Motorcycling is an art. Some would state that it’s a way of life too. One of the key aspects of riding a motorcycle is to have the best possible control of the machine. In this sense, being able to execute the perfect corner is one of the ultimate achievements.
Countersteering is the procedure that a rider applies to his/her motorcycle to better redistribute the center of gravity, while performing the turn.
Depending on speed and type of motorcycle you ride, countersteering could be more or less easy to perform. Once you launched yourself towards a turn, there are certain steps that a motorcyclist has to take to be able to remain on the motorcycle and not being thrown off during the turn, by the centrifugal force. Adjusting your body positioning, like a professional racer, is sometimes not feasible for everybody; the procedure, that helps otherwise to perform this kind of maneuver, is in fact called countersteering.
Countersteering allows the rider and the bike to lean towards the turn you are approaching. Not everybody turns in the same way, as body types, riding styles and motorcycles are different for each one of us.
There are 5 types of turning positioning while riding a motorcycle:
1. Turning, maintaining your spine perpendicular to the bike and a high position. This way of turning, most of the time, requires countersteering and provides great vision of the turn and an excellent grip.
2. Turning, trying to maintain your spine perpendicular to the ground and pushing the motorcycle down with your arms. Typical of a more off-roady style, this way of turning produces a better recovery positioning, in case of accidental sliding or quick direction change. This type of cornering is feasible mostly for slow speed turns.
3. Turning with the body and knee outside of the motorcycle, but maintaining a straight position. Typically adopted for tight corners with street bikes, this style provides the best center of gravity positioning for turning, allowing a rider to maintain grip and acceleration upon exit, and sometimes allows the bike to lean to its full potential.
4. Turning using your head and shoulder, crouching toward the handlebar. Moving and lowering the center of mass outside the motorcycle, allows the bike to lean already toward the direction of the turn. This maneuver permits to maintain a good leaning angle, high speed, even maintaining you bottom comfortably seated on the motorcycle.
5. “The crazy turn”. The rider approaches the turn, locking the rear wheel by dropping gears (usually from 6th/5th to 2nd/1st would do), countersteering and moving the rear part of the bike outside of the turn, using the lower part of the body, if necessary. Once the tyre starts spinning again, the rider re-opens the throttle (keeping acceleration constant), making the rear wheel overspin, and keeping the center of mass outside of the bike.