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Motorcycle countersteer: This just might save your life


This discussion is about "Motorcycle countersteer: This just might save your life" in the "Motorcycles" forums.
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  1. #1
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    Default Motorcycle countersteer: This just might save your life


    Motorcycle countersteer: This just might save your life:

    Push right to turn right. Push left to turn Left. (Hence Countersteer)

    Just a gentle push. Not a jarring forceful push. (Push forward Not down)

    That’s all you need to know. That’s all you need to constantly do. Until it becomes second nature and instinct…INSTINCT & REFLEXES.

    You don’t need to know the mechanics or physics about it. The only thing that might SAVE YOUR LIFE is that you do this instinctively especially in a panic situation.

    NOTE: Please distinguish that this is different from the controlled countersteer slide that one performs in speedways. That one is a controlled two wheel drift. What is discussed here IS HOW a STEER is initiated.

    Mods: I know there is another thread with a similar topic. But his was more of a question. This one IS THE ANSWER. I just felt that this would serve the topic better. Close it if you feel fit. But If this topic saves just one life, then it would have served it’s pupose.

    Reproduced in full is an article written by Steve Anderson (I think it was in the June 1985 issue, not sure) of Cycle World magazine. I read it around 1988 or 1989 during a trip in Dumaguete. I immediately drove a bike and was blasted to find out that it was TRUE. Back then there was no internet and this was a startling revelation. Considering that at that time i was already a motorcyclist for 9 years. This was the only article I came across about this FACT. This article got me into a quest to spread this fact. I photo copied this and made it mandatory reading for all motorcycle riding personnel under me. I used to give it to all my motorcycling friends. This has been my reflex action since 1989 (25 years). Believe me, it works. (All words in bold are my choice, italics are the author’s)

    Counter-intuitive

    by Steve Anderson

    “Chances are you really don’t know how to ride a motorcycle.

    We’re not trying to be insulting, but the truth is that very few motorcyclists are aware of many of the control operations they perform while riding. But for the most part, this doesn’t matter; if your body knows how to operate a motorcycle (and if you ride, it certainly does), then a complete understanding of what you are doing on a bike is no more vital to you than a complete understanding of the physics of walking.

    Until an emergency arises.

    We were recently reminded of this when our Editor became an in-depth observer of the aftermath of a motorcycle-involved accident. The details aren’t terribly important—the accident began when a truck made a left turn in front of a motorcycle--except that the crash could have been avoided. Instead, the reflexive action of the motorcyclist made the situation far worse, for he actually turned into the side of the truck after it had already crossed in front of him, and he was severely injured as a result.

    According to Harry Hurt’s oft-quoted study of motorcycle crashes, this accident followed a common pattern: a rider steering into an obstacle he was trying to avoid.

    Behind the pattern is a reason: the way motorcycles turn. Above walking speeds, the only way to initiate anything but the most gradual of turns is by countersteering—that is, by steering the front wheel left to turn right, or right to turn left. The whole idea might seem bizarre and unnatural, particularly to car drivers, but it’s how bikes turn.

    To understand countersteering, let’s look at a right hand turn in detail. To start that turn, you first steer the handlebars not to the right but very slightly to the left (which is why it is called countersteering). Often, this is done by leaning your body slightly to the right, which tends to make you press forward on the right handgrip. (That’s one reason many riders mistakenly think that body lean initiates turns, instead of countersteering.) As the front wheel aims to the left, it does two things. It steers to the left which causes the bike to fall to the right; and since the spinning front wheel acts as a gyroscope, the steering of the wheel to the left causes a gyroscopically induced reaction that additionally causes the bike to lean right. Then as the bike approaches the desired lean angle, you have to turn the handlebars back to the right to prevent the bike from falling over completely. And once the right-hand turn reaches a steady state, the front wheel will be turned in very slightly to the right.

