Countersteer What?? - Page 4 - Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums
Riding Proficiency Tips and suggestions for improving the rider's safety skills and riding techniques

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post #31 of 39 Old 08-03-2019, 02:57 PM
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I took the MSF ARC course twice. I was not satisfied with my performance the first time, so I took it again the following year and I did much better. They really teach and preach counter steering. I guess I do it OK, because I did well in the course the second time and I can hold a line in a fast turn reasonably well.

But I am puzzled about the idea doing it "consciously" or "intentionally" like we did in ARC. When I do that, it seems to have the same effect as when I just turn naturally. I hope that means I have internalized it. Trail braking is still pretty much a mystery to me, though.

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post #32 of 39 Old 08-03-2019, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by tjosephtoo View Post
Well, I guess Keith never saw me ride. But I invite you to try it yourself, and you can prove it to yourself. Put your throttle lock on at 55 mph. Take your hands off the handlebars (or leave your fingers barely touching so you can grab the bar quickly). Move your ass from the center of the seat to the side. Your bike will turn to the side where there is more weight. I will try to get my gopro hooked up in the next few days and video it for you. No, you can't negotiate sharp turns that way. But you sure can steer through turns marked for 45 mph and above.
Here's the difference: If you could lock your fork so your front wheel directly aligns with the rear and you do your "hands free" ride, your going to find the bike won't change direction no matter what you do.

Leaning, shifting weight, etc. can change the angle of the wheel's direction with no handlebar input, but then the bike falls into it's own lean opposite the direction of the tire, as Spec says. You have initiated the bike into a counter steer, just as if you'd moved the bars. The machine always turns by counter steering, as it cannot change direction by any other means. The physics follow its design.

Discussion of counter steer always gets overly complicated, but it's best to think of counter steering as a definition of how two-wheeled vehicles turn rather than what riders do on a bike. Simply put, if you ride a motorcycle or bicycle, you, the bike, are counter steering.
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Last edited by John V Strom, Jr.; 08-03-2019 at 06:04 PM.
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post #33 of 39 Old 08-04-2019, 07:08 AM
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Turning a bike is mostly lean, and a little front wheel angle. The point of countersteering is to, effectively, drive the wheels out from under the bike and quickly establish a lean angle. Once the lean angle is established the steering is almost centered, to hold the lean angle. Very possibly a bike with locked forks won't turn. You still need that slight turn angle on the front wheel. When you take your hands off the bar, and shift body weight to turn, the front wheel is also turning in response to the offset weight due to chassis geometry. You can get the bike to lean and turn by shifting weight. But it takes a long time.

If you can, watch MotoGP riders, probably the most radical lean angles you'll see on pavement. Once the bike is established in the lean, there is very little steering angle on the front wheel. Turning the bars (and wheel) drops the bike into the angle and picks it back up after the turn.
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post #34 of 39 Old 08-04-2019, 07:12 AM
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Originally Posted by John V Strom, Jr. View Post
Here's the difference: If you could lock your fork so your front wheel directly aligns with the rear and you do your "hands free" ride, your going to find the bike won't change direction no matter what you do.

Leaning, shifting weight, etc. can change the angle of the wheel's direction with no handlebar input, but then the bike falls into it's own lean opposite the direction of the tire, as Spec says. You have initiated the bike into a counter steer, just as if you'd moved the bars. The machine always turns by counter steering, as it cannot change direction by any other means. The physics follow its design.

Discussion of counter steer always gets overly complicated, but it's best to think of counter steering as a definition of how two-wheeled vehicles turn rather than what riders do on a bike. Simply put, if you ride a motorcycle or bicycle, you, the bike, are counter steering.
Of course if you lock the fork straight ahead the bike will go straight. That does not mean weight changes and countersteer are the same thing. Countersteer is pressure applied to the handlebars to steer them toward the outside of the turn, forcing a lean. Weight shifting without touching the bar is not countersteering. You are simply changing definitions or employing tautology.

If I hit an object in the road, it also can turn my bike. But I call that deflection, not countersteer. Countersteer is force input via the handlebars. Weight transfer or deflection may move the front wheel off the centerline, but I don't think that is countersteering.

Each technique is to get the bike leaned so the wheel rotation gyroscopic action, combined with the tire's rounded profile, makes the bike follow a curved path.

These aren't great videos, and the second is better than the first, but they do show you can negotiate curves without touching the bars.

https://tjoseph.smugmug.com/Motorcyc...ering/n-bLx2Dt

There are situations where weight transfer instead of countersteer is the better way to change direction. Like if you get right on the edge of the pavement where there is a dropoff, I find weight transfer can bring you back from that edge, but countersteer can take you over it.

