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MCN  says:

You Ask/You Answer: Countersteering

"I'm new to riding, and people keep telling me to steer the wrong way into corners – which certainly wasn't mentioned in my training! I've done some digging online, and have read up on the theory of 'countersteering' but there seem to be lots of conflicting opinions on the practice. Is it the right thing to do, or is it...

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  • Posted 2 years ago (10 December 2012 13:28)

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Jun 06

Posts: 9

djawillis says:

You dont need to try

The simple fact of the matter is you already counter steer, everyone does. At speeds over say 5-10 mph there is no other way to initiate your turn, even if you think you don't you do! In a strait line all forces are in equilibrium and you need to unbalance these to turn, this is done by counter steering. I'm only a 2nd year motorcycle engineering student so dont have complete understanding but for full information vittore cossalter's Motorcycle dynamics is the book you want, its a bit wordy mind.

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Dec 12

Posts: 2

gordlb says:


One reason is 'torque-induced precession'. A good write up here: An easy demo: take a front bicycle wheel off the bike and hold the axle in both hands, with arms outstretched in front of you. Have a friend stand in front of you and spin the wheel from the top, then try turning the wheel either left or right and try to keep your hands parallel to the ground...can't be done! The wheel will lean opposite your motion every time. Another easy test: while riding down the road at any reasonable speed--over 60K or so works best--pull on the right bar...the bike will drift right. Pull on the left bar end, the bike will drift right. Anyone who argues after either of those tests just isn't thinking or observing. PS: watch your nose or face on the bike wheel test!

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Dec 12

Posts: 2

gordlb says:


Oops...pull on right bar end to drift left...pull on left bar end to drift right. Good thing I'm not teaching rider training anymore, LOL.

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Feb 05

Posts: 223

Bob_1 says:

Nudge - Nudge

On a heavy or slow-steering bike a gentle nudge on the inside bar can be quite useful in getting it to turn.

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Jan 03

Posts: 21

Rocker66 says:

Even way back in '63 I was taught counter steering and as everyone says it works

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Mar 05

Posts: 62

Darowyn says:

Whether you know it or not, you lean your bike into a bend by countersteering. Gyroscopic forces are part of the story, but the main factor is that by steering slightly to the left as you approach a right hand bend, you run your wheels to the left while the centre of gravity of the bike carries on on the same line. The bike is now leaning to the right, and all you have to do it to allow the bars to fall to the right to keep the bike stable at that lean angle. Coming out of the bend is done by pulling the bars further to the right and running the wheels back underneath the centre of gravity. On the other hand, you do need to know that that is not the only factor in steering, as many people claim. You may have seen trials riders completing manoeuvres on one wheel or stunt riders riding in circles on the back wheel. For ultimate control, sitting on the bike like a sack of potatoes and doing all your steering with the bars is not enough. The bike and rider are one system, and you are as much a part of steering as all the engineering and science behind motorcycle steering and stability. Cheers Dave (I used to teach all this stuff for a living)

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Aug 09

Posts: 178

busaman195 says:

self taught

Didn`t need any one how to tell me the way to countersteer found out by myself it`s not rocket science.

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Jan 11

Posts: 124

petedj says:

nothing to learn

You already do, assuming you don't fall off every 6 feet. There is no other way of steering a motorcycle.

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May 12

Posts: 129

Valko says:

you already do it - lean, countersteer , body position.

On low speed say low speed handle you turn the wheel in the direction you go, however above some speed (say 20mph) the only way to do a turn on a bike is to do countersteering and leaning the bike.

Here is the way how you do it (without knowing):

From experience you have learned that if you do not lean the bike you cannot turn.

Say you approach left turn. You lean to the left. Actually when you lean you also do: pull the right handle and push the left handle - voila you have done countesteering :-)

Its important to understand that countersteering makes bike to lean, and in high speed leaning makes bike to turn.

So the question is not how to do it, because you already do it. The faster the speed the more gentle is your touch. Again nothing to learn here because you cannot ride without doing it.

Hope this explains it to you :-)

One more thing related to turning is if you transfer your weight from the saddle to the pegs by standing a little bit on your feet, and you move your bum in the direction of your turn, this actually makes the bike way more stable because the weight go transfrered low and you do not need to have more leaning.

It was very common mistake for me to try to move my body in the opposite direction of bike leaning - then in fact in order to turn the bike it needs even more lean angle because of the weight distribution.

If you have wrong body position and weight distribution you will need more countersteering and more lean in order to turn the bike. Countersteering itself does not make you good rider. In fact best riders turn the bike with less countersteering and less leaning.

So better and lower weight distribution - less leaning and countersteering in order to do the turn.

So turning bike is a complex process and countersteering is one part of it. Your body position and weight distribution also counts.

Look at dirt riders and the way they stand on pegs - the reason is dirt riding extreme condition require the weight to be distributed as low as possible. On track race they do the same distributing the weight to the pegs, but it is not as visible because of the high speed and the facts of aerodynamics they aslo need to stay in overall very low body position not stand as dirt ones.





[This Reply has been modified by the Author]

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Feb 11

Posts: 46

lewi103 says:

Makes life easier

Like everyone has said you already do it. The trick is feeling how much you do it and then using it as the instigator for leaning. If you do you can use it to get the bike leaning quickly, using minimal effort just with a simple push of one of the bars.

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