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Darhawk
9th November 2005, 00:17
What is countersteering anyway?


Posted September 10, 2003
Updated December 28, 2004 Introduction


This is such a common question, and one which raises so much contentious argument, that it seemed worth offering my well-reasoned opinion on the subject. Of course, it is all just opinion, as I haven't performed the repeatable experiments necessary to prove what I'm about to write. Note that this article is equally applicable to motorcycles or bicycles, although it's harder to be conscious of countersteering a bicycle due to its relatively light weight.
That said, here's the basic idea of countersteering, on anything with two wheels: when you're going in a straight line, the handlebars are centered; when you want to turn, you actually have to turn the handlebars in the wrong direction first, to lean the bike over, then you steer into the turn to keep the bike from flopping completely over. The part where you steer in the wrong direction to make the bike lean over is called "countersteering."
Why is countersteering important? Because it's the only way to turn a moving, two-wheeled vehicle. If you're doing it unconsciously, by thinking "steer left" or shifting your weight, or putting more pressure on one peg/pedal or the other, that's not very efficient. If you do it consciously, you can steer your bike with amazing speed and accuracy, which could very easily save your life one day. Kids on bicycles


Most people who ride motorcycles also learned to ride bicycles at some point in their lives. Some of you may have also more recently taught a child how to ride a bike. Learning how to ride a bike is really hard! You probably spent some time with training wheels on your bike, leaning hard into them going around corners.
The human mind doesn't readily encompass the idea of turning the wrong way in order to go the right way. When you were a kid, and wanted to turn right, you swung the bars over to the right, exactly as is sensible. Only, when you did that (keep in mind, you were going at a low speed), the bike fell over to the left, hopefully onto the training wheels.
We all called it "learning to balance" when I was learning to ride a bike. I thought of it as gaining some kind of magical sense of balance, as if my natural ability to stand upright was somehow discarded once I got on a bike. You may see where this is going. Of course, I still knew how to balance, but I didn't know how to countersteer. Most dads don't know that that's what they need to teach, but that's exactly what a kid has to learn to ride his bicycle.
Without learning the counterintuitive act of steering in the wrong direction, no one can figure out how to ride a bicycle. That's the magic switch that goes off in your brain, and suddenly allows you to ride the bike. I bet if you think back, you probably spent some time swerving your handlebars back and forth, marvelling at the weird feeling of turning contrary to which way the front wheel was pointing. Steering while moving


When your bike is moving, there are a couple of factors keeping it upright and running in a straight line. The front end's trail (which is the distance between the steering pivot point and where the wheel actually hits the ground) provides a castering force, like the wheels on a rolling office chair. The rotating wheels are big gyroscopes -- just like a child's toy gyroscope, they will try to stay upright (and thus not steer in any direction other than straight). If you started your motorcycle or bike rolling on a straight road without a rider, it wouldn't fall over until it ran out of speed or hit something.
When the bike slows down enough to fall over, that's because the lower the speed, the less force both trail and the gyroscopic forces exert. At some speed, the not-precisely-balanced weight of the bike overcomes the amount of force exerted by the trail and gyro forces, and gravity wins.
In order to make the bike turn, you have to unbalance it. The only way to unbalance a bike at speed is through countersteering. No matter how far you lean off the bike, it's not going to change direction: the forces keeping it upright are too strong. [Update Dec. 2004: this statement is incorrect -- I've steered my Ninja by leaning off without handlebar input, but it's really slow to react. The principle, especially for beginners, is still sound, though.] However, if you turn the handlebars in one direction or another, the bike immediately unbalances away from the direction you turned. Centrifugal force pulls the bike sideways, and since the tires are "stuck" to the ground, the bike naturally pivots around them, to lean over away from the turn. Once you've achieved the lean angle you desire, you turn the handlebars back in the direction of the turn to prevent the bike from flopping completely over onto its side. This process of steering away from the turn then into it usually happens so fast that by the time you notice what's up, you're steering into the turn, and thinking I'm a crazy man.
However, next time you're travelling at speed (over about 30 MPH on a motorcycle, or as fast as you can get going on a bicycle) and traffic around you is very sparse -- ideally on a completely deserted road -- try pushing on one side of the handlebars. Just a slight and even pressure on one side. The bike will immediately start leaning toward the side you were pushing on. Now, try pushing on the other side. The bike stands right back up. That's the essence of countersteering.
Now, this is the part where many people call "bullfeathers!" on the whole countersteering thing. Most experts explain countersteering as if it were the only thing in the world you needed to know about steering a bike. It's not. You use countersteering to lean over, and then, most of the time, you steer into the turn! Countersteering is mostly useful for getting you leaned over, a great deal of the time. (Note that at high enough speeds, you actually countersteer all the way through a turn, because the higher the speed, the stronger those upright-pulling forces are. But that's a different thing, I'm writing for street riders, not racers; go away kid, you bother me.) Slow-speed countersteering