    These handlebar movements are so small that most people don’t know they’re making them. But whether or not you’re consciously aware of countersteering makes no difference: It’s not an option. It’s a must, for you can’t ride a motorcycle without it.

    Unfortunately, in panic situations, this steering behavior can easily work against you. In an adrenaline-pumping emergency, it’s easy to fall back on automobile-conditioned reflexes and do what seems the natural thing: turn the handlebars away from what you want to avoid. But that only causes a bike to lean and steer toward what you want to avoid, a situation that could leave you in a world of hurt.

    The alternative is to be conscious of countersteering, and work to make it part of your reflexes. First, if you have any doubts that motorcycles indeed do steer in this way, you need to convince yourself otherwise. To do so, try riding on a straight, empty section of road with your left hand held behind your back. Hold your body perfectly still and observe how the bike reacts even to small movements of the handlebars.

    Second, practice conscious countersteering. Again on a straight empty road, practice dodging potholes or oil stains, pushing forward on the right handgrip to turn right, on the left to go left.

    When you feel comfortable with that, notice what countersteering does in a long constant radius turn. This is an important observation, since you also change your lean angle with countersteering, even when you’re already in a corner. By turning the bars slightly to the outside of a turn, you lean even further, tightening your line. Having that information programmed into your reflexes could prevent a crash if you enter a decreasing-radius corner going too fast.

    There’s one last secret about countersteering: Consciously doing it makes motorcycle riding more fun. With your mind and body working together when riding, you’ll feel so much more in control that you’ll wonder why this isn’t a mandatory part of rider training.

    And that’s a good question in itself.”

    Just to recap important points:
    1. Above walking speeds the only way to immediately INITIATE anything but the most gradual of turns is to countersteer.
    2. Be conscious of countersteering, and work to make it part of your reflexes.

    Steer right to turn left and steer left to turn right is OUTRIGHT confusing, Hence:

    3. Push right to turn right. Push left to turn Left.


    For the doubters, Please read all links and try them yourselves before you post.

    Kieth Code’s ‘No BS Bike’ (No BS has a double meaning, the second is ‘No Body Steer’)

    Superbike School :: No B.S. Machine

    Kieth Code’s California Superbike School

    Superbike School :: CSS Team

    For the really serious bikers: Kieth Code’s ‘Twist of the Wrist vol II’ video

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVWLIfChUwg

    David L. Hough on Code’s No BS bike

    Keith Code's No BS Bike<

    Push Steering: Motorcycle Handbook of the Ontario Ministry of Transportation

    Motorcycles Handbook

    Steve Munden: Steering Single-Track Vehicles

    Countersteering Motorcycles

  2. #2
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    Additional References:

    Cycle World: KNOW HOW-TO COUNTERSTEER CORRECTLY

    Know how-to countersteer correctly

    How to turn a motorcycle effectively: By Dan of ‘Bike Track Days’

    How to turn a motorcycle effectively

  3. #3
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    After reviewing my original post, I noticed an error of omission and an error of presentation.

    First: PUSH what? Answer. The handgrips obviously! Since we are talking about steering, the handlebar is what we are talking about. So I omitted it. The correct phrase should have been:

    Push on the right handgrip to turn right. Push on the left handgrip to turn left.

    Just a gentle push. Not a jarring forceful push. The amount of pressure will depend on your bike and the situation.

    Push FORWARD perpendicular to the axis of rotation of the front forks. NOT DOWN on the bars.

    But, to keep this mantra short, the best is still:


    Push right to turn right. Push left to turn Left.

    Second: We already do this subconsciously, WE ARE DOING IT! So what is the point of making it reflex again? Isn’t that kind of a contradiction? This is my error of presentation. So to correct it.

    Yes, we are doing it subconsciously. It is a reflex action that our body does. But our mind doesn’t seem to know anything about it. Doesn’t even seem to know that we are doing it. To the mind, it is vague. And it is Counter-intuitive. It is counter to the supposedly logical idea (for three wheels, four wheels and more) of, turn right to turn right, turn left to turn left. So in an emergency, in a panic situation, it usually all goes wrong. The mind suddenly screams…turn right! turn right! And since this countersteer is a vague body knowledge. The mind takes over and the body follows…and so does disaster.

