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-   -   Counter Steering - When to Use? (https://www.bikeforums.net/road-cycling/1034744-counter-steering-when-use.html)

Bike Gremlin 10-16-15 11:10 AM


Originally Posted by Stucky (Post 18246709)
Countersteering is something that you needn't think about- you do it automatically when it is necessary- even if you've never heard of it. If that weren't so, you'd be hearing of a lot of crashes caused by people trying to counter steer when they shouldn't, and vise-versa. In fact, I wouldn't even think about it when riding, because if your noggin tries to over-ride your natural responses to the physics involved, you may just find yourself trying to countersteer when you shouldn't, and then crashing as a result. Just don't think about it. You don't need to think about it.

There are not too much crashes, but slow and poor cornering - as much as you like. Similar goes for braking. I know a lot of people who have ridden bicycles for over 30 years and are still afraid of using the front brake because it might "send them over the bars".

A few people are intuitive enough. Some people learn from practising. Some learn while reading (and then practising). Some never learn.

Stucky 10-16-15 11:16 AM


Originally Posted by joejack951 (Post 18246730)
That would have been a fun discussion with my two year old on his balance bike. Erm, no. Instead, I just let him figure out how to balance and turn on his own and now at three he's riding a pedal bike. Sticking a kid on a bike with 'training wheels' would be the antithesis of teaching a kid about countersteering though as you can't/don't countersteer with 'training wheels'. Hence why they aren't training wheels at all.

Well-said! Plus, how many 3 year-olds can achieve the speeds at which countersteering kicks in?!

How many of us have ridden for decades before we even heard of countersteering? To know of it is interesting...but really does nothing for ya. If kids knew of it, it would just confuse them... [kid riding at 8MPH]: "I thought i should countersteer, so I turned the handlebars toward the brick wall...and crashed into it! WAAAAHHhhh!!!!".

chaadster 10-16-15 11:45 AM

Yeah, boy, I'm really skeptical there is any reason to rename (in my lexicon) the only practical way of steering at speed as "countersteering," particularly when there is a more obvious and exceptional example of the technique which also crosses genres and right into 4 wheel motorsport.

joejack951 10-16-15 12:19 PM


Originally Posted by Stucky (Post 18246762)
Well-said! Plus, how many 3 year-olds can achieve the speeds at which countersteering kicks in?!

How many of us have ridden for decades before we even heard of countersteering? To know of it is interesting...but really does nothing for ya. If kids knew of it, it would just confuse them... [kid riding at 8MPH]: "I thought i should countersteer, so I turned the handlebars toward the brick wall...and crashed into it! WAAAAHHhhh!!!!".

Actually, turning towards the brick wall would have them falling away from it. but I'm sure you knew that ;-)

PepeM 10-16-15 12:25 PM

I agree with Stucky. What good has ever come out of thinking?

Homebrew01 10-16-15 12:58 PM


Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest (Post 18246396)
It's not.

The truth is it's like riding a bike.

You don't need to think about counter steering, it just happens.

How the heck are we going to get to 5+ pages about how to ride a bike around a turn with that simplistic attitude ?!?!?!?!

Bike Forums - "Making the Simple Seem Complicated since 2001"

Stucky 10-16-15 01:26 PM


Originally Posted by joejack951 (Post 18246974)
Actually, turning towards the brick wall would have them falling away from it. but I'm sure you knew that ;-)

See? I told ya it could be confusing!;)

Stucky 10-16-15 01:33 PM

Just to make sure- everyone reading here IS aware that countersteering only kicks in somewhere around 15MPH or more?

joejack951 10-16-15 01:37 PM


Originally Posted by Stucky (Post 18247230)
Just to make sure- everyone reading here IS aware that countersteering only kicks in somewhere around 15MPH or more?

That would be incorrect.

Stucky 10-16-15 01:49 PM


Originally Posted by joejack951 (Post 18247239)
That would be incorrect.

At what speed do you think it kicks in? [HINT: Try doing it going real slow. (Wear your helmet!)]

Bike Gremlin 10-16-15 01:52 PM


Originally Posted by Stucky (Post 18247274)
At what speed do you think it kicks in? [HINT: Try doing it going real slow. (Wear your helmet!)]

At walking speed. 4-5 km/h.

joejack951 10-16-15 01:55 PM


Originally Posted by Stucky (Post 18247274)
At what speed do you think it kicks in? [HINT: Try doing it going real slow. (Wear your helmet!)]

