Riding an e-bike in a straight line is fun and easy. Those tricky turns can take you by surprise if you’re not prepared. That’s why we’ve prepped these actionable tips to navigate corners in different terrains to help you gain confidence and skill about safely and effectively maneuvering your e-bike around corners.
Cornering your e-bike can vary by bike type, weight, and other specs, thanks to e-bikes’ diversity and unique dynamics. Some of the best ways to navigate corners around town or take turns on mountain bike trails without washing out is to get familiar with your e-bike, understand how it handles deceleration, choose the best position and cornering route, and know when to slow, brake, or accelerate through a curve.
Discover these top 10 tips to master smart E-Bike cornering and handling skills like a pro.
Fast Facts to Optimize Your E-Bike Cornering and Handling
- Do a pre-ride bike check
- Understand your bike’s weight and deceleration capabilities
- Assess the turn
- Pay attention to your speed
- Get your body into the right position
- Pick the best cornering line
- Learn how to brake skillfully
- Aim for a smooth turn and avoid abrupt movements
- Go into a corner slowly and accelerate out of the apex
- Practice to gain confidence and proficiency
10 Tips to Master E-Bike Cornering and Handling
1. Know Your E-Bike
Compared to traditional bikes, electric bikes can feel heavy. When combined with high speeds, this heavier weight means you’ll need to concentrate on your braking skills when approaching a corner.
Maybe you already know how your e-bike handles deceleration, or maybe you’re new to how it handles. Whatever your situation, you’ll want to know how your bike brakes feel and react. You’ll also want to know what kind of brakes your e-bike has, which will affect how you brake.
You’ll want to identify which brake lever does different things. You’ll also need to get comfortable riding and braking at different speeds in different terrain and weather conditions before you attempt cornering at speed.
2. Consider the Corner
This tip puts you right at the scene of the action. You’re peddling or cruising along, and you see a sharp curve coming up. As you approach a corner, it’s time to assess it. The key thing to do is to avoid winging it.
As you approach, consider the speed level you’ll need to carry safely and smoothly through the corner. Gauge the corner’s tightness, the road’s surface, width, weather and traffic conditions, and visibility.
Shallow corners allow you to peddle through them like normal, but a sharp turn will require you to adjust your speed, particularly in poor visibility, bad weather, or unsafe road surface conditions.
Remember that a sweeping, open corner on a hard dirt trail can tolerate a higher speed (given normal conditions), while a hairpin turn on loose gravel or a wet, muddy, or icy turn will need reduced speed.
3. Watch Your Speed
Cornering can initially seem complicated since you must consider multiple factors such as speed, position, and cornering line as you move forward.
If you’re going too fast into a turn, you’ll need to make your center of gravity lower to take the turn safely without toppling or washing out. This means inclining one side of your body closer to the ground without taking your eyes off the end of the corner. Pay special attention to controlling your cornering speed on wet or slippery days to avoid losing grip, avoid accidents, and improve your performance.
The good news is that improving your cornering ability with every turn you take is easy. Once you boost your cornering skills, you will have more control and won’t need to slow down as much each time you take a turn.
4. Get into the Right Position
Remember a few key things as you prepare your body to corner on an e-bike. First, you’ll want to ensure that your center of gravity is low, your figure extended, and your body weight is distributed towards the handlebars. Think about how you lean with a heavy e-bike to avoid overbalancing.
Keep your pedals level during cornering to execute a smoother turn. Keep your head and eyes on the cornering line ahead, and relax your muscles while maintaining grip and form.
There are two leg positions that you can take for an effective cornering experience. The first and most common position requires you to keep your outer leg completely extended in the 6 o’clock position to exert optimal force on the outside pedal as you round the curve. This also keeps your inner pedal clear.
Keeping your pedals in a horizontal position is helpful if you’re going slower on a turn or have to navigate rocks, a drop, or a step during the turn. This can offer less grip when you need to slide more effectively around a corner. As you learn to read the roads or trails, you can switch more seamlessly between the two styles as the occasion demands.
5. Choose the Right Cornering Route
If you want to handle a corner like a pro, the best action is to enter the corner from the outside, pass the curve’s inner side, and then come out the outermost side of the turn. This cornering line offers the biggest arc and creates the smoothest transition available, so you can maintain a good cycling speed without slowing down too much or wiping out.
