Countersteering confusion : (

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by IrishJohn, Dec 30, 2012.

  1. brian.ict

    brian.ict Adventurer

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    I think part of the problem with non-believers is that it doesn't feel like your counter steering on some bikes... like a big cruiser going 5 mph.

    A few months ago I switched from a Ver-sys (having other standards/dual-sports before that) to a Suzuki C50 (an 800cc "old style" looking cruiser - big tires, fenders, etc.)

    When going slow the front wheel heavily turns the direction you're going, if you didn't know better you would think it's not counter-steering.

    It's just a millisecond twitch that leans the bike over and then the wheel turns. I can see how some people don't think it's happening even though it is. I also think having big arguments about it is pretty funny.

    .
  2. Lion BR

    Lion BR I'd rather be riding

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    I agree. And I add: Some people are trolling even when their statements are correct. Some are not trolling even when they are wrong. It's all in the wrist, I mean the attitude. :D
  3. Montague

    Montague UDF Adventurer

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  4. DAKEZ

    DAKEZ Long timer

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    <iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/C848R9xWrjc" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
  5. Fajita Dave

    Fajita Dave Been here awhile

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    I agree, it depends heavily on the tires used, weight of the bike, and where the pivot point is between you and the bike. On my dirtbike with low air pressure I have come to a complete stop and stood there for a solid minute without having to try and balance at all. However if you are off by a tiny fraction than you fall to the ground unless another force comes into play. The effect of having a stable base to push off of with a round tire that's low on air pressure would be so incredibly small its not really worth noting.

    From a physics stand point (which applies to everyone) this is what would happen if there was some sort of "transition" between direct steering at low speeds to counter-steering at high speeds. At some point in speed when you are directly in the middle of that transition point than steering the front tire in any direction or any amount would literally have zero effect on the motorcycle. You wont lean or turn in any direction, it would have no effect. Does that actually happen? No! For there to be a transition point you MUST have a transition!!!!! To add to this issue while your approaching that "transition" point the steering would get less and less sensitive until nothing happened at all. (it could never be a single magical speed at 0.0000001 mph). As you accelerated past that transition point it would gradually get more sensitive until you got to full "counter steer."

    It is to many words and concepts :lol3. Unfortunately there are a lot of different forces and factors that make counter steering work. If the broom example helps anyone understand why it works and gets them in the right frame of mind than stick with it! But that's not how counter steering physically works. With the broom you move your hand around under it to get the broom's CG centered back on your hand. For that to work on a motorcycle you would need to move the entire front tire left or right out from under the motorcycle the same way you move your hand under the broom (there is actually an RC bike that steers this way). On a motorcycle the front tire simply turns, it doesn't move relative to the frame other than the tiny amount caused by rake angles.
  6. Jedl

    Jedl Been here awhile

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    Actually Lion BR's example is a very good approximation to how countersteering affects the lean angle of a bike. Rewrite his words exchanging "contact patch" for palm and "bike" for broom and he's dead on.

    Countersteering is nothing more than steering off the line that the bike is currently balanced on in an effort to move the CoG away from the current location in order to change the lean angle and affect a turn. We only countersteer (outside the turn) momentarily to initiate a turn (by moving the contact patch out allowing gravity to induce the lean), then the wheel turns towards the turn and is steering normally (during steady-state turning). When we're done turning, we again countersteer (more deeply into the turn driving the contact patches towards the CoG) to right the bike and end the turn.

    Countersteering is not about keeping the front wheel turned opposite the turn during the turn. That would be foolish and would cause the bike to just lay over on it's side. Countersteering is only about changing the lean / roll angle of the bike. Once the bike is rolled into a lean, normal steering is what keeps us in balance through the turn.

    The effect of countersteering is more pronounced at speed because even the slightest turn of the handlebars will see the front wheel (and it's contact patch) move quickly off to the side. It's the movement of the contact patch (like Lion BR's hand) that moves outside of the CoG (the broom) that allows the bike to lean and later turn.

    Conversely, at slower speeds we have to make larger (counter) steering corrections in order to move the CoG quickly enough. That's why slow races are so difficult.

    I know, I know . . too many words. And I didn't mean to science it all up like that . . . .

    cheers,
  7. Jedl

    Jedl Been here awhile

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    Shaddix,

    When we start from a steady-state balanced & non-turning condition (see disclaimer), and we shift our weight to one side, the bike naturally has to lean in the opposite direction. The bike's leaning is required to balance the force required to shift your weight.

