Single-track riders like to polish their riding skills and achieve a favorable output when it comes to effortless turns. Hence, like most motorcyclists, they prefer the theory of Motorcycle Countersteering. It is all about momentarily steering in the opposite direction to attain movement in the desired direction.
Sounds as mind-boggling as rocket science, right? Well, follow the detailed guide given below, and you will be all set to execute countersteering with sheer ease!
What is Motorcycle Countersteering?
Purposely turning your bike handles to the opposite direction of the desired turn is called Countersteering. You can call it a technique or skill, or perhaps – one of the most essential riding basics in which you combine yours and your motorcycle’s center of mass in one direction to gain movement in the opposite direction.
Countersteering is the most accurate way to turn your motorcycle. It’s totally simple – to lean right, you have to steer left along with your body weight and then eureka! You’re already doing the trick!
Don’t worry – you aren’t going to be left high and dry here. Proceed further to know how exactly motorcycle countersteering is done!
How is it Done?
Once you get an idea of the concept, you are ready to practice countersteering. And once you are willing to practice, in no time you’ll be seen pulling off some great turns using the art of motorcycling countersteering!
Suppose that you want to turn right. Apply torque on the handlebars to the left. Simply put, apply slight pressure on the handlebars, using your body weight, to the opposite of the desired direction. As a result, you’ll observe that the motorcycle’s entire momentum is shifting towards the left, which is exactly what we want in the initial step.
The forces acting at the ground level pull the wheels from under the motorcycle towards left, causing it to ultimately turn to the right. The stability with which motorcycle countersteering will be performed comes with practice and a decent amount of persistence in the rider.
The steering torque is necessary to initiate the lean required for a given turn. The sustained steering torque & steering angle, which are necessary to maintain a constant radius and lean angle till the exit of the turn, must be clearly distinguished.
Remember – the initial steering angle and torque both must be opposite to the desired direction. Although, the sustained steering angle must be in the same direction of the turn.
Try it Out!
To have a go at it, hit a straight road and stay at around 10 MPH or higher. Open your hands in such a way that only your palms are in contact with the handlebars. This will ensure that you can only push the bars and can’t pull them. Now push your right hand slightly and bravo! You’ll see yourself leaning slightly towards the left along with your motorcycle.
The step-wise explanation of countersteering might sound very complicated, but almost every rider has been doing it, knowingly or unknowingly.
Beware – understanding the theory and practically performing the same are two entirely different things to do! Please ensure proper safety before practicing.
No Lean – No Turn!
When the rider leans towards the inside of the turn at an appropriate angle, for the sake of apt velocity and radius of the turn, only then the motorcycle can perform a turn in the required direction.
Focus on this rule – A tighter turn means a greater lean! The mass of the motorcycle and the rider must lean into the turn. Otherwise, the inertia of both will lead to a straight momentum resulting in a dead-straight path. To avoid this, the first step is to lean in the opposite direction of the desired turn and later leaning into the turn to accomplish the perfect motorcycle countersteering technique!
Tightening the Turn
Increasing your lean angle and tightening the turn requires you to countersteer again. While you are in, for example, a right turn and the radius is decreasing, you need to tighten that turn by pulling the bars to the left again until you reach the lean-angle that you want. You can push the bars in the direction of the turn in order to straighten your motorcycle. Fast turns with decreasing radius tend to trouble most of the riders as it causes them to act under pressure and thus makes the overall ride (the motorcycle especially) very rigid and hard to handle.
Countersteering can be done at low speeds, but then most of your attention would be utilized in balancing your motorcycle. At high speeds though, the motorcycle’s self-balancing ability enhances and hence, the handlebars will have to be forced harder.
To achieve perfection in motorcycle countersteering technique, you must be fully aware of the Motorcycle Ergonomics, which play a vital role in enabling you to master such methods.
The Motorcycle Ergonomics
Ergonomics is derived from the Greek word ‘ergon’ which means work. It’s the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment. Motorcycle Ergonomics, as the name suggests, is the study of various human factors that are relevant to motorcycling. The motorcycle’s seat height, the leaning angle, handlebar distance from the rider, handlebar height, etc. are some of the factors that Motorcycle Ergonomics is all about.
Motorcycle Ergonomics has everything to do with human factors. It includes riders’ needs, approach, stability and the state of mind – before, while and after riding the motorcycle. It’s crucial to consider and study the human factors so as to ensure absolute comfort of the rider.
Such a study is possible by analyzing the rider’s one-to-one interaction with the motorcycle. How well does the rider understand the efficiency and limitations of the motorcycle? To what extent can the rider control the motorcycle without any glitches? Does the motorcycle and its features suit the needs and convenience of the rider? The answer to these questions is what constitutes the study of motorcycle ergonomics.
With experience, the processes start becoming more and more automatic for you. There’s a steady increase with time in the spare capacity. You begin to understand and connect well with the handling and overall controlling of your motorcycle. Imagine the cuts and drifts that you’re able to execute, that more often than not, come naturally! Imagine yourself being able to get out of cheeky on-road situations without putting any considerable effort! Now that would be because you’re completely familiar with your motorcycle.
Rider Behavior & Decision Making
Your approach and perception as a rider matters a lot while riding. Your decisions will be based on the information you process and hence, your reaction to situations persisting while riding will be relative to your behavior.
Distractions will make you lose your focus. That would hinder your decision-making and judgment-making abilities while riding. Make sure you do not let unnecessary things (physical and hypothetical) grab your attention. Taking from a decision to go for a sharp turn or not, to the decision of whether to overtake or not, you have got to consider ample of factors like the condition of the road, your motorcycle’s capability and limitations, etc.
Your attention and alertness will be the key to a smooth ride. It often happens that you are not as focused as required and then you end up riding over hazards or hitting unwanted obstacles on the road. It might also happen that you are not able to yield the best performance out of your motorcycle. This is because it is important not to miss vital information while riding your motorcycle. This information can be related to your environment and subsequently the manner in which you treat your motorcycle. So it’s essential to concentrate and stay alert while riding.
Motorcycle Ergonomics and control basics are inter-connected. Human factors like human behavior and suitability come into picture when you use the controls and features of your motorcycle.
If you are able to achieve maximum comfort and familiarity with your motorcycle, then you are all set for a hassle-free ride!
Motorcycle Countersteering Saves Lives!
If you ever find yourself in a situation where the turn arrives more sharply and briskly than expected, or if you need to swerve your motorcycle in the middle of the road due to a potential risk, you can always use your countersteering skillset to overcome such hurdles. Hence, motorcycle countersteering technique not only eases your ride but also proves to be life-saving!
Then what are you waiting for? Go, hit the roads with your motorcycle and start practicing NOW!
Learn more about Motorcycle Safety here.