display | more...

The method by which all dynamically stable, single-track vehicles, such as bicycles and motorcycles are steered. It amounts to putting said vehicle in a brief period of instability and then stabilizing it in a different attitude. Countersteering is also counter-intuitive, but it really does work. Some people need to have this demonstrated to them in an unambiguous way, else they will be unable to comprehend it.

Counter-steering and Motorcycles

I was taught the technique of counter-steering whilst attending a Motorcycle Safety Foundation training course. At first, it just doesn't make sense but then, once you try it, you'll realise how experienced bikers are able to turn their machine with relative ease.
How to use the counter-steering technique

At low speeds, the rider turns the front wheel in the direction they want the bike to turn, e.g. turning the wheel to the right to turn right.
At higher speeds, the opposite is true: The front wheel is turned away from the desired direction. So, for example, to turn to the right, steady application of pressure to the right handlebar will cause the front wheel to point to the left. The bike will lean to the right, and consequently, turn to the right.

Put simply, in the words of the MSF;
"Push right, lean right, go right. Push left, lean left, go left"

Here's the deal: Every motorcyclist who has operated their machine and negotiated a bend at a speed above, say, 20 mph, has used counter-steering, even if they don't realise it. It is the conscious application of pressure which is counter-intuitive. The fact is, there's no way to turn a motorcycle solely by leaning or "body-steering" - the handlebars must rotate too. I read about a motorcycle instructor in Popular Mechanics who had fitted a second pair of handlebars, (complete with a second throttle, directly to a demo bike's frame. Everyone who rode that bike found that they couldn't steer the bike while holding the fixed handlebars.

Why counter-steering works
Contrary to what you may have read, gyroscopic force is not the main reason that counter-steering works. The technique works because of the effect of steering geometry, (in particular: rake). The geometry of the front forks of a motorcycle dictate that turning the handlebar in one direction will cause the bike to lean in the other. Try it whilst stationary: Sit astride the bike with your feet on the ground and turn the handlebar. See how the bike leans.

However, gyroscopic force does play a part when counter-steering with the bike in motion. It provides the resistance that you feel as you push against the handlebar.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.