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This We'll Defend
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had an eye-opening encounter a couple weeks ago with someone at work. I work at an engineering firm, and I had been talking to a 30+ year senior engineer, who also has ridden motorcycles and raced motoX and trail bikes all across the country since he was a kid. He always rides his different bikes in 35+ miles each way to work during the 50+ degree days, and is a regular seasoned rider.

Somehow we got on the subject of turning and leaning, and I got to talking about countersteering, that is, pushing the handlebars left to lean and go right. All of the sudden, I'm getting into a quiet argument with him (he's a good guy and it was all in fun) about that not being true. He's telling me that you have to push down on the bar the way you want to go. I told him that I think he is really ending up countersteering, but just didn't realize it.

Well, we're both set in our ways. I know I'm right, and he knows he's right. I googled "how to countersteer a motorcycle", and then I realized that this seems to be quite a normal controversy between motorcyclists. Hell, I thought everyone knew this technique. I guess not? Is there anyone here who doesn't know/use this technique of turning a bike?

Here's some of the links I sent him in an email on countersteering...
http://www.wikihow.com/Countersteer-(Motorcycle)
Countersteering: Motorcycle Riders Who Zig - Motorcycle Cruiser Magazine
Hannes Foulds: How To: Counter steer a motorcycle
Motorcycle Counter-steering: Motorcycle Technique: Control and Swerving | Suite101.com
 

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IBA#34418
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6,332 Posts
I agree with you. You're both right. If you push down I think the force will truely be redirected out and have the desired effect. I think most do it without realizing what they are doing to turn.

I think what's really cool is the high speed shots of the superbikes in a corner. You can actually see the counter steer in the front wheel.
 

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Army Strong. Ride Long
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587 Posts
I don't know. In the MSF class they teach you to push in the direction you want to go - that is, if turning right, you push the bar with your right hand, (which momentarily makes the front tire go left) to break the centripetal force the force wanting to keep you straight.(not centrifugal) of the turning wheel while slightly leaning to the right. This leaning is a natural bodily reaction, not necessary for turning at all. That has been proven in many demonstrations.
 

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This We'll Defend
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1,374 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I don't know. In the MSF class they teach you to push in the direction you want to go - that is, if turning right, you push the bar with your right hand, (which momentarily makes the front tire go left)
Fox, that is countersteering.... I guess people think of it differently?
 

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Army Strong. Ride Long
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587 Posts
Fox, that is countersteering.... I guess people think of it differently?
Yes, but you said the opposite - you said:
DevilDogge said:
I got to talking about countersteering, that is, pushing the handlebars left to lean and go right.
I was saying you push in the direction you want to go - push right to go right. You press the way you want to go, causing the wheel to go opposite. That is why it is so counter intuitive to persons riding. It doesn't seem logical to push the bar where you want to go. Sort of like teaching someone not to look at the object they want to avoid, but look in the path you want to travel. Don't stare at that dead skunk or you roll over it. ;-)
 

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Registered
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Good catch - I misread the OP's post. You should definitely be pushing in the direction you want to go. I'm not sure it's really that counter intuitive, though. It's the same on a bicycle as it is on a motorcycle, and most people have been doing it their entire lives.
 

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Army Strong. Ride Long
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587 Posts
Good catch - I misread the OP's post. You should definitely be pushing in the direction you want to go. I'm not sure it's really that counter intuitive, though. It's the same on a bicycle as it is on a motorcycle, and most people have been doing it their entire lives.
True, but throw in the speed and weight of a motorcycle, and bad habits we learn from friends about "Oh, just lean into the turn" and habits get hard to break. About 2/3 of my BRC class had trouble with it and even some in the ERC I took.

And for some reason, I don't remember doing it on my bicycle. I'm sure I did or I wouldn't be here ;-)
 

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Hoof Hearted?
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717 Posts
...and in reality, it matters not how one thinks of it, countersteering is "written in the big laws of physics"...there's no other way to steer a 2 wheeled vehicle once it is travelling over a certain speed...what, 15-25 mph?...without breaking the rear tire loose.
 