All of this applies to low-speed steering as well, all the way down to a dead stop (but see below for the "dead stop" discussion). If you're rolling at all, the only way to steer a bike is to get it leaned over in the direction you want to turn, at least a little tiny bit, or when you turn, the centrifugal force will flop the bike over to the outside of the turn.
So, to cause the bike to lean in the direction you want to go, you have two choices at low enough speeds (like, below about 7 MPH on a motorcycle): you can countersteer, or you can lean your body weight to the side you want. Leaning yourself over works at this point because the force of gravity acting on your body is stronger than the upright-pulling forces described above (remember that they get stronger as speed increases, so they get weaker as you go slower).
Countersteering also works, all the way down to a complete stop. You can practice by finding a big empty parking lot again: get the bike rolling in first gear, and let the engine settle down to idle speed (hopefully your parking lot is flat). Carefully take your weight entirely off the handlebars, and push gently on one side. Whichever side you push on, the bike will immediately lean toward it. Go as slow as you can, and try it (but don't push very hard). Countersteering still works.
I think the reason many people claim countersteering "starts" around 10 MPH is that they can make the bike turn without using countersteering below that speed. While it's true that you don't need countersteering to steer while going slowly, you can still use it. Steering from a stop (U-turns)


If you're sitting stopped somewhere, and want to make a quick U-turn, you're not going to use countersteering. The whole point of countersteering is to take the bike from being perfectly vertical, to being leaned over. When you're sitting on the bike, stopped, you can use your leg muscles to lean the bike over, before you start going. Then, once you're moving, you steer into the turn, just like you'd expect.
So, countersteering doesn't have any meaning from a stop, you only want to use it once you're rolling. A little thought experiment


And finally, for the Doubters among you, I propose a thought experiment (note: I don't recommend trying this for real, because it will probably break your bike and might break you).
Imagine that you're sitting on your bike, stopped. I walk up and say "ooga booga!" and put a magic spell on your bike (thought experiment, remember), so that you cannot turn the handlebars to the right, past the center point. You have full movement of the bars from center to the left lock, but when you hit center, the bars absolutely won't move any further.
Now, imagine holding the bike straight upright, no leaning to the left. Start it moving, with you on board. You cannot turn the handlebars to the right at all. Really put yourself mentally on this vehicle, with the steering "broken" as I describe.
How long do you last, going as slow as you can, before the bike flops over onto its right side? Does even thinking about this make your body get squirmy and uncomfortable? It does for me -- my body knows from riding bicycles and motorcycles that if something happened and my steering got locked in the manner I just described, I'm screwed. I'll be falling over to the right so fast, I'll be lucky to escape without a broken leg, no matter how hard I lean my body to the left once I'm going.
Now, imagine the same thing, but you're going at high speed (say, 25 MPH on a bicycle, or 60 MPH on a motorcycle) when the steering suddenly "breaks" so you can't turn the bars right. It's a little bit more stable, but as soon as anything makes you want to steer, you're screwed. This brings up vivid memories of bicycle crashes when I was young, for me.
The point of this thought experiment has hopefully been clear. If you can't countersteer your two-wheeled vehicle, you're going to fall over.
I hope this clarifies what countersteering is, and what it isn't. This is a subject that you can't just think your way through without any practical experience. Go grab your bicycle or motorcycle and really think about what you're doing, as you ride. Find a big empty parking lot and actually practice steering with and "without" countersteering (whatever form that "without" may take for you). Try leaning your body. Try snapping the bike over by countersteering. It really works, and it's really really effective. Get yourself to the point that you naturally and instinctively countersteer. It's the only way to quickly and precisely steer a bicycle or motorcycle, and it can easily save your life.

by Ian Johnston


OR IF YOU PREFER


By James R. Davis


Everyone who has driven a motorcycle has experienced it, the MSF classes mention (but don't explain) it, and motorcyclists discuss it all the time. But what is it, really? How does it work? Why does it work? All questions I will try to deal with in this discussion.

At very slow speeds we steer a motorcycle by turning the handlebar in the direction we wish to go. We can only do that at speeds of less than about 5 MPH. At any higher speed we do the exact opposite, whether we realize it or not. For example, assuming we want to turn to the right, we actually TRY to turn the handlebar left. This results in the front wheel leaning to the right and, as a result of the lean of the wheel, a turn to the right. This is counter-steering.

Why is it that we don't get confused regardless of our speed? Because we have learned that steering a motorcycle is an effortless chore. That attempt to turn the handlebar to the left FEELS like we are pushing the right grip rather than pulling on the left one. It feels like that because the harder we push it, the more the motorcycle turns to the right and, thus, it feels like the right grip is pushing back at you that much harder. In other words, we quickly learn to associate counter-steering feedback with the hand closest to the direction in which we wish to turn. Further, even a little bit of experience shows that counter-steering is essentially effortless while trying to turn the handlebar in the direction you want to go is virtually impossible. Humans are relatively fast studies, after all.

It takes only a modest familiarity with a gyroscope to understand counter-steering - at least to understand how most people believe it starts to work. The phenomenon is called Gyroscopic Precession. This is what happens when a lateral force is applied to the axis of a spinning gyroscope. The spinning gyroscope translates the force vector ninety degrees off the direction of spin. Thus, if we try to turn our front wheel to the left, the force we use appears as a lateral force forward against the axle on the right side and this is translated into a force that tries to lean the wheel to the right. Similarly, trying to turn the wheel to the right results in the wheel trying to lean to the left.

