Unlike cars, motorcycles turn by leaning. Beginners make turns by getting their motorcycle to lean “somehow” without consciously understanding the movements required to initiate the lean. At speeds where the gyroscopic effect of the wheels occur, using a simple body lean by itself does very little to get the bike to make sharp and quick turns. This is especially true for very heavy bikes. This is where a basic technique called counter steering or push steering should be used.
Counter Steering is one of the most important motorcycle tips for beginners. New riders who don’t fully master counter steering in a conscious way, won’t be able to do sharp precision cornering or make quick evasive maneuvers such as swerving. Quick swerves are a survival necessity for avoiding collisions when something unexpected happens. Without counter steering technique, large sloppy turns leave the beginner open to collisions with other vehicles. This is why counter steering is one of the most important riding tips you should master.
How To Counter Steer
1.) Find an open road without traffic to learn counter steering. You should be moving at a speed fast enough for the gyroscopic effect of the wheels to occur (about 15 mph).
2.) While leaving plenty of room on either side of your bike, very slightly push forward a bit on the left handlebar. You will notice that this will cause your bike to momentarily dip to the right and then it will lean a bit to the left. Releasing the pressure on the left handle bar will cause the bike to right itself and continue in a straight line.
3.) Push the left handlebar forward with slightly greater pressure and your bike will lean more to the left. By shifting your weight to the footpeg in the direction of the lean, your motorcycle will turn in that direction. Practice very small weaving patterns on the road by alternately pushing one handlebar and then the other. Do it very smoothly and gently.
4.) When you become familiar with how your bike reacts to counter steering inputs to the handlebars, practice making turns of decreasing radius. Look through your turns and release pressure on the handlebar to exit your turns.
Before actually trying it on your bike, counter steering will seem counter intuitive. Rather than over think it, try the exercises suggested here and start with a very slight handlebar pressure. You will quickly develop a feel for how counter steering works. Work on your cornering, turns, and swerves. As your skill improves, you will become better equipped to deal with the hazards of the road.
Be sure to join us for the next Colorado Motorcycle Expo, Jan 31- Feb 1, 2015 at the National Western Complex in Denver, Colorado. See the country’s largest indoor motorcycle swap meet, a huge custom & antique motorcycle show, live music, wet t -shirt contest, onsite tattooing & much more!