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Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by IrishJohn, Dec 30, 2012.
Then you employ Gyroscopic Precession by feeding force into the front wheel to pivot the "monoed" motorcycle, about its inclined vertical axis.
YouTube- Gyroscope precession
This works easier when the front wheel is still spinning.
Diagram (1000 x 750 pixels)
The whole subject (Countersteering) becomes easier to understand when its understood that the front wheel must be "Out-tracked" (moved to an outward track) to initiate the turn. At that point a mild negative Countersteer input maintains the distance between the arc (track) of the rear wheel and the arc (track) of the outside front wheel.
If one examines the path taken by car wheels in a turn, then one sees the same outward-track of the front wheels as compared to the track taken by the rear wheels.
Forklift Trucks do it differently.
So, possibly the best instruction to give to a learning rider is that they must displace the front end outward, and thereby place their body-mass inboard to commence a turn.
When snow skiers want to perform a swift direction change - they often jump (from snow contact) and drop their ski-shod feet well outboard for the turn. Out-tracking at its best!
Since my last post on this thread I have been playing around at countersteering - plenty of opportunity; I'm currently working as a moto courier - and found I was doing the following:
I regularly use a long left-hand slip road, completing 270deg or so, that leads on to a dual carriageway. It's a safe(er) chance to practice left-hand bends, which in the UK are potentially risky compared to right-handers since the tendency, if drifting wide, is to run into oncoming traffic. Also, we get plenty of practice at right-handers on roundabouts.
This slip road's curve tightens slightly as it reaches the dual carriageway. Anyway, I found that, at maximum lean, I was trying to 'steer' the bike around the last, tighter part of the curve by turning the bars to the left, despite being aware of countersteering and using it consciously to initiate turns. The result was a drift towards the gravelly stuff on the outside.
Seems to me that, while it is easy enough to get the hand of countersteering to start a turn - since it is what we do anyway, consciously or not - it may take a lot more mental effort right on the limit. This was my experience on this bend, for sure. I didn't find myself doing the same on similar right-handers, maybe because, until recently, I was getting less practice at bigger lean angles while turning left.
And that is why it is important to have this conversation. That is why counter-steering threads keep coming up. It is not an intuitive process at first, but it is an important concept. I guarantee you, with increasing consciousness about what it does and how it works, and then practicing every time you go for a ride, it will become second nature. And that's where you want to be when riding. As a result it will increase your ability to ride on curves, it will increase your safety margins (or your speed), and it will be a lot more fun to ride on twisty roads.
Even though it's 3 months late I just have to respond to this. I was 100% sure I wanted to buy a Ninja 250 before I took the BRC and got my M endorsement. Although I did still get a Ninja 250, mainly because I got a great deal on one, I did get a chance to ride a Suzuki TU250 during the BRC. I fell in love with the thing. It's such a cool little retro looking bike. I'd love to have one just for cruising around town.
What I don't understand is, people talk about it like ther is another way to get a motorcycle to turn.
I get that you need to do it instinctively, which is one reason dirt experience helps the street rider (T.I.T.S Time in The Saddle)
But all this pontification and extolling of virtues makes it seem like you have a choice
Indeed there is no way to start a turn without countersteering. I see it when I'm riding behind guys who do not "believe" in it or have no idea what this conversation about countersteering is.
Some of the pontification and extolling here is about making it second nature, as a technique for better cornering. Or for using it as a technique for emergency situations, such as when a swerve is needed, or when the rider discovers that nice sweeping curve has a reducing turning radius, or when you simply find out you entered that one curve too hot. It is about using it to speed up turn in, and to make corrections when already in the curve. In my mind, I feel I'm countersteering throughout the curve, even though people say this is not the case (and it may not be the case).
And yes, most of it appears to be a loss of time, but people eventually will come around, they will pay attention to it, they will experience the advantage of having it as part of a conscious process, and will discover the beauty of having it become second nature in their riding tool kit.
I confess, it took me a while to realize what this was, even when I've been on two wheels since not too much behind the time I learned how to walk and I used it all the time, purposefully, but without knowing it was called countersteering. In my mind the term "countersteering" was what I used when riding my bike on gravel roads and counter steered on power slides.
You ever notice that when a kid first learns to ride a bicycle, he has a very hard time at first, and falls down a lot, until suddenly he "gets it" and everything works right? That's the point when his body figures out countersteering. But because it is a subtle movement, and no one ever explains the idea to him (indeed, the adult teaching him probably has no idea himself), he has no idea what he is actually doing, even after he figures out how to do it subconsciously.
