will cause you to have to back off the throttle, losing momentum and time. Get through your gears and get to the next corner quickly.
Practice makes perfect. And in this case, practicing is fun too! Don’t stress yourself out if you’re not a pro after a few riding sessions, this takes time. Try to brake as hard as you can while still traveling straight towards the corner. Practice brake sliding, rounding off, and squaring off. Keep your body weight low to the quad and keep yourself from hanging off the side too much.
Work on easing out the clutch to avoid wheel spin. Practice getting the most traction possible on the exit while keeping the front end of your ATV under control. Target the next corner and try to hit that mark on your exit. Once you start noticing improvement, it can get addicting. Just try to enjoy yourself, it gets easier the more you do it.
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