New Rider...refuses to countersteer

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by CutterBill, Jun 15, 2019.

  1. Malamute

    Malamute Low speed adventurer

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    I started riding motorcycles/mini-bikes at about 9 or so years old, riding on the street since about 13 or 14 (early/mid 1970s), and this thread is the first time Ive ever heard of counter steering regarding motorcycles other than the concept of power slides. I agree that its way overthinking and overcomplicating the process for this lady. Id suggest a small motorcycle, like in the mini-motorcycle size range, and just go ride it around on the parking lot, open area, whatever, and keep doing different stuff, eventually getting smaller turns or doing stuff quicker. There is zero need to explain counter steering, just doing it will explain it much better, and she probably wont be conscious of doing it. The only thing i can really relate to countersteering is a quick change motion of the bike to avoid a hole in the road, and done by feel and body motion, it seems opposite the normal motion, but it throws the bike sideways quickly then goes the opposite way (which you then counteract to stay going straight), but avoids the hole instantly. You could probably explain the concept in general without terms like countersteering, but its also just something thats generally learned by experience.

    Riding a bicycle with no hands may be an easy way to understand to lean the way one wishes to go. Same on a motorcycle, but she probably shouldnt be riding a motorcycle with no hands at this point.
    #61
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  2. ZappBranigan

    ZappBranigan Still Riding

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    This x a bajillion. I learned to ride, got my MC endorsement at the age of 20 and rode for another 15 years before I ever heard of "counter steering."

    "Counter steering" is one of those things that if you have to think about it, you're doing it wrong. For that matter, if she's trying to think about "counter steering" then she's likely not paying attention to other things that she should be paying attention to.

    As for the video, it is not lack of "counter steering" that caused that rider to become a hood ornament, it was target fixation, plain and simple. The fact that the rider was able to whip through the corners at high speed prior to the wreck shows that he is perfectly able to "counter steer." But he saw the truck, had an "oh shit" moment and fixated on the target which meant rider hit grille.

    That accident was 100% caused by (a) riding too fast for road conditions and ability and (b) rider not trained to look to his "escape route" rather than to look at the "danger."

    You have to train yourself to look towards where you want to go, it's natural to fixate on the "threat."
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  3. VX Rider

    VX Rider Long timer

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    have her read nothing ever written on the subject by @no
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  4. BetterLateThanNever

    BetterLateThanNever Long timer

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    I mostly get the argument that it could be counterproductive to try to teach a concept that someone already uses intuitively. The only place I hesitate is this: I'm not convinced that same person will act intuitively in an emergency situation. The same person who unconsciously countersteers all day long might do the wrong thing when an evasive maneuver - or even correcting a cornering line - is called for. In those moments, I feel like what I'm doing is the result of drilling the concept into my head, not instinct. So, with my wife, I did start talking about countersteering... not right away, but soon enough that it served as an explanation for what she was experiencing. I think there are a few instructors on this forum... I'd be curious to hear the pedagogical perspective.
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  5. no

    no dreaming adventurer Supporter

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    If you don't consciously practice countersteering, you may target fixate in an emergency and ride directly toward what you are trying to avoid. If you're well-practiced, you'll countersteer without thinking.
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  6. Khantahr

    Khantahr Adventurer

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    Target fixation and countersteering are separate issues. Generally, if you fixate, you're going to go toward it, whether you countersteer or not. If you look through the turn, you're going to countersteer without thinking about it and go through the turn.

    An exception might be a quick emergency swerve, but it's still not usually a conscious countersteering effort, you "just do it."

    Most people do it without thinking, even if they don't think they are. If you don't, you'll have very poor control over the bike
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  7. dietDrThunder

    dietDrThunder Why so serious, son? Supporter

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    I promise I'm not trying to be a typical ADV contrarian here...but this is not good advice.

    There is exactly one way to steer a motorcycle, and suggesting to someone an alternative to that one way is at best counterproductive, and at worst, dangerous. I do applaud the effort at being creative here, but telling someone to move their hips around as a way to steer is not a good idea. There might be a million ways for this person to learn, but if she is to be safe, all 1,000,000 of them have to involve countersteering.

    I like the response here I saw that had the person thinking of it not as steering, but as pushing the bike in the desired direction. If this or other similar avenues are not effective, I would suggest that she find another hobby. Not everyone has flexible thinking in all areas, and not everyone can learn anything. I have a friend who loves to play poker and has played for years, but she is as resistant to my attempts to help her not set her money on fire as this person is to steering.

    Good luck!
    #67
  8. dietDrThunder

    dietDrThunder Why so serious, son? Supporter

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    This.

