Cornering – Equipment

Cornering - Equipment

  • Having pedals that provide for a large lean angle when pedaling around a corner is critical.  The pedal below is close to the ground but there is plenty of room.

  • The racer below is pedaling through a corner and is most like right the edge of hitting the ground.  It is important to be able to start your acceleration out of the corner as soon as possible.  In fact it is a key skill to learn how to pedal through a corner.

  •  I have been using Speedplay pedals for many years because they provide the greatest angle. In fact, I usually end up grinding the side of my shoes because I don’t hit the pedal. Hitting the shoe also provides for slightly less scary hit compared to hitting metal on the pavement since the shoe has some give when it hits the pavement.  If you have hit a pedal while going through a corner, you know how violent it can be.  It can cause some very scary crashes during a crit.  Speedplay pedals are also great because they are quick to get into at the start of a crit. If I don’t have a front row spot for the start of the crit (you should always try to get a front row spot), I always look at the pedals they guy has in front of me. If he does not have Speedplays, I always make sure that I am ready to go around him when is not able to get his pedal clipped in.
  • Crank length and bottom bracket high also play a role in your ability to pedal through a corner. I am a believer that you should choose your crank length based upon the size of your legs, i.e. follow the standard methods for this. Some frames have a lower bb height which will decrease your ability to pedal through a corner.  However, a lower bb height will reduce the center of gravity of the bike which can potentially help you corner faster.
  • Wheels – This is a balance item.  You want to have stiff/solid wheels for sprinting, but you want to have light rotating mass for acceleration out of each corner.  If you are a strong sprinter a pair of light weight climbing wheels won’t last very long.   Tubulars vs Clinchers: I don’t believe the difference is as great as it once was.  The maintenance headaches of tubluars for me does not justify the minor performance gains.  If have the cash, a pair of high-end light weight tubulars will be lighter and have slightly better cornering feel.
  • Good tires are critical for cornering.   Any of main manufactures (Vredestein,Continental, Michelin, Vittoria, Hutchinson, etc…)  of tires all make high-end tires that are good enough for anyone and can corner faster than you think your bike is capable.  The high-end tires are worth using just for racing because of the light weight and higher grip characteristics.  The key is to make sure that your have tires that are not worn out or have the flat spot in the center, i.e training tires.  Having tires that are relatively fresh help ensure that they stay pressurized during the race. The rubber on the tires is the first defense against getting a flat or worse slow leak during a crit. If you get a slow leak that you fail to notice, you can easily lose the wheel on a tight corner….not good.