Motorcycles are fantastic and freeing machines. However, they do take a while to master. For new riders, one of the most intimidating aspects of riding is turning, and it likely has a lot to do with having to lean into turns, making you feel somewhat vulnerable. Thankfully, as time goes on, riders become comfortable with making turns. Unfortunately, the first time they experience a blind corner, their stomachs tense up, and once again, they may feel uncertain.
Blind turns are a natural part of riding, especially if you love more scenic roadways. Probably the best advice you are going to get, and it will be repeated a few times, is to go into the turn slowly. There is no shame in grannying your way around corners, especially when you can’t see far enough into the turn to know what’s coming. Going slow is the smartest decision you can make, but there are other things you can do to make a blind turn as safe as possible.
Assess the Turn Before You Reach It
While it may seem impossible for some turns, assessing the blind or the corner before you reach it is fundamental to adjusting your speed and balance. Granted, you may not have a visual of the roadway beyond the corner, but you may be able to use roadside features to make predictions. For example, while you may not be able to make out the road beyond the turn, are there any guardrails, lamp posts, signs or safety walls that give you an idea of the radius of the oncoming turn? Use what you see as a way to gauge your speed and lean going into a turn.
Adjust Your Speed
Here we are again. Go into the turn slowly. Don’t stop; just slow down when entering the turn to ensure that you can adjust to the curve of the road. A good rule of thumb is to go a little slower than you think you should. The extra precaution ensures that you are ready and alert in case of any unexpected obstacles.
Maintain a Wider Line
When entering the turn, maintain a wider line. If you go into a turn wide, you give yourself a little more time to adapt to a decreasing radius because a wider line allows for more visibility. However, try to center your bike in the lane to ensure that your body remains in your lane during the turn. Going too wide during right-hand turns can result in risk and injury from oncoming traffic.
Watch for Traffic
You are not the only one on the road, and that is important to remember. While you may be careful going into blind turns, making sure not to go too wide, are vehicles may not be so cautious. Also, some vehicles require wide turns because of their axles. For instance, buses, tractor trailers or even passenger cars with a tow may need to take wide turns that put you right in their path, so be cautious and attentive to where you are in your lane.
Check Your Lean
Again, it is critical to check your lean. While it is necessary to go into a blind turn following a wider line, you must make sure that you’re not leaning over the dividing line. Yes, a wider line allows you to dive in to clip the apex if the turn is sharper than expected, but staying in the center of the lane should still allow for enough correction room.
Look Through the Turn
Next, look as far through the turn as possible. While it can be tempting to focus on all of the small details – speed, line, lean – it is vital to look through the turn. All that is meant by looking through the turn is that you are focused on the road in front of you and ahead of you. Therefore, by maintaining focus, you will not be surprised by what’s coming, and you can adjust safely and effectively.
Right-hand Turns Present More of a Challenge
Right-hand turns present a unique challenge when compared to left-hand blinds. You are naturally left with less of a visual when approaching right-hand turns, and the urge to go wider and closer to the division of the lanes is more prevalent because of this. Therefore, it is necessary to take a breath and realize the same principles apply to right-hand turns as left-hand turns. Slow down, stay centered in your lane and watch your lean. You should still have plenty of time to make adjustments as you approach and look through your turn.
Benefit of Experience
Once you are comfortable taking blind turns and have enough experience under your belt, you can take a late apex, allowing you to see around the blind as much as possible. Essentially, a late apex means that you are squaring off your turn to get the most visual benefit. However, this is a more advanced technique, so wait until you are comfortable before attempting it.
Know the Area and Potential Obstacles
The best piece of advice for maneuvering blind corners is to know the area and any potential obstacles. Every space is different, and it pays to know what potential obstacles could be lurking around any given blind. When riding your motorcycle on the street, there are at least three types of areas with specific things to watch out for.
- Residential neighborhoods
In residential or suburban areas, you should be on the lookout for several elements — for example, children or driveways.
- City riding
City riding presents several potential surprises around every corner. You can run into open doors, bicyclist, pedestrians or vehicles pulling out of parking spaces.
- Country or scenic routes
Country roads usually lead to the most dangerous situations, especially mountainous regions, where roadways wind around in tight and unpredictable ways. When enjoying these scenic routes, be on the lookout for oncoming traffic, animals and even falling debris.
To quickly recap, when navigating blinds, go into the turn slowly, maintain a wider line, check your lean, watch for oncoming traffic and obstacles and look as far through the turn as possible. Also, invest in some of the best side view motorcycle mirrors possible to ensure you are aware of your surroundings all the way through the turn.