Countersteer or Die!

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

  1. drmiller100

    drmiller100 Long timer

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    again, I'm new. Not arguing. trying to learn.
    It FEELS like when I "counter lean" the bike is turning sharper. I push the inside grip down, the bike leans more, but my body doesn't, it FEELS like it is turning sharper.
    no?
    #61
  2. Andyvh1959

    Andyvh1959 Cheesehead Klompen Supporter

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    Those are common reactions for a newer rider. Just think, well not really think, just practice pressing the grip slightly forward that is on the "inside" on the turn. Press right-go right, press left-go left, just that simple. MOST turns are so subtle countersteering wise that you'll rarely ever feel it. The big difference is when you must direct the bike where YOU want it to go accurately, then the press action of countersteering is the most effective and repsonsive way to make it happen.

    Find a nice clear straight road, empty and no traffic, ride down the center line, and just press/push a little more on one grip versus the other and feel the bike respond. Try it first at 25, then try 45, then eventually get up to 60. With steady assertive action at the grips you can make the bike move where YOU want it to move.

    Once you have a feel for how it responds, then take it to the turns/curves and work it. Stay wider into the turn entry, delay the press action, steady throttle, look to the turn exit and press the grip to get the line and turn exit position you want. Once you develop that feel, you'll find the turns are more steady and accurate, and smoother. Also, once you decide your line you can apply steady throttle or slightly increase throttle through the turn and the bike will feel solid and connected to the turn. Motorcycles turn best with steady loading at the front contact patch. Motorcycles respond best being "ridden" into the turns, not coasting through the turns. Leaning opposite the bike, counter-leaning, really only applies for slow speed maneuvers. If you prefer slight counter-leaning for cornering (loading into your hips like downhill skiing) will eventually limit your lean angle options.

    For now, just keep your upper body and head centered on the bike, but head level with the horizon. As your feel develops, then eventually you can move your upper body position to the inside of the turn, which begins to develop beneficial body position for reduced lean angle. Get the Lee Parks "Total Control" book, an excellent guide into the turns.
    #62
  3. White Knuckle

    White Knuckle Whirlygig Operator

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    You're just making the bike work harder than it has to. Eventually this could bite you if you have to turn so hard you use up all of the contact patch on your tire (or hit hard parts)

    But your body movement doesn't have to be extreme, I just lean forward slightly and put my chin above the mirror or grip of the direction I want to turn. You can practice doing this on a straight road keeping the bike level, and just moving your head and upper body will make the bike drift one way or another. Think of that as free turning, work the bike doesn't have to do.
    #63
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  4. BetterLateThanNever

    BetterLateThanNever Long timer

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    You're getting lots of good advice, which I wouldn't dream of second guessing. But I was where you are fewer years ago than most of these guys, and it's still pretty fresh for me. A couple of thoughts.

    I've found that in most real-world, legal-speed riding situations, bikes can turn just fine without a lot of contortions in the saddle. What I discovered was getting in my way was tension. I would focus on 'technique' and remembering all the 'do this and do thats', and unconsciously become rigid in the shoulders and arms. The bike can get quite stubborn when you're tense, no matter how many tricks you try, and that can be demoralizing.

    The other thing that continues to make a big difference to me is looking both where I want to go, and further down the road than seems sensible. The first bit is like magic, can't explain it. The second came from a riding coach I worked with (a former pro, million-miler type)... he said that the further ahead you look, the slower things will seem to be happening. One of the most difficult things to do with sports like this is learn to trust your peripheral vision. Once you do, everything kind of calms down in corners. Which, of course, helps you stay loose.

    FWIW.
    #64
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  5. drmiller100

    drmiller100 Long timer

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    yeah, I "lock up." I enter a corner too hot, and then I try to "steer" into the corner which is worse, so I lock up. Slowing down helps. On the dirt, I'm trying hard to practice using my rear brake more to get the bike pointed right.
    On slab, I want to make it so I countersteer intuitively to get more turn.

    I REALLY appreciate ALL the ideas from all of the posters. Thank you.
    #65
  6. VX Rider

    VX Rider Long timer

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    Then go back to the basics.....
    Slow

    Look


    Press


    Roll

    http://www.mcrider.com/4-steps-corner-motorcycle-like-pro/
    #66
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  7. bikemoto

    bikemoto Tyre critic

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    Fitness, ride fitness, and concentration. After using a hydration pack off-road, I started doing it on-road and adventure as well. On a sporty full day ride, by mid-afternoon my concentration and energy levels are higher than my non-hydrating mates.

    Which video? Typically head and shoulders stay more centred on the bike, and it's your hips that move to the inside (or outside) of the bike. Unless you are trying to ride like MotoGP...

