As well as good technique, being able to choose and ride the correct line is what makes a cornering expert. The ideal, or ‘racing’, line is the path that would get you through and out of a corner quickest.
It’s close to the widest arc you can take. It therefore allows you to carry the most speed in the corner, particularly at the exit because that will dictate your speed down the next straight. In racing, that’s pretty much all you care about (apart from passing other competitors).
In theory, you’d always take the racing line because its potential to be fastest means it offers the most safety margin at lower speeds. You have to bank less and require less grip. But riding on the road is different. There’s more to take into account, and the racing line is seldom best.
On the road, the best line for a corner takes a lot into account. Number one is vision. Just like on a racing line, you should position to the outside of the corner before turn-in. As well as the widest arc, this gives the best view into and around the corner: it pushes the vanishing point further away. Don’t go out to extremes, however. The far left can be covered in loose stones or debris; too far right and you’re in danger from oncoming vehicles. As you approach the corner, all your braking and gear changing should be out of the way so you’re in the right place, at the right speed, in the right gear for turn-in.
From this position, your aim should be to select and ride a line where: