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How to Corner on A Fixed Gear Bike (8 Tips for The Track)

Image of a man wearing jean shorts holding a white fixed gear bike.
Image of a man wearing jean shorts holding a white fixed gear bike.

Cornering ability isn’t limited to professionals. Learning to corner correctly on a bike is a vital skill for cyclists of all levels. It’s not just about going faster when it comes to Cornering; it’s also about having more control over your bike, making your journeys safer and more pleasurable. But what is cornering, and how do you corner on a fixed gear bike?

Cornering on a fixed gear bike is similar to cornering on a road bike. The main difference is, of course, that on a fixed gear or a track bike, you do not stop peddling. If you have other things to keep in mind: make sure to use your drop bars, use the brakes before you get to the corner, and keep your eyes forward.

But there’s a lot more to it than that. So, in this article, you will learn what Cornering is, why it’s important, and how to do it effectively so that you can fly past the competition.

Editor’s note: This article was updated on February 28, 2022, to include additional information regarding cycling performance.

What is cornering?

Cornering is the act of making aggressive angled turns while doing all you can to maintain speed and control. Track cyclists must be able to corner well to win a race. When you turn a corner, you must lean into the curve. Imagine your bodyweight steering you in the direction you want to go.

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It is highly recommended to use drop bars when cornering on any bike. Using drop bars lowers your center of gravity and improves your aerodimamics. However, if you don’t have drop bars, check out some fixie drop bars below.

Do I need to know how to corner?

You don’t need to know how to corner to enjoy cycling, but having confidence in your cornering ability will allow you to enjoy your riding even more.

How to corner on a fixed gear bike

Knowing how to corner is a skill that every cyclist must learn, or at least on the basics of. It will significantly enhance your writing experience. Here’s how to corner on a fixed gear or track bike.

  1. Keep the train in mind

    Keep an eye out for sand, rocks, dirt, gravel, or fissures that could cause you to slip. When you add rain to the equation, your strategy changes even more. In wet weather, painted lines, manhole covers, and greasy pavement become slick. Everything you do is magnified on wet roads. Braking when the bike is leaning makes it easier to skid, and turning too quickly might cause your wheels to slip—slow down.

  2. Use your drop bars

    Lowering your center of gravity by placing pressure on the front wheel riding in the drops provides you more traction and control on the bike – not to mention that you’ll be faster and more aerodynamic!

  3. Brake sooner than later

    You’ve probably heard that you should do all of your braking before entering a corner and none when cornering, and we agree that in an ideal world, you’d do exactly that. However, you may need to keep braking on downhill curves (especially hairpins) if you don’t want to pick up too much speed.

    Any braking you apply during Cornering should be as smooth and light as possible. If you need o do it, do it gently and sparingly. Remember, you’re not trying to stop. Just scrub enough speed to bring the bike back onto the line you want.

  4. Use your bodyweight

    While you may have a firm grip on your handlebars, leaning is what causes a bike to turn quickly. It’s all about moving your center of gravity, so the bike stays balanced.

    The faster you corner, the more you need to learn to keep your balance. The tires can no longer provide enough traction to keep you upright, so excessive leaning is not helpful, and sometimes the line between success and failure is thin.

  5. Fly through the apex

    Apexing is the fastest way to take a bend, so it’s worth mentioning. Simply put, apexing a bend involves flattening the curve as much as possible by taking a broad line into and out of the turn.

    The flatter the curve, the faster you can safely go around it, or to put it another way, the quicker you can go through it, the safer you will be, as you won’t be struggling for grip or reaching for the brakes in a panic. Remember that you can still apex a corner and stay on the right side of the road.

  6. Keep your eyes forward

    Take a look in the direction you want to go. Keep your gaze fixed on the spot where you want to exit the corner, and your body will adapt your leaning, steering, and line accordingly. If you’re worried about not making it around the bend and ending up in the ditch, try not to focus on that ditch because if you do, that’s where you’ll end yourself.