But gyroscopic precession is not a necessary component of counter-steering. No matter how slight, if your front wheel deviates from a straight path your motorcycle will begin to lean in the opposite direction. It is entirely accurate to assume that even without gyroscopic precession, the act of steering the front wheel out from under the bike would start counter-steering in the opposite direction. This is a result of steering geometry - rake. You can observe it at a complete stop. Just turn your handlebars in one direction and you will see that your bike leans in the opposite direction as a result. [Please note that though gyroscopic precession is not a necessary component of counter-steering it GREATLY facilitates it. Indeed, it is the precession of the REAR tire that results from the momentary change of direction of the bike that 'pushes' about 80% of the bulk of the bike into a lean in the direction you want to go.]

In the case of a motorcycle, your handlebar input is immediately translated by gyroscopic precession into a lean in the opposite direction. Since your front wheel is attached to the bike's frame, the body of the bike also attempts to lean. It is the lean of the BIKE that overwhelms the handlebar effort and drags the front wheel over with it - gyroscopic precession merely starts the process and soon becomes inconsequential in the outcome.

If, for example, you had a ski rather than a front wheel, the front would actually begin to turn in the direction of handlebar input (just like it does with a wheel instead of a ski) and body lean in the opposite direction would then overwhelm that ski making counter-steering still effective.

The ONLY WAY to turn a motorcycle that is moving faster than you can walk is by leaning it (if it only has two wheels). We have talked only about what starts that lean to take place. Indeed, all we have talked about is the directional change of the front wheel along with the simultaneous lean of the bike, both in the opposite direction signaled by handlebar input. So then what happens?

Before getting into what is actually somewhat complicated let me say that if you were to let go of your handlebars and provide no steering information whatever (or you were to get knocked off your motorcycle), after some wildly exciting swings from side to side your motorcycle would 'find' a straight course to travel in and would stabilize itself on that course, straight up! That's right, your motorcycle has a self-correcting design built into it - known as its Steering Geometry - that causes it to automatically compensate for all forms of leaning and speed changes and end up standing straight up, going in a straight line, whether you are on the bike or not - until it is traveling so slowly that it will fall down.

This diagram shows a typical motorcycle front-end. The handlebars are connected to the steering column, which is connected to the knee bone, which is... Oops, wrong discussion. The steering column (actually called the 'steering stem') does not connect to the knee bone, nor does it connect directly to your forks! Instead, it connects to what is known as the triple-tree (shown as D in the diagram.) This is merely where both forks are tied, along with the steering stem, to the bike's frame. You will notice that the triple-tree extends towards the front and that as a result the forks are offset forward some distance from the steering stem. (Notice the red diagonal lines marked C and C'.) This is known as the offset.

Now please notice that the forks are not pointing straight down from the triple-tree, but are instead at an angle. This angle is known as the rake. Were it not for that rake (and modest offset) the front tire would touch the ground at point A. (Most rake angles are approximately 30 degrees.)

What the rake does for you is profoundly important. For one thing, it causes any lean of the wheel to be translated into a turn of the wheel towards that lean. For another, it slows down your steering. That is, if you turn your handlebar 20 degrees at slow speed your course will change something less than 20 degrees. [At higher speeds you NEVER would turn your handlebars 20 degrees - the front wheel is always pointing virtually straight ahead.] Rake, in the case of higher speed turning then really does SLOW DOWN the realization of the turn. (We will see why soon.)

Looking at the diagram, imagine that instead of pointing to the right the wheel is pointing straight at you. (The body of the motorcycle remains pointing to the right.) You will now recognize that the contact patch which was B before the wheel turned has now got to be near where C' is at. In other words, the fact that your wheel is on a rake results in the consumption of part of your steering input into a displacement of the contact patch of the wheel. (This is why steering is 'slower' - and the greater the rake, the slower it is. Note that 'slow steering' is NOT the same as 'under-steer'.)

Notice also that where the red diagonal line marked C' touches the tire is higher than where B touches the tire. This demonstrates that a consequence of turning is that the front-end of your motorcycle actually lowers based on rake geometry. The distance between where B and C (not C') touch the ground is called trail. (Trail, as you can see, is determined by rake angle, offset and tire radius.) Some motorcycles will have the hub of the front wheel either above or below the forks rather than directly in the middle of them. In effect, these placements are designed to reduce or increase the effect of the offset in order to increase or reduce trail.

The stability of your motorcycle at speed is a function of how long its trail is. However, have you ever noticed that the front wheel on bikes that have excessive rakes (and therefore long trail) have a tendency to flop over (at low speeds) when they are not aligned perfectly straight ahead? This is the phenomena that explains just one of the reasons why your wheel actually turns in the direction you want to go after it begins to lean in that direction. Any lean whatever of the wheel, because gravity tries to lower the front-end, receives an assist from gravity in its efforts to move the contact patch forward along the trail. Further, notice that the pivot axis of your forks is along C, not C' and that this is behind the bulk of the front-end. Thus, gravity plays an even bigger role in causing the wheel to turn than at first glance it would appear. (And now you see why you have steering dampers - so that a little lean doesn't result in a FAST tank-slapping fall of the wheel in the direction of the lean.)

But there is another, more powerful, reason that the lean is translated into a turn - Camber Thrust. Unlike automobile tires, your motorcycle rides on tires that are rounded instead of flat from side to side. When you are riding vertically your contact patch is right in the middle of the tire, at its farthest point from the hub of the wheel. When you are leaning you are riding on a part of the tire that is closer to the hub of the wheel. The farthest parts of the tire from the hub of the wheel are TURNING FASTER than any part closer to that hub. Thus, when you are leaning the outside edge of the contact patch is moving faster than is the inside edge.

