Snapping Turns

Riders often ask me about snapping turns. Essentially snapping a turn means you are creating acceleration out of the turn, and encountering a force known as lateral acceleration. It’s an amazing feeling which creates both forward motion and control. We gain more control on our bike - just as we gain more control in a car - by accelerating through a turn.

The first time most humans experience lateral acceleration is on a swing as a child. There is something really special about the sensation of being on a swing. Even small children are able to power a swing without being pushed by someone. On a swing, the act of driving the feet through at the bottom of the swing stroke creates acceleration and allows us to swing higher and higher.

Snapping a turn is a very similar sensation and action. When we are snapping a turn, we are essentially creating footwork in the ‘cup’ of the turn – allowing our outside foot to match it’s down stroke with the shape of the turn. This creates forward motion from the loading of the outside leg, while simultaneously allowing us to turn our body in the direction we want to go.

To try this, find some relatively short radius banked turns. Keep your feet level as you enter the turn and then let the outside leg push down into the sweet spot or ‘cup’ of the turn. Often this is best done by thinking about opening the inside knee in the direction we want to go. As we open the inside knee, the outside foot will go down since we’ll be reducing weight on the inside foot as we look through the turn with the inside knee.

On one side this will be front foot turn, and on the other side this will be a back foot turn. If you lead left foot forward, you left turn will be a back foot turn and your right will be a front foot turn. If you lead right foot forward, your left turn will be a front foot turn and your right turn a back foot turn.

Once you start linking bermed turns in succession it feels almost as if your bike has a motor as it accelerates from turn to turn. This is all about timing, so be patient and practice moving into the turn with level feet then making the most of the sweet spot or ‘cup’ of the turn.