Banked Turns are used on roller coasters to minimise the lateral G-forces on riders helping to make cornering more comfortable. When negotiating a banked turn, the track twists and tips the train to the side in the direction of the turn. Nascar events take place on high-speed, oval-shaped tracks with turns banked so cars can maintain a higher speed when turning. The higher the degree of banking on a track, the faster cars can push through them to outrun their competition. This same concept applies to roller coasters.
The Ultimate Banked Turn
Banked Turns reduces the rider’s sensation of being thrown sideways by tilting the roller coaster train sideways. The trick is to tilt the track just the right amount required based on the speed of the roller coaster train. The faster the train, the higher the degree of banking.
The ideal banked turn is one where no outside forces are required to keep the train on the track. As an example, if the banked turn was covered with ice (therefore providing no friction) and the roller coaster train had no steering mechanism the train would naturally remain on the track. In a similar manner to a real bobsleigh ride, Avalanche at Blackpool Pleasure Beach is a perfect example of this, the roller coaster train does not run on a track and relies on banked turns at the appropriate angle to help ensure that the train stays on course, maintaining its momentum right through until the end of the ride.
Outward Banked Turn
On rare occasions, outward banked turns are used to add an element of interest to the coaster experience. A great example of this can be found on Mumbo Jumbo at Flamingo Land Resort in North Yorkshire. In the majority of cases, outward banked turns are taken at slower speeds in order to avoid generating uncomfortably high lateral G-forces.
When a banked turn continues to create an upward or downward spiral of approximately 360 degrees or more, it is then called a helix.
Non Banking Turn
On Wild Mouse and Twister style roller coaster rides you will often encounter non-banked turns which are basically a flat curve. These corners give riders the sensation of being thrown sideways. If the roller coaster trains velocity is fast enough and the radius small enough, the stresses on the car’s undercarriage can be tremendous.