As you ride more, you’ll discover that you can’ always pick the best turning route. This may be due to loose gravel scattered across the inside of the curve, weather conditions, or other obstacles in the trail or road that can compromise your e-bike tires’ grip.
If this happens, adjust your cornering line appropriately while choosing the widest and smoothest route that offers the most grip through the corner. A smooth route ensures that your tires stay in contact with the pavement or dirt to gain the most even level of traction and feedback.
A wide route is faster and easier to corner since it takes your e-bike on a single trajectory from start to finish without adjusting your steering. When adjustments need to be made due to road or weather conditions, this is where your tire grip and handling skills will come more into play.
6. Get Great at Braking
If you’ve ridden a regular bike before hopping on an e-bike, you’ve probably noticed that it takes a little longer to bring an e-bike to a stop.
This is due to an e-bike’s heavier weight and the need for more force to brake for an abrupt corner or stop. Knowing where your brakes are located is crucial to avoid accidentally hitting your e-bike’s throttle when you want to brake while cornering.
Generally, it’s best to avoid sudden or choppy braking practices when heading into a corner unless necessary for safety. Hitting your brakes at the wrong time can often result in a crash. As a rule, reduce your speed or brake in plenty of time as you approach a corner.
Keep your outside foot down, lean into the turn, and avoid braking while in the middle of the turn. As your skill increases, you may only need to tap the brakes before gliding smoothly around a corner.
7. Go Slow In and Fast Out
Only time and experience can help you gauge the best cornering practice for your e-bike on different surfaces or terrains.
If you’re unsure how to handle coming through a corner, going in slow and coming out fast is a good rule of thumb. If your e-bike loses speed fast, you may get around some turns without braking.
If you need to use your brakes, make sure you apply them both evenly. Using the front brake only when the bike is upright is best. This means you don’t want to apply the front brake before you’re through the curve’s apex. If you’re leaning into a corner when you apply the front brake, this can make the front wheel understeer and wash out at the apex instead of gripping and rolling with the radius of a corner.
It’s best to skip the front brake before you’re upright unless you have lightning-fast brake release reflexes. Otherwise, dab the rear brake and ensure you counter-steer to bring the bike upright as you accelerate out of the apex to avoid a washout and a probable crash.
8. Make It Smooth
As you think about your approaching speed, choose the right line, and get your body into a proper cornering position, it’s important to do these actions together. You want to avoid doing them all separately or in abrupt movements. This will help ensure that your position, approach, and reaction are instinctive and seamless.
While you’ll probably think about each aspect at first, aim for a holistic approach that enables you to corner at a decent speed in a smooth, fluid flow that looks and feels natural.
9. Peddle Out of the Apex
Handling your e-bike through a corner can vary depending on your e-bike’s weight and the pedal assist level that you have set. For example, if you’re riding an e-mountain bike (e-MTB), try to accelerate out of the top of a turn as soon as possible. It’s important to time this right after your apex and aren’t at risk of hitting your inside peddle on the ground as you turn.
If you wait until you clear the corner to start peddling again, you can cause the motor to lag. This may compromise your cornering speed thanks to an e-MTB’s heavier weight, making it slow down faster than a normal mountain bike.
With time and practice, you will grasp the delicate timing needed to blend peddling with electrical power to maintain a higher speed and smoother flow during an e-bike ride.
10. Practice Makes Perfect
You’ve probably guessed it by now. There’s no way to get good at cornering without practicing.
Each urban or off-roading cornering opportunity represents a challenge to test your skills. Each time you do it right, make it a point to remember how you did it. This can help you identify specific things that you did to help you achieve a positive cornering experience.
Experts say that it can take thousands of hours to master a new skill, depending on its complexity, but the good news is that you can have fun riding and handling your e-bike while honing your effective, efficient, and fluid cornering mastery.
The three trickiest cycling situations that e-bikers encounter involve climbing, downhill biking, and turning. Whether biking through an urban area or jumping on mountain bike trails, cornering can test your cycling skills to the limit.
Whether you’re an experienced e-biker or a newbie, knowing how to handle your e-bike around various corners is key to leveling up your cycling game, avoiding washouts, and staying safe.
Knowing your e-bike well is always best before setting off on a ride where you may encounter turns. Wearing a safety helmet, ensuring that your brakes are in working order, positioning your bike and body for optimal results, and knowing how to handle a corner will help you skillfully and safely master your next corner.