If I stand my bike up straight and turn the handlebars to the left it falls to the right. So my answer is at 0mph.

Stucky 10-16-15 02:10 PM


Originally Posted by joejack951 (Post 18247298)
If I stand my bike up straight and turn the handlebars to the left it falls to the right. So my answer is at 0mph.

Try it while you're actually riding the bike......

Below a certain speed, you turn the handlebars in the direction you want to go. Above that speed, it becomes about shifting your weight, and thus countering with the handlebars. On motorcicles, that speed is around 15MPH- Might be a tad lower with a bike because it is lighter- I dunno- but just like a gyroscope...it has to attain a certain velocity before it'll work.

The bike falls over the opposite way at 0 MPH when the wheel is turned, is because of the weight distribution causing it to pivot backward on the front axle (Only the axle is turned sideways, so "backward" becomes "to the side")

Bike Gremlin 10-16-15 02:26 PM


Originally Posted by Stucky (Post 18247335)
Try it while you're actually riding the bike......

Below a certain speed, you turn the handlebars in the direction you want to go. Above that speed, it becomes about shifting your weight, and thus countering with the handlebars. On motorcicles, that speed is around 15MPH- Might be a tad lower with a bike because it is lighter- I dunno- but just like a gyroscope...it has to attain a certain velocity before it'll work.

The bike falls over the opposite way at 0 MPH when the wheel is turned, is because of the weight distribution causing it to pivot backward on the front axle (Only the axle is turned sideways, so "backward" becomes "to the side")

Turning bars to the left, moves contact patch to the left, therefore the centre of balance is moved to the right - leaning the bike over.

timtak 10-16-15 02:44 PM

I did not know about counter-steering, nor whether this is in any way related but I seem to remember that in one of Chris Carmichael (Lance armstrong's trainer)'s early books he writes about how to avoid peloton crashes and pot holes by turning the handlebars hard and briefly in the oppposite direction to which one wants to go (before presumably reversing them again). I haven't even read the book. This technique was mentioned in a couple of the amazon.com reviews. I have never tried it.

Inpd 10-16-15 03:08 PM


Originally Posted by Slaninar (Post 18247286)
At walking speed. 4-5 km/h.

Yes. I'm going to practice counter steering while walking as well :-)

I just took out my track bike and did a tight circuit around my neighborhood. @Stucky is right, I was naturally/sub-constientously counter steering ... a tiny bit. But the people in the videos and the author of the TDF article I posted was also right. You can really corner extremely fast if you purposefully push your right bar forward when turning right, it also allows your to really zip and power into the turns so you leave them faster than you entered them by a lot.

Try it, its kind of frightening BUT A BIG WARNING. Track bikes have a higher bottom bracket so make sure not to try to be too aggressive on an endurance bike lest your cranks hit the ground.

redlude97 10-16-15 03:09 PM


Originally Posted by timtak (Post 18247442)
I did not know about counter-steering, nor whether this is in any way related but I seem to remember that in one of Chris Carmichael (Lance armstrong's trainer)'s early books he writes about how to avoid peloton crashes and pot holes by turning the handlebars hard and briefly in the oppposite direction to which one wants to go (before presumably reversing them again). I haven't even read the book. This technique was mentioned in a couple of the amazon.com reviews. I have never tried it.

what you are referring to is a bit different I think because in that case your goal is to continue to go straight so you are pushing your bike and your body in opposite directions to swerve around something

gregf83 10-16-15 06:01 PM


Originally Posted by Inpd (Post 18247526)
You can really corner extremely fast if you purposefully push your right bar forward when turning right, it also allows your to really zip and power into the turns so you leave them faster than you entered them by a lot.

Only if you're pedaling hard, otherwise you'll leave slower than you entered. Nothing to do with countersteering though.

djb 10-16-15 08:04 PM


Originally Posted by gregf83 (Post 18245630)
Most riders figure this stuff out when they're 5 yrs old and never think about it again.

there's a lot of these sort of questions on this bike forum. I figure part of it is the "googlized" way of the world and how some people approach stuff.
I mean, dont get me wrong, the internet is an amazing tool, but it is interesting what gets asked sometimes.

shelbyfv 10-17-15 04:16 AM

Folks can take up a new activity, do a little Googling, copy and paste and pretend they know something. There is nothing wrong with being a novice, people should embrace it when appropriate.

djb 10-17-15 09:34 AM


Originally Posted by shelbyfv (Post 18248671)
There is nothing wrong with being a novice, people should embrace it when appropriate.

thats a good way of putting it.

as for counter steering, certainly with motorcycles its a more physically active thing, ie more effort put in, but with bicycles it is such a small amount of effort and steering input that you hardly even notice you are doing it, and it is just so delicate and happens so fast.

with both though, it certainly is something you dont even notice and or are aware you are doing. Just instinct.

joejack951 10-17-15 01:49 PM


Originally Posted by Stucky (Post 18247335)
Try it while you're actually riding the bike......

