More movement tips to help your cornering technique – the importance of switching your feet and not just “dropping your cranks”.

It seems that a lot of riders were pretty pumped on the 5 Movement Tips to Improve Your Cornering Technique article/ video I posted last week. I got a lot of great feedback from riders who were starting to see the importance of driving their cornering from their hips and not the bike.

In my opinion the confusion stems from riders who don’t understand movement trying to interpret what they see the pros doing.

However, I also got a couple of questions about the  importance of switching your feet when entering a corner and the role of “dropping the cranks” in cornering.

The confusion is based on some common cornering advice that is a perfect example of someone misinterpreting the movement behind the technique.

I shot this video to address these questions and explain why switching your feet is more efficient – and when you should keep the same foot forward – as well as the role of shifting the hips instead of simply dropping the cranks. Hopefully it clears up some of the confusion behind what you see pro DH riders do and what is actually driving what you see them do.

Again, in my opinion the confusion stems from riders who don’t understand movement trying to interpret what they see the pros doing. Since they don’t understand the movements behind the techniques they teach the techniques themselves but they often get the real cause of the technique wrong.

For example, shifting the hips causes the cranks to drop but if you don’t know that then all you see are the cranks dropping. You then then misinterpret what you are seeing as the dropping of the cranks as what drives the technique.

But if you start to focus on “drop the cranks” instead of “shift the hips” then you can easily get confused as to what is really going on.

Hope this makes sense. The real test is to try it out for yourself and see.

If you have any questions or thoughts about this video please feel free to post a comment below and if you liked it please click one of the Like or Share buttons below to help spread the word.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

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  1. Darryl says:

    James, great vid as usual. As I was watching this I was reminded of a cornering tip I read when I first started riding a long time ago which was to point your outside knee in the direction you wanted to turn. I applied that advice for a long time but never really thought about why it worked. It’s kind of obvious now, as you point your knee as across your mid line your hips automatically hinge outwards. I don’t know if I’d ever have been able to learn to sub-consciously hinge my hips while my pedals are level, but making sure my kneepads are banging into the top tube was an easy way to ingrain the behaviour as you get really obvious tactile feedback. This is also way harder to do with your outside foot forward which reinforces your point about the trade off in efficiency vs stability.
    Agree entirely about motorbike cornering being different to mtb cornering, I make a point of generally trying to corner my motorbike like it’s a mtb so that I don’t pattern bad habits. In case people don’t understand why cornering a motorbikes is different – on a moto you get on the throttle at the apex of the corner, extra throttle will actually give you more grip (to a point) and slingshot you out of the corner, but it will also tend to stand the bike up. To counter this you need to have your weight to the inside of the corner as much as possible, the extreme example being knee dragging. Try cornering like that on a mtb and I guarantee you’ll crash. Incidentally, dragging your brake through a corner will tend to stand your mtb up as well, stay of them brakes.

    Reply • September 11 at 7:41 pm
  2. Mike says:

    Keep preaching it James. All the information you’re giving is really starting to sink in. I’m beginning to understand the movement behind cornering in a way that I never have before.

    Reply • September 11 at 7:42 pm
  3. Don says:

    Thank you, James! Had an aha moment practicing switchfoot cornering. I ride left foot forward and always have been able to carve left hand corners but not so good going to the right. Swithching to right foot forward going into right hand corners allows me to really set the edge and carve right handers with ease!
    what a difference it makes to shift your hips into a trailing leg instead of thin air.

    Reply • October 11 at 9:44 am
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      Glad to hear it and thanks for actually trying it before passing judgement on it.

      Reply • October 11 at 12:57 pm
  4. nicholas says:

    For anyone who skis, it sounds like the same principle as angulation, keep your hips open to the outside of the turn so that your edges can grip, puts your wight over the top of your edges – am I correct in this analogy. I am new to MTB

    Reply • November 21 at 1:21 am
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      Sounds like the same thing, not real sure myself as I don’t ski and just observed those movement similarities.

      Reply • November 21 at 11:10 am
  5. James,

    With XC seat height as opposed to DH low saddle, I have to drop my crank before I can get my hip to the side. With either foot forward my inside leg hits the saddle.

    I learned outside foot down from Road Pro Davis Phiney’s book decades ago. Physics haven’t changed but you mainly stay seated on a road bike and lean your torso upright. On a MTB we are out of the saddle, more dynamic and have less traction in a flat turn. At some point I started started moving the hip outside. That may have been a variation in Phiney’s book. I can’t quite remember.

    Reply • December 19 at 7:37 pm
  6. Andrew says:

    So does that me when you do drop the crank, you are backpedalling it from the rear position on the outside of the turn?

    Reply • July 28 at 5:26 am
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      Yes, it will backpedal down as it drops.

      Reply • July 28 at 10:44 am
      • Andrew says:

        Thanks james

        Reply • July 28 at 3:08 pm
  7. Jason says:

    Wow with one sentence you just told me why I can’t turn to the right as well as I can to the left. Time to practice my switchfoot. I think of all the videos and tips you have given me over the years this one is going to make the most difference.

    Reply • July 28 at 4:34 pm
  8. joey says:

    So we looking at left foot foward for a right hander and right foot for a left hander?

    Reply • July 29 at 10:28 am
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      Other way around – you want your inside foot forward so that would be your left foot for a left hander and your right foot for a right hander.

      Reply • July 30 at 8:31 am

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