What is counter steering? Motorcyclists are 26 times more likely to die in traffic accidents, and this disparity usually comes from a lack of knowledge. Many riders don’t know how to use their machines and haven’t mastered all the techniques required to ride safely.
Counter steering is important to master when learning how to ride a motorcycle. It requires placing a bit of pressure in the opposite direction that you want to turn.
While it takes practice to get right, the benefits of counter-steering are massive. When done correctly, it results in smoother, safer, faster riding.
Many riders use counter-steering without realizing it, but they may not be doing so correctly. There are various mistakes to avoid to keep yourself safe and have the best ride possible.
What is Counter Steering?
This is a technique you’ve certainly seen on the road, even if you’ve never used it yourself. Simply, countersteering is pressing FORWARD on the handlebar in the direction you want to go above roughly 12mph. If you want to go right, press forward on the right handlebar to go right. We press on the handlebar to cause the motorcycle to lean in the direction we want to go.
In general, we say countersteering is best used above 12mph. Actually, a motorcycle can be countersteered at any speed, but the effects of countersteering begin to be more noticeable and more advantageous to us as a rider around 12mph.
Different types of motorcycles have different factors that may change the actual “transition” speed (ie, weight, geometry, tire size, etc), but in general we can say roughly 12 mph. We say 12 mph because the bike is becoming vastly more stable.
How Does Countersteering Work?
For many riders, countersteering is something they simply do without much thought. It feels right and gets turns done safely, and so it’s rarely ever questioned. However, when you stop to look at it, countersteering seems completely contrary to your goals. You’re essentially steering your handlebars left to turn right or vice versa. So, how does it work?
Any single-track vehicle has to use countersteering as a means of turning at high speeds. This is because the two wheels do not follow the same exact path during a turn.
The front wheel’s path tends to fall outside the path of the rear wheel during a turn due to something called out-tracking. When you countersteer your motorcycle, you’re setting your rear wheel on the right track to keep yourself on the trajectory you want.
Why You Need To Countersteer?
There is a debate in the motorcycle community over whether counter steering is necessary. Some riders believe you can steer the bike with your body alone. Experts agree that this isn’t the case and that it’s important to know how to countersteer correctly for a variety of reasons.
The most important consideration is in regards to safety. Counter steering can be the difference between life and death in an emergency. It can help get you away from danger quickly.
Casual riders will also notice improvements from proper counter steering. It will make you feel more in control of your machine. You’ll maneuver better and have a more enjoyable ride overall.
Counter steering is also useful in racing, as it requires split-second timing and rapid turns. No matter why and where you use your motorcycle, knowing how to countersteer is an important skill to master.
How To Countersteer?
Once you understand what it is and how it works, you must learn how to countersteer correctly. Any rider can do it, but only the truly skilled can do it properly.
Counter steering can still help at slow speeds, but it’s much more noticeable when you go faster. If you want to practice counter steering, try to increase your speed to at least 15 mph.
Pressing on the side of the handlebars that you want to turn towards keeps the motorcycle going in the right direction. Pressing on the other side of the handlebars as well is a more advanced technique but useful for quick turns like those required in racing.
It’s also important to lean in the direction that you want to turn. This helps to further improve the motorcycle’s balance.
Most riders use counter-steering daily but may not realize they’re doing it. It takes practice and skill to learn how to countersteer effectively, but it can be done.
If you’re a racer and want some more advice on how to countersteer effectively, check out our quad racing safety tips and beginner mistakes to avoid.
Practice Makes Proficient
How can you be better at countersteering? Practice! First, try the countersteering technique in a straight line at roughly 20mph. CAUTION: An aggressive press forward on the handle bar may result in an IMMEDIATE change of direction. We recommend starting with a gentle press in a straight line.
After getting a feel for how the bike handles with each subsequent press, try pressing harder and harder at a steady speed.
Next, try elevating your speed in small increments of say, five miles per hour. Find a corner on a road less traveled and implement your new countersteering technique. Of course, to be most safe, a local track may be the best alternative. Either way, wash, rinse, and repeat; reads like hours of fun to us!
More Counter Steering Tips
When you learn how to ride a motorcycle, you need to know how to perform every necessary action safely. This applies to counter steering as well. It can be difficult to master, and there are plenty of other elements to keep in mind while attempting it.
Remember to keep your head up and look in the direction you’re turning. The motorcycle will go in the direction that your chin is pointing.
The harder you press on the handlebars, and the more you lean to one side, the greater the counter steering effect. Make sure you don’t overdo it, as this is a common mistake too many riders make.
Another tip is to be careful where you place your legs when making fast turns. Place your left thigh on the tank to turn right and right thigh on the tank to turn left.
Do you push down or forward when counter steering a motorcycle?
The primary application of the countersteering principle is this: to initiate a turn on your motorcycle, push forward on the handlebar on the side corresponding to the direction you want to turn. In other words, turn the handlebar in the opposite direction of your turn.
Do you lean when you countersteer?
To negotiate a turn successfully, the combined center of mass of the rider and the single-track vehicle must first be leaned in the direction of the turn, and steering briefly in the opposite direction causes that lean. The rider’s action of countersteering is sometimes referred to as “giving a steering command”.
At what speed do you start countersteering?
Actually, a motorcycle can be countersteered at any speed, but the effects of countersteering begin to be more noticeable and more advantageous to us as a rider around 12mph.
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