cruiser motorcycle
Professional Tips

How to Ride a Cruiser Motorcycle: Mastering Cornering

If you’re a beginner, learning how to ride a cruiser motorcycle can seem difficult and even overwhelming in the beginning. But with our tips on how to handle your new cruiser, how to ride a motorcycle in the rain, and how to take corners on your new bike, you should be able to easily handle your new motorcycle, safely.

If you’ve decided to forego a motorcycle riding instructional course and have decided to go about it alone, our tips will teach you how to control your bike and navigate the roads.

Key Takeaway: Cornering on a cruiser motorcycle takes serious skill. If you’re not confident in your ability to handle corners on this type of bike we highly recommend taking a cruiser motorcycle specific instructional course. Safety is obviously a priority. Our tips will help you learn how to corner on your cruiser safely, but if you’re not an experienced motorcyclist, training from a pro is a safer option.

Keep reading to learn more about the art of cornering on a cruiser.

Changing Your Riding Style

Even if you’ve ridden a bike for years and you’re confident in your riding skills, if you’ve never ridden a cruiser, you’ll quickly realize you have to change up your riding techniques a bit, especially when it comes to cornering.

Safety Gear

The Sena 20S-01D Motorcycle Bluetooth 4.1 Communication System is one of the best motorcycle helmet speakers on the market, but as a new cruiser rider, your main focus should not be on answering calls or listening to music. We recommend avoiding this type of distraction until you master riding this style of motorcycle first. However, the best motorcycle helmet speakers systems can be essential if you need to stay up to date with current road and weather conditions and come highly recommended by the pros as a safety tool first.

The Biggest Problem with Riding a Cruiser

Most riders don’t initially realize just how tough riding a cruiser can be until they’re actually out on the road. Then they quickly realize how difficult it is to corner on one of these bikes. So remember, in the beginning, keep your eyes on the road and your head in the game.

In most instructional courses that focus specifically on cruiser feature curriculum that mainly focuses on adjusting your riding based on environment. Riding a cruiser is slightly different than handling a hog. Especially when it comes to cornering.

While it can be a lot of fun to accelerate on a cruiser, the lack of cornering clearance tends to punish the rider who takes corners too quickly. Unlike a hog, these bikes tend to drag earlier, which is what makes cornering so difficult. Obviously, the best solution is to slow down when you’re riding but this is a hard rule to stick to for most bikers.

The best practice is to focus more on using your brakes for cornering. If you love catching speed you must keep it in the back of your mind that you’ll have to use the brakes for every corner and use them earlier. This helps to build straight line pressure, especially if you trail  farther into the corner. You must change your speed to match each corner because a corner can’t change to match your speed.

Why the Cruiser is Different From a Traditional Bike

The bike’s wide handlebars tend to encourage harsh, more aggressive counter-steering. A biker will have more than enough leverage to flick their bike into corners from side to side. As we briefly touched on, you have to adjust to the lack of cornering clearance. A biker who snaps their bike into a corner risks smashing the bike’s undercarriage on the street. This will immediately unload the tires or cause the bike to bounce upright.

When you’re new to riding a cruiser, you want to focus on smoothing out steering inputs and resisting the urge to chuck the bike around. In a linear manner, if the rider adds a lean angle they should be able to trail off brake pressure. When the cruiser is steered in a linear manner you can expect some light drag instead of the bike slamming into the ground.

Stop Revving that Engine

On a cruiser, when you grab a handful of throttle it means a major hit is being sent to the bike’s rear tire. Most riders will love the sound of the bike’s engine and end up getting in the habit of revving the engine instead of allowing the bike to idle. You have to break this habit of revving the engine, whether you’re exiting a corner or waiting at a red light.

The issue here is when the grip level of the pavement is compromised or the bike tires are brand new, worn out, or cold. A sloppy throttle can become more dangerous as the bike gets faster. Avoiding aggressive throttle on a cruiser is important if you want to avoid a potential crash or serious damage to your bike.

Smooth Acceleration

Another issue when a rider grabs a handful of throttle is the fact that increasing the bike’s speed will open your radius, while road camber and lean angle stay equal. If the bike’s rear tire grips the pavement, using an aggressive acceleration opens the bike’s radius too quickly. If you do this with cornering you’re headed for a serious injury or even death. This can happen quickly. You’re about to take a corner and your bike is leaned over when all of a sudden there’s a large dip in the load. With the lean angle, the foot pegs will end up digging into the tarmac while the exhaust scrapes the surface of the ground. Next, the side stand will hit the ground, causing the rear wheel to lose contact with the ground and lift up into the air. When it comes back down it will start skipping sideways, causing the bike to stand up, sending it wide in the corner.

Sudden surprises like this one can make cornering a real chore and one misstep can lead to a trip to the hospital.

Faster, Safer Cornering

Obviously, with the cruiser’s low clearance, cornering is a major problem. The low and long pipes, plush suspension, low panniers, forward foot controls, and the long wheelbase makes this worse.

For beginners, there’s really no way to get around going slower and laying on the brakes when cornering. If you adjust the rear spring and shock for improved damping and stiffness, this can make things a little easier, but there’s not much you can do about clearance problems with these bikes.

When you brake it makes the bike sit on its suspension. When you use the front brakes it compresses the forks but ends up bringing up the rear. Additionally, acceleration can make the bike lift on its front suspension. In some cases, hitting the brakes can worsen things because it can reduce clearance and compress the suspension. If you choose a lower gear this means that you’ll be able to tighten the line by rolling off the throttle a little.

Shifting your weight to the inside of the cruiser is basically the only way to make the cruiser turn more than its lean angle. Because of the height of the bars and the riding position, getting your knee down on this type of bike is downright impossible. However, moving your body inside and forward by sitting up straighter and leaning the top of your body toward the inside mirror as you’re turning can help a lot.

How to Ride a Cruiser Motorcycle: Mastering Cornering
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How to Ride a Cruiser Motorcycle: Mastering Cornering
If you're new to riding a cruiser, or riding a motorcycle in general, then you won't want to miss this article that discusses how to master cornering.