How to turn on a motorcycle? Handlebar use at low speed

How to turn on a motorcycle? You would be surprised how many people couldn’t really tell you how they turn a motorcycle.

For a lot of people they simply arrive at a corner and without even thinking about it they tip in and go round the turn with little thought to what they’re doing or what’s going on underneath them.

Learning how we can effectively turn a motorcycle can have big benefits to our corner entry as well as helping us improve corner entry speed and set you well on your way to confident and precise steering actions and turn-ins.

But before we look at how being aware of how to turn a motorcycle can help us, let’s first briefly look at the physics behind motorcycle turning.

How to turn on a motorcycle?

Firstly, turn ON the Ignition key switch, set ON the Kill switch (If you haven’t) and raise the Side Stand (If you have the stand sensor).

One of the comments that I’ve received from Hylife below makes sense too and perhaps it is the best practice.

How to turn on a motorcycle

“The side stand switch, the emergency kill switch and the tipover switch ground the coils to immediately kill any spark leaving all other circuits unchanged. The ECU recognises the grounded coils and cuts power to the fuel pump and injectors. Use of the kill switch instead of the key switch will shorten the life of your coils. The lock position on the key switch is to extend the steering locking pin after turning the handlebars to the far left.”

These are some of the common steps, either way, it’s all matter of preference and how you used to it but try not to use the kill switch button when you’re riding unless it is an emergency situation.

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Handlebar use at low speed

Turning the handlebars in the direction you want to turn in happens to be the simple yet most critical part of this equation.

To turn a motorcycle at slow speed, the most crucial element is to turn the handlebar in the direction you want to go. This is called pro-steering. We are actually turning the wheel, via the handlebar, into the direction of the turn.

Have you ever felt locked up on the motorcycle and the handlebar didn’t want to turn? This is probably happening because the right arm is fighting the left arm and you’re in a feedback battle. How can you break the feedback loop?

Simply tell one of your arms to relax completely. You may find it best to say, “Right arm relax; the left arm is going to do all the work.” Why would we want the right arm to relax? The throttle is easier to manage!


In essence, we will be countering the weight of the motorcycle. This requires us to move in the seat. Yes, the “sport” of motorcycling requires you being active in the saddle! Our upper body will be going towards the outside of the turn. So if we are trying to turn to the LEFT at slow speed, then our upper body moves to the RIGHT.

You may find it helpful to counterweight early, before you initiate the turn, so that you aren’t upsetting the motorcycle at the initiation or middle of the turn. Some posture elements to consider:

  • Open the hips to the turn  (can you see farther now?!)
  • Open the chest to the turn; keep your chest tall and away from the turn
  • Use your knee pressed against the outside of the tank
  • You may feel additional weight on the outside foot peg
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The more we lean the bike, the tighter the arc we can scribe. Once in the turn, to change the path of the arc we can manipulate lean angle and speed.

Counterweighting your bike is arguably the most challenging yet important aspect of a turn new riders must learn. Your bike can be big, powerful, and quite the load to move around. It can get you anywhere you need to go.. On average, motorcycles weigh around 400 pounds – a lot to maneuver around a turn, especially with gravity acting against you.

An improper turn strategy could easily send your bike toppling to the ground, and you along with it. Counterweighting the gravitational pull on your bike with your own weight helps you stay upright during slow turns.

What is counter steering?

Counter steering is a method used by single track vehicles such as bicycles and motorcycles to initiate lean into a turn. The idea is that – at anything above running pace – we briefly steer counter to the direction we actually wish to travel to get the desired lean angle for a turn, so if you want to lean to the right, you steer left and the bike tips in to the right.

How to turn on a motorcycle

An easier way of saying it is if you wish to go right, you push on the right handlebar and this will initiate the lean in that direction.

Is counter steering easy to learn?

I will confidently answer yes to this question, the reason being, I know you do it already! Counter steering is often talked about as a technique we can learn and try out, something that is separate from how we ride ‘normally’, but the simple fact is that counter steering is the only way to effectively and accurately steer a motorcycle.

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You might think this isn’t true as you’ve never tried it, but what you don’t realise is that when you lean/tip into a corner, you subconsciously push on the inside bar to get the bike to lean over and go round the turn.

Still don’t believe me? I ask you this then, if physics dictate that when you push on the right handlebar the bike tips to the right, what would happen if you tried to turn ‘normally’ and steered the front wheel into the turn to go round that same right hander (pushed on the left bar)?

The physics wouldn’t change and lean the bike to the right again, that’s for sure. Instead the bike would tip to the left because you are now counter steering in the other direction.

Whether you are conscious of you doing it or not, believe me when I say that counter steering is the ONLY way to effectively and accurately steer a motorcycle into a turn.


What are the 4 steps to turning on a motorcycle?

The MSF teaches riders the steps to a successful corner are: slow – look – press – roll. Let’s briefly break each of these steps down.

How do you steer a motorcycle for beginners?

If you want to turn right, push the handlebars on the right side. If you want to turn left, push the handlebars on the left side. While this may seem incorrect, turning the bars in the opposite direction from the turn forces the bike to tilt slightly, while maintaining the proper speed allows it to stay upright.

What is the start button on a motorcycle?

In motorcycles on the other hand, you have to stick the key in the ignition, turn it to the on position, and then press a separate button usually found on the right side of the handlebar. Oftentimes, this starter button is also integrated with a kill switch.

Above is information about How to turn on a motorcycle? that we have compiled. Hopefully, through the above content, you have a more detailed understanding of Handlebar use at low speed. Thank you for reading our post.

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