    It is important to note that 100% of people who successfully steer motorcycles are countersteering. Understanding or being conscious of it are not requirements of doing it; but they are requirements of doing it well. 100% of people with a "I had to lay 'er down" story are examples of people who do not apply conscious thought and practice to gain motorcycle operation proficiency in the two most important areas: steering and braking.
    #68
  9. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes Supporter

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    This is absolutely correct. However, most people become proficient in riding the motorcycle and making it turn where they want it to go by steering "instinctively" (just as they would on a bicycle) before they are introduced to the concept of pressing to turn and actually trying it. I can easily see how, if a trainer were to insist, right from the start, that a student HAS to consciously turn left in order to go right, they (the student) could get confused/overwhelmed and not be able to do the exact thing they are being asked to do, despite the fact they would be doing it just fine without the instructions and enforced awareness.

    MSF introduces the concept early on but has students mastering the basics of turns and weaves before they are expected to consciously apply countersteering.
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  10. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

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    Yep, I rode motorcycles for about 8 years before the bicycle experiment riding trials, flat track, and hare scrambling. I rode bicycles since I was like 6 years old or so, never learning with training wheels and never hearing of counter steering. I did what it took and really never thought about what needed to be done, just did it.

    Only way someone does anything intuitive is if they practice enough to separate the actions from other actions. It's like rear wheel steering - sliding the rear to change direction - if one hasn't done it enough they can't handle it when the rear steps out and will crash. Evasive maneuvers require such quick action there actually is little time to think, only act using what is known and practiced.

    I rode the snot out of bicycles, developing counter steering skills without anyone ever telling me anything about push this pull that, lean this way, lean that way. I just learned what worked and did it. Seems the motorcycling went the same way, but starting with mini-bikes and riding a friend's bigger Cushman Eagle. We just did it. Then off roading, sliding around and all, again no idea what we were doing was called just doing it.

    I did learn what understeer was on a motorcycle on the flat track, actually turning the front wheel in to keep the bike sliding out in the back. Very interesting and totally counter intuitive. But it was either dip the front in or run up out of the turn.

    No, you won't. Target fixation can happen to anyone of any skill level if they don't look where they want to go, rather than where they don't want to go. Early on in trials riding I was taught that I would go where I looked. I still practice that at times on the street and dirt, bicycle and motorcycle. I see a hole or spot on the roadway or trail and I concentrate on looking just to the side of it, staying focused on where I want the front wheel to go. It still works.

    Target fixation is not the problem in those situations - the target is the problem. Ya gotta pick the right target on which to fixate. Look at the pot hole you hit the pot hole, look at that little 6" wide bit of clear roadway to the side of it and you go on that little strip of ground. Definitely use in on dirt/gravel with holes and water filled rutted ground. A good path needs be chosen to avoid sinking into the ooze or ending up in the water.

    In trials it is all about fixation. Picking the proper path and focusing on it. What may seem to be the wrong place to focus may just be the right one, like when going over an obstacle, you need to know what path you need to use to go over it cleanly. Around it gets you a 5, it's out of the section. :lol3
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  11. JETalmage

    JETalmage Been here awhile

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    Gag me. You pseudo "steering scientists" need to get over this pet buzzword of yours. You're really sounding pretty silly.

    Guys, we're talking about teaching someone entirely new to motorcycling the initial basics of how to operate a motorcycle. Fercryin'outloud, you don't even begin teaching the basics of operating a freakin' firearm by fear mongering the fine points of worst-case life-and-death emergency tactical scenarios.

    Sheesh! If you guys were teaching a 4-year old how to paddle a kayak for the very first time in a pond, I honestly believe before all else, you'd start drilling into the poor kid the "essential" life-saving skill of how to Eskimo roll it and perform gory shark attack first aid--just to hear your oh-so-erudite selves talk.

    Personally, I've never conducted any "100% scientific polls," like you evidently have, but I dare say most motorcyclists "get" counter steering, are aware of it, have consciously discovered it, intuitively and automatically employ it, and think nothing so big-deal, earth shattering, life-changing special about it.

    Just because one doesn't flaunt your favorite word at every mention of motorcycling doesn't mean they're not every bit as expert at executing it as you think you are. You don't posses some kind of high brow genius that makes everyone else ignorant rolling-death-on-two-wheels neanderthals just because you've so fondly latched onto the term like it's some deep dark Rosetta Stone from a Tibetan temple.

    Give it a rest. Please.

    JET
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  12. NoVa Rider

    NoVa Rider Long timer Supporter

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    Have her ride down the middle line of a long, empty parking lot. Ask her to shift to second, steady speed, and gently press forward on the left handgrip. And then report back what happens. Then reverse back and gently press forward on the right handgrip. And report back what happens. Having divided the range visually, she will see that the press left goes left, and this usually is the light bulb moment precisely because you are not asking for an outcome -- i.e., turn left or right.

    If this doesn't work you ride down the middle of the range with her on the back and have her press forward on either handgrip. If she won't ride with you try setting cruise control and with only one finger gently press forward and have her watch what happens -- the bike will fall into a lean in whatever direction you press.