  7. Check your speed when cornering

    The consensus is to slow down before the corner, braking while still upright and traveling straight. This requires foresight and an ‘ideal-world scenario’ and other assumptions.

    In reality, you can’t see far enough around the bend or predict every outcome, so you must adjust your pace. But there are ways to make it safer. However, If you want to slow down, don’t brake too hard. 

  8. Don’t tense up

    Your body’s first reaction will likely be to get tense in a corner. However, tensing up will only worsen things, so try to stay relaxed, especially in your upper body.

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    If your tense, you might grab the brakes. If you grab the front brake, you risk a washout (sliding out from under you). Locking the back wheel causes a broadside speedway skid that is difficult to recover from.

  9. Don’ stop pedaling

    Road cyclists don’t have this problem; however, if we’re talking about fixed gear bikes, you cannot coast. So don’t get complacent, and don’t stop peddling when you’re nearing the corner. Don’t stop paddling.

If you want to see an example of this in action, take a look at this video called Fixed Crit Training | Cornering Explained from the Juliet Elliott YouTube Channel.

A video called Fixed Crit Training | Cornering Explained from the Juliet Elliott YouTube Channel.

Tips for cornering on a fixed gear bike

Here are a few more tips for Cornering.

Dos for cornering on a fixed gear bike

  • Familiarize yourself with the bike and handle it in various situations, such as wet vs. dry roads. 
  • Look ahead of time to properly assess an upcoming bend.
  • Keep your eyes on the exit of the corner, even if you deviate from your original line.
  • Keep calm, even if it’s hard. If you can, most of those little ‘moments’ will be nothing more than a heartbeat and an adrenaline rush.

Don’ts cornering on a fixed gear bike

  • Don’t grab the brakes hard when cornering, or you’ll end up on the asphalt ground.
  • Don’t hang off your bike. Keep your weight close to the bike for maximum control and grip.
  • Don’t take unnecessary risks. Going into a hot corner and overcooking it often results in more loss than gain. The safest approach is slow in and fast out.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Below are some commonly asked questions regarding cornering on a fixed gear bike.

  1. What is a track bike?

    Brooklyn Fixed Gear Tiny Logo

    A track bike is a bicycle designed for use on a velodrome. There are three types of track bikes available: endurance, sprint, and time trial/pursuit. While each style has its distinct characteristics, the essential components are shared by all three. It has a single chainring on the front, one cog connected to the hub on the back wheel, and a chain itself.

  2. What is cornering on a bike?

    Brooklyn Fixed Gear Tiny Logo

    A corner’s principal purpose is to escape faster than you entered. That means brake control, gear selection, and departure commitment. On the approach, shift into a lower gear so you can accelerate out of the bend.

  3. What is a velodrome?

    Brooklyn Fixed Gear Tiny Logo

    A velodrome is a cycling track. Modern velodromes have oval tracks with steeply banked turns connected by straights. The straights lead to a moderate easement curve and a circular turn.

Conclusion

Cornering is a critical part of learning how to ride your track or fixed gear bike efficiently. Now that you are armed with some information on how to corner, I am sure you are ready to take on the track faster than ever.

In this article, I covered what conferring is, why how to do it effectively, and some dos and dont’s of Cornering. Here are some key takeaways:

Key takeaways

  • Keep the train in mind.
  • Use your drop bars.
  • Brake sooner than later.
  • Use your bodyweight.
  • Fly through the apex.
  • Keep your eyes forward.
  • Check your speed when cornering.
  • Don’t tense up.
  • Don’t stop pedaling.
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So, are you a cornering king? Let me know in the comments below (I read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, check out my full blog for more tips and tricks on everything fixie. Thanks for reading, and stay fixed.

Helpful resources

Written by Bradly Knight

As a native New Yorker, Bradley is no stranger to the fixed gear scene. He’s been riding fixed for over ten years. When he’s not on the bike, you can find him practicing his many hobbies including playing guitar, video production, and photography.

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