    [​IMG]
    Picture from this interesting article: http://www.therideadvice.com/the-evolution-of-motorcycle-body-position/

    There's a lot going on, and trying to isolate and simplify particular parts sometimes clouds the fuller picture. What you are doing sounds good to me, with the caveat (to which others have alluded) that you are sacrificing ground clearance which may be an issue when the speeds climb. It is taught (professionally) in the mtb world to push the inside grip down to get you into a corner, and both mtb and dirt bikes lean underneath the more upright rider. All single-track vehicles turn by leaning as much as anything else. You could almost think of it as the frame has to be tilted sufficiently for the radius of the corner, and then your body position is determined by the speed.

    One way to get into the swing of counter-steering by pushing is to do some slow, exaggerated weaves so you can concentrate on what's going on without all the puckering of over-cooking a corner.

    The other thing I'd mention, is that counter-steering is used to change direction: initiate a turn, get out of a turn, or change line mid-turn (or anywhere). Once the bike is in the turn, it's not being counter-steered any more, it's the lean that holds it in the turn.
    #67
  8. lnewqban

    lnewqban Ninjetter

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    One more idea about street cornering:
    Riding a motorcycle is very far from natural, which is the source of our survival reactions (SR's).
    Your cornering problems are starting much earlier than at the moment to countersteer.
    You need to work on developing your sense of proper entry speed for each curve and road conditions.

    Entering a curve too hot means that the entry speed that you selected via deceleration (brakes, engine or both) prior the entry point was excessive (above the previously mentioned proper speed).
    That error triggers many subsequent problems, because your perception of being in control (of available space and time in front of the bike to safely maneuver) is overwhelmed by the perception (real or imaginary) of the bike moving faster or ahead of your capacity to mentally process things and to react in time.

    I would suggest you practicing entry speeds that are slower than what you believe as "normal".
    The best way to achieve consistency about entry speed is early braking or engine deceleration, long enough to achieve the speed that you prefer (abrupt late braking gives you all kind of incorrect speeds at the end of braking).
    Then, you enter the curve in total control of the next steps (countersteering, trajectory, traffic, accelerating out of it), your focusing capability is high because you are in a calmed mental state (away from panicking or triggering SR's).

    Developing the habit of pushing forward to lean and turn on the same side of pushing is very important for emergency situations, when you will not have time to think about it.
    If you are forced to do an emergency swerving at high speed, you will realize that the bike gives you a high resistance to accept your countersteering input.
    Pushing forward while leaning your upper body simultaneously forward and onto the side of leaning will give you greater leverage to effectively deal with that high resistive force from the handlebar.

    Besides abundant practice in safe places, I recommend you reading these articles:
    http://www.soundrider.com/archive/safety-skills/RS-cc1.aspx

    http://www.soundrider.com/archive/safety-skills/RS-cc2.aspx

    http://www.soundrider.com/archive/safety-skills/RS-cc3.aspx

    http://www.soundrider.com/archive/safety-skills/RS-cc4.aspx

    [​IMG]
    #68
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  9. lnewqban

    lnewqban Ninjetter

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    The bike is actually leaning sharper.
    That is because the inertia to lean (or to roll over) caused by the weight of your upper body (which remains more or less vertical) is removed from the equation: only the weight of the bike and your lower body is rolling over or leaning.
    When your body leans with the bike, there is more mass or weight (your body+bike) that is being forced to roll over or lean, which means higher rotational inertia (the bike rolls over more slowly or with a heavier feeling).

    Turning sharper is what we want in an emergency swerving maneuver.
    That is the reason behind the MSF teaching regarding only moving the bike beneath you in two quick successive swervings.
    Agility to avoid an obstacle is the priority in this technique.



    If your upper body is bent forward and towards inside the curve, your center of mass gets closer to the center of mass of the bike (around which the rotation actually happens) and that inertia is reduced (that is what track racers do during chicanes).
    Learn more about that rotational inertia here:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moment_of_inertia



    When your body leans with the bike, the lean angle of the wheels is less than when you push the bike under you while your upper body remains more or less vertical (for the same speed and trajectory on the curve).
    When cornering on loose dirt and sand (poor traction), pushing the bike under you is better to increase the lean angle and to make the tires dig harder into the dirt or sand that is pushed over and built-up sideways on the outside of the turn.

    When cornering on flat asphalt, leaning your upper body with the bike (or even more) is better to decrease the lean angle and to make the suspension and tires work in better conditions along the curve (irregularities and imperfections of the road induce vertical forces while the suspension strokes are leaned), keeping tires planted and available traction as high as possible.
    Maximum traction and stability of the chasis are the priorities in this technique (rather than the pushing the bike under and quick turning of the swerving technique described above).

