The general rule is slow in, fast out. Get your braking over before leaning in, so that the bike is stable before you turn. If you reach a bend with the forks on the stops, it will be much harder to make the turn. Engine braking will upset the bike less than heavy use of the brakes.
Roll off the throttle smoothly and get in the right gear early. If you start to run wide, a bit of rear brake will pull the bike back into line.
A deeper line into the corner will improve visibility, but will make your turn sharper and you will need to turn in quicker.
We all counter-steer without thinking about it, but some positive pressure on the inside bar will force the bike to turn quicker.
Remember that the more you lean over, the more the engine braking will increase. In effect, as you go on to the smaller diameter part of the tyre, you change the gearing to a smaller sprocket and this increases torque.
Most people want to get rid of the ‘chicken strips’ on their tyres, by going into corners fast and leaning over as far as they can. In reality this isn’t always the fastest way to maintain speed on your journey.
What makes the most difference is the angle of lean, the time you spend at that angle and how quickly you get upright again. The more the bike is leaned over, the longer it will be at an angle and the longer it will take to get the bike back upright and on the power. Focus on the exit speed rather than the entry speed.
If you brake early, take an earlier apex line, you will be able to get the bike upright and back on the power earlier than you can with extreme lean angles. Knee down antics are good fun, but running on the edge of the tyre leaves no room for error or room to manoeuvre if the bend tightens up on you half way round.
If you lack confidence in cornering, you may turn in early to compensate for a perceived lack of skill, to avoid having to turn hard later on. This means you get closer to the apex before you are half way round. You will be going straighter than you should at the apex and have to lean over a long way to get round. Or end up running wide off the edge of the road or into oncoming traffic. Find a speed that doesn’t cause panic and practice turning in later.
Practice braking hard at different speeds. Start slow and build up as you get used to braking hard. This will not only give you confidence when you have to do it for real but will reduce your stopping distance in an emergency.
Practice braking with bent arms. In a stressful situation, it is natural to brace yourself for an impact but with bent arms you will have better control, find it easier to change direction and have more feel for the front tyre. Grip the tank with your thighs and try to move your elbows around. If you can’t, you are hanging on too tight.
Learn to cover the brake lever with at least two fingers all the time. At 60 mph, for every second it takes to open your hand and pull the lever, you will travel another 46 feet down the road. If a car pulls out on you, early braking will give you more time to plot a course around it. If you are going to hit something, the more speed you scrub off, the lesser the impact. Halving your speed reduces the force of the impact by four times. That might make the difference between walking away or not.
Above all, don’t be pressurised by your mates, or the person following you, to rush into a corner faster than you are comfortable with.