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Countersteering - Steering a motorcycle counter steering
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countersteering - Steering a motorcycle counter steering Because the motorcycle tire is rounded, when leaned it forces the motorcycle to turn in the direction of the lean.

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Welcome to Steering a motorcycle - counter steering

Steering a motorcycle counter steering


The wheels of a motorcycle keeps the bike stable, supplies power and traction and keeps the motorcycle headed in a direction stability (maintaining that course and gyroscopic stability). At speed, the front wheel's job is to destabilize the bike (force it to lean) which is called counter steering and maintain traction. On their side motorcycle tires roll like a cone not like like a cylinder. I won't go into centripetal force, Camber thrust, rake, or slip angle. Don't want to bore you to death. (Remember to keep the right tire pressure - the motorcycle  manufacturer and tire company figured all this stuff out for you and all you have to do is keep air in the
The faster a motorcycle is going, the less it wants to turn

MSF HANDBOOK - "Swerving is basically two consecutive turns or countersteers" MSF handbook page 38, last paragraph.

"Press: to innate motorcycle lean, press forward on the the handgrip in the direction of the turn. This is referred to as countersteering. (the front wheel briefly points in the opposite direction of turn) ".MSF handbook Page 21 4th paragraph.

Ok we know: On their side motorcycle tires roll like a cone not like like a cylinder.
When leaned, during a medium speed turn the motorcycle turns in the direction of the lean unless there is input from the rider, or at higher speeds centrifugal forces pull the motorcycle to the outside of the turn. At speed a motorcycle wants to head in a stable direction and the tires and other forces, keep you headed that way. When you push the handle bar grip FORWARD - (go right push right grip - go left push left grip) in the direction you want to go it destabilizes the motorcycle and forces it into a lean. The tires will maintain the turn as long as there is no input from the front tire or the rider (shifting weight) and the turn is not too fast (in which case additional pressing may be required.).

Florida motorcycle training school - classes available - s classesSo what is the best way to turn a motorcycle?  We're not talking low speed turns here. The fastest way to turn a motorcycle at speed is to counter-steer (destabilize it, force it into a lean), in order to maintain stability, you should lean your body also, Just before the steer. By countersteering, you add the weight of the motorcycle to your body lean. The tires will attempt to maintain the existing course until influenced or steering input from the front wheel destabilizes it and/or the rider shifts weight and a new course is chosen. Racers have to constantly press forward on the grip (countersteer to offset centrifugal force) during high speed turns.

Counter-steering will work at very low speeds, but there's no need to do it, and it can be difficult for a beginner to master. - Traveling at speed, the bike is difficult to lean with just your body weight. To turn quickly. you  counter-steer, the bike leans immediately and makes the turn. At very low speeds the bike still leans when you countersteer, but then you will have to recover (turn the wheel in the direction you want to go), it's just simpler and more stable to turn your wheel in the first place at very low speeds. Watch the countersteering video - Counter steering video

Counter steering video - an explanation of the push in the direction you want to go - counter-steering video.

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Turning and lean angle -Your balance system helps you maintain a proper lean angle. Aside from it's nice to know where you're going, looking at where you are going helps to maintain and judge your lean angle. Contrary to what you may have heard,  You don't keep pushing to keep the motorcycle in a lean (unless needed in higher speed turns). You judge your lean angle, (counter steer)  push the handgrip (FORWARD - NOT DOWN) in the direction you want to go, and if need be, make minor corrections with your body weight (hip), major corrections are done with counter-steering. (high speed turns may require counter steering throughout the turn)!! To smoothly go around the turn, the better you judge your lean angle to begin with, the smoother the turn is. It takes a little practice to learn to judge a lean angle for the speed you are going. You'll get it, humans are good at judging this stuff. I'm not going to get into -  lean just before you get into a turn (although it's a good practice). For the beginner, I'll leave the timing of your lean up to you. Let's just say, the less input during the turn, the smoother the turn. If you want to get into your lean position before the actual turn (and can judge it), good for you.

