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Countersteer or Die!

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by wadenelson, May 17, 2018.

  1. wadenelson

    wadenelson Rider/Writer

    May 18, 2014
    Durango CO, Phoenix AZ
    Think you know everything you need to know about Countersteering?


    Long time Inmate here but this one ended up on Imgur.com where I get FAKE POINTS affirming the validity of what I'm claiming. (And downvotes if I'm wrong!)

    Lots of pictures, video, SHOCKING video, A solid 10 minute read esp if you view a few of the videos illustrating various points.

    Check it out and let me know! Of course, corrections are MOST welcome. (Painful, but welcome..)

    GiddyThump likes this.
  2. Steve in Golden

    Steve in Golden Been here awhile

    Jan 23, 2010
    Golden, CO
    Countersteering is so easy and intuitive and works so well, I can't understand what all the fuss & controversy is about. Push left, go left. Push right, go right. It makes the bike lean over which causes it to turn. What could be simpler than that? Works extremely well. No need for complicated explanations of how it works; just do it. Even if you don't think you are countersteering, you are.

    People who deny countersteering is a thing are just confused.
  3. flei

    flei cycletherapist

    Apr 1, 2013
    Western Mass.
    Steve G. likes this.
  4. CaptCapsize

    CaptCapsize Been here awhile

    Jan 7, 2012
    Corrales, New Mexico
    Long ago, failure to know about counter steering was the cause of my first motorcycle crash. I didn't die, but I did get three compound fractures. I bought the bike Sunday. Monday I was in the ER. Spent a month in the hospital and a couple years on and off crutches with a few surgeries .

    How about " Counter Steer or Limp"?
  5. BetterLateThanNever

    BetterLateThanNever Long timer

    Dec 31, 2014
    Ontario, Canada
    This is on my list of things they don't emphasize enough with new riders. If someone hasn't completely internalized this, they're basically incapable of an evasive maneuver, never mind being able to corner.

    This is the most vivid illustration I've seen...

  6. OrangeYZ

    OrangeYZ Long timer

    Feb 11, 2008
    Southern Oregon
    People don't believe in countersteering because in most cases it lasts for less than a second and then you're regular steering.
    If you're going the speed the yellow sign tells you to turn, you probably countersteer for one second at the beginning, then you're steering into the turn, then you steer further into the turn to straighten out.

    Instead of Countersteer=Turn, think Countersteer=force to lean
    I want to lean this way = steer that way --- I want to lean that way = steer this way
    BigA1971 and no like this.
  7. sebwiers


    Aug 2, 2016
    Saint Paul, MN, USA
    Another word for "counter steering" is just "keeping your balance with your hands on the bars". Its an essential mechanism for riding in a stright line.

    I think one way people could maybe intuitively grasp counter steering is if you had a steering damper that only damped in one direction (or much more strongly in one than the other). But I know from experience that this would be rather horrifying at speeds above 15 mph.
    no likes this.
  8. little foot

    little foot Mediocre Mediator

    Jul 21, 2008
    The Springs, Oklahoma
    Why does the OP live in two different places?
  9. OrangeYZ

    OrangeYZ Long timer

    Feb 11, 2008
    Southern Oregon
    Push right for snow, Push left for sun.
    nk14zp, cal08, squonker and 3 others like this.
  10. Aj Mick

    Aj Mick Long timer

    Aug 31, 2012
    Phuket, Thailand
    Been riding motorcycles for about 52 years and bicycles a few more..... Had never even heard the term "counter steering" until a dozen or so years ago, when I read an article about it in some magazine I came across. Was kind of impressed by the words of wisdom initially, but then realised I had been doing it intuitively for years, since I started riding a bicycle at the age of seven.

    No big deal, just some X-spurt trying to impress.... move on.
    Ernbo6, ohgood, sieg and 4 others like this.
  11. bikemoto

    bikemoto Tyre critic

    Oct 24, 2004
    Nelson, New Zealand
    Thanks! That's a great vid!
  12. PK2

    PK2 Long timer

    Sep 10, 2013
    Melton, Victoria, Australia
    If you're leaning into the corner and looking through the corner (head closer to the mirror) you are naturally counter steering.
    Ernbo6 and Team Vegas like this.
  13. Snowbird

    Snowbird Cereal Killer

    Mar 19, 2008
    Between the Great Lakes and Appalachia
    "Push left, go left. Push right, go right." Yeah. Anyone wanting to try it just do that on a basically straight road within your lane.

