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Counter Steering - When to Use?

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Counter Steering - When to Use?

Old 10-19-15, 07:05 AM
  #101  
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yup, practice and practice. Its like any sports activity or whatever where stuff happens fast--first times it seems to be happening in fast forward motion, the more you do it over and over, it slows down in your head and you know what to expect when you do X or Y because you've done it a bunch of times.

Mind me asking, how old are you, are you 16 or 60?
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Old 10-19-15, 07:28 AM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
yup, practice and practice. Its like any sports activity or whatever where stuff happens fast--first times it seems to be happening in fast forward motion, the more you do it over and over, it slows down in your head and you know what to expect when you do X or Y because you've done it a bunch of times.

Mind me asking, how old are you, are you 16 or 60?
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Old 10-19-15, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
Thanks. I'm finding when I scrub just a little speed with the rear, the front feels much more controlled....
It's a lot easier to recover if the back wheel slides than the front wheel. Because of that, and pure habit from motorcycles (where the front brake is on the right), I also use the back more for scrubbing just a little speed.

For a fast stop I grab both brakes and it's the front doing most of the work as the rear gets light. Braking into a turn, pretty much just the front.
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Old 10-19-15, 08:07 AM
  #104  
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
The problem I have is that when using only the front brake for a panic stop, my front end gets squirrely...on any of my bikes. It is like not slowing the rear wheel makes the bike want to jackknife. Any little misalignment in the front wheel and the momentum keeps pushing the front wheel further to the side and threatens to cause a fall. But if I start with the rear brake, that doesn't happen. Or so it seems to me. Do you have a cure for this when using only the front?
Sounds like a modulation issue. If you go from 0 to 100% braking instantaneously you're more likely to have an issue. By braking with the rear first you're giving yourself time to get straightened away, possibly shifting your weight back etc. You could have the same effect by just using the front but not applying full braking power right away.

If it's truly a panic stop though you'll want to be 100% on the front brake with your ass behind the seat as quickly as possible. The only way to do this effectively is to practice. You'll often see pros doing this to avoid riders crashing in front of them. It takes a lot of practice to instinctively shift your weight back when braking hard.

I sort of practice on the exit ramp off a bridge sidewalk. I typically get up to about 50-55kph down the bridge and hit the brakes hard at the end to slow down to 30-40. I scrub off lots of speed in a couple of seconds. I shift my weight back as far as I can. It's not completely realistic as I know when I need to brake so I have plenty of time to get set up.
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Old 10-19-15, 08:45 AM
  #105  
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
as for your second comments about braking with the rear til it loses traction, developing sensitivity to brake modulation is an important skill and that is the great advantage of goofing around on a bicycle as a kid on dirt roads, and doing mtn biking, that losing traction isnt a big deal and you learn to deal with it while dealing with front end traction.
You've made a lot of really good points in your post. I just want to point out that my preference is always to keep traction with my rear wheel. To that effect, I'm not going to bother braking the rear wheel because I know how ineffective it becomes as the weight on it gets lighter and lighter as braking force increases. I did a ton of screwing around on bikes as a kid, playing with locking up the rear wheel and skidding around. I'm comfortable controlling a rear slide and still get some decent practice with that MTB'ing and occasionally riding on snow and ice. But, if I can avoid it and leave my focus on modulating my front brake, I'm going to do so.
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Old 10-19-15, 08:48 AM
  #106  
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
The problem I have is that when using only the front brake for a panic stop, my front end gets squirrely...on any of my bikes. It is like not slowing the rear wheel makes the bike want to jackknife. Any little misalignment in the front wheel and the momentum keeps pushing the front wheel further to the side and threatens to cause a fall. But if I start with the rear brake, that doesn't happen. Or so it seems to me. Do you have a cure for this when using only the front?
My guess is that you are tensing up which is causing the instability. Practice and you'll get more comfortable with it allowing your arms and hands to stay looser. I have a friend with whom I'm working on descending where he gets really unstable at higher speeds because he can't stay loose (yet). Certainly getting comfortable with lots of speed as a kid has helped me here as I don't feel like I'm going all that fast until I'm at 40+mph. And a nearby hill where 40+ is easily attained with a stop sign at the bottom is great practice for panic braking and keeping my weight back.
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Old 10-19-15, 08:57 AM
  #107  
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
67
thanks, I asked just from the angle of when younger we dont tend to think twice about falling off a bike, or at least I didnt anyway. I can completely understand being apprehensive about busting something with a fall, and frankly not wanting to go there completely.

