New Rider...refuses to countersteer

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

  1. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad Former World's Foremost Authority Supporter

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    If the OP's information is correct, he lives very close to one of the best places to learn how to ride in the world, the Mojave desert. Get her on a dirt bike and let her learn how to ride in the "dez".

    There was another geezer like me who hit the nail on the head. Years and years of racing desert, MX, Baja, and yes, even road racing and I have never been taught "counter steering". You guys who place all of this weight on safety classes, magazine articles or shit you read, or watch videos of telling you how too ride, you are over thinking it to a fault. Stop trying to impress her with your esoteric knowledge.

    If you have to think about counter steering you are doing it wrong.
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  2. BetterLateThanNever

    BetterLateThanNever Long timer

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    Not sure forcing anyone who's crying in their helmet on to another motorcycle is the answer. And I'm damn sure dirt isn't the answer to learning how to steer a bike at speed on pavement.

    I'm sure we're all impressed. But the fact is that learning as an adult can be different for a lot of people. If you've grown up on a bike, you've kind of jumped the "consciously incompetent" phase of learning. As adults, we often need to understand the mechanics behind physical processes in order to get them right.

    Lots of high performance riders would disagree. Including even some better than you.
  3. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad Former World's Foremost Authority Supporter

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    No one is forcing anyone to do anything. Trying to force someone to do something before they are ready is never going to be a good idea. Spending time on a dirt bike will teach lots of skills and control. No it won't teach her how to drag her knee, but if you are having to teach her control she shouldn't be pushing that hard anyway.

    Not trying to impress, just giving an idea as to some of my experience.

    One thing I learned racing a long time ago is that there will always be a better rider than you. Lots of people may disagree, and I know plenty of riders (most of who just might be better riders than you) will also agree with me.
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  4. 2old2Bbold

    2old2Bbold was 2bold2getold

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    Some of the more unusual people I've known have a degree in Physics.

    These kinds of discussions are interesting and informative and almost never change peoples minds. On one side is...."the ONLY way to make a motorcycle turn is to counter steer", counter steer or die.

    On the other side is.... " steering is instinctive, people have been operating 2 wheeled vehicles for over two hundred years without any formal training."

    Both sides are correct up to a point.
    There's more than one way to change direction of a motorcycle.
    And instinctive steering is using counter steering most of the time, whether they know it or not.

    I agree, the lady in question is not responding to the technical method but will probably figure it out, in time, if allowed to practice in a safe area. Millions (probably billions) of people have.
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  5. BetterLateThanNever

    BetterLateThanNever Long timer

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    I operate on the assumption that every rider is better than me. Even on the internet. After hubris comes nemesis and all that... ;)

    On the force thing, we're in agreement.
  6. SRG

    SRG Long timer

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    How humans learn to ride a bike (it's not instinct) has actual science.

    The vid I posted earlier is interesting:

  7. JETalmage

    JETalmage Been here awhile

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    Exactly.

    I distinctly remember "discovering" the phenomena all on my own pretty early in my motorcycling days while turning quickly to dodge pot holes and such, long before anyone made a YouTube buzzword out of it. It was no big deal. I just kind of noticed myself doing it, because it had become part of the auto-response learning inherent in riding a motorcycle.

    Being just an average guy, I'm quite sure most motorcyclists beyond just weekend riders have done the same, and have long since used it to advantage as part of their learned automatic responses, even if they don't realize it, let alone know or care what you love to call it. It's really hard to imagine someone doing much riding without having noticed it, but it really just boils down to what you do when you make a quick swerve.

    That doesn't make it anything appropriate with which to browbeat a beginner trepidatiously learning how to operate a motorcycle.

    And to add to that, I dare say most of the best riders became the best riders by intuitively doing things that eventually become YouTube buzzwords.

    Once again, Trials (the discipline that exposes motorcycle technique at its essence) is a case-in-point. Look any current writings or videos that try to explain Trials techniques. You'll find a plethora of special names--Bunny Hop, Splatter, Double Blip, Holding Pressure, Roll Up, Pivot Turn, Floating Turn, and more--and tedious step-by-step explanations for each of them. But here's the thing:

    How do you think those techniques became specific named techniques in the first place? They became sought-after techniques because champ-level riders were seen doing them, and winning. So riders naturally wanted to know "how do you do that?" and the champs thought about what they were doing and tried to put it into words. The rider-writers coined appropriate names and tried to semi-formalize them into teachable techniques.

    That's all well and good. But you don't bombard a brand new rider with that stuff, even if the training bike he's on happens to be a Trials bike.

