Making your dirt bike turn faster around corners requires not only skills from the rider but also the tuning of the dirt bike settings.
Being able to turn fast on a dirt bike is important especially when you practice enduro dirt biking style trail riding and single track riding through tight corners and in the woods around trees.
Skills you can always practice. And then there are several things you can do to your dirt bike to make it perform better on a tight single track. Next, let’s turn our focus to the 7 best mods to make your dirt bike turn faster around corners.
All of the following steps can easily be completed with a normal DIY attitude and skill set. And most of them even without any special tools or prior experience.
So, buckle up and get ready to learn how to make your dirt bike turn faster and quicker on tight single tracks and trails.
1. Remove the Steering Stoppers To Make the Dirt Bike Turn Faster Around Corners
Removing the steering stoppers is the first and most effective way to make the dirt bike turn faster on a tight single track and especially when cornering around tight slow turns.
How do you sharp turn a dirt bike? Well, first let’s set the dirt bike to ideal settings for cornering.
The factory setup limits the steering from turning fully and leaves a lot of room for improvement. On a very tight single track and in some technical riding, adjusting or removing the steering stoppers allows the dirt bike to turn very quickly at slow speed.
The steering stoppers are adjustable and most of them can also be completely removed. The most typical limiting factors are the radiator and radiator guards. When removing the steering stoppers, make sure that the front forks and the triple tree clear the radiator and other bike parts completely.
If you are not able to completely remove the steering stoppers, adjust the bolt in as much as possible and also take the lock nut off for more clearance.
If the radiator guards or shrouds are limiting the full turning angle, consider modifying or changing the setup for more clearance. Some aluminum guards can also be filed off for more clearance.
2. Set the Steering Stem Nut Tightness
Yes. There is plenty of discussion out there about how the tightness of the steering stem nut affects the riding characteristics of a dirt bike. A loose steering stem nut will make the dirt bike turn faster and with less driver input.
In a nutshell, basically the tighter the nut is, the more stable the bike feels in higher speeds but also sluggish on turning, and vice versa. This can be taken advantage of in different conditions and riding styles.
On a very tight single track, the looser setting on the nut can open up the front end and make the steering feel very light. Starting from the factory setting, open a quarter turn and go test it out. Don’t forget to loosen the fork lower triple tree bolts when adjusting the steering stem nut so that the forks can slide without bonding the forks.
This can save a lot of energy in tight cornering. However, in high speeds and especially combined with rocky terrain or roots, a looser setting can be very dangerous and unstable.
Find the balance that works for you. It’s a simple adjustment that can be completed trailside and reasonably fast.
Read also: How To Align Dirt Bike Forks aka Twisted Forks
3. Cut the Handlebars to Make the Dirt Bike Turn Faster Around Trees
Most factory and aftermarket enduro handlebars are so called full wide bars. It means that they are shipped to you or installed on the bike on their widest setting. They are meant to be cut and adjusted to your body size, reach, and preferences. Many handlebars actually have stamped or grooved guide measurements in them so that it will be easier to cut them evenly.
On a single track and very tight trail riding, cutting the handlebars will make it much easier to dodge the trees and other obstacles. Especially, if the majority of your riding happens in the woods and on trails where you constantly go around trees and obstacles, it’s worth cutting the bars to make the dirt bike turn faster.
Cutting the handlebars is a fast and easy way to get better at riding on a tight single track. Start by cutting only a little bit and test it out to see how it feels. It takes few hours on the seat to feel comfortable with them. You don’t want to cut too much first and regret it.
Start with a quarter of an inch on each side. It already makes a huge difference. For us personally, cutting the handlebars half an inch on each side feels like an ideal solution.
4. Install Handguards
Installing handguards is a bit different advice since it doesn’t actually make the dirt bike turn any faster or easier. But it still makes your bike and you perform better on a tight single track.
It’s a combination of increased confidence, safety, and protection that together will help you push a little harder through the tight sections and not worry about small hits and slaps on your hands.
Correctly installed handguards can really help protect your hands and slide off of trees and rocks. They also help you avoid pinching your fingers between the levers and the handlebar.
We recommend the wrap around models for added protection.
5. Cut the Chain One Link Shorter
When you install a new chain, the process in most cases involves cutting the chain to length. Most chains have 2 to 3 extra loops to fit different bikes and sprocket combinations. When you cut the new chain, you usually have two options that will both fit so that the slack can be adjusted properly.
The shorter option, making the axle width (distance between the front and the rear tire) shorter, makes the dirt bike turn slightly easier and therefore makes the dirt bike turn faster. The difference can be very noticeable on a single track and also vice versa in a high-speed desert style riding.
So, in order to make the dirt bike turn faster, let’s use this to our advance. When installing a new chain, remember that some chains wear out and stretch easily and some don’t. If you are installing a new chain similar to the one you had before, compare the links and measure how much added length the old chain has. This can help you decide between two cut positions.
You can also cut your existing chain. Especially, if you are using a clip in your chain, this is a quick and easy adjustment that will make the bike turn slightly easier around tight corners.
Look at how far back the rear tire is and estimate how much cutting one loop will push the rear tire closer. If you have enough to set the correct chain slack, go for it.
6. Lift the Front Forks on the Triple Trees
How can I make my dirt bike corner faster? Lifting the front forks on the triple trees is a great way to make your dirt bike turn faster.
The front fork height on the triple trees has a big impact on the stability and turning of the dirt bike. The lower the front is, the better the dirt bike will turn.
In most dirt bikes, you will find 3 to 5 rings on top of each fork. The rings are at the very top of the fork, around quarter of an inch from the top. Each ring is a setting and, therefore, the range you can adjust the forks safely.
For a single track, you want to drop the front down closer to the ground to make the dirt bike turn faster. So, slide the forks UP on the triple trees to make the dirt bike turn faster. We run the third ring setting on the KTM for a very tight single track and the second ring for mixed trails or normal conditions.
Check out our step-by-step article about how to adjust front fork height. It will also explain the theory and typical setups for different riding styles.
And like always; test, ride, and adjust to find out what works for you.
7. Set the Correct Sag
How do you corner a dirt bike like a pro? Setting the correct sag is an important factor in making the dirt bike turn faster.
After you have completed all the other modifications, we recommend setting and adjusting the correct sag. For a tight single track, you should consider setting a slightly smaller sag to make the dirt bike turn faster.
Most manufacturers give you a recommended range for the total sag and we recommend going with the smaller drop. The slightly higher preload will then make the dirt bike rear end sit higher and not drop. The combination is very effective with a matching fork setting and will be a great help in maneuverability.
If you haven’t checked your dirt bike sag in a while, make sure to check out our detailed guide on how to set the dirt bike sag. It’s easy and definitely 15 minutes well spent!
There are many easy and effective ways to make the dirt bike turn faster. After completing all seven adjustments explained above, go test them out and gradually make changes to them if needed.
Far too often people ride with the same settings on all tracks when small trailside adjustments can make a big difference on the riding performance and safety. Don’t make the same mistake!
We hope that we gave you some new tips for how to make your dirt bike perform better. Now it’s your turn to make your dirt bike turn faster! And don’t forget to share these great tips with your riding buddies.
See you out there in tight corners!
Last updated: September 8th, 2022