Small circles?

Could someone give me some tips on riding in circles? Right now when I turn I sort of twist my hips in short jerky motions. My turns are unpredictable and wide.

I watch “how to” videos where someone recommends holding on to a stick, and riding circles around it. Ok this is extremely difficult when you can’t even make a big circle… not really helpful to the absolute beginner.

I thought there might be some secret … like pressing harder on the down stroke on one pedal, or reaching with the inside arm, something to encourage the turn. please anything : D

I found leaning my inside knee out, and pedaling with the outside edge of my foot helped, but I’m certain this is in bad form.


Riding in (smooth) circles is actually not real easy. So called “stop sign” turns are very common for beginning, and also more experienced riders. (This is making turns and U-turns by riding short, straight segments and a quick partial turn, followed by another straight segment, and so on.)
One way I have used to try to smooth out my turns is to practice on an outdoor basketball court. I ride around the circle that’s painted in the center. Following the circle is convenient, because you can tell right away when you’re being anything other than smooth. This allows you to practice leaning and keeping smooth pedal strokes.
Good luck! :slight_smile:

Don’t twist you hip. Instead, lean your hip to the side.
Look at the body position in this video. From her hip to her head, she is perfectly upright and not twisted. From her hip down to the floor, she leans inward. That’s exactly what you want to do. Shift your hip to the side, and you’ll ride a circle.

as a relative newby or I should say relearning I know how you feel. I found what helped me the most was to turn my head and look the direction I wanted to turn, your body will follow. and it takes time and practice. after a little time you can make the turns tighter and tighter.

Great tips thanks. I tried turning my head and also tried pushing me hip to the inside. Both of these initiated a turn. Still working on it.

Work on a large smooth circle first then get smaller.
I would try keeping your head high and your back as straight as possible.
Look where you want to go. (Barely initiate with a slight shoulder twist)

Stay balanced in your saddle and lean like one long stick. Every corner, speed, and wheel size has a different balance point but they will become automatic in time.

Once you have the basics down then you can start separating the uni tilt from the upper body tilt.

Oh… and always pedal hard.

That’s a good general rule for nearly all forms of body movement. The head will lead the body; genearlly toward where your eyes are pointed.

Other good stuff in his post but that’s the starting point. Find a big circle, and try to ride it smoothly. How do you do that? By “balancing” a small fall to the left. As you ride faster, your line will tend to straighten out. If you slow down while turning, the turn will get sharper. So naturally, what you want is to ride at a steady speed until you can figure out what kind of lean works.

It doesn’t really matter if you lean just your upper body or lean everything. Keeping your upper body upright is good for quick or short turns, but leaning everything looks cooler, and allows you to turn sharper for a given speed.

The reason your pedaling is jerky is because you are getting either too much turn, and having to pause until you lean in again, or two much turn, and having to pedal a little harder to stay balanced. So work on a consistent speed, and try to smooth out the pedaling.

As this starts to get easier, try a smaller circle. You might need to pedal slower as the circle starts to get real small. You’ll know you’ve made it when your head stays in about the same place; that’s basically a spin! :slight_smile:

Oh, and don’t become lopsided; make sure you practice in both directions. Most people have a preferred direction of turning, but that’s no excuse, work them both.

I’ll add to what John said:

Do the smallest circle you can do smoothly, then go the other direction for a figure 8. Repeating this will force you to go both directions. I found this exercise heightened my awareness of the leaning process as I changed circle directions.

Good one, Super G! The switch of direction keeps it moving and changing.

Also I forgot to mention shoulders. Looking where you want to go is the beginning of this, but as the turns get tighter, or if you want them to happen faster, turn your upper body the way you want to go. Point your outside shoulder more to the front, and inside shoulder more to the rear. This twist of the upper body is almost like turning the handlebars, once you learn the flow of it. I learned this from Artistic Bicycling. It’s harder to maneuver a whole bike when the front end is sticking out way in front of the wheel. One of my coaches told me to basically point my outside arm toward the front, and that made a big difference.

This also works for the backward spins you will eventually want to do :slight_smile: Now the outside shoulder points to the rear, of course. It keeps your spin going, instead of running out of energy.

Here is a pretty good video demonstrating turning the upper body in the direction of the circle on a 36er.