    #69
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  10. Andyvh1959

    Andyvh1959 Cheesehead Klompen Supporter

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    For the Street Skills corse at Road America I demonstrate how to swerve quickly by pressing quickly and assertively on the grips. I did consecutive swerve maneuvers at 25 mph on my BMW R1200RT and by the fourth one I actually got the front tire to hop off the surface, and yet the bike was stable and controllable. The point is if you practice this in your bike you'll find you can make it move quickly as you need it, with control.
    #70
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  11. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

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    I find this all so entertaining, trying to point to one thing as the "do it all".

    To the op, what you should start doing is playing on the road when there is no traffic. My favorite games:
    • dotted line slalom - weaving between the dotted lines. Start at a speed where you can do it snapping from one side to the other through the spaces, without running over the lines, while keeping as close to them as possible. Increase speed as you can. Again - only when there is no traffic. Right now I can do it on the dual sport at about 60 mph.
    • lean in a bit, lean out a bit. Do it as a unit with the bike, do it with your upper body, do it however you can. Learn what it does.
    • Push/pull bars, like everyone says, do it.
    • Drop a knee in to the inside, lean upper body inside. Learn what it does.
    • Dive in deeper turn out wider, just plain steer in deeper or turn out wider using whatever techniques you may use. Try it using throttle, try it using steering. You will find throttle will tend to have you turn in deeper. In this game personally for the best quickest action I cannot separate out each little item, like leaning or pushing/pulling bars. I find if I try to just use one type of input, not only is it difficult to only use it, the steering isn't as smooth and quick. In other words the blend of techniques learned works best all together.
    • If riding a dual sport, slide in a corner on a loose pea gravel or dirt road, learn to put out a foot ala flat tracker. Learn what it feels like to slide and control it. That skill has saved me a couple times on the street where a layer of loose debris wasn't visible, a dab to avoid a fall.
    I am sure there are more games to play, but the end result should be that you use multiple skills blended together through experiencing all of them. Fact is I often lean the bike in for turns at intersections, ala dirt riding. I also use that as part of the slalom for quick movements, levers the bike better. But seldom do I ever ride a nomal at speed corner, nor do racers, using that style. At anything over about 15 mph, either I am leaning as a unit or leaning the bike, but leaning my upper body in a bit keeping the bike more upright. I also will flip my inside knee into the corner if I just want a small change turning in.

    It's all a blend and the way to do it is to play games wherever possible. You are teaching your brain/body how to act. The more tools you have and have blended, the better you will be. That is the big advantage off road riders have. They have goofed around in about every kind of situation possible, riding hard pack, ruts, slimy mud and rooted trails. They HAVE to do it all. So they develop all the skills. Then on road they need to play with the skills to develop them to suit the road use. The biggest problem most off roaders have is leaning into a turn including upper body weight shift or sliding off the seat. They just don't have faith in the tires to lean in hard. They have your problem. You need to develop faith in the tires and play the games to work the skills.
    #71
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  12. 4bikes

    4bikes Been here awhile

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  13. Andyvh1959

    Andyvh1959 Cheesehead Klompen Supporter

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    I agree completely. Way back in 75, on my Honda CB350F I would entertain myself on the back roads by trying all sorts of things:
    1. I did the dotted line slalom, and found by experimenting that I could only make it work by countersteering. No one taught me, I just kind of realized it and applied it.
    2. On late afternoons riding north or south, I'd try to follow the shadow line on the road from the overhead power lines. Same thing, I could only do it by applying countersteering techniques.
    3. On back roads I'd set the throttle, and move to the back of the seat and steer the bike with my feet and body position, again another form of countersteering.

    Now, some of these things I tried I wouldn't suggest for others. But I found and learned to apply countersteering without any formal training and I felt it definitely helped me survive the early years of riding. In doing these things I did gain confidence in the front tire and leaning, which gave me more control. In the long run, these skills led me to getting into rider training 25 years ago and which has also helped me to keep my riding sharp.
    #73
  14. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

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    Of course you have to countersteer, that is how a single track vehicle works. it is all countersteering, it is about how you make the moves.

    That is the problem, few seem to get it. Even if you ride with no hands on the bars you will use your weight leaning to start the turn, then the instant it starts you are leaning the other way - aka counter steering - to maintain what you want as a turn. Try shifting your weight to the inside of the seat. If you don't instantly start countersteering the bike will turn in fairly quickly, you end up working the bars - aka counte rsteering. If you are in a corner and need to go a small amount tighter you stick your knee out, that small bit of weight to the inside and a bit of wind resistance takes you in tighter - and you hold position using the bars - aka counter steering.

    You soon learn that it isn't just pushing and pulling bars, a good smooth turn and adjustments involve body position as well. Even a minor shift of your upper body will alter your turn and you control the alteration by leaning, throttle, brake, and steering with the bars. Eventually you discover you never are doing just one thing.

    On the slalom, it is both bars and weight shift, small upper body to control it.

    One I forgot - riding down the line itself staying on the line takes small weight shift and light bar movement.