    I seriously doubt that Mick Andrews looked up something called a Floating Turn in a physics textbook and then started employing the technique in world competition. No, they didn't exist. He increasingly leveraged the tactile things that he intuitively found to work in the sections until they became automatic muscle memory responses.

    A skilled rider doesn't have to know the current YouTube buzzword for your pet "secret ingredient" of motorcycling physics to have been--for all you know--skillfully employing it much longer and even better than you have.

    Can you guys not hear the cacophony of rolling eyes as you go on and on about this nobody's secret at every opportunity--especially in the context of teaching a first-time rider how to simply operate a motorcycle?

    JET
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  8. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes Supporter

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    I took a couple of years to figure this out (riding with hands crossed so I could zip up my left glove while using left hand to hold the throttle. Came to a right-hand bend and had to actually think about what I was doing. Pulled on right bar and, much to my surprise... Well, you know!) What I didn't figure out until several years later, following training, was how to recalibrate my brain so I was actively using this approach to control the motorcycle - despite the fact I was not actually doing anything different, small, precise, course corrections, obstacle avoidance and swerving all became easier and more effective.

    Based on my experience training, most people do NOT figure it out by themselves. Even when they do, they don't make it the approach they use to controlling the machine. This becomes obvious when you hear someone talk about a typical run-off-the-road-in-a-corner crash, or watch them try to dodge a pothole, etc.

    Just twenty years ago, most people in the training community had not heard of and did not practice or teach countersteering so anyone who figured it out (knowingly or otherwise) before then was at a distinct advantage.
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  9. davidji

    davidji bike curious

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    Yeah. Is she a good bicycle rider? I seriously doubt she is, if she runs her motorcycle off the road.

    It's much simpler for someone to learn to ride a motorcycle if they're a good bicycle rider. By good I mean smooth and fluid, not stiff and awkward. Obviously some learn moto without having bicycle skills. Apparently this one isn't.

    Bicycles are vastly lighter, cheaper, and lower cost to crash (both in terms of injury and equipment damage). And after she learns how to ride a bicycle well, all she needs to do is look down at her hands when she makes a turn, and she'll see the turn initiated with a quick unconscious countersteering motion.

    If she never gets past the stiff and awkward stage on the bicycle though, I can't guarantee she'll even be making that motion.

    Also you might explain that the countersteering to initiate a turn is often just a quick, subtle motion. People tend to explain it really poorly, and that may be part of why she doesn't understand. The main reason motorcyclists need to understand it while bicyclists don't is when we're in a turn too hot we need to know to countersteer again to lean further. If you can bicycle, you don't really need to know about countersteering to initiate the turn, because you'll do it naturally.
  10. Malamute

    Malamute Low speed adventurer

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    Someone didnt think dirt was helpful, I thought it was a very big help in learning, both in the aspect of being more forgiving on the bike and rider when one does go down, that helps one not be as fearful of going down. With that allayed to some extent, you can experiment and push some to see what you can do, and because its a LOT of fun ripping around short tracks, hills, fishtailing roostertails of dirt in the air, figure out how the bike functions in various goofy stuff, how you can go down on front brake use in slippery stuff without pavement rash, learn to wheelie, donuts, whatever. Not that one does much of that on the street, but its a good learning environment, and helps build confidence and willingness to try stuff and learn how bikes work. When I got to the point of riding an H-D Super Glide around when about 145 lbs and 17 yrs old wasnt at all intimidating, it was a blast. 4 or so years of street riding on smaller bikes helped a lot, as did the dirt riding for fun.

    Hint, Big Twins dont get air on humps in the road like smaller dirt bikes do. :)
  11. BetterLateThanNever

    BetterLateThanNever Long timer

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    My experience also. Not sure I understand the heated reactions to this idea...
  12. Navy Chief

    Navy Chief Long timer Supporter

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    All of this debate over the simple concept of countersteering... shhesh..

    It is simple, she does not have to know that it is called countersteering, she does not need to know the physics behind how it works, all she HAS TO KNOW is that to turn right you push right to turn left you push left. This has to be ingrained and automatic, anything else eventually leads to a situation like the one shown in the video of the bike hitting the fire truck; the rider did not react correctly under pressure and steered into the path of an oncoming truck.

    I think it is time for the OP to step back as the instructor and have her take a MSF basic rider course if she really wants to learn. She may have a much easier time learning from somebody she does not have an emotional attachment to.
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  13. CutterBill

    CutterBill I hate motorcycles

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    OP here... I haven't said much but I have been reading the comments. All of them interesting. But I'd like to clarify a few things... Nobody is "forcing" her to learn to ride. I was doubtful that she would be able to learn it, but this... riding... is something that she has wanted to do since she was a little girl. SHE is the one that wants to do this, and to her credit, she has stubbornly persisted.