Similarly, sometimes you should lean your body to the inside of the curve, and sometimes you should lean your body to the outside of the curve. There are lots of different tools to use.

I don't have any interest in convincing anybody of anything. If you want to believe countersteer is the only way to make a bike turn, that's fine with me. But nobody will convince me something is impossible when I have been doing it for over half a century, not even Keith Code.

Last edited by tjosephtoo; 08-04-2019 at 10:30 AM.
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post #35 of 39 Old 08-04-2019, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by tjosephtoo View Post
..
These aren't great videos, and the second is better than the first, but they do show you can negotiate curves without touching the bars.

https://tjoseph.smugmug.com/Motorcyc...ering/n-bLx2Dt

..

Sheesh if you call that vague wandering in your lane steering and those bends in the roads turns then yea I guess you don't need to counter steer.

Do yourself a favor consciously counter steer the bike. That will give you precise control of the bike.

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post #36 of 39 Old 08-04-2019, 06:39 PM
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Sheesh if you call that vague wandering in your lane steering and those bends in the roads turns then yea I guess you don't need to counter steer.

Do yourself a favor consciously counter steer the bike. That will give you precise control of the bike.
Where did I ever say you don't need to countersteer? Maybe you should learn to read. I said from the beginning that countersteer is the best way to get a bike to turn, but it is not the only way. Anybody who carries a passenger can attest to weight transfer alone changing the bike's direction.

To teach any beginner rider that there is only one way to steer their bike is doing them a disservice. They should understand all of the various ways that bike can change direction, and they should practice all of them so it doesn't surprise them when it occurs. Like I said at the beginning, these are all tools to use. As the saying goes, if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

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post #37 of 39 Old 08-04-2019, 09:11 PM
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Originally Posted by tjosephtoo View Post
To teach any beginner rider that there is only one way to steer their bike is doing them a disservice. They should understand all of the various ways that bike can change direction, and they should practice all of them so it doesn't surprise them when it occurs...

Worst advice ever.

It's a serious disservice to "teach" them some vague "steering" technique.

Teach a beginner counter steering only because that's the best way to turn the bike. Yea you might not think it's the only way fine but it's proven to precisely control the bike.
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post #38 of 39 Old 08-05-2019, 07:43 AM
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Worst advice ever.

It's a serious disservice to "teach" them some vague "steering" technique.

Teach a beginner counter steering only because that's the best way to turn the bike. Yea you might not think it's the only way fine but it's proven to precisely control the bike.
You should teach them about every force that will change their bike's direction. But I haven't been a beginner in more than half a century, hundreds of thousands of miles, and well over 100 bikes. So ride your own ride, and I will ride mine.

When it comes to bike handling I don't think it is possible to know too much, or practice too much.

Last edited by tjosephtoo; 08-05-2019 at 08:21 AM.
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post #39 of 39 Old 08-06-2019, 03:57 PM
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There is only one effective input for making a bike turn - the handlebars, to initiate counter-steering. Period.

Anything else you can do produces second-order effects, at best. Shifting your weight, weighting footpegs, sticking your knee out in the wind. Sure, you can (with some difficulty, depending on the bike) keep it in your lane no-hands, or (maybe) maneuver around a gentle curve at speed this way. You can do it 10 times more easily, and with less thought, by just using your hands on the bars.

I can steer my 20 lb bicycle quite easily, even initiating significant lean angles, without using my hands. However a 400+ lb motorcycle, with its momentum, and the gyroscopic forces of its much larger wheels, does not steer easily in this manner.

And the reason to teach counter-steering as a specific skill is so that riders of aware of how turning their bike REALLY works. Sure, many of us managed to ride bikes using unconscious counter-steering for years. I know I did. Until the first time I took a (neighbour's) street bike up a road at 180 km/h (indicated) and got to the first bend and realized I didn't know how to make it turn. My usual unconscious, relatively subtle inputs weren't getting the job done at this speed, on a bike much heavier than the bicycles and dirt bikes I had ridden previously.

I still don't consciously counter-steer on a bicycle. It just isn't necessary. Little more than a small shift of weight is required. However, at all but the highest speeds, hand contact on the bars is necessary, or at least useful, to stabilize the front wheel and steering. But again that's a 20 lb bicycle. On something 20-40 times heavier, the situation is very different.

On my ~600 lb R1200RT? It's difficult to even keep it going straight down the lane using only body english. The bike has a lot of side fairing surface to catch wind, and a lot of momentum. Quite severe leaning of the rider is necessary to keep it on the desired course while riding no-hands.
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