    If you ride off road, especially steering with the rear tire, it takes weight shift, body position, handle bar movement, and throttle. to do the job. The hardest thing to do in a slide is to steer in to the slide direction. It will keep the rear wheel out and the turn tighter, but takes a lot of practice and some guts to do so since it seems so wrong. Like Ronnie Rall flat tracking the Suzuki Water Buffalo around 1975. The rider dips the front wheel in, the front cuts in and the rear slides out. The bike is steering out of the turn and the rider is counter steering back inside with the front wheel:

    upload_2018-6-24_15-51-53.jpeg

    That takes some guts, because it is counter intuitive. I've actually done it before when I was young and fearless, on a Bultaco Pursang 250 on a short track. The front is knifing in and actually sliding a bit. Same maneuver on asphalt would wash out the front end.

    My point in my post was to go play and do it all. If you only work on one aspect you never develop the others and the ability to maximize it all when needed.
    #74
  15. drmiller100

    drmiller100 Long timer

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    Ok, long and short weekend. 400 miles of backwoods, a bit of highway, some backcountry slab, lots and lots of forest roads. I tried a bunch of stuff.
    On asphalt, I've gotten a LOT better about slowing down a lot for corners. Once in a while I overcook a corner, or something is SURPRISE in the corner. And I want to learn to be able to adjust the turn. I tried a bunch of stuff from this thread.
    So I'm leaned over in a corner, and I want to "tighten" the corner. What was an OH MY GOD success was moving my chin over the inside mirror. Remember, I'm 280, so when my chin moves 12 inches, so does a fair amount of weight.
    I played with that.
    Coming home, I was tired, lost concentration, and overcooked a corner, and damned if I didn't move my chin and get my bike back where I wanted it.
    YEAH!!!!!!
    Need to practice that a BUNCH more.
    Still working the rear brake on dirt in corners. Having a lot of success with that.

    My brain is full, my body tired, my soul happy. I will read the more recent posts in teh next few days and process.

    THANK YOU ALL!!!
    #75
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  16. Andyvh1959

    Andyvh1959 Cheesehead Klompen Supporter

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    Even on a controlled track, no traffic, great traction, I still have challenges trying to get my students in the Street Skills classes to do anything with true intent and assertive action. Some do, most don't. Its not a track event or track day. Yet, they just cannot breach that apprehension of trying something and feel the bike respond.
    #76
  17. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

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    Never stop playing when riding conditions allow it. It keeps you sharp and should you get into a situation what you have learned and practice will be part of your actions. I speak from experience on and off road. It is almost as if the action is instinctive in nature.
    #77
  18. Andyvh1959

    Andyvh1959 Cheesehead Klompen Supporter

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    I agree. A big part of the "instinctive" reaction is in the immediate knowing the bike will do what you need, without thinking about it or wasting precious time/effort concerned you and the bike (especially you) can't achieve what you need done. But with experimentation and practice you gain that confidence of known expectation and results. If you never attempt or practice some of these actions the trepidation will hold you back from applying a quick effective action. When results don't come quickly, or accurately, most riders pucker up and freeze, and loss of control is very common.

    I cringe every time I read a crash report that says "rider failed to maintain control" or "rider failed to negotiate the curve." Especially here in east central Wisconsin there are very few curves which are even remotely technical. Largely the rider simply screwed up, didn't know what to do, froze/tightened up, and crashed.
    #78
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  19. JohnCW

    JohnCW Long timer

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    On asphalt ..... don't wait till you realize you've overcooked a corner before adjusting your riding position or method. Too late then, and shifting around when its already going pear shaped is likely to just make things worse.

    Have just one 'method' of riding every corner so it is just the way you ride. That way it will become truly instinctive. And when I say just one method I mean just one 'method'. The only difference between riding to the shops and ripping the twisties will be how much of that 'method' you apply at any given point.

    While that 'method' is a collection of various technical elements, in relation to 'body position' I'm not a fan of people just sticking their upper body across. I've followed way too many beginner/intermediate level riders doing this and they just seem awkward and control isn't all the much better. Learn to move your arse across the seat. Lead with you hip and shoulder. Doesn't need to be much. Moving you arse will naturally move your upper body, it'll cause you the naturally weight the inside peg, it'll bring your outer inner thigh against the tank. It'll also naturally tend to make you want to support some weigh against the inner bar grip, facilitation bar initiated counter steering.

    The secret to moving your arse is riding on the balls of you feet, as opposed to having the heels of your boots hooked against the pegs. Also have a seat/pants combination that allows you to slide relatively easy rather than having to pick your arse right up as this can become tiring if riding all day. I'm 67 years old and can do it all day, so don't let anyone tell you it can't be done.
    #79
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  20. nk14zp

    nk14zp Long timer

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    Do you dismount to fuel up?
    #80