How to Turn Safely on a Motorcycle


You cannot learn how to safely turn and ride a motorcycle solely by reading about it. Rider courses, such as the ones offered by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, give you hands-on experience along with personal instruction, and will teach you how to safely handle your bike, make good judgments on the road and how to ride defensively. It is strongly recommended that you take such a course before you start as a new rider. As part of the rider course, you will learn to turn your motorcycle safely.

.Body Position

  • Turning a motorcycle at speeds above 15 to 20 mph -- depending on the bike -- requires a rigid riding stance that keeps your body in line with the vertical axis of the bike. In other words, you must lean your body at the same angle as the bike so that your weight loads directly onto the bike, instead of leaning to the side, which will try to stand the bike up or sharpen the turn. Turning at speed also requires a technique called counter-steering, which essentially steers the front end of the bike away from the desired turn until the bike leans over into the turn.

Turning at Low Speed

  • Turning at speeds below 15 mph allows you to take a more relaxed stance. Keep your body vertical to the horizon and allow the bike to lean beneath you. Initiate your turns with a slightly exaggerated counter-steering motion, then steer into the turn to catch the bike and prevent it from turning too sharply. Counter-steer into the turn, again with a slightly exaggerated motion, to bring the bike back into the vertical and stop the turn.

Driving Strategy

  • Turn your head and look through the turn as you enter it, and avoid looking at the entry of the turn. This helps you to find a natural radius to follow, and prevents over-corrections during the entry. Bear in mind that your position in the lane when exiting the turn is the most important consideration when choosing your speed and radius through the curve, and ideally you should be able to make your entry and exit in the appropriate slots within the lane with no drastic corrections in steering or speed.


  • The front brake is safe to use in moderation during gentle curves at speed, but be careful not to use it in slow turns as it can cause you to drop the bike. Decrease speed before the turn if you are unsure about the conditions ahead, then hold your speed or slightly increase it smoothly through the turn.

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