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What do you think of Counter-Steering?

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Counter-steering...fact or fiction?

5271 Views 40 Replies 27 Participants Last post by  honkerman
Covert posted a message under another thread regarding counter-steering so I thought I'd get it out in the "open".

I will say this to those who are reading this and are thinking HMMM I'm gonna go try that! Take it easy! Get on a straight, open highway (preferably four lanes so that you have at least two to play in) and get as far to one side as you comfortably can. I picked the far left side of the left lane. This isn't crazy stuff here, it's just a very easy way to change directions, so finesse is key: If you want to go to the right, then you press the right grip. The details of that simple statement are more... uh, detailed LOL but sitting still on your bike, move the bars full left and full right. The bars operate in a plane. You could imagine the bars resting on a large plate or disc and when you turn, the bars just scrape around on the plate, like a steering wheel in a car. That's the key- when you "press right to go right" you should be pressing the bar along its arc of travel. Many people press DOWN. Like down toward the ground. That isn't what we mean, although on some units it may transfer enough energy to actually help you turn. The best way to REALLY see it for yourself is to use it turning left- get to the far right of the right lane, then open your left hand so that your palm is hitting the grip, then press the grip along the bar's arc of travel, NOT REAL HARD EITHER! The bike will go WOOOOP over to the left easier than you can imagine. I say "do it easy" because (and I'm not naming names, but his initials are TIM GILMORE) I've had people run off the road because they put as much energy into pressing the bar as they did turning the old-fashioned way. Most of the advice you read here will make riding EASIER, not harder, so be gentle on your first forays into this.

For you experienced types, try this one: get heeled way over in turn, and countersteer OUT of the turn. This works the best in switchbacks so you come out, up and over in a thrilling WHOOSH that, done aggressively, can pull your front tire off the ground! Makes for a neat tire chirp and minor headshake so build up to it. Also remember that the opposite of "press right" is "pull left"- so if you're thinking that way, pulling on the left bar will "pull the bike over on you" like you're pulling the sheets back after the wife yanked em off you. Try that method too. Getting both of these methods to be habit will GREATLY increase your manueverability (and therefore your safety). Lastly, "standing up"- actually lifting your butt off the seat and having all your weight on the pegs or footboards will put all of your weight closer to the bike's axis of rotation which will reduce your bike's vertical inertia. What that means is you'll steer even quicker. You only stand enough to put daylight down there- like you'd do when you cross railroad tracks or any big bump. OKAY THAT"S ENOUGH I got work to do! (Sorry- I know many of my posts take off in a loooong rant).
Here is my take on counter-steering for what it is worth! :wink:

COUNTER STEERING IS THE MOST AWESOME THING I HAVE LEARNED IN A LONG TIME! I tried it on the way home last night and boy what a huge difference in cornering! Being a newbie turns are a bit scary since you have to lean into them, right? WRONG! I can't believe how easy it is to steer this way... As Covert cautions...go takes VERY little pressure to make the bike respond so don't apply anything but GENTLE pressure or YOU may end up in a ditch or worse ;) !

I told my husband about it since he used to ride...his answer was a big fat and I quote, "That sounds like a good way to get yourself in an accident!". I can't wait to make him try it...Jacks, intelligence borders on genius but he couldn't grasp the concept of counter-steering!

Try it and post your feedback here!
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counter steering

I never thought of it as that, ever since I was able to ride a bicycle, that is how it was done. The only time counter steering dosen't work is at slow speeds (relitive). To me it is only natural.
When I went thru my motorcycle saftey course they talked about "counter steering". The instructor said that most of us probally already do it but didnt know it. When we back outside on the bikes and tried it I realized I had been doing it forever. I learned it from riding BMX bikes as a kid. Didnt do it on purpose..just did it.
Yeah, I personally had more trouble with that if had to think about it before making a turn. Usually I would just "lean" it--which is exactly what countersteering does--but if I had to think in what direction push to make the turn, then it would be harder. I guess the key is just practice until it becomes second nature.
:D Wife and I were pioneer MSF instructors in NC, and we had a terrific time teaching countersteering. Some "engineer" students gave us all kinds of static about the principle until we stopped trying to reason with them, and let them prove it to themselves. When they came off the range, they still insisted that they were NOT countersteering, but were just "leaning," which accomplishes nearly identical out-tracking of the front wheel. I had a friend who had 165 automotive patents, most of them on running gear, but he never bought countersteering. He swore that "leaning" did it all. Funny that arguments persist in the face of well-proven, widely documented facts.
If you don't understand how to counter-steer, get to a rider's course quick. You do not have precision control of your machine if you think you are steering by leaning.
Watch every motorcycle at a turn or corner...and the ones that countersteer correctly are the ones you see that front end wobble...if you're behind them and they are turning right, you'll see a momentary 'wob' as they push the right bar forward, causing the bike to then tilt and lean to the right, and then they follow through with it.