Imagine taking two tapered drinking glasses and putting them together as in the next diagram. Does this not bear a striking resemblance to the profile of your tires when looking at them head on?



Now imagine placing one of those glasses on its side on the table and giving it a push. Note that the glass MUST move in a circle because the lip of the glass is moving faster than any other part of it. The same is true of your tires. This camber thrust forces your wheel to turn in response to a lean.

Thus, both the rake geometry and camber thrust conspire to cause a leaning front wheel to become a turn in the direction of the lean. Then, of course, the motorcycle body follows the wheel and it, too, leans in the direction of the turn.

So, now you know what counter-steering is, how it works, and why. What might just now be occurring to you is with all of these forces conspiring to cause the wheel to lean and then turn in the direction you want to go, what stops that wheel from going all the way to a stop every time a little counter-steer is used? And, as I earlier mentioned, how does a pilotless motorcycle automatically right itself?

The answer to both of those questions is centrifugal force and, again, rake geometry. For any given speed and lean combination there is only one diameter of a circle that can be maintained. This is a natural balance point at which gravity is trying to pull the bike down and centrifugal force is trying to stand it up, both with equal results. (If you have Excel on your system you might want to click on this link for a model that demonstrates this concept.)

If the speed is increased without a corresponding decrease in the diameter of the turn being made, centrifugal force will try to stand the bike more vertically - i.e., decreases the lean angle. This, in turn, decreases the camber thrust and the bike will, of its own accord, increase the diameter of the turn being made.

If the speed had been held constant but the bike attempts to shorten the diameter of the turn beyond that natural balance point then centrifugal forces are greater than gravity and it stands taller, again lengthening the diameter of the turn as described earlier.

Once your bike is stable in a curve (constant speed and constant lean) then it will stay that way until it receives some steering input. i.e., you again use some counter-steering or the road surface changes or the wind changes or you shift your weight in some way or you change speed.

As soon as any form of steering input occurs the stability of the bike is diminished. Momentum, camber forces and rake geometry will then engage in mortal combat with each other which will, eventually, cause the motorcycle to find a way to straighten itself out. That momentum will try to keep the motorcycle going in a straight line is obvious, but it also works with traction in an interesting way. That is, because the front tire's contact patch has traction the momentum of the entire motorcycle is applied to the task of trying to 'scrub' the rubber off that tire. If the body of the motorcycle is aligned with the front tire (only possible if traveling in a straight line) then there is essentially no 'scrubbing' going on. But if the bike is not in perfect alignment with the front tire, then momentum will try to straighten the wheel by pushing against the edge of that contact patch which is on the outside of the curve. As the contact patch touches the ground somewhere near point B, and because that is significantly behind the pivot axis of the front-end (red-dashed line C), the wheel is forced to pivot away from the curve.

I believe you now see why if the bike were to become pilotless it would wildly gyrate for a few moments as all of these conflicting forces battled each other and the bike became stable by seeking a straight path and being vertical. Clever, these motorcycle front-end designers. No?





Copyright © 1992-2005 by The Master Strategy Group, all rights reserved.
http://www.msgroup.org

xllent01
9th November 2005, 00:44
http://motorcyclecruiser.com/streetsurvival/bohn_category_graphic.gif (http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;10284686;7534060;h?http://www.actionstation.com/bannercontent.html) Countersteering: Motorcycle Riders Who Zig
Sure, you have been successfully steering your motorcycle ever since you started riding. But can you steer hard, quickly and accurately when it really counts? A surprising number of motorcyclists fail the final in Steering 101—when a car, deer or unexpected curve appears in front of them. How will the nut that connects the handlebar to the seat on your bike perform in a crisis? From the August 2004 issue of Motorcycle Cruiser magazine. By Art Friedman (http://www.motorcyclecruiser.com/newsandupdates/staffAF/).

http://motorcyclecruiser.com/streetsurvival/zig-md.jpg (javascript:Zoom('http://motorcyclecruiser.com/streetsurvival/zig-lg.jpg',552,494)) Illustration by John Breakey (http://www.marthaproductions.com/AI/jbreakey/jbreakey.html)
Most motorcyclists have heard of countersteering. If you have been riding for any length of time, you have probably hashed it over in benchracing sessions. The subject is usually covered in rider-training courses, too. Not always, though. I attended a California Highway Patrol training session for motorcycle officers back in the early 1980s and noticed that the subject was not mentioned. When I asked about it, the instructor told me, "It just confuses them."
I can understand that. The concept of turning the front wheel one way to go the opposite way certainly is counterintuitive. Those of us who started riding before there was rider training probably had to grasp the concept by ourselves, and perhaps we did it subconsciously. And some people never quite realize that you steer left to go right and vice versa. In fact, I have heard some longtime riders insist that that's not the case, that motorcycles steer the way the front wheel is initially turned. I have also heard bicyclists deny that a bicycle steers this way. The issue is also confused by the fact that you can steer a motorcycle by leaning, as anyone who has ridden any distance with their hands off the bars (a practice that can lead to disaster if you hit something in the road or have a flat tire, I need to point out) can testify. Some motorcyclists will tell you that shifting your body weight is the primary way to steer a motorcycle.
However, the depth of some motorcycle riders' confusion about motorcycle steering really shows up in accident investigations, which reveal the tendency of some riders to fail to turn or to actually turn the wrong way when confronted by a hazard that suddenly appears. This doesn't happen in the majority of crashes, but it does happen often enough for the Hurt Report to note it. Typically, the hazard is a vehicle that has pulled into the motorcycle's path.
So why does a rider fail to swerve or actually turn into the intruding vehicle? It is hard to know exactly. After all, this rider has been successfully turning his motorcycle in the direction he wanted to go since he started riding. When it really counted, why did he do the wrong thing?
One factor is probably target fixation. We tend to go where we look, and it's hard not to look at the SUV that's wandering into your path. But I believe you can teach yourself to focus on your escape path, and those who have taken even basic rider training have likely heard an instructor tell them to "get your eyes up" or "turn your head and look where you are going." Practicing that will not only make your normal turns smoother, it will also help you learn to look at your exit from a dicey situation.

