What is the purpose of counter-steering on a motorcycle and how to practice it?

November 18, 2019

Also called the reverse steering, this technique allows you to take a turn on a motorcycle correctly or to avoid a sudden obstacle. With counter-steering, the rider does not need to tense up or force the handlebars of his two-wheeler. This slight switch on the handlebars is often taught in motorbike schools during practical training, but it is sometimes complex for young bikers..

What is the purpose of counter-steering on a motorcycle and how to practice it?

Motorcycle counter-steering, what is it ?

Counter-steering only arrived in Europe in the 1970s, at the Grands Prix, with Kenny Robert. The motorcycle speed rider said he had discovered a technique that allows him to pass a bend faster and more safely.

In fact, its technique comes from the automotive world since when a car drifts, placing the wheels in the opposite direction of the turn allows it to maintain its trajectory..

On a motorcycle, the idea is the same: push the handlebars in the opposite direction of the turn to give the bike a lean that pushes it towards the correct path. This pilot "thing" is explained quite simply by the exploitation of a physical law, the gyroscopic precession.

Let’s explain: at low speed, i.e. less than 35km / h, the motorcycle remains stable thanks to a constant adjustment made by the pilot thanks to the handlebars, like cycling in short. The direction of the motorcycle is then controlled by the handlebars and the position of the rider.

To turn right, we turn the handlebars to the right, push left and pull right. But at high speed – above 35km / h – the rotation of a wheel generates a gyroscopic effect, which keeps the wheel in balance.

This phenomenon increases with the speed of rotation and opposes the modification of the axis of rotation of the wheel hub. Counter-steering, in a turn, is therefore necessary to overcome this effect..

The pressure on the handlebars allows the motorcycle to tilt to the side you are turning. This gesture is very effective as an avoidance technique, but it is not always mastered by bikers. Learning this technique will certainly be improved during new motorcycle license under study for 2020.

How to counter-steer on a motorcycle

Let’s move from theory to practice. There are now "two schools" for counter-steering. The first consists, to turn left, push on the handlebars with the left hand to the right.

We perform this gesture lightly at the beginning to understand, then we accentuate the movement once the technique has been mastered. Conversely, when you want turn right, push on the handlebars with the right hand to the left.

The second technique: for a left turn, same thing. We push with the left hand to the right. On the other hand, to take a right turn and to be less hampered, because the right hand already manages the flow of gas with the accelerator or the front brake, instead to push on the handlebars with the right hand to the left, just pull on the handlebars with your left hand. As a result, it’s the left hand that manages the turns and the right hand that continues to manage the acceleration and braking..

To complete the effect of counter-steering

To counter-steer effectively, the rider’s position is essential. Press the inner foot on the footrest, and rest the outer knee on the tank. Normally, on a motorcycle, the rider serves with both knees, but in this case, he will put a little more pressure on the one on the outside.

The shift of the body’s center of gravity inward will help the counter-steering: you will then have to bend your shoulders, or even sway your hips to carry the whole body inward and downward. Finally, don’t forget the importance of looking on a motorcycle to avoid deviating.

Focus on your goal: focusing your gaze on exiting the turn will help with the maneuver.

Opt for training to practice counter-steering

Reverse steering is taught in driving school during motorcycle license training. But in reality, many bikers do not know how to cross-steer or have to make an effort of concentration to adjust their gestures..

However, once on the road, in an emergency context, to correct a trajectory or avoid a danger, the rider will not necessarily know how to put this technique into practice. This is also the case for a rider trained on rather light motorcycles who passes on large displacement or a much heavier road motorcycle on which counter-steering becomes mandatory.

As part of driver training, it would be necessary to develop a method capable of maintaining an automatic change of direction among motorcyclists.

Counter-steering must become a reflex. If this is not the case, it is strongly recommended to take a few hours of driving on the plateau to practice this technique with an instructor or during a training course offered by the Association a la formation des motards (AFMD).

Related articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *