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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 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

djb 10-17-15 09:45 PM


Originally Posted by chaadster (Post 18250180)
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.

When I go back to remembering a motorcycle safety course I took about 35 years ago, seems to me the whole counter steer term was coined because people who have only driven a car and are novice riders, will transfer the car steering wheel instincts--want to turn right, turn wheel right.
So on two wheels, it's counter intuitive to initiate a turn with the opposite, especially to someone who has never ridden a bike.

djb 10-17-15 09:59 PM


Originally Posted by Slaninar (Post 18246108)
Even when leaning on the bike, without hands on the bars, the bike will counter steer on its own.

Works exactly the same on a bicycle. Around 2:40 is where it shows counter steer happening without hands - just leaning:


I bought "A twist of the wrist" book in about 82 or 83, couldn't wait until I could get on the track. Good book, I recall the section on how to crash the best way, and subsequently practised the techniques a number of times.

The video of the needle on the tank showing counter steering is great.
Even on a light motorcycle like what I raced, on tight right left right S's you really had to work hard counter steering to flip flop as fast as you could and change direction.

I would add that as more of a tourer, I've noticed the effort involved with bicycle counter steering on a bike with front bags, of even a handle bar bag, going down a twisty downhill at speed. On an unloaded bike, the effort is so little to initiate a turn in.

wphamilton 10-18-15 12:16 AM


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.

It's true:


Originally Posted by wphamilton (Post 18246144)
Flicking the bike around a pothole you didn't see.

But you have to compensate quickly after you do it.

timtak 10-18-15 12:24 AM


Originally Posted by wphamilton (Post 18250527)
But you have to compensate quickly after you do it.

I'd love to see a video of that.

And I never knew that steering is counter steering! Wow!

Bike Gremlin 10-18-15 01:35 AM


Originally Posted by djb (Post 18250381)
When I go back to remembering a motorcycle safety course I took about 35 years ago, seems to me the whole counter steer term was coined because people who have only driven a car and are novice riders, will transfer the car steering wheel instincts--want to turn right, turn wheel right.
So on two wheels, it's counter intuitive to initiate a turn with the opposite, especially to someone who has never ridden a bike.

As a child, small one - before school, I've used counter steering for sharp turn, but didn't understand the physics or mechanics of it. All i knew was when i move bars a bit to the right, bike will turn left more sharply afterwards. In my head I explained that to myself that it is like taking a run-up for the bicycle. Just like I need a run up for long jump, or fast run, bike needs a run-up for sharp fast turns. I laugh at myself now for thinking that. :)

The point is: counter steering works and it is intuitive - no one taught me that. However, for many people, when consciously knowing mechanics and practising, one gets even better at most things - counter steer as well. It is a good thing to know and practice. Just like hard braking using front brake mostly. Understanding traction, weight transfer etc. can only help a rider, not harm the riding skills. At least I think so.

rpenmanparker 10-18-15 04:27 AM


Originally Posted by Slaninar (Post 18250550)
As a child, small one - before school, I've used counter steering for sharp turn, but didn't understand the physics or mechanics of it. All i knew was when i move bars a bit to the right, bike will turn left more sharply afterwards. In my head I explained that to myself that it is like taking a run-up for the bicycle. Just like I need a run up for long jump, or fast run, bike needs a run-up for sharp fast turns. I laugh at myself now for thinking that. :)

The point is: counter steering works and it is intuitive - no one taught me that. However, for many people, when consciously knowing mechanics and practising, one gets even better at most things - counter steer as well. It is a good thing to know and practice. Just like hard braking using front brake mostly. Understanding traction, weight transfer etc. can only help a rider, not harm the riding skills. At least I think so.

Not to hijack the thread, but you don't use the front brake mostly, even in hard braking. You bring in the front after having gotten everything you can out of the rear. Front has more stopping power, sure, but it destabilizes the bike when used without the rear.

redfooj 10-18-15 04:28 AM

reading this whole thing is like reading about how to breathe

Bike Gremlin 10-18-15 04:38 AM


Originally Posted by redfooj (Post 18250595)
reading this whole thing is like reading about how to breathe

Yes, and when running, one is coached how to run and how to breathe as well - to make the most of it. Just like pro cyclists train how to pedal and ride better. Just depends on how good you want to be.

Bike Gremlin 10-18-15 04:41 AM


Originally Posted by rpenmanparker (Post 18250593)
Not to hijack the thread, but you don't use the front brake mostly, even in hard braking. You bring in the front after having gotten everything you can out of the rear. Front has more stopping power, sure, but it destabilizes the bike when used without the rear.

Perfect braking would be: using the rear just a tenth of second before applying the front brake. Then add front brake along with releasing the force of rear brake - as the weight transfers. Finish of a hard brake would be feathering (if not full release) the rear brake, with 99% of braking power put to the front brake. So what you say is right, but at hard braking, it ends in less than half a second - after which the rear brake is given 10 times less pressure, because the rear wheel has about 10 times less grip. That goes for pavement. Off road and snow are a bit different, depending on the surface, tyre tread pattern etc.

Looigi 10-18-15 07:40 AM

Fundamentally, you can't ride a two-wheeled vehicle without counter steering, whether you're aware of it or not. That's what learning to ride a bike is all about, learning to counter steer. You keep trying until you get it, even though you're not aware specifically of what it is you're doing that suddenly makes it work.

You can prove this to yourself. With appropriate safety caveats and and as long as you're comfortable riding hands off: Get going ~12-15 mph and take your hands off the bars. Now, touching only the very backs of the bars, try turning right and left. You'll find that to turn one way, you need to push the back of the bars on that side, i.e. countersteer.

redfooj 10-18-15 09:55 AM


Originally Posted by Slaninar (Post 18250601)
Yes, and when running, one is coached how to run and how to breathe as well - to make the most of it. Just like pro cyclists train how to pedal and ride better. Just depends on how good you want to be.

so...when do i use breathing?

Bike Gremlin 10-18-15 10:04 AM


Originally Posted by redfooj (Post 18251021)
so...when do i use breathing?

It's both when and how. Just like any other skill - if not naturally talented, a bit of learning helps one improve.

I've seen people who've ridden bicycles for decades, but cant start a bike unless seated on the saddle. I've done that all my life, but some need to be taught how to do it - in order to safely mount/dismount modern high BB frames with saddle put at optimal height for their leg length.

Same goes for counter steering - most people can steer, but many are not precise enough and have problems avoiding sudden obstacles quickly and safely.

Stucky 10-18-15 10:05 AM


Originally Posted by redfooj (Post 18250595)
reading this whole thing is like reading about how to breathe

Sometimes I forget to breathe.

Homebrew01 10-18-15 10:32 AM


Originally Posted by redfooj (Post 18250595)
reading this whole thing is like reading about how to breathe

You need to learn counter-breathing.

djb 10-18-15 10:52 AM


Originally Posted by rpenmanparker (Post 18250593)
Not to hijack the thread, but you don't use the front brake mostly, even in hard braking. You bring in the front after having gotten everything you can out of the rear. Front has more stopping power, sure, but it destabilizes the bike when used without the rear.

a whole lot of wrong here.
Im surprised that you are one of those people afraid of the front brake, given how much you post here, and this belief held by many inexperienced two wheeled riders is a bad one to put out there.

The shortest stopping distance will always involve the hardest, fastest front brake application possible for the given traction available combined with the same for the rear.

I respectfully suggest you become more comfortable with front braking, as your life could very well depend on proper braking technique where a few feet can make all the difference.


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