    But this is the internets, and YMMV. :rofl

    Good luck. :thumb
    #72
  13. blk-betty

    blk-betty bam-a-lam Supporter

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    Anyone who proficiently rides a bicycle countersteers whether they realize it or not and if you can steer a bicycle you can steer a motorcycle. Hand and foot coordination for clutch, throttle, front and rear brake is harder to learn than slow speed turns.

    If she can operate the controls and still can’t turn, as another poster stated, she is afraid to lean the bike since it’s heavier than a bicycle and she is not looking into the turn.

    If you look into the turn and initiate a lean by the slightest steering input the bike will turn....if you stop looking into the turn and let off the slight input the bike will stand up.

    She’s afraid to lean and not looking where she wants to go... I bet she’s “turning” the bars and sitting upright just as if she was in a car

    Turns can be initiated by pulling on the side one wants to go. Why do we insist on push right to turn left? Tell her to turn to the left by pulling the left grip toward her and lean into the pull rather than push the right grip away from her and use a light grip while doing so. Once she has mastered the pull then work on the push which is needed for quick changes such as avoiding an obstacle. Body and head position is just as important as bar control.
    #73
  14. SRG

    SRG Long timer

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    Get her one of these:



    In all seriousness, there is some good stuff in the video on how the human mind works/learns to ride a bike.
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  15. JETalmage

    JETalmage Been here awhile

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    Bingo. In every person I've ever taught to ride who had a turning problem, that was the core of the matter. That and the "I don't think I can hold it up..." thing.

    After they're comfortable:
    • Operating the clutch and throttle without stalling and without excess throttle.
    • Riding and stopping in a straight line.

    No self-aggrandizing grade school science class needed. All it takes is a little gentle encouragement:

    "Just like a bicycle, a motorcycle has to lean a little bit in order to turn. That's nothing to be afraid of. It's just as natural feeling as coasting around a curve on a bicycle. You don't have to "hold a motorcycle up" while it's turning any more than you do a bicycle. That's a complete myth. You've already experienced that by riding in a straight line. It's the same way in a turn."

    "Now just like before, ride off in a straight line across the empty field, just like you've been doing. As you approach the other side, stop, put your feet down, turn it around, ride back at a steady speed, just like you've been doing. When you feel like it, just turn the bike, just a little, to change direction a little bit, either right or left. Direction is up to you. no extra gas needed; no other changes. Ride just like you do when riding straight; you don't have to lean or strain or do anything special. Just turn a little bit. Not tightly, not fast, just smoothly. Once you're headed in a slightly different direction, ride straight just a little farther and come to the same kind of calm, controlled stop you've been doing."

    Praise, encourage, repeat. They'll be turning full circles and figure eights within the afternoon.

    JET
    #75
  16. Snowbird

    Snowbird Cereal Killer

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    This post is closest to what I was going to suggest. I figured out counter steering on my own many years ago by pushing on one side then the other of the handlebars while traveling on a completely straight road and observing what followed, all within my lane. I did this quite early in my riding, perhaps within a week after first riding, as I did a self-study of what I was doing that caused the motorcycle to turn. The highway striping was an easy guide to see the reaction to my action on the bars. It wasn't like there was anyone around to show me or classes to take in my area (there still aren't). Once you see this on a straight with no worry about missing a curve, actual curves are easier.

    What counter steering does, of course, is move the tire contact patch back and forth as desired under the center of gravity of the motorcycle. This happens simply because the contact patch has friction with the road surface while the rest of the mass of the bike has only inertia and keeps it balanced above.
    #76
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  17. no

    no dreaming adventurer Supporter

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    Just to prove that this is nonsense, I spent a day during the experienced rider course looking at the obstacles I was avoiding and looking opposite the way I was turning and I remained in complete control following perfect lines. It's all about countersteering and it doesn't matter which way you are looking as long as you're getting the bike to lean the way you want it to by countersteering. Physics doesn't care which way you are looking.
    #77
  18. 2old2Bbold

    2old2Bbold was 2bold2getold

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    That is very interesting. I'd love to try it.
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  19. 03WrxRob

    03WrxRob Been here awhile

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    With enough focus anything is possible but typically when people fixated on something they instinctively steer towards it
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  20. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

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    You don't get it. Target fixation has nothing to do with steering skills. It is focusing on where one must go. It may be working between rocks on a trials bike, it may be putting on a green playing golf, it may be cutting with a band or jig saw. Every one requires you look at your path, not just at the front wheel, the ball, or the blade, but where you must go, hit the ball, or cut the material.

    In your riding you looked where you wanted to go first, then looked on. Riders, drivers are always looking ahead, they have to. But at one point in time they looked where they wanted to go. You will go where you look provided time and skill are there to execute the maneuver.

    You want proof? Do your maneuvers blindfolded. Good luck with that. Seems you have to see where you want to go first. Then you do all the physical work to follow the path chosen.
    #80
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