How do I hang on? You don't hang on to the motorcycle with your hands and the handle bar while turning. You don't want to put false steering input to the front tire by hanging onto the bars. You hang on with your knees! You've probably seen motorcycles with those pads on the tank. The secondary purpose is to prevent scratches, the primary purpose is to give you knee grip. They are not scratch pads boys and girls, although they'll be glad to sell them to you for that purpose. Stiffening on the bars can cause countersteering action.

So how much of a push do you use? Jab the hand grip quickly and the bike quickly turns on it's side, gently push and the motorcycle goes over slower. That depends on your speed, the circumference of the turn, how the bike handles, (Rake, etc.) center of mass, type of tires and the weight of the bike - it takes practice. Practice and you'll get it. Turn your head and look at where you want to go. Don't fixate on it, look at your surroundings quickly just to be a where of your surroundings and you don't whine up with target fixation. The lean is is induced by counter-steering and is essentially a controlled fall over to either side.

Guess what, when you come out of the turn, counter-steering will stand the bike back up.

Hey what makes this counter steer thing work? It has to do with the center of mass, slip angle, rake angle and the contact patch.  The contact patch (narrowing of the contact patch) and the shifting of center mass.

Balance a broom on the tip of the handle with your finger. Move the finger left the the top of the broom goes right, move right the top of the broom goes goes left.

 Pretty simple huh?

Hanging off - I spent a lot of time at the Daytona speedway, talking with racers and engineers (good thing about being a motor cop here) I found out that the engineers were the guys to talk to, not the bike monkeys, most racers didn't know why they did it only that it worked. The engineers knew. By hanging off the bike while in the turn the rider for all intents and purposes lowers the center of gravity of the cycle and rider. A shorter leverage arm for the centrifugal force to act upon. The bike will actually need less lean angle to make the turn, while hanging off.

The more speed you have, the more centrifugal force is generated "pushing" you to the outside and steering to a steeper lean angle compensates for that force and allows you to hold your fine.

The rider's body action on the bike is a key in making quick-turns.
One of the reasons the hanging off riding style works so well is that your body is already in a stable position on the bike when you flick it in. Part of the technique is to get over into that position well before the actual steering input, usually just before you roll off the gas or pull on the brakes, early.
Often times new riders can be observed trying to hang off and
steer the bike at the same moment. This is a big mistake and only
serves to make your bike wiggle at the turn-in point.

KEITH CODE - Twist of the throttle

Ever see a bike doing a wheelie and continue to turn? That's an example of Rear wheel steering. Pros and some semi-pros know how to steer a motorcycle while doing a wheelie by leaning. They also set up the motorcycle first  by lowering the rear wheel's air pressure. This gives the rear tire a larger contact patch, making the bike easier to balance. The rear wheel will tend to keep the motorcycle on it's initial path unless the rider inputs a new direction by shifting his weight. Once the bike is leaned for the turn radius, reduce pressure on the bar. The motorcycle tire profile and other factors have a propensity to hold the bike stable in the turn.
Understeer - the motorcycle's front tire will slide before the rear tire in turn.

Oversteer - A design that results in the motorcycle's rear tire to lose traction in a turn first or drift into a turn.

Most motorcycles are designed to over-steer (although some like the BMW have neutral steer). Oversteer is not a bad thing, the front tire will point in the direction of the turn, so if you don't brake, or let off the throttle, you may be able to drift around the turn).. So what's this have to do with you? Don't screw with the motorcycle suspension, or tire sizes unless you know what you are doing.

steering a motorcycle  

Keeping it up when you hit that slick spot or patch of sand. Ok, you're in a curve and your back tire hits a slick spot or a patch of sand! OUCH! Maybe not, if you keep your wits, you can ride through it. Grip the tank with your knees, arms bend and make s steering movements to power through. Relax, the motorcycle wants to stay up. It may grab a bit when the tire grabs traction again, but if you are loose, your body will sway separately from the bike and you'll keep it up. (First, ask yourself - why didn't you see it before you hit it?). Stay loose! Racers power slide - and you can ride it through:
power sliding a motorcycle video Power slide video


  • Roll off the throttle
  • Tighten on bars.
  • Brake
  • Stiffen your body

The motorcycle wants to stay up, so stay loose, and let it.


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