DAKEZ: I am appreciative that you didn't rip on me for the quoted error in my post. So here is an addendum in case you decide to use my stuff for enlightening others.
ALL: Countersteering is often employed at near zero speeds to keep a bike balanced well before the feet ever leave the ground. Moving a bike around with the engine shut off while either astride the bike or walking next to it usually has the rider using countersteering primarily to keep the bike in balance. As another poster noted, riders of bicycles learn to countersteer via muscle memory and that part of our (unthinking, non-cognisent) brains responsible for personal balance. And the skill transfers to motorbikes when needed.
As an example of this, when a bike severely outweighs and/or out-leverages a rider, the rider takes great care at near zero speeds not to let the bike tip so far as to make recovery very difficult or impossible. Short riders do not have much leverage to cope with a lot of mass. Combine that with a shortage of upper body strength, and it is a wonder that some riders can deal with Wings, GSs, and the like. Riders learn to countersteer the bike to keep the weight over the wheels at near zero speeds. Learning to ride on small bikes makes it easier to learn the basic skills of balance & recovery that will transfer to larger bikes as a matter of experience.
Based on this bit of observation and resulting conjecture, it is easy to see why hardleys and like cruisers are so popular. Combine a low center of mass with a long leverage handlebar (ape hangers?) and good footing, and most riders have little problem controlling so much bike at slow speeds where most of the non-life-threatening tip-overs occur. Tall bikes of mass with short leverages require a deft touch and high degree of skill in a lot of places where cruisers and small bikes are much better. Simple trips thru the urban glut is fraught with stop lights and parking problems. Having a rider friendly bike is usually much more important to noobs and riders not into developing serious skills, low speed or otherwise.
Riders can test this for themselves by leaving the engine off and moving the bike around noting exactly what they do with the bars to keep the bike balanced. Bicyclists do the same thing and the bicycles don't weigh anything.
Skert ( a very short and slight woman of note) demonstrates in windless parking lots that it only takes 3 fingers on the gas tank to keep a non-moving Wing balanced. She can also pick it up if it has tipped over. BUT, she never rolls it around at near zero speeds without help/spotters as it just too easily overpowers her short leverages if she isn't about to motor off on it. She has a commitment to skill that exceeds the norm for most bikers. She is a fine example for all riders to become adept with their bikes in all scenarios. I find that for myself that I rarely ride with anyone who does not have strong parking lot skillz.
Aside: To those riders who believe that gyroscopic forces play a large part in riding, please buy a gyroscope and play with it. It does not work very well at slow spin rates. At what spin rate does the force become remarkable? How does that info impact what happens on a bike and when? Tony Foal says that frame geometry and handlebar leverages make gyro forces on a bike largely meaningless at the speeds we travel, iirc.
good post,accurate and informative. But please, do you have to call a Harley Davidson a hardley in a informative post like this? I just get real tired of the old joke.
and yes i have one. along with a klr. and have had a wing along with a wide assortment of other on and off road machines.
No way. All you have to do is lean. Obviously you have not given this any thought.
The mass and rotational velocity of your two motorcycle wheels do generate quite a lot of angular momentum that contribute a greatly to stabilizing a motorcycle and keeping it upright.
When pushing your bike across the garage at very low speeds there is very little angular momentum.
That's basic physics.
YES! Countersteer harder to turn sharper. Necessary when in a turn a bit too fast or when there's a need to tighten the turn to avoid an obstruction.
Intentional, practiced left-right or right-left counter steering is the quickest way to avoid a hazard suddenly seen when riding straight. Your body will do what is has practiced when an emergency arises, not what you think ought'a be done but you haven't trained your body (trained the brain, actually) by repeated practicing.
Are you sure? You might want to give it more thought.
But.. but.. but..
I've seen this first hand, my little jayrod is highly proficient on the strider bicycle. Arc, curves and circles. slow speed turns she uses the bars to turn.
Her brain is now wired for 2 wheels.
This reminds me of trying to ride my friend's pedal trike a few years ago. I never had a trike as a kid or rode one before this, so the only program in my brain for anything with handlebars is to countersteer. I could not for the life of me steer that trike! I would think to turn and try to turn the handlebars in the direction of the turn, but then muscle memory from riding two wheeled things would kick in and i would end up going the opposite direction of where i wanted to go every time. My friends had a good laugh at me steering into walls on the thing.
I told my kids to look where they want to go and the bike will go there. My big one figured it out immediatley. My five year old figured it out too, but she likes to deliberately look in one direction while riding in another direction, while shouting, "Look daddy. It doesn't work!" Man, that kid is a pain in the ass.