Works every time.
Fact, every kid on a bicycle uses it whether they know it or not
I hold a mixed view. On my PC800 it was all countersteer...I had bad habits from my little 70cc Zuma and "muscling" the motorcycle just didn't work. Even throwing my weight around to lean it wasn't very effective. The center of gravity of that bike (ultra-low) and the tendancy to want to stay upright exacerbated the need for counter-steer.

But, on my Zuma on little 10" or 13" wheels, countersteer is counter-productive It's too twitchy and is more stable being leaned and "muscled." What counter-steer is used is very tiny.

I've found, compared to those two experiences, that the Burgman is a mixed bag. I find myself using both techniques, fluidly switching between the two based on the circumstances.

Every bike is a little different, which "standard wisdom" does not take into account. Wheel size has alot to do with how effective counter-steer is in my experience. So does center of gravity other engineering. An example: the PC800 has an inherent tendancy to want to be can lean it into a turn, but braking with the front brake immediately made the bike want to stand-up. I learned quickly that bleeding speed off in a turn was best left to gentle use of the rear brakes--defying everything everyone said was "right." (And for the Burgman, "right" is the front brakes again, very safely...different habits to unlearn.)

But I will caution and re-iterate what other said above: you're are often counter-steering even when you think you aren't and counter-steering is a primary skill in riding. "Push where you want to go" (push right to go right) should become an unconcious skill or else you're in for some surprises...painful ones.
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Wow, a five-year-old thread comes back to life!

This topic has been more recently discussed here: viewtopic.php?f=12&t=27796

I agree with some of the others. It's second nature from my earliest bicycle days and the habit transfered naturally to MC/Scoot driving.
the best thing i have learned about counter steering is to forget it and ride the bike or bicycle and it will come naturally.
the most interesting thing i have learned about counter steering is that a guy that took a wing tip tank from an airplane and made a fast m/c out of it back in the 60's and found that a 200 mph it reversed the steering and didn't counter steer any more. you had to steer in the direction you wanted to go. i don't think you will have to worry about that on a burgman.
Just for everyone's information, this is the MSF's "official" definition of Countersteering - "The initial steering input required to make a motorcycle lean to turn. Usually best described as push left-go left, push right-go right". This is from my MSF "Instructor's Guide - Riding and Street Skills" and the "Student Workbook".
Most people who ride a motorcycle usually use countersteering to initiate a turn without realizing that they are doing it or why it works. The purpose for the MSF stressing countersteering is to make sure that students understand what they are doing and why/how it works. They want students to practice and develop this skill and use countersteering because it is so easy and intuitive and is the quickest way to make a bike turn or swerve in an emergency avoidance situation.
Scientific explainations may be interesting to some but, to most students it only seems to make countersteering much more complicated than it is. K.I.S.S.! Just remember, push (press) left - go left or push (press) right - go right. The harder you push (press), the tighter the turn. Start slowlly and gently and practice, practice, practice. (Remember, don't brake while turning or swerving and don't turn or swerve while braking - at least until you get some experience.)
I've been riding for over 30 years and I still practice my countersteerig/swerving skills just about every ride. I use marks on the road surface, manhole covers, etc. and seeing how close I can get and swerving around them. Just make sure that traffic and road conditions are safe to do so.
I think it's a good idea to revive old topics like this thread once in awhile. We're always adding new members who still have questions on these kind of important subjects.

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I been riding bikes, scooters or motorcycles for over 60 years and need not think, it comes natural. I learned how the bike/motorcycle steered compared to a tricycle. If you turn the tricycle to the left you go left. On the bike you turn the handle bars to the left and you go RIGHT.

Pushing on the left is the same as pulling on the right. Interesting but not something I want to think about while riding.

I hope the folks not riding for very long will practise counter-steering very slowwwwwwly.

It is a fact. I do not like the title.

It is also a fact...
"Push where you want to go" (push right to go right) should become an unconcious skill or else you're in for some surprises...painful ones.
I had never tried the push right to go right way untill I took the MSF course. Before that I pulled the left bar back when cornering right for so many years and it worked real well. So yes I did countersteer but dident know it. DaveJ
Countersteering is nothing more than the substaniation of an old scientific principle. A rotating gyroscope will resist any force to change its axis. Push on the right grip (attempting to tip the gyroscope to the left) and the front wheel (gyroscope) will react in the opposite direction (go right).
jimbo68 said:
Countersteering is nothing more than the substaniation of an old scientific principle. A rotating gyroscope will resist any force to change its axis. Push on the right grip (attempting to tip the gyroscope to the left) and the front wheel (gyroscope) will react in the opposite direction (go right).
Actually there is more. The primary force is gravity, not gyroscopic precession. More specifically: steering the front wheel to the left moves the bottom of the bike to the left, thus unbalancing it and causing it to lean to the right, thus turning to the right.

Watching this video helped me to "get" the concept:

I have been doing this for many years. From bicycle to scooter. It works. I don't care why. :D
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