    "It makes the bike lean over which causes it to turn." Actually counter-steering uses the friction patch of the tires on the road to move the front tire one way or the other under the center of gravity of the bike. The rear tire just follows. We experience this as leaning. Then we let up when the desired lean is achieved and we return to what would be normal steering, making adjustments to our line as needed with more counter-steering. But as Steve in Golden says, it soon becomes so ingrained and natural we seldom realize what we're doing.
  14. max384

    max384 Bandaided

    Nov 23, 2011
    Eagle Rock, PA
    As long as you're going faster than about 15ish mph, all of your steering is countersteering.
    Ernbo6 likes this.
  15. Caesars_ghost

    Caesars_ghost Air Cooled.

    Sep 13, 2015
    When I was first starting out I wanted complicated explanations because it seemed very counterintuitive. But in practice it’s very simple. Push right = lean right = go right. And seeing a few slow motion or freeze-frame captures of how the turn toward the “wrong” direction facilitates leaning in the correct direction, helped immensely, in a way that talking about contact patches and gyroscopic precession and whatever else, never could. At that point it becomes very clear: bigger push = greater lean = quicker turn. Damn handy to have internalized as instinct when you suddenly have to dodge the tool chest that just fell off that guy’s truck a few car lengths ahead.
  16. SamurAchzar

    SamurAchzar Complies with FCC part 15

    May 3, 2006
    It's not enough to intuitively do it (as everyone does, otherwise every shop across a dealership would experience daily crashes of people who couldn't do anything but ride straight), you need to instinctively do it - if you get surprised, you need to be trained to push. In a surprise situation you don't have the luxury of setting up the bike to a corner - you need it to lean, now. No time for body English, so you just push on the bar and it goes.
    Hammer166, 4bikes, Benduro and 2 others like this.
  17. BalancePoint

    BalancePoint Mucker

    Mar 30, 2008
    Florida, flatter than hammered shit.
    This to me, is the key point. It seems beyond absurd to debate counter steering as if it was a subjective possibility. It's as plain as a ball dropping when you let go of it. The important part is the instinctive "push-right turn-right" this poster is bringing up. There is a tendency in many riders, and I've experienced it myself, to try and lean or even freeze up to accomplish a direction change when, for example, drifting off the road's edge or into an area of poor pavement or hazard. Counter steering is a lifesaving maneuver if you can make it an automatic response. The physics of it are certainly beyond debate.
    local1, Benduro, Desce and 4 others like this.
  18. scfrank

    scfrank Old farts riding club.

    Oct 27, 2005
    Upstate SC
    This needs to be a perpetual thread.

    This and car tires.
  19. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

    Dec 20, 2007
    Delaware Ohio
    Isn't counter steering, by definition, simply turning one direction while steering another?

    So it's pretty simple. On a two wheel vehicle which leans in while turning at any speed about maybe 10 mph or whatever, if you continue to turn into a corner you will eventually literally crash, the bike keeps leaning, you keep steering... crunch!

    So what do you naturally do if you actually can balance a two wheel vehicle (some people cannot do this, I knew one)? You start the turn in (however it happens, I'm ignoring the technical aspect since it's been flogged to death), then you start steering back against your two wheel vehicle's natural tendency to fall in further, turning deeper. You control how far it falls in by your amount of steering back against it, then holding at the level of cornering desired... counter steering against the vehicle's tendency to continue to turn. I have heard an excellent description, calling steering a motorcycle as a controlled crash.

    Lots of physics and forces, but the actual event is pretty simple and if you don't do it you will eventually turn in so far the bike will end up on its side.
  20. PaulTim2000

    PaulTim2000 Been here awhile

    Mar 24, 2015
    Leicester UK

    So this is another take on countersteering.
    We have countersteering to initiate a turn and
    countersteering to control a turn once it's initiated

    Maybe we need a third description of countersteering to finish the turn and resume normal, straight, riding.

    My brain hurts :happay
    Aj Mick likes this.