Counter-steering a motorcycle.

Counter-steering appears to be an issue with many of our riders.

We all counter-steer a motorcycle at speeds above 5-10 mph, as at higher speeds the bike goes in the opposite direction when you turn the bars, due to the centrifugal effect of the front wheel known as precession. The bike leans the opposite way to which you turn the bars as the front wheel acts as a gyroscope trying to steer itself back upright.

So you turn the bars to the right and the bike falls to the left and visa versa. You find this out when you learn to ride a push bike but it’s not obvious – it works without most riders realising.

Positive counter-steering, that is steering away from the corner apex, forces the bike to lean further, and allows you to tighten the radius of the turn. You push on the inside bar, or pull the outside bar, and then let the steering centralise with the bike now banked at a steeper angle and turning at a tighter radius. Racers do this all the time, often while trail braking into a corner, which requires some physical strength, but is also a useful tool if you need to tighten the turn on the road to avoid a hazard, or because you’ve misjudged your entry speed.

You can feel the effect if you push gently on one side or other of the bars when travelling straight, and feel for what is happening.

The best advice, if you do enter a corner at too high a speed, is simply to look where you want to go, not where you don’t, and you will probably counter-steer without thinking.

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