We’ve all seen the FortNine video that’s going around by now, haven’t we? Everybody’s favorite Ryan is starring in his most recent and, if the entire internet has anything to say (which it always does) his most controversial video yet. Throughout that video, he’s advocating counter-leaning your motorcycle.
One ridiculously-placed Wilhelm Scream notwithstanding, he makes some excellent points. But he doesn’t tell the whole story.
On the Internet, anyone can post a video claiming absolutely anything. And in this case, that’s a good thing, because there is already a response video to this FortNine vid above:
Here’s the cool part: They’re both right.
I know, on the internet, everyone wants to argue about everything. But MotoJitsu’s video even agrees — to a point. And if you’re reading stuff at work and don’t want to play a video (no, it’s fine, you’re definitely reading work-related material and not watching motorcycling videos), I am here to help.
Is Too Much. I Sum Up.
FortNine is correct in that a rider is well-served to counter-lean in tight technical stuff. It makes the whole system of you and the motorcycle more maneuverable. Swapping from a right turn to a left and back again is easy and fast when you’re staying upright and pushing the bike out from under you. Dashing through parking lots, piloting up slow technical mountain roads, or navigating busy gas stations? Counter-leaning the bike is definitely the way to go.
When you’re pushing the bike into a turn and not leaning with it, you don’t have to physically lift your person up and over the bike to initiate a turn in the opposite direction. Your field of view is clear and wide open.
I know he didn’t really talk about dirt riding, either, but in a low-traction environment like dirt or gravel, hanging off the inside of a turn is a great way to get separated from your bike.
The Other Side
However, that’s where the benefits of counter-leaning end, and MotoJitsu’s video agrees. When you and the bike pick up the pace, counter-weighting the bike will present a few problems. First, you can only reach so far, so if you’re in a fast, hard turn, your arm is only so long, and when you run out of reach, then what? Straight arms can’t steer.
Also, you may not be riding a race bike. Your motorcycle only has so much ground clearance, especially if it has floor boards. Leaning into the corner with the bike helps the bike stay upright. As MotoJitsu’s video repeats: less lean, less risk. Scraping stuff might throw fun sparks but it’s a short hop to levering a wheel off the pavement.
Different speeds and different situations call for different skill sets. Don’t get used to counter-weighting your bike and think your toolkit is full and you’re prepared for anything.
If you’re already watching videos like these it means you’re interested in learning more. Great! Every day is a school day. Even though I have been riding for decades, I know there’s always more to learn.