The difference between “twisting” and “shifting” your hips while 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.

Few things have changed my riding like figuring this out. Get your hips moving the right way and you’ll be cornering much faster.

BTW, you only have 2 more days left to get a copy of the new 30 Day Cornering Solution Program for only $19. By focusing on improving your ability to twist your hips like I show in this video you can see big improvements in your cornering speed and confidence.

Click here to learn more about what you’ll get with the 30 Day Cornering Solution and how it can help you improve your cornering technique.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

90 Day MTB Skills & Fitness Program

90 Day MTB Skills & Fitness ProgramLearn how to permanently fix the bad movement habits that are really keeping you from improving your mountain bike skills. It isn’t “bad technique” that’s stopping you from improving your mountain bike skills. This program will fix the real cause - bad movement habits you don’t even realize are holding you back on the trail. Improve your performance and safety on the trail in just 90 days with the only workouts designed to integrate mobility, strength and skills drills.
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  1. Dave says:

    James, these tips apply to cornering at speed, not for slow speed technical turning or switchbacks, correct?

    Reply • September 13 at 6:43 am
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      The concept of using your hips to turn your bike works at any speed. While the specific techniques will change (you will use the handlebars more and lean the bike less for example) but the principle of hips driving the technique will stay the same.

      Reply • September 13 at 10:38 am
  2. Randy says:

    Technically, what you are trying to do while cornering is shifting the center of mass such that the line of force is acting roughly through the tire. The forces acting in a corner are the gravity force acting from the center of mass straight down PLUS the inertial force that wants to keep all that mass going in a straight line. The gravitational force is your friend – it’s the thing generating the friction you need to battle the inertial force that does not want you to corner. The gravitational force stays constant except for those RedBull guys that seem to leave the earth’s gravitational field. The inertial force is mostly dominated by the radius of the corner and how fast you’re going. The idea is that the combination of this force needs to be acting through the patch where the tires meets the dirt for maximum results. If you’re going VERY fast, it might mean that you need to move your mass to the INSIDE of the corner to have this happen – look at motorcycle ‘road’ racing. If you’re going “slow”, you might need to have your center of mass well toward the outside of the corner. Depending on traction conditions, you might need to bias the line of force slightly away from straight through the tires to provide better margin of error for recovery.

    It’s all very simple when it’s a ball of mass attached to a wheel on perfect (flat) corner. Infinitely different when the mass is a biomechanics machine called a human.

    Reply • September 13 at 8:14 am
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      You are right, it is hard to keep it all in synch when the trail part of the equation which is why I’ve found that focusing on the hips helps me apply all the other things more naturally.

      Reply • September 13 at 10:43 am
    • Randy,

      Really well said.


      Reply • December 22 at 8:03 pm
  3. Brian says:

    James, love all your advic, you’ve helped me become a better rider.

    I also think you need to distinguish between the body position on a flat turn vs. a banked turn. There are so may trails now that are banked for the flow, a lot of riders can get lazy with their fundamentals because the C.O.G. is not changing as much, since the bike is on a angled plane and the downward force is against the bank of the turn. Correct?

    Reply • September 16 at 11:13 pm
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      You are absolutely correct – bermed and banked corners make the need to shift your hips less important. This is one of the reasons you have a lot of “bike park heroes” who can’t ride nearly as well on ungroomed trails.

      Reply • September 17 at 4:07 pm
  4. Jame,

    On the 30 day Cornering solution, how do you demonstrate the Kettle bell exercises? I would not think with a PDF. Do you link to videos maybe?

    Also, I am a XC rider and not likely to get a dropper post. That has recently changed from never. I ride a Rigid bike and am keeping my clipless pedals (although I have always kept the cleats all the way back)

    How applicable are your techniques to my style of riding?

    I would think the exercises would be beneficial even given the above.


    Reply • December 19 at 8:54 pm
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      Improving your cornering specific movements will translates to any bike and any equipment, although I would argue that some set ups are easier to apply that better movement to. But the techniques I teach and the movements the program works on are not equipment dependent and will certainly help with your bike and set up.

      Reply • December 20 at 9:58 am
      • WOuld I have access to videos of the TK exercises with this program?

        Reply • December 20 at 3:27 pm
        • Would I have access to videos of the Kettle Bell exercises with this program?

          Meant to type KB not TK

          Reply • December 21 at 7:07 pm
          • bikejames bikejames says:

            Yeas, all of my programs come with video demos of the exercises.

            • December 21 at 8:17 pm
  5. Thanks I ordered and am checking it out!

    Reply • December 22 at 5:47 pm

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