    When a bike is leaned, however slightly, the combined effects of steering angle, rake, trail and tire profile - cause the front forks to steer into the bike's direction of lean (see note). In motion, this then causes the front tire to out-track in the direction of bike lean, moving the bike further out of balance relative to the rider and the CoG further into the direction of the body lean.

    At which point the bike will roll past vertical into a lean in the direction of the body lean & combined CoG. Then the bike will turn. So while it seams that all you are doing is shifting your weight, in actuality the bike naturally counter-steers in response to the weight shift.

    Discussions about countersteering are about using this natural effect of bike dynamics to consciously control the bike with greater precision and greater urgency on command as needed. Those people that have learned & mastered the technique enhance their ability to control their bike, especially in critical conditions. It's about learning as much as we can about how bikes work so we can ride more safely in a range of conditions.


    Disclaimer: A motorcycle in motion is never in a steady-state of balance. In motion all single-track vehicles lean and weave right and left continuously. The effect is most pronounced at slow speeds but even at speed it happens continuously. There's no way to stop it since we are balancing over two inline contact patches.

    Note: You can see this effect by holding a bicycle from the top bar while vertical w/ neutral steering angle. Now lean the bike slightly in one direction or the other. Without any input at the handlebar, the front wheel will turn into the direction of lean. Lean the bike in the other direction and the front wheel will turn towards the new lean angle.
  8. shaddix

    shaddix Banned

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    I don't think the bike leans equally in the other direction, because we aren't balancing the bike on a pin in space. Since the contact patch is not a single point, it provides some resistance to rolling to the left or right, giving you a base upon which to move some mass away from the current CoG.
  9. Jedl

    Jedl Been here awhile

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    You are, of course, free to to believe what ever you want. My contention is that you are not applying those forces (shifting your wight) at the contact patch but rather at some point above them (your CoG) - so you are inducing a torque to the bike. Even if some of that torque is momentarily absorbed by tire flexion, eventually those forces have to equalize. There are after all laws about such things. ;-)

    At any rate all of this is opinion and not science. Neither of us can prove our points without the science. So I'm sure we can agree to disagree.

    cheers,
  10. Lion BR

    Lion BR I'd rather be riding

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    That is EXACTLY why we countersteer, because we are moving and the front tire does not slide sideways. But if we could make the front tire slide sideways as we are moving, lets say we push a button and the tire slide to the left from under us, we would then lean right, and hence turn right, and guess what, in that case we would not need to counter steer! Like the broom example. But since the tire does not move that way, it rolls, then we need to countersteer to move it to the side, in our example to the left, creating the appropriate "unbalance" that will generate the lean to the right and we will turn to the right. It is a very simple concept. Like the broom example.
  11. Valker

    Valker Been here awhile

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    If you really want to test the idea that at very low speeds, the handlebar turns only in the direction of the turn, simply get a bicycle, add training wheels making positively sure they are adjusted so the bike itself is exactly perpendicular to the pavement, then remove the right training wheel. Mount the bike (it would have to be solid suspension) and ride. At ANY speed, try turning left.
    You will immediately notice that without leaning, you will fall to the right. A single track vehicle HAS to lean. The ONLY way to induce the lean is with a countersteering motion caused by some part(s) of your body.
    If you are riding down a straight, level highway at 60 mph and ride without your hands on the bars, you can induce a countersteer with weight shift; HOWEVER, if you look at the steering head when you shift your weight, you will see the front assembly countersteer to start the turn.
  12. shaddix

    shaddix Banned

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    Well you understand what I am saying then. It's only an academic observance. I don't think you can actually make a useful turn. Maybe if you could hold 100lbs in your hand, and slowly, ever so slowly, move it out to the right, you could make the bike lean to the right without turning the front wheel left first
  13. kyns

    kyns Long timer

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    NO need to think about countersteering !! period.

    And don't ever go on another "riding" course !!

    I'm sure if there was a course for breathing, some people would take part...

    If you come out of a riding course, confused as heck... : The teachers SUUUUUUCK !!!!!!
    Unless there's Rossi as a teacher, do NOT attend !!!!!!!!!!

    Just ride.
  14. LetItRoll

    LetItRoll ForwardAholic

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    +1 , Yep you mention specifically in your post that you are not having any problems, just want to know if you need to CONCIOUSLY pay attention to countersteering, NO. Some of the best riders in the world have never given this a moments thought, they spend their time riding and worry more about what is, than why it is. For those that like to play around with things there is nothing wrong with practicing with a purpose but it doesnt do much good until it becomes automatic, and that takes tons of reps so if you want to get better at turning your bike, ride, ride, ride and practice safely quick darting turns until your body and brain learn how that feels to you, the underlying physics is real but does not need to be overthought to become a master of your machine.
  15. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

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    Ah, pardon me... no it doesn't. If the rider leans in the bike can actually remain upright or even lean the other way. We did that all the time off road, to get the bike around a rock or log. The "lean" is the rider's weight to the inside.

