In the spirit of Bilbo Baggins, who was called a thief by the great dragon Smeagol, I helped train the boys of Matamata College how to steal maximum traction from a bermed corner.
With the Kaimai ranges as a majestic backdrop and Sir Peter Jacksons version of the Shire only a few kilometres away, we had been working on individual needs until the time for the next level came to be. Whether they were ready for this little stinger was up to them.
If you watch a top AMA rider really nail a berm, they actually begin leaning hard into a turn on the flat ground before they even get to the berm.
They can then choose to stay lower in the berm if they wish, spreading their hardest turning area out over a greater distance than we are used to. This means they can carry more speed through the turn.
You have to get very wide before the turn to make the most of this, so be careful that no one is right behind you who might take that as an open door.
The actual movement is quite scary as you enter fast and lean earlier than usual. I reassure myself with the knowledge that if I do find my wheels washing out, the berm will catch me.
You can choose to do the main turn standing up, like Ryan Villipoto often did, or sit early like James Stewart. Either way you will be leaning into the turn with your bike and also finding the balance point with your body so that the wheels have an even amount of weight pushing through them.
“One more note, try to avoid locking up the rear brake. It will limit the amount of lean you will be able to commit to.”
It was interesting to see who chose the standing style versus sitting, and it actually looked like standing until ready to power hard was the best way.
It didn’t always work mind you. One berm had a hump near the beginning that messed up a few of the riders, including myself. But as you can see from these pics, there was plenty of success on the other main berm!