Monday, July 2, 2012

COUNTER-STEERING - the all important riding technique

To all motorcycle learners:

What I have to say here can save your life. It saved mine. It is about COUNTER-STEERING - the most important riding technique by far. If you don't know what counter-steering is, what happened in this video could and likely will happen to you.



This rider did two things wrong, which led to his crash. 1. He was trying to use his weight to lean the bike in the curve, and just couldn't lean it enough. And 2. He tried to slow down the bike while on the curve, which caused it to stand up and go straight, i.e. off the curve. So the bike went wide and crashed.

I have address #2 elsewhere. This is about #1.

Anyone who rides a bicycle knows that you have to lean the bike to make a turn. The difference between riding a bicycle and a motorcycle is that the bicycle is so light you can lean it with your weight. Not so a motorcycle. The theory of COUNTER-STEERING is to use steering rather than shifting body weight to lean the bike.

COUNTER-STEERING is somewhat counter-intuitive. If you are riding TRIcycle, when you want to turn left, you turn the front wheel to the left; when you want to turn right, you turn the front wheel to the right. But when you are riding a two-wheeled motorcycle, when you want to turn LEFT you INITIALLY steer to the RIGHT, and vice versa. In doing so, you cause the bottom of the bike to go right, thus causing the top of the bike to fall to the left; thus, the bike leans to the left. Once the lean is achieved, you then steer to the left to make the left turn. Vice versa if you want to turn to the RIGHT - steer INITIALLY to the LEFT to cause the bike to lean to the right.

Another way to put this is that when you want to turn left, you initially push the left handlebar forward; vice versa for when you want to turn right, you initially push the right handlebar forward.


In a high speed curve, you finely adjust the lean of the bike by adjusting your steering. If you are in a left-hand curve and your bike cannot hold the curve and drift towards the outside, push your left handle-bar forward slightly to lean the bike to the left more, then ride through the curve.

So in the video, what the rider should have done was to press the LEFT handlebar FORWARD, which will cause the front wheel to steering MOMENTARILY to the RIGHT, thus leaning the bike lower to the LEFT, while adding power to keep it from falling over. Once the required lean angle is achieved, steer normally, i.e. constantly micro-adjusting the lean angel by means of COUNTER-STEERING. This is especially important in decreasing-radius curves.

COUNTER-STEERING can also save your life by allow you fast evasive action. Suppose you are heading down the highway at night and suddenly you see a deep pot-hole in your path, either you ride straight into it and crash, or use quick counter-steering to skirt it - same technique used in a round-about. Using body weight to lean a heavy motorcycle bike is seldom sufficient or fast enough to meet the challenge.

If you haven't mastered COUNTER-STEERING, don't get out of the parking lot.


Anthony Marr, Founder and President
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1 comment:

Speed Baller said...

That about sums it up...."turn left, to go right, etc"