    Some of you have repeatedly suggested that she take an MSF course. Please re-read my second post (I think it is on page 2) where I explained in great detail how we did exactly that. And it didn't end well. Would a different course be better? Perhaps. But taking a course in California will not allow her to get a license in Oregon.

    For those of you who believe that counter-steering is "intuitive"... it's not. You might do it without thinking about it, but to learn it, it will not come to you without either instruction or by experience. I find it hard to believe that someone who has never ridden a motorcycle would throw their leg over a bike and "intuitively" think... Hmmm, I'll bet that to go right, I should turn the bars to the left. Nope. You might figure it out eventually, but it's not the first thing would you think. It is definitely not intuitive. Here, let me give you an example...

    Which way do you twist the throttle to go faster? Intuitively, you might twist the throttle forward, because that is the direction you want to go. And yet, we don't do it that way. You twist the throttle back to go forward. It's not intuitive at all.

    As an aside, some of you might have read that I teach people how to fly. And I can assure you, there are many things about flying are NOT intuitive. You must be taught. Doing something "intuitively" in an airplane can get you killed.

    Someone else commented that, unless I misunderstood, a dry lake bed is not a good place to learn to ride a road bike. Obviously, you haven't seen these lake beds. They are as hard and flat as concrete. Smoother, actually.

    Ok, I am out off coffee and must start my day. Thanks again for the great comments. I'll let you know if there is any progress.
    Bill
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  14. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

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    Sorry to say, but if you are saying one has to understand the physics of steering to be proficient, you are wrong. A rider doesn't need to understand what makes a motorcycle turn, rather they only need to know how to make it turn. They could be a box of rocks and ride at a top level. Or as I just now realized - they teach monkeys and bears to ride bicycles. You think the monkeys and bears know the physics to do so?

    Do you know what it takes to walk or run? The honest to gawd physics and the way the anatomy works to do so? I doubt you did as a kid running around the play ground. How about most racers racing as an early teenager, you think he knew the honest to gawd physics of steering? We start by learning what to do, not the physics of how it works, but actually making it work.

    Ever ride a three wheeler proficiently? Whole different game than a motorcycle. DId you know all the physics behind that? One good racer I knew couldn't tell you the physics related to counter steering of the bicycles and motorcycles he raced and still races or racing the ATC200X he raced. It is about doing, not knowing. Sure you may do something, like hanging off on a turn, to do better, but really don't need to know the science.

    Who cares why the pressure on the bars does what it does, the important part is to learn that it does and that how much pressure or how long you hold it will also affect turns. How many people get the whole gist of clutches and throttles, actually know and understand how they work? Yet they use them.

    The knowledge of the science of counter steering is totally overrated. The knowledge of what is done to cause counter steering to occur is not. Have a rider ride a bicycle at 10-20 mph and try to steer left by turning left and turn right by turning right - they will gain the knowledge of what is done to turn a single track vehicle to the right and left fairly quickly. Most already know from riding experience, but have no idea they are actually doing so. Get them to realize it and then transfer that knowledge of what to do to the motorcycle.

    I'm thinking the song "Blinded by science" may have come from someone being told about counter steering when trying to learn to ride. I never told either of my daughters about counter steering when teaching them to ride bicycles. Still haven't 35 years later.
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  15. shoeb

    shoeb Long timer

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    Remembering my own training (which is pretty involved here, compared to much of the USA), I don't remember as single mention of it. In fact, no-one even DESCRIBED it, saying 'push left to turn left' or anything. They just got people on light bikes to try turning each way and off we went; never saw anyone go far in the wrong direction. It's reflexive, which some people on here are confusing with intuitive. What I mean is, turning a motorcycle isn't necessarily something you could do first time, but your brain shouldn't take long to figure it out.

    It's like a video game where the up and down directional controls are inverted. It's annoying for 30 seconds then your brain clicks to it.
  16. Navy Chief

    Navy Chief Long timer Supporter

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    It has been mentioned that you need to have a conversation with whoever runs the MSF courses in Oregon, her experience is definitely not what should have happened at a MSF basic rider course, ever. They need to be made aware that instructors are going way off the curriculum and making it up as they go if this is actually what happened. They are paid to provide a very specific service, not make it up as they go.
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  17. dietDrThunder

    dietDrThunder Why so serious, son? Supporter

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    Nobody said that understanding physics is a prerequisite for riding safely. The leaps of, well, logic isn't really the right word, but whatever, are many and increasingly ridiculous in this thread. A few notes...

