Video: Cornering Cone Drills with Finn Iles

Jul 22, 2020
by James Smurthwaite  

bigquotesWant to be fast? Here's a look at how I'm keeping my skills on the bike sharp and the competitive juices flowing with my friends in the Whistler area. Big thanks to Joel from Blueprint Athlete Development for getting this crew of racers together in Squamish.Finn Iles



45 Comments

  • 20 1
 Most of the cornering videos I've seen and classes I've been to are catering to beginner/intermediate riders. I'd love to see one where a coach works with a professional rider.
  • 4 1
 I completely agree. Interesting to see that they are generally keeping their pedals flat in this video which goes against the maybe more conventional technique of dropping your outside foot in flat corners. I'd love to learn more about the reasoning behind that.
  • 5 0
 @skigates: Yeah, most pros only drop their foot as much as they need to. Dropping the outside really should be used as a counterbalance or to keep the bike from low siding. If you enter a corner with your foot dropped you then have to weight the inside grip to lean the bike (IOW, you have to work against your own weight on the outside pedal to lean the bike to the inside). Beginners are taught to weight the outside pedal because it's a simple to get started I think.
  • 13 0
 @skigates: Totally depends on the corner. These are a lot of back-to-back corners which require quick movements and weight shifts between them. Dropping a foot here doesn't make sense because you can't switch your weight fast enough. Further, these are (mostly) corners with decent support, so you can push more into them without sliding out.

Foot-down cornering is more for flatter corners, and corners where you don't need to change direction quickly afterwords. Both techniques are useful, but for supported corners, most folks keep their feet relatively level.
  • 13 0
 I've coached Finn"s brother Jack, Mitch Ropelato, Cody Kelly, Shawn Neer, McKay Vezina, Luca Cometti amoung other pros. Most riders watching videos like this pickup on the big picture skills like looking past the exit of the turn and using counter pressure to lean their bike not their body. There are a lot of subtle pieces like leading with your outside elbow that even many world cup pros miss.
  • 8 1
 you just watched one?
  • 2 0
 @skigates: I have found corning with flat crank position allows you to corner like you are on ski's. You "edge" with your feet and fine tune with your handlebars. This works great as long as you are looking far ahead to handle any slides.
  • 1 0
 @BetterRide: I love the leading with your outside elbow concept btw. It's a positive indicator that I'm getting that elbow up, weighting the outside grip and turning my shoulders.
  • 1 0
 @skigates: When I did my level one coaching the recommendation was to corner with pedals level or with a slight drop to the outside because while there may be an advantage in cornering traction with the leg dropped, having the weight that uneven and not level doesn't allow you to adjust to the terrain or the next movement as easily. The dropped outside leg is a regular stay in road bike technique where you don't have to adjust to variable terrain as rapidly. However, I believe a bunch of really accomplished pros, like Fabian Barel, still endorse dropping the outside leg. So who knows...may come down to preference but that was the justification I was taught. I try to play around with pedal feel and really trying to feel the outside weight through the foot and arms without actually dropping the foot.
  • 5 0
 @skigates: most riders watching this are looking for the « right » cornering technique like there could only be one and only. The more different technique you master the better you’ll become in varying scenarios.
  • 1 0
 @skigates: If you look closely they are dropping the outside foot slightly into the apex of the corner.
  • 2 0
 @jeremy3220: yep totally agee, and I think that's not emphasised enough. Beginners think it's one or the other, drop or flat. if they drop they do it before the corner to get set, which counter balances their bike the wrong way before they hit the corner. After much expirimentation, I enter every corner flat to keep balanced, turn my knees as I'm cornering, which lowers my outside heel and pedal as much as I need for the type of corner, grip needed, etc. Some swooping beamed comers pedals will be flat. Tight rutted corners I'll come out pretty much dropped. Same technique every corner and try and keep it fluid, which gets me away from the step by step cornering process in my head. Works best for me.
  • 4 0
 @BetterRide: please explain leading with the outside elbow
  • 4 0
 @skigates: I encourage them to keep their pedals flat (for the most part) because once you drop the outside foot strength gets cut in half and with the speed/compression they're dealing with they need all the strength they can get.

We were also focused on front end only in that session, so we kept it simple. Front end grip has always been our main priority.

Dropping the outside foot isn't wrong, but in my experience there are quite a few other things that can be done to improve grip before a foot needs to be dropped.

Hope that helps!
  • 3 0
 @BetterRide: what does leading with your outside elbow mean?
  • 2 0
 @kirny6: Your elbows should be up and out and your elbow that is on the outside of the turn should be inline with your handlebar (not behind the bar). You practice this by really exaggerating it, going to almost a golf grip and actually getting your elbow in front of your handlebar.

There are a lot more details like this in cornering, each little piece adds up.

Some of my students to watch who do this well or Mitch Ropelato, Cody Kelly, Shawn Neer and McKay Vezina.

