How To Countersteer A Motorcycle

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By Evans Brasfield

Part of the fun of riding motorcycles comes from the mastery of controlling an unstable machine. Without their riders, motorcycles can’t stand up by themselves at a stop. When it comes to riding motorcycles, being able to precisely place your motorcycle where you want it on the pavement comes from practice and understanding how motorcycles turn. That technique is countersteering.

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Here the late, great Nicky Hayden demonstrates countersteering. Note how the front wheel is turned to his left as he prepares to enter a right-hand corner.

During the seminal 1981 Hurt Report, which is officially titled Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures, the accident study’s findings noted, “Motorcycle riders in these accidents showed significant collision avoidance problems…. The ability to countersteer and swerve was essentially absent.” In fact, in some cases, the riders actually steered their bikes into the object they were trying to avoid. While we can’t avoid the fact that target fixation probably played a role in some of these instances, the Hurt Report indicated that many accident-involved motorcyclists didn’t know how to properly countersteer.

So, what is countersteering? The simple definition is that you turn the handlebar in the opposite direction of the way you want to turn. Want to go right? Turn the handlebar to the left. This counterintuitive turning process illustrates why it is so important to learn countersteering. Simply put, riders who don’t completely grasp countersteering – down to the muscle-memory level – run the risk of crashing themselves into the car, truck, pothole, deer, or pedestrian they want to avoid. (For a great example of this, watch the slow-motion section of the video below. You can see him try to steer the bike away from the truck and actually wrestle with the handlebar.)

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Source:: How To Countersteer A Motorcycle


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