    1. Yes, it is true that plenty of people get to be competent or better at riding when they start young and learn off-road. This has absolutely no relevance to an adult person who has no intuition born of experience from which to draw.

    2. The world is chock full of people who never had anyone to help them learn how to properly steer and brake a motorcycle. The world is also full of people who have motorcycle mishaps of varying severity that involve 'layin' 'er down,' failing to brake proficiently resulting in hitting things, failing to turn in a manner that results in staying on the road, etc. The Venn diagram of these groups is nearly 100% convergent.

    3. What the hell are we even arguing about? If you read the first couple of OP's posts, it should be abundantly clear that even if mere experience and intuition are sufficient, this lady is not going to become proficient as the result of either, ever. It is entirely possible however, that if left to her own devices to continue bumbling around town with absolutely no idea what she is or should be doing, , she will be killed, and soon.
  18. dietDrThunder

    dietDrThunder Why so serious, son? Supporter

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    We have a road in the US that you've probably heard of' Deal's Gap. There are many like it, but I'm using this as the example because it's super popular. I've been there a zillion times, and I can tell you that the sheer number of people who have accidents there entirely due to the failure to steer enough to navigate turns is staggering. Google up 'Deal's Gap crash' and look at pics and vids. There are hundreds of examples where it is clear to see that the cause is a simple failure to stay on course. This is empirical evidence that intuition and experience are not enough in situations that are even a little out of the ordinary (like a tighter than average twisty road). Intuition works great, up until there is a real or perceived emergency. We know this from a very early age.

    Remember when we were kids riding bicycles, and that 'oooohhhh aaarghhh.....errrr..whaa........' feeling when you get too close to a curb? You didn't simply get right next to the curb, see it, then smoothly ride away. There was always a very uneasy and a little wobbly feeling as you clumsily incremented your way into the open again. Why was this?

    It was because on a purely subconscious level, your brain understood that in order to move away from the curb, you actually had to steer _towards_ the curb...but you can't do that because you'll hit the curb. So, you wobble around in indecision and low level panic until you manage to escape the situation. If, on the other hand, you had a practiced and proficient understanding of how steering a bike works, you would have relaxed and applied a very light amount of pressure to the proper hand, and smoothly moved away, because now you have the tools to understand that a large move isn't needed, you're 2" away but steering less than that will work, etc. No panic, no hitting the curb. Success.

    Just a few days ago I was relating this story to my Dad. About 25 years ago, I was riding in Berkeley CA on Shattuck Ave. in heavy traffic with a friend on the back. A car turned left directly in front of me, then panic-stopped. I immediately steered to the right to avoid impact so fast and hard that the folding footpeg dug in and broke off. I had to immediately make the same move just as hard to the left, to drive around the front of the car and avoid ending up in the coffee shop on the corner. The left peg hit too, but didn't break off. I was then able to maintain control (of the bike...my heart rate not so much) and turn back to the right and continue down the road.

    There is absolutely no way on Earth that I would have successfully pulled that off without the benefit that tireless practice in forcefully steering, object avoidance, etc. afforded me.
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  19. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad Former World's Foremost Authority Supporter

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    You are in CFI mode with pushing the throttle forward as being intuitive and "the way it should be". To me that's "bass akwards"! Put you hand neutral on the throttle and see how easy it isn't to roll it further forward, your wrist just doesn't work that way! Of course I may be tainted as I learned to ride before I learned to drive a car or fly a plane. Intuitive to one maybe counter intuitive to another.

    Your problem with your teaching technique is that you are overwhelming her with stuff that will come to her when she''s ready. The counter steering discussion should be left for when she is much more comfortable with riding. Let me put it in words you as a CFI might understand (non pilots may not) In flying they call it "being behind the aircraft". She is most likely "behind the bike". Let her get to the point where she is ahead of the bike before getting esoteric with technique. Not learning the theory with hows and whys counter steering fairly early in her learning will not result in death.

    Been a long time since I've ridden off road around Rosamond, back in the early 70's we used to ride on Rosamond Dry Lake itself and Bacus Road/Bean Canyon was the snizzle. Now I think you will have to go over to El Mirage or Cuddeback Dry Lake to ride. Both are perfect places for her to gain confidence and get ahead of the bike.
  20. dietDrThunder

    dietDrThunder Why so serious, son? Supporter

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    Learning how to steer the vehicle you are operating is not esoteric.

    Just sayin'