stevo
9th November 2005, 01:47
I used to practice foot only turns.....handlebar only turns and weight transfer turns whenever I got a new bike....just to get a feel for it...

If you watch the bars on a low speed weight only turn .. you'll see the bike drop and THEN the wheel flops and bars turn and the bike starts to round the turn...

in order to intiate a turn you have to knock the bike out of its equilibrium, unbalance it...and then ya use the front wheel to balance it again


I tend to use a combination of differing percentages of all of them in a turn.....


I recall studying the dynmics of a turn many years ago when I was racing pushbikes and doing freestyle... (always was a bit of a geek ;) ..I like to KNOW how things work as much as I can...when I'm happy that I understand it well enough, it gets put into a different slot in my mind and I move on to learn more...

Darhawk
9th November 2005, 01:57
To be honest with everyone on the subject, I generally use combinations of countersteering and body weight shifts depending on the situation, i.e., speed, degree of corner, road and weather conditions, pavement type, and so forth. Percentage wise I may use 100% of either technique down to 50-50 splits............and any combination in between.....done foot turns but these were one of the habits my MSF instructor got me out of...

2wheeltodd
9th November 2005, 02:08
A cool related link:
http://www.engr.umd.edu/HAMLET/Wheely/index.htm
and this:
http://www.engr.umd.edu/HAMLET/Gyro/index.htm

stevo
9th November 2005, 02:15
using ya feet is handy at speed or racing....as you can crank the bike over quicker....but it's used in combination

Just a note tho...make sure you have your weight on the OUTSIDE peg in a hard corner....


Although few people will ride this hard on the street...this is mainly racing techniques...
I went thru a fair bit of this sort of stuff when I was tryin to get the sporty around the gokart track quicker...

I asked the instructors how to get quicker and the y laughed... and said yeah right....
No. I'm serious...how do I go faster....and they said are ya doin this??

dunno...so I'd go and do a session and come back and say..."yup, already doin that"
Well how about this? ... donno, I'll see.....yup, already doin that...

The instructors threw their hands in the air and said piss off we can't teach ya anymore....ya need to go to advanced race classes..

One thing I did pick up that I wasn't already doin and it helped with lap times...was to push my body right back under braking....this allowed me to use more front brake and a bit more rear brake and did improve my lap times...so it wasn't all wasted... it's was good confirming that I was using almost all of the techniques already without realising.....natural....I guess racing BMX all those years and transfering that technique to motorised 2 wheels helped

xllent01
9th November 2005, 02:16
It's a combo of leaning ,steering, weighting the outside peg
and lookin far enough ahead by turning your head only and
not your body to make the bike go in the direction that will
get you out of trouble if need be. When finishing the apex of a
turn giving the bike throttle will always right it straight back up,
and out of harms way.

Many lessons learned from years of Moto-X racing and street riding.

Sheriff
9th November 2005, 03:38
Great information and discussion! Thanks!! Brings home a lot that I just learned in my MSF course. Hard to grasp mentally, but the physical action of pushing the handlebars in the direction of the turn works!

Keep it coming.......:tour

Darhawk
9th November 2005, 05:42
Alot of what I do was learned by trial and error. I raced go carts and I've done my fair share of street racing, but mainly in cages. Bikes I learned the hard way beginning in 1964 when my friend and I bought an old Indian for a hundred bucks and busted our asses in creek beds learniing to ride it. Learning to take corners fast is hard, but when you get it right, it's a thrill, at least I think so, that can't be matched. To lean the bike into the turn..............whether you do it by countersteering, weight shift, booting or whatever............the speed and the layover brings the rider.....at least me.....the closest to danger and thrill than any other segment of riding. When you decide to ride a cycle, you've already decided to walk an edge. Cornering is a part of that edge, and to learn to do it thrillingly and safely.........well that's just icing on the cake...........:D

TomW
9th November 2005, 22:47
I think this one should be a Sticky so we can come back and re read it from time to time!

