Don’t “Twist Your Hips” When Cornering…

One of the most common pieces of advice given to rider’s who want to improve their cornering is to “twist the hips” or “point your belly button where you want to go”. I know this because that is the advice I have been given and, in turn, have given to other riders. And while this advice isn’t wrong, I have come to realize that it is incomplete.

While your hips may end up twisting in the process of cornering this twist is a symptom of good cornering technique, not the cause of it. The main thing I took from the book Freakonomics was to beware of confusing these two things and the false conclusions that you can draw when you do. And that, my friend, is exactly what is happening here.

In this video I explain the difference between “twisting your hips” and “laterally displacing your center of gravity”, which is what you are really after on the bike when cornering. I’ll also explain the fundamental movement behind the skill, which will allow you to focus on the true cause and not just a symptom of good cornering technique.

BTW, once you watch this video then my posts and videos on using the TGU Windmill and regular Windmill exercises to improve your cornering technique will make more sense. Apply these lessons to your workouts and your bike and you’ll see a marked increase in your speed and confidence while cornering.

-James Wilson-

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  1. Tony says:

    Coach…thanks for the info…good article…I will be thinking of “Chubby Checker” when I corner on my ride this weekend.

    Reply • January 18 at 6:09 am
  2. Troy says:

    We tell the kids (and adults) to “fart over the cliff” to get their weight over and hips turned, they remember it quite well.

    Reply • January 18 at 11:13 am
  3. Aaron says:

    I like to add in some Unipress sets with the bends. It helps me connect the movement of shifting my hips while initially turning my handlebars agains the direction of the term. You can kinda get the feeling by doing “wall pushups” and shifing your hips in the right direction.

    Reply • January 18 at 1:20 pm
  4. Jose says:

    Good advice. I’ll be focussing on this tomorrow and Strava will confirm the results 😛

    Reply • January 18 at 4:02 pm
  5. Rodger says:

    This is great info. I’ve always wondered why roadies don’t do this.

    Reply • January 21 at 10:06 pm
  6. Kent says:

    James, good info and I agree advice is often given incomplete. The one factor I’ve found in your training with squats, lunge type exercises and this video is the lack of emphasis on the internal rotators engaging to facilitate the proper balanced hip and center of gravity. You are correct that top level riders initiate a movement as you are describing, but also notice as Fabien Barel points out in his video about cornering that they also engage the internal rotators of the outside leg (taking their knee into the top tube).

    With that advice added to your advice, we now have an even much more complete instruction on this subject.

    Reply • December 19 at 9:27 am
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      Those internal rotators to “wind up” the hips going into a corner is extremely important. If you don’t it can be very tough to get into the right position. But you also need the internal rotators to “push out” of the corner. This is one of the reasons I like the KB Windmill exercise to train that movement pattern since it engages the internal and external rotators while hinging the hips exactly like you need to do on the bike.

      Reply • December 22 at 9:25 am
  7. David Loucks says:

    What is important is the combined center of gravity of you and your bike relative to the TRACTION POINTS which is the contact patches of the two tires. Your mass is much larger than the bikes so the bikes center of gravity is not very important. So for simplicity we need to get our center of gravity in the right location relative to the contact patches of the tires. This will be close to directly above the contact patches when we are setting up for the turn by leaning the bike but have not actually started to turn very much and will be inside of the contact patches when we are turning hard or changing direction to counteract the centrifugal force. The technique you describe is correct but the explanation regarding the bikes center of gravity is incorrect.

    Reply • December 19 at 10:13 am
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      Not sure I agree with your explanation either because the contact patches are affected by the bike and your position so to say that the bikes COG is irrelevant is actually true. Obviously if you over-compensate for the bikes lean then the traction will give out but I never said the your hips and the bikes COG lean at a 1-to-1 ratio. If you have that balance between the your COG and the bike’s COG then the contact patches and traction take care of themselves. I think that focusing on the bike and rider’s relationship is the better way to explain it but I guess as long as we agree on the end technique that’s all that matters.

      Reply • December 22 at 9:31 am
  8. Dag says:

    That makes perfect sense

    Reply • July 8 at 5:35 am
  9. Lalena says:

    I’ve always found that telling riders to imagine a crowd on the outside corner, and that you want to give them your ass to slap has always been a much better aha! moment.

    Reply • July 8 at 11:12 am
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      Thanks for sharing. While I agree that cue can help, you still need to have some weight to the inside as well so you don’t want to take the concept too far and end up with all of your weight outside the corner.

      Reply • July 9 at 10:19 am

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James Wilson
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James Wilson