Below a certain speed, you turn the handlebars in the direction you want to go. Above that speed, it becomes about shifting your weight, and thus countering with the handlebars. On motorcicles, that speed is around 15MPH- Might be a tad lower with a bike because it is lighter- I dunno- but just like a gyroscope...it has to attain a certain velocity before it'll work.

The bike falls over the opposite way at 0 MPH when the wheel is turned, is because of the weight distribution causing it to pivot backward on the front axle (Only the axle is turned sideways, so "backward" becomes "to the side")

I recall reading a thread a while back and doing some similar experimenting. That old thread was about whether or not one needed to countersteer to turn a bike. The answer to that is 'no' because, at least at slower speeds and/or for gradual turning, simply shifting ones weight is enough to get the bike to fall to the side and begin turning.

And just like a bike can be turned at any speed without countersteering, countersteering will also turn a bike at any speed. Going slowly doesn't completely change the dynamics of the system. I had honestly never tried turning the wheel in the direction I wanted to go while slowly pedaling but while out riding around with my son just now I tried. Unless I was already falling in that direction (shifted my weight to initiate a turn or countersteered slightly), turning in the direction I wanted to go caused me to begin turning the other direction.

If you don't want to believe me about any of this, ponder this: my son learned how to ride a bike without ever exceeding a fast adult walking pace using a balance bike (and a bike without pedals installed). If he needed to exceed even 7mph for countersteering to 'kick in' as you suggest, he might as well have been riding training wheels the whole time. And I hope you won't try to argue that training wheels actually teach a kid anything about how to ride a bike.

Stucky 10-17-15 02:42 PM


Originally Posted by joejack951 (Post 18249662)
And I hope you won't try to argue that training wheels actually teach a kid anything about how to ride a bike.

Not me! I think training wheels prevent kids from learning to ride!

I'll have to refresh my memory on the slow speed counter steering, by trying it (I stil;l say it doesn't work at slow speeds)

But one thing I can tell you, is that there is other way to steer a bike at high speeds. When you're making turns at 15 or 20MPH, you are counter steering, whether you realize it or not. As another poster said earlier, it's very subtle on a bicycle- so when you think you are counter steering at a low speed...you're probably not; and when you think you're not counter steering at a high speed, you definitely are. At just about any speed, you lean when turning- but try going 17MPH while taking a curve or corner to the right, and I'll bet you can not turn those handlebars to the right if you try- your instincts won't allow it- but try.....

chaadster 10-17-15 07:14 PM


Originally Posted by Stucky (Post 18249758)
Not me! I think training wheels prevent kids from learning to ride!

I'll have to refresh my memory on the slow speed counter steering, by trying it (I stil;l say it doesn't work at slow speeds)

But one thing I can tell you, is that there is other way to steer a bike at high speeds. When you're making turns at 15 or 20MPH, you are counter steering, whether you realize it or not. As another poster said earlier, it's very subtle on a bicycle- so when you think you are counter steering at a low speed...you're probably not; and when you think you're not counter steering at a high speed, you definitely are. At just about any speed, you lean when turning- but try going 17MPH while taking a curve or corner to the right, and I'll bet you can not turn those handlebars to the right if you try- your instincts won't allow it- but try.....

Wasn't one of the points of the earlier motorcycle video, which showed the pointer gauge on the tank, that even leaning with hands off the bars, there's a countersteering effect?

I dunno, but this whole convo seems extremely daft to me because there is no other way to steer in a practical sense, so why call it countersteering??? I'm sorry, but it's a stupid and pointless custom.

djb 10-17-15 09:39 PM


Originally Posted by Stucky (Post 18247230)
Just to make sure- everyone reading here IS aware that countersteering only kicks in somewhere around 15MPH or more?

That would be incorrect, mk 2


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