Y2K
10th November 2005, 00:16
Countersteering is really important on heavy bikes like my Eglide.Body english only go's so far on an 800 lb bike.
Once one learns how to countersteer correctly these big bikes suddenly become much eaiser to handle and infact are in some ways eaiser to handle than a lot of lighter bikes.

stevo
10th November 2005, 00:42
good idea Y2....it's now STUCK

xlhflh
10th November 2005, 01:43
OK Stevo, you got me. What's a foot only turn? Something like a motocross hair pin turn? Pivot around the foot while sliding the rear wheel?
Thanks
Bob

xllent01
10th November 2005, 01:59
Alot of what I do was learned by trial and error. I raced go carts and I've done my fair share of street racing, but mainly in cages. Bikes I learned the hard way beginning in 1964 when my friend and I bought an old Indian for a hundred bucks and busted our asses in creek beds learniing to ride it. Learning to take corners fast is hard, but when you get it right, it's a thrill, at least I think so, that can't be matched. To lean the bike into the turn..............whether you do it by countersteering, weight shift, booting or whatever............the speed and the layover brings the rider.....at least me.....the closest to danger and thrill than any other segment of riding. When you decide to ride a cycle, you've already decided to walk an edge. Cornering is a part of that edge, and to learn to do it thrillingly and safely.........well that's just icing on the cake...........:D

It's more exciting and relaxing too me. The flat lands of NC are really
boring for me, but take me to the mountains and run the roads along
the Blue Ridge Parkway and the roads up thru the Great Smokies and
you will see me like a kid at x-mas time. Nothing better.:tour :banana

2wheeltodd
10th November 2005, 02:48
You can visually see countersteering by watching any motorcycle racing, motocross, or track racing. It's a little freaky to watch the road racers turn the wheel left to go right. Check it out.

stevo
10th November 2005, 02:49
foot only turn.........no input from body or hands....

you put your weight on one foot and it leans the bike that way.......

Damn hard with forward controls :D

Works better on sports bikes as your feet are under your bum

Jimbo999
10th November 2005, 04:36
I use and understand everything that's been said.........Except the extra weight on the outside footpeg.
I sometimes do a little butt scoot to the outside side that allows the bike to shift
even more banked underneath me. But I don't understand the foot peg thing.

Please elaborate.

Thanks

csaintg
25th November 2005, 06:38
And why do superbikers have to drop their knee to the ground? Is it to lower the center of balance?

xlhflh
25th November 2005, 19:25
Nicely done - good reminder.
I attended an Advanced Rider' course a few years back and there were a couple riders there that did not know what countersteering was even though they've used it, witnessed by the fact that they made it there in the first palce.
You can't ever say too much about safe riding.
Thanks
Bob

Sport-Ed
25th November 2005, 21:34
I try not to worry about the individual aspects of a corner, just the feel of it, at this point anway. I am new to riding, and learn continuosly on every ride.

However, one area I am aware of countersteering is for a lane change/swerve technique taught in my Abate course. I occassionaly head over to the course site to practice, when class is out, and practice swerves (as well as slow 8's). Swerves can be an emergency a$$ saver, so I want to know it well. Although, I recently went down, and I think my choice of emergency braking didn't serve me, but a swerve may have kept me up.

Also, wondering if any have thoughts on the effects that handlebar shape has on countersteer-ability.

Thanx - great reading...

willprevale
25th November 2005, 21:39
I have moved my comments on this topic to a separate thread.

xllent01
25th November 2005, 21:54
Whether you are a newbie or a experienced seasoned rider the MSF
course is great for teaching people to ride the basics, but nothing
will constitute for years of experience riding in the saddle on any given day.
I'm not saying that anyone newbie or seasoned doesn't need a refresher
course but when you compare a 40 yr driver, cage or bike to a 17-25-30-40 yr
old newbie who just got his/her licence for the first time the difference is like
day and night. The more experienced rider will know how to avoid putting himself
into certain hazardous situations, and knowing how to get out of them also.
Were's a inexperienced rider who has no training or the knowledge to avoid
putting themselves into certain bad situations of certain disaster will most likely
find themselves in unwanted situations they could of avoided.

Experience and knowledge are learned, not given or handed out

willprevale
25th November 2005, 22:00
The longer your bars, the more leverage you have. Racers depend heavily in counter steering so bar width is inconsequential to them. This isn't an endorsement of wide bars. To each is own and you'll get used to what you have. Extremely high ape hangers are a different story.

Read my thread on this topic:

http://www.xlforum.net/vbportal/forums/showthread.php?p=224604#post224604

xllent01
25th November 2005, 22:15
The longer your bars, the more leverage you have. Racers depend heavily in counter steering so bar width is inconsequential to them. This isn't an endorsement of wide bars. To each is own and you'll get used to what you have. Extremely high ape hangers are a different story.

Read my thread on this topic:

http://www.xlforum.net/vbportal/forums/showthread.php?p=224604#post224604

A bike with a lower center of gravity will steer or manuever faster than other
bikes, Example sportbikes or Buells versus Fatboys. Longer bar lengths willput
a rider at a disadvantage, more mechanical movement Ex: apes when a car
pulls out in front of you.:frownthre versus drag bars or clip ons which have far less
mechanical movement.

merc
25th November 2005, 22:21
thanks for the great thread guys
I like the learning stuff

willprevale
25th November 2005, 22:57
Ex: apes when a car pulls out in front of you.:frownthre versus drag bars or clip ons which have far less
mechanical movement.
Having never run drag bars or apes I can only hazard a guess that the drag bars might be better. However, you'll still need more body english aka counter steer.

csaintg
25th November 2005, 23:58
Ex: apes when a car
pulls out in front of you.:frownthre versus drag bars or clip ons which have far less
mechanical movement.
What about wide drag bars versus narrow drag bars?

willprevale
26th November 2005, 00:04
What about wide drag bars versus narrow drag bars?
Off the cuff, I'd prefer the wider ones.

mike_winslow
13th July 2006, 17:34
A new biker needs to understand their options.. especially if they realize after entering a turn, that they are in it too fast. The 'natural' reaction to rear brake might not be as good as a harder lean.