    Surprisingly, it’s usually not when you are driving fast with an attuned and focused mind that the problem arises. At these times your body is also attuned and focused.

    It is usually in those times nga nag inday inday lang ka ug drive (lackadaisically driving) at a moderately fast pace (eg. 60kph in relatively lean traffic) that you get caught off guard and your mind causes your body to ‘freeze’. Suddenly a car veers from the opposite lane into your lane. Na kuratan ka! !!! Your wrong panic reflex (correct for a car. But wrong for a bike) comes into play. You suddenly turn your handlebars to the right to avoid the vehicle. So now you have countersteered to the right. And true to it’s nature, your bike (with you on it) will also make a quick and sudden turn to the left. Slam bang into that car.

    So what we want to do is this: First make this a conscious effort till it is ingrained in your mind. Push right to turn right. Push left to turn left. Every time you turn, you push. Every time you turn, you tell your mind - push. SO now the mind learns. Instead of a vague truth that only your body knew, now the mind is indoctrinated. Keep doing this until it is ingrained in your subconscious. This is what I meant by: Until it becomes second nature and instinct…INSTINCT & REFLEXES. Now of the mind.

    Now, instead of a vague subconscious body reaction on steering that usually, for most of us, have a wrong panic default. You will have the correct panic default move in both mind and body.

    And that could save your life!

    And this applies to all in-line two wheel vehicles such as bicycles and even mono cycles. So if you have a child just starting out on a bicycle. Teach him/her this.

  4. #4
    Elite Member BlueIre's Avatar
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    Instinct na man cguru ni sa mga riders but its good to know naa proper explaination ani. thanks ts

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    Thank you for your interest Sir. Agree gyud ko nimo 100%, it is instinctive. If your 'Panic Default' is already to countersteer then you are in very good hands, Sir. The problem is that for MOST motorcyclist, the panic default is to steer right to turn right. That just might lead them to a very bad accident. By consciously practicing countersteer EVER TIME you turn, you make this your panic default.

    Teach your friends to countersteer, Sir. Let's all help each other.

  6. #6
    Elite Member JViLLe's Avatar
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    Very nice article. I have been practicing this for a few months now. and you are spot-on on a lot of details. it does make riding a lot fun than before. and it feels good that you wrote it exactly as how I understood it when I first encountered this topic. (maybe i read the same article as you referenced)

    keep it up. Ride safe!

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    Gud am Sir JViLLe.
    I,m glad you liked the article Sir, and I'm glad that you are practicing it . I hope that all newbie motorcyclist get to read this thread. Spread the idea Sir. I'm sure that you have friends who are also motorcyclists. Please tell them to read this. Help teach them to practice countersteering Sir.

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    C.I.A. ghostie2472's Avatar
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    What is a surefire way of saving a riders life is to not be an idiot on the road. Not show off. Not be a wannabe road racer. Bahalag ingnon hadlukan makig race as long as dili lungon ang next nga sakyan.

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    @ghostie2472

    Correct gyud ka Sir! Bahal ug tawagun talawan mo lumba! Basta alive lang. Daghan kaayo na sila nga ga kiat lang sa road karon. Mao na I hate driving now, cuz all 4wheels (and more) treat us like dirt on the road and push us around. But mao sad na ila style. Dili na lang ko mang saway, cuz panagsa pasaway sad ko. Hehe sorry!

    This countersteering skill is just to help them when THAT PANIC SITUATION arises. So just hopefully it may keep them alive. More power to you Sir!

    And to everyone else, RIDE SAFE! and

    MERRY CHRISTMAS!
    iamsux likes this.

  10. #10
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    Red this peeps. Especially newbie motorcyclists.

    Happy New Year to everyone!

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