Teaching kids how to carve turns on a bicycle

Once you have balance down, bicycle riding is a breeze. The one difficulty new and some experienced bike riders might have is negotiating a turn. Nervousness can take your concentration away from the feeling of balancing on the bike – turns can be too wide, putting you in line with traffic, or they can be too sharp, causing you to ditch your bike into the curb. That’s why some riders are afraid to really move fast into a turn; what is called carving a turn. While I have cycled almost every day for the past 20+ years, I just learned to carve turns a few years ago. And what a gas it is! I love to swing my bike left, and then right, just to feel the momentum shifting. While carving a turn is not something touring riders need to know, it is a technique that might come in handy. Carving turns will help riders gain time in triathlon or road races, and, quite frankly, it’s a whole lot of fun.

This past year one of my goals was to teach my kids how to do it. Now, I’d like to show you the basics so you can practice and become an efficient carver.

Before you try to learn carving you must make sure the tires on your bike are properly inflated. Under inflated tires are not safe. If you don’t know the PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) required for the type of tire on your rims, look at the side of the tire. The correct PSI is imprinted along with other information.

Here are the key steps in carving a turn:

1. If you are turning right you need your left foot down, and vice versa.
2. You should put the majority of your weight on the foot that is down.
3. Keep your head steady and look at the line where you want to ride. Your eyes will pick the line, so make sure to keep them steady. Like with a car your bike will go wherever you look.
4. Lean the bike as much as possible without turning the steering, this will keep the maximum amount of momentum through the turn.
5. Push your rear end on the side of the saddle or to carve a super sharp turn lift your rear end off the saddle and swing your hip in the opposite direction of the carve. This will give you maximum momentum and deliver a very cool carve.
6. Don't bail out unless absolutely necessary.

If you can’t watch others carving on a bicycle try watching how skiers do it. A skier moves more like a bicyclist. Watching motorcyclist carve a turn isn’t the best option because the hip movement is not the same. They have a lot of power under them and it is directed differently than it is with a light bike or skies. Practicing swinging your hips to the left and right without dropping them down will help.

Carving is not an easy technique, but it is fun, and it will allow you to maintain most of your momentum in any turn.

Happy cycling!

©2018 Dr. Yan Lyansky