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Vulcan Regional Manager
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480 Posts
It sure gets a little confusing when people talk about "push in the direction you want to go". Instead say "push on the right side of the bar if you want to go to the right" and I think there's no room for misinterpretation.

When riding a cruiser with handlebars quite the bit away from you, I think it's sometimes easier to pull left side instead of pushing the right side. But the result is exactly the same of course. 8)
 

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This We'll Defend
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1,374 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Yes, but you said the opposite - you said:


I was saying you push in the direction you want to go - push right to go right. You press the way you want to go, causing the wheel to go opposite. That is why it is so counter intuitive to persons riding. It doesn't seem logical to push the bar where you want to go. Sort of like teaching someone not to look at the object they want to avoid, but look in the path you want to travel. Don't stare at that dead skunk or you roll over it. ;-)
Good catch... What I meant was to turn the handlebars so the wheel is turning to the left to turn right. :wink:

However, I think we're on the same page.
 

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I'm your Huckleberry
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3,317 Posts
...and in reality, it matters not how one thinks of it, countersteering is "written in the big laws of physics"...there's no other way to steer a 2 wheeled vehicle once it is travelling over a certain speed...what, 15-25 mph?...without breaking the rear tire loose.
:rolleyes: Yes there is. Unless you are going to try to tell me that the wind can grab ahold of your handlebars and turn them, there are many other factors that can turn a bike...not as quickly as countersteering, but they can turn it.

Anyway, if you really want to get your coworker, tell him to get out on the highway, and push the right bar forward and see what happens. Its a simple experiment that undeniably proves countersteering works. He is countersteering by 'pushing down' on the bar...but he doesn't realize it. He isn't putting enough weight to one side of the bike to body steer it, he's turning the front wheel.
 

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I'm your Huckleberry
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3,317 Posts
notice the bit with the rider standing on one side of the bike.


YouTube - Keith Code's No BS Bike
That video does kinda show what I'm talking about...you can see the bike weaving back and forth while the guy is moving around (in actuality, trying to keep his weight centered) on the bike. Had he actually leaned off to one side, the bike would have made a big arc to that side (after a short dip to the other side to conserve angular momentum).

Here's the first two of a 4 part series on countersteering vs body steering:

Sport Rider-Art & Science

Sport Rider-Art & Science-Body Steering vs. Counter Steering: Part Two

You'll never hear me say countersteering isn't the best...it is. But there are other ways to change the direction of a motorcycle.
 

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MadMac
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246 Posts
The both of you are talking about the same process. Based on the ergonomics of most motorcycles, pushing DOWN on the right handlebar to go right and pushing in the direction you want to go is the same thing. The process can also be stated as 'pull left to go right'. For super precise control, some riders, myself included, do a combination of pushing right and pulling left at the same time to go right. The only exception is a motorcycle equipt with apehanger over a certain height as one cannot push down in this situation.
 

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Hoof Hearted?
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717 Posts
:rolleyes: Yes there is. Unless you are going to try to tell me that the wind can grab ahold of your handlebars and turn them, there are many other factors that can turn a bike...not as quickly as countersteering, but they can turn it.
When talking about direction changes, I would agree with you. When discussing handlebar steering input...not lean input, not wind input, not road crown input, etc., etc., I stand by my statement. After all, we are talking about handlebar input here which is the only way one can countersteer. :rolleyes:
 

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I'm your Huckleberry
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3,317 Posts
When talking about direction changes, I would agree with you. When discussing handlebar steering input...not lean input, not wind input, not road crown input, etc., etc., I stand by my statement. After all, we are talking about handlebar input here which is the only way one can countersteer. :rolleyes:
Thanks for clarifying. That I will whole heartedly agree with.
 
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