The best racer to watch Amaury Pierron, his cornering technique is flawless.
  • 2 1
 gotta wonder why "beginners" are taught incorrectly in the first place! That dropping & weighting outside pedal probably comes from watching road motorcycles/bicycles corner - where there's no chance of tires drifting/sliding out. And why even bother with that in any corner on a mountain bike? Just one more thing to not have to do or think about. Nobody teaches a beginner incorrect technique on a piano, etc.
  • 1 0
 @Bobshalit: I think the idea is that dropping the foot to 6 o'clock is a simple and safe technique beginners can easily pick up. But I agree that this may not be the best way to teach it. I think focusing on proper posture (hip hinge, flat back, elbows out, etc) would be more effective than focusing on footwork at first. I think a lot riders naturally use the equal weight foot technique to a degree and by teaching to drop the foot all the way down riders have to unlearn natural instincts, learn the 6 o'clock technique, then eventually unlearn the 6 o'clock and learn the more advanced technique of dynamic footwork which is more natural IMO.
  • 2 0
 @Bobshalit: there is no « incorrect « technique, just different technique for different scenarios. Every corner is different so cornering is an adaptive process. Foot down is not a « beginners «  technique nor that level pedals is an « advanced technique » watch any high level racers and you’ll see both technique being used
  • 12 1
 The “active pressure” on the outside hand is the best technical tip for more advanced cornering I’ve seen in a while. There’s also a really good Paul the Punter video with Kasper Woolley that helped me figure out the lower body movement too. I think these two videos together, along with the comes I just ordered are the key to getting me out of Cat2 racing!
  • 2 0
 what is active pressure on the outside hand?? i understand the words but not how it translates to the bike.. how should that feel??
  • 2 1
 @VZLNMTB: outside hand counter steers, you apply pressure the opposite direction of the corner which allows a carve with control, the faster you are going the more pressure you apply. It's easiest to learn on a big long berm rather than sort sharp corners like in the video.
  • 5 0
 @VZLNMTB: It should feel like you are propping up your weight on your outside grip using your pecs and delts. Once you feel it it can't be unfelt.
  • 1 2
 I disagree: v. slight active pressure should go to the INSIDE corner hand/grip at the SAME TIME as the hips rotate to the outside of turn while keeping all weight on LEVEL pedals. It’s simple physics and it works. “Compress fork/push front tire into dirt” slows a body down, takes time, and when tire slides out, then what? -recovery unlikely.
Term like “countersteer“, or stating “put outside elbow up” aren’t helpful - these happen naturally as needed when jcornering correctly and can become a conscious distraction.
  • 1 1
 @Bobshalit: how many World Cup wins do the athletes you coach have?
  • 1 0
 @Mattysville: the same number as you!
  • 1 0
 @Mattysville: it's exactly what Simon Bosman teaches, btw. Scroll down - try it - you'll get much better at cornering, and fast.
  • 12 0
 Cornering is the difference between an average rider and a great rider. I am firmly in the former!
  • 8 0
 Man I wish I had the maturity and humility that Finn has at his young age. Take note kids, that’s what success looks like.
  • 3 0
 Anyone here every try switching their front foot with level pedals. I am normally a left foot forward and tried switching to right. It felt soooo weird. almost felt like cranks were longer when i put my right forward. I am going to keep practicing switching between left and right forward now to see if that improves anything.
  • 1 0
 I try from time to time but like you it feels like my legs are further apart and its awkward to get used to. I've tried to do whole laps on the local pump track "oppo" footed and its hard not to automatically revert to my normal stance after certain corners.
  • 6 1
 Kasper looks light on the bike. Good training idea and the first trail looked sick.
  • 12 0
 His YouTube video with Paul the Punter was one of the best cornering tutorials I’ve seen, check it out if you haven’t already.
  • 5 0
 Link to the video if people want it!!!! Great video... both of them

www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJf4bQ1y1f0
  • 4 0
 That is sweet! I've seen those carve marks in that spot quite often...always wondered what they were from!
  • 1 0
 When I was coached by Simon Bosman of Sedona (formerly of US Masters Downhill Team), I learned a new style of cornering, and made a quantum leap in my cornering confidence and speed. I also started noticing, when I watched videos of the best - from Fearon to Hill, et al., there’s NO TIME to weight and unweight front suspension/tire going into turns; similarly, there's NO TIME to get outside pedal down/inside pedal up to ready for the next corner, etc. That's OLD school, yet nearly everyone still "teaches" it.

Simon Says, as much as possible, weight should be fully and EVENLY distributed on both tires during cornering - achieved by standing on pedals with handlebars UNweighted - then, if one tire or both tires slide, the more stable tire is instantly accessed to control the slide. Here's what I learned:

(1) keep weight ~98+% on pedals (standing, of course) which are kept LEVEL (parallel) with Earth (also helps prevents pedal strikes);

(2) keep handlebars ~98+% UNweighted - in "principle" one should be able to lift hands off grips at all times - no weighting/unweighting, ie, no pushing front suspension/tire into corner - both front and rear tires are “pushed” evenly through fully-weighted pedals that are kept parallel to Earth;

(3) hips are swiveled to outside of turn, while inside hand presses slightly down to lower inside grip toward ground - that's the only "weighting" done with bars, and it's done effortlessly;

(4) forefingers rest on brake levers;

(5) look as far down a line as possible (of course).

...it's like dancing!
  • 4 0
 2:04 "so we're gonna head down the hill and do some cones"
  • 3 0
 6:05 "we moved to a new zone and now we're doing more technical cones"
  • 3 0
 Great video showing off the cornering skills of pro riders.
  • 1 0
 fantastic video. biking changes when you learn to corner like these dudes. if you want addl traning, go skiing and mash your edges.
  • 2 0
 Killer program by Joel Harwood.
  • 1 0
 This was good. I liked it.
  • 1 0
 that looks so fun.
  • 1 0
 Great article

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