I think that it's a good thing that the MSF brings it up in the basic course. Especially under the explanation that "you've already been doing it".

I'm 1500 miles back into riding after a 22 year hiatus.

For my wife, this is her first time riding, not as a passenger.

I noticed today, that she actually leansless when she isnt comfortable..

I did some parking lot practice before the morning ride today, and made sure that I knew how much lean that I actually had on the bike before the pegs touch ;}

27 or so years ago, and self taught, I never had heard of countersteer

jaws
13th July 2006, 18:05
A new biker needs to understand their options.. especially if they realize after entering a turn, that they are in it too fast. The 'natural' reaction to rear brake might not be as good as a harder lean.

I think that it's a good thing that the MSF brings it up in the basic course. Especially under the explanation that "you've already been doing it".

I'm 1500 miles back into riding after a 22 year hiatus.

For my wife, this is her first time riding, not as a passenger.

I noticed today, that she actually leansless when she isnt comfortable..

I did some parking lot practice before the morning ride today, and made sure that I knew how much lean that I actually had on the bike before the pegs touch ;}

27 or so years ago, and self taught, I never had heard of countersteer

To me braking in a turn..no matter front or rear is bad. It will in the very least upright the bike losing center of gravity and you'll shoot straight. Try countersteer in slower corners and you'll feel it working...when I first heard of it (MSF course) I was like Yeah Right! But it works like a dream.

Matt
7th August 2006, 19:51
Countersteer is really good in gusty side winds, truck wakes etc in a straight line. With slight countersteer you can maintain a couple of inches of your center line ( which oughta be where the cages left tires are to avoid oil etc in the center of the lane.) Matt

whittlebeast
4th December 2012, 16:51
see

R6S Twisties - YouTube

Watch the outside hand as he goes thru corners and then rethink everything you ever thought to be true.

Beast

xllent01
4th December 2012, 17:07
see

R6S Twisties - YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGY0cQ1L5Kw)

Watch the outside hand as he goes thru corners and then rethink everything you ever thought to be true.

Beast



That's some pretty impressive riding. However, Slow speeds below 15mph you steer normally, above that you counter steer. At those speeds everything is so precise...it's hard to see any movement, specially in the shadows..

nuke
4th December 2012, 17:29
I think the biggest problem with understanding "counter steer" is the term. As in the video, rarely if ever except at slow speeds does the centreline of the steering head go in the opposite direction of the turn. At any significant speed the steering head is pointed in the direction of the turn, even when "counter steering". To tighten the turn you do move the steering head in the opposite direction (almost an imperceptible amount and never past the centreline) from the direction of the turn only for a moment which causes the bike to lean further causing you to steer more in the direction of the turn. And the opposite to lessen the turn, steer in the direction of the turn to stand the bike up. The video is not deceiving and demonstrates this accurately.

Folkie
4th December 2012, 17:43
rarely if ever except at slow speeds does the centreline of the steering head go in the opposite direction of the turn.
Except to initiate the turn.

whittlebeast
4th December 2012, 17:47
Watch the hand as it is say 10" from the steering pivot point. Any video that has the camera mounted this way will show the same thing. Push right to lean the bike then steer right but still push right to continue to steer right. Increase power to in increase speed and stand the bike back up OR release pressure on the inside bar to allow the steering to stand the bike up.

Beast

xllent01
4th December 2012, 19:56
Watch the hand as it is say 10" from the steering pivot point. Any video that has the camera mounted this way will show the same thing. Push right to lean the bike then steer right but still push right to continue to steer right. Increase power to in increase speed and stand the bike back up OR release pressure on the inside bar to allow the steering to stand the bike up.

Beast


Actually push momentarily in the opposite direction (left) to "push right to lean the bike then keep steering right to continue steering right"... till you reach the next opposing corner, then the effect is the exact opposite

By golly I think you finally understand it..:banana

whittlebeast
4th December 2012, 21:04
So now a little test.

You are on your s1000rr.

You are at 100% cornering, mid corner with your knee skimming the track.

Your front tire exceeds the limit of adhesion by exceeding the max slip angle.

If you steer in to stand the bike up an little to decrease your lean angle and open up the radius, you will instantly make the slip angle even worse and the wall looks real bad.

If you roll on the power, your rear tire was all ready at the limit and backing into the wall looks just as bad.

Backing out of the throttle will increase load on the front tire but highsiding the wall with a high speed dismount seems even less appetizing than sliding in.

Doing anything with the brakes does not sound much better.....

What is the correct response?

Just asking...

Beast

wedge
4th December 2012, 21:09
So now a little test.

You are on your s1000rr.

You are at 100% cornering, mid corner with your knee skimming the track.

Your front tire exceeds the limit of adhesion by exceeding the max slip angle.

If you steer in to stand the bike up an little to decrease your lean angle and open up the radius, you will instantly make the slip angle even worse and the wall looks real bad.

If you roll on the power, your rear tire was all ready at the limit and backing into the wall looks just as bad.

Backing out of the throttle will increase load on the front tire but highsiding the wall with a high speed dismount seems even less appetizing than sliding in.

Doing anything with the brakes does not sound much better.....