    Besides, with your example you are setting up the exact same thing as a three wheeler and the way they turn is by using rider weight to the inside since they can not lean. If you didn't lean in the three wheeler would want to plow straight ahead. The reason so many new three wheeler riders would crash them while learning.

    Just sayin' it for the sake of argument... :clap
  16. Jedl

    Jedl Been here awhile

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    Dude, you cannot win a debate by being more obtuse and obstinate than the other side. We get it. Your are intractable in your position. You are unable to consider an alternate explanation for what you feel is happening as you ride your trials bike. How nice for you to have such strongly held opinions without the burden of having to prove you assertions with science. No matter how strongly you believe something . . . . belief by itself, will never turn that opinion into fact.

    We didn't' make this shit up. Have you looked on the web to see how physicists explain these phenomena / motorcycle dynamics? I can understand you not understanding the physics, hell it's complicated enough that I really have to work through the concepts to wrap my mind around them. But when multiple physicists (who are highly motivated to prove each other wrong), all come up with the same explanation, it might be time to relax and just accept the findings of greater minds - stand on the shoulders of giants, so to speak.

    I saw this quote the other day and it made me think of all y'all that can't be bothered with proven facts getting in the way of your version of the truth.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newton's_laws_of_motion
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_and_motorcycle_dynamics
    http://books.google.com/books?id=rJTQxITnkbgC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false
  17. Lion BR

    Lion BR I'd rather be riding

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    If you are a new rider and come across these two opinions above, I hope you think twice before following their advice. Believe me, you will do so much better after you understand the countersteering concept. I guarantee you will have loads more of fun when riding, your confidence will skyrocket.

    And it won't take more than practicing the concept on a couple of 20 mile rides on a road with medium to long radius curves for you to get it. It will quickly become second nature to you. And you will never look back.

    Applying countersteering consciously (although it will become natural quickly) is a very small step for a giant leap in riding skill. I guess I could write it better: it is a small push for a good and clean lean.
  18. DarthJ

    DarthJ Been here awhile

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  19. Fajita Dave

    Fajita Dave Been here awhile

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    That would be fine if you didn't need to get the motorcycle back upright. Gravity surly has an effect on the motorcycle leaning from an upright position but if that were the only force at work it would be impossible to stand the bike back up. The fact that this other force actually fights gravity proves that it has a stronger effect than the earths gravity itself for leaning a motorcycle. That would be the laws of inertia like I explained a few pages ago. That's why the broom example isn't the most accurate, it has no forward inertia.

    Which is why I compare it to what you feel in a car. If you turn left, your weight shifts right and vise versa. When you turn the handlebars left on a motorcycle, the weight gets pushed right and the motorcycle leans right. Its as simple as that. Inertia is the strongest force that makes counter steering work but its not the only one.

    When you get a little deeper into the physics of it than explaining it gets complicated since the laws of inertia make things want to go straight and never turn left or right. This effect that gravity and inertia has on counter steering explains why its so easy to lean into a corner at low speeds but NOT be able to steer the bike back upright! Gravity helps a lot with getting a motorcycle leaned from being upright, however after the motorcycle is leaned over it now has to fight gravity to get upright again. If you don't have the speed (and inertia) for counter steering to take its full effect.... than gravity wins out. You can turn the handlebars further to create more corner G (thanks to inertia) but sooner or later you hit the handlebar locks.
  20. LetItRoll

    LetItRoll ForwardAholic

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    The physics of turning a bike or motorcycle is the same whether a person is aware of the underlying physics or not, they are countersteering, if it is best for them to be conscious of this when they are a new rider how far do we take that, should little kids be given this course before the first bicycle ride, i suspect less than 1% of us knew about countersteering our first 2-wheel ride out, yet somehow we figured out how to countersteer very quickly. While it is never a bad idea to know more about any activity you are involved in there are plenty of accomplished riders from all schools of "feel" to promote overall practice as the most important thing to improving regardless of the current thought process going on in their head while they are doing it. Countersteering is only one of many critical issues going on during cycle riding and most newer riders have trouble multitasking at speed, once again there is nothing wrong with purposed practice (countersteering) for those that want to go that way, but there are at least millions of veteren riders that have done okay without being overly conscious of it.