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Finding Your Turn Point


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I was riding an open trackday yesterday and watching some of the other riders. In various turns, I saw some people turning in early, which is a very common error, but in one particular corner I saw a couple of riders turning in late, and continuing to do it throughout the whole day.

 

We talk a lot about the error of turning in too early, but not as much about turning in too late.

 

So, here's the question for the group: how do you know when your turn point is too late? What indicator(s) would help you notice that?

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Not being able to use up all of the available room at the corner exit?

 

(BTW, great topic - I am eager to hear some answers on this because line selection is going to be important for me this year as I start racing and need to learn a few new tracks fairly quickly.)

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Couple of examples for each question:

 

Turn in too late - Chopped up braking, loss of drive for mid-corner & exit, tight to the inside on corner exit

Turn in too early - Lazy steering, no clean and decisive flick when setting line, running wide to early in the corner

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A major indicator for me for turning in too early OR too late is where I actually apex.

 

How quickly & aggressively I'm able to roll on throttle is another. Turning in early sucks because I generally apex early and still need to keep the bike leaned over quite a bit to complete the turn. As such, picking the bike up while rolling on the throttle aggressively has to wait. Come to think of it, turning in too late causes a similar problem :).

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So this is an interesting topic. I use the school's technique of the 3 step to get through the turns if I can see all 3 elements of entry apex and exit. Once it becomes second nature you see an imaginary line through the turn in your mind.

 

To answer the question presented though I know when I turn too late when I have to either make course corrections or if I end up in the wrong place on the exit. I experienced this in a panic situation on a wet track when I entered way too fast for conditions and was almost certain I was going to end up in the gravel when I missed my regular turn point. The entire corner was a kludge of adjustments and I had to lean the bike way farther over than I normally did to complete the turn.

 

The real joy of "getting it right" is making a single steering input and having the bike effortlessly pass through the corner while you focus your attention on your exit throttle control.

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A major indicator for me for turning in too early OR too late is where I actually apex.

 

How quickly & aggressively I'm able to roll on throttle is another. Turning in early sucks because I generally apex early and still need to keep the bike leaned over quite a bit to complete the turn. As such, picking the bike up while rolling on the throttle aggressively has to wait. Come to think of it, turning in too late causes a similar problem :).

 

OK, good answers from everyone! Yup, turning in early will usually mean an early apex and then running wide on the exit, and/or having to make steering corrections.

 

Turning in too LATE can also be indicated by your apex - it may be too late, in which case you end up on the inside of the track at the exit so you are not using all the track (which means you didn't straighten out the corner as much as possible, and thus your entry/corner speed was lower than it could have been), OR something else commonly seen is turning in too late and not being able to GET to the apex you wanted.

 

For example, at my track day the other day I watched riders take a a very late turn point (they were watching each other, I think), and then never get anywhere near the inside edge of the track at the apex; I'd say they were at least fifteen feet wide of an apex cone that had been set at the edge of the track by the trackday provider. Ergo, they didn't really straighten out the corner as much as possible and then they had to compensate for that by either using a very low entry speed, or by stalling on the throttle to keep from running wide.

 

RChase's statement above is a nice restatement of the definition of a good turn point: one that allows you to make one steering input, and apply good throttle control through the corner.

 

Sometimes when you use an entry point that is too late, you make your turn angle into the corner much tighter (more acute) than it needed to be; anybody remember which Level 3 classroom topic and track drill addresses that?

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On the street I often use a very late turn in point. For the simple reason of better visibility and it keeps me tight on exit, away from those dangerous oncoming vehicles in right hand turns. And on left hand turns it keeps me away from them as they exit and I enter.

 

On the street at a moderate or even spirited pace this seems to make sense for no other reason that safety.

 

At the track, since usually visibility is much better and I will have seen the same corner a bajillion times. I typically only turn in "late" if I need a tighter exit line for a consecutive corner to be set up better. Say turn 4/5 at VIR north; late into 4 to hold a tighter line exiting to set up for 5

 

But I guess this isn't answering your too late question.

 

Too late would kill your drive through and off the corner since it is likely you would have lean further which would mean carrying less speed and wait on the throttle til you got the bike more upright.

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Turning in too LATE can also be indicated by your apex - it may be too late, in which case you end up on the inside of the track at the exit so you are not using all the track (which means you didn't straighten out the corner as much as possible, and thus your entry/corner speed was lower than it could have been), OR something else commonly seen is turning in too late and not being able to GET to the apex you wanted.

 

For example, at my track day the other day I watched riders take a a very late turn point (they were watching each other, I think), and then never get anywhere near the inside edge of the track at the apex; I'd say they were at least fifteen feet wide of an apex cone that had been set at the edge of the track by the trackday provider. Ergo, they didn't really straighten out the corner as much as possible and then they had to compensate for that by either using a very low entry speed, or by stalling on the throttle to keep from running wide.

 

RChase's statement above is a nice restatement of the definition of a good turn point: one that allows you to make one steering input, and apply good throttle control through the corner.

 

Sometimes when you use an entry point that is too late, you make your turn angle into the corner much tighter (more acute) than it needed to be; anybody remember which Level 3 classroom topic and track drill addresses that?

 

 

IIRC, that is the Attack Angles drill, which I really learned a lot from. One of the many things I like about CSS is that we are actually encouraged (albeit mainly during this drill) to use different lines / different attack angles and get comfortable with different approaches to a corner. As a result, there is a much better understanding of what needs to be done differently as you enter, apex, and exit the corner. It really helped with my passing ability. Most track day organizations want you to always "hold the race line", pretty much to a fault.

 

There is one turn at NJMP Thunderbolt that, because of the way it is configured, a late apex actually slows you down. I had been consistently turning in too late, hitting an apex that was far into the turn, and not getting a strong drive out (and not using all the track available to me). Finally during a break, I went over to watch this corner and noticed how the coaches & faster riders were turning and apexing much earlier than I had been. They were getting great drives out as well. So I started to experiment with a few different turn in points and found my sweet spot. What a difference.

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