What is the correct response?

Just asking...

Beast
I would maintain power without decreasing or increasing, but slightly in the direction of increasing, and shift weight slightly forward and further over the side of the bike while lightly pulling back on the inside bar standing it up a bit.

xllent01
4th December 2012, 21:16
I was gonna say something similar, but a little added "trail braking" wouldn't hurt either..you want to give away brake pressure as you add lean angle because your front tire can only handle so much combined braking and lean angle before your ass hit's the deck.

whittlebeast
6th December 2012, 12:05
Yet one more interesting video to make you question everything.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=HuRlxpC9l-g

xllent01
6th December 2012, 12:15
Good god that video sucks.. The clarity and movement is misleading.

xllent01
6th December 2012, 12:31
steering geometry is the key factor here, Some bikes are more stable than others. You couldn't do what they're shown doing if you were riding cruisers.

Terp84Alum
6th December 2012, 12:48
The guy is going down hill with no throttle. He needs to rename the video to "This Video is BS"

xllent01
6th December 2012, 13:45
The guy is going down hill with no throttle. He needs to rename the video to "This Video is BS"

Certainly is...going uphill he puts his hands on the bars to steer thru the corners..:doh

xllent01
6th December 2012, 14:12
All this video proves is weight shift has ZERO input into steering. But it’s just a small a fraction compared to the agility of countersteering, and certainly this "hands free" video is not enough to get you through traffic by itself.

yozer13
6th December 2012, 14:35
my old aprilia was like that you could steer without hands on bars by shifting weight. no hands on the sporty i dont like it it wants to do off in one direction probably due to more wieght on one side of the bike and you have to counter this by pushing down on the pegs.
but im guessing even though hes riding with no hands as he leans the bike over to to the trail and castor angles as he leans the bike over with his weight the bars will infact turn the wrong way effectivly counter steering with out physicaly turning the bars.
this is why with good geometry sports bikes can feel effortless to pin into a bend, less rake so steeper angle of attack exagerates this motion of the bike doing the work once the initial upright force has been overcome making for super light effortless steering.
all down to geometry so i would say although steering with no hands the bike still countersteers once the weight shift starts the lean.

not saying thats a fact just i think thats what happens try it and watch the bars.

rider61
10th November 2013, 12:02
newer riders this is goood advice and may be alot to take in all at once. Focus on the basics. LOOK where you need to go! Fixation is akin to panic. If you look down you go down. Practice makes better perfect takes trusting your skill and your bike. Just because "bubba" can do it does not mean you have to follow. You ride yours let "Bubba" ride his.Stay within YOUR limits. Ride you will be with Bubba soon enough.

wedge
10th November 2013, 20:24
I think the biggest problem with understanding "counter steer" is the term. As in the video, rarely if ever except at slow speeds does the centreline of the steering head go in the opposite direction of the turn. At any significant speed the steering head is pointed in the direction of the turn, even when "counter steering". To tighten the turn you do move the steering head in the opposite direction (almost an imperceptible amount and never past the centreline) from the direction of the turn only for a moment which causes the bike to lean further causing you to steer more in the direction of the turn. And the opposite to lessen the turn, steer in the direction of the turn to stand the bike up. The video is not deceiving and demonstrates this accurately.

+1. You described this exactly the way I was going to, so no need for me to get wordy. Steering head follows your lean slow or fast, but you still need to maintain slight pressure counter steering to maintain your line and a bit more to initiate a tighter turn. This has nothing to do with the direction the steering head ends up pointing.

Damn, just realized this is an old thread.

IXL2Relax
11th November 2013, 03:37
I'll join you Wedge.....

I haven't seen anyone describe countersteering the way I think of it... So here's my take:

Think of countersteering as moving your front tire out from under your center of gravity (balance point).... by moving the front tire to your left, the center of gravity is moved relatively to the right, causing a right lean.... which, when going into a right corner, is immediately followed by realigning your front tire in the direction it should follow through the corner.... Continuing through the curve, you will be trying to make the front tire slowly catch up with the falling (leaning) bike to eventually get your tire patches directly under your center of gravity at the end of the turn (when the bike is fully upright again)...

In essence, you are moving the tire contact patches in the opposite direction, rather than trying to move the top of the bike in the preferred direction (as would happen with leaning alone or lop-sided pressure on the pegs)...

For me, countersteering is quite obvious if you are riding in a straight line and try to cause the bike to simulate a series of alternating small curves - ie., do a left-right, left-right type swerving pattern down the center of your lane...

Moving the tire patches with countersteering is the quickest way to alter the immediate location (and eventually the direction) of the bike...

....~\
__o~~o__
IXL2Relax
>>>> Ride Reports Are Here <<<< (http://thecyberzoo.com/kt-ridereports.html)

xllent01
11th November 2013, 08:22
To turn to the right, you press the bar forward with the right hand.

That's why it's called countersteering...you briefly steer the "wrong" direction to initiate a turn

Under 5-7 mph you direct steer a motorcycle

We all do it, it's the only way that single-track vehicles turn. But usually the movement is so subtle that we don't realize exactly what we do to turn. We look at the wheel in a left turn; it's turned to the left; we conclude that we turn left by turning the wheel left. We don't. And that's how we get into trouble when that bozo pulls out in front of us and then stops. We gasp and turn the bar left to swerve left, and the bike goes right.