again, I would just suggest doing some practice stuff, with gradually and incrementally increasing your braking power. Thats the great thing with gradual increase of stuff, the changes will happen slowly and there will be no surprises. I still remember clearly being on a racetrack for the first times and the advantage there being that you take the same corners over and over, so by gradually increasing speed through a corner, you can slowly get up to the point where a tire begins to slide, and by being relaxed about it you start to get a feel for when you reach teh edge of traction and not overreact (and cause more f_ups)
On bicycles, Ive found stuff to happen a lot faster, just less rubber patch on the ground I guess, but at least for goofing around with purposely locking the rear and starting to get comfortable with that, its less scary than any front end shinanigans.
In a straight line brake test for example with the rear skidding, you probably have to steer into the slide a bit, or slightly back off when it locks to get the rear in line again--at least the chance of falling is practically nil--it locks, back off rear brake lever, voila.
The hard braking test stuff again is all about gradually increasing the braking power, and with time we start to develop a better feel for modulation and feel of the brake lever--specific to your bike, its brakes, tires, surface and all those variables.

I'll end this with a variation on the old theatre saying, (don't) break a leg ;-)
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Old 10-19-15, 08:59 AM
  #108  
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Originally Posted by joejack951 View Post
My guess is that you are tensing up which is causing the instability. Practice and you'll get more comfortable with it allowing your arms and hands to stay looser. I have a friend with whom I'm working on descending where he gets really unstable at higher speeds because he can't stay loose (yet). Certainly getting comfortable with lots of speed as a kid has helped me here as I don't feel like I'm going all that fast until I'm at 40+mph. And a nearby hill where 40+ is easily attained with a stop sign at the bottom is great practice for panic braking and keeping my weight back.
Tension is a reasonable explanation, but I think I am pushing or pulling the bars out of line as I squeeze the brakes. Maybe that is a way of saying the same thing. Once the front wheel is turned just a little, then the momentum tries to push it further and further to the side. Kind of like wind on a deep aero rim. That creates the jackknife effect. I have to learn to keep the bars straight when I squeeze the brakes is my guess. Slowing the rear wheel makes that easier.
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Old 10-19-15, 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
Tension is a reasonable explanation, but I think I am pushing or pulling the bars out of line as I squeeze the brakes. Maybe that is a way of saying the same thing. Once the front wheel is turned just a little, then the momentum tries to push it further and further to the side. Kind of like wind on a deep aero rim. That creates the jackknife effect. I have to learn to keep the bars straight when I squeeze the brakes is my guess. Slowing the rear wheel makes that easier.
Could it be (a lack of) arm strength? Under hard braking, it can take a good bit of arm strength to hold your body weight back. Rear wheel braking never generates braking forces like that.
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Old 04-27-17, 12:25 AM
  #110  
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Not wanting to start a new topic - lots of good discussion and points here already. I made a (blog) post explaining the physics and dynamic behind counter-steerng. Also explained exactly how to do it (as best as I could). Might be useful for new riders, as well as for experienced ones who are still not consciously using it. I've learned about it only after having started riding motorcycles, and using it consciously and with practice after that, has improved my bicycle handling skills as well.

As a kid, I understood the effect as if bicycle needs a bit of a "running start" in order to turn more quickly, just like I needed to crunch down a bit in order to jump further.

Here's the link:

Countersteering - bicycle steering - Cycle Gremlin

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Old 04-27-17, 12:38 AM
  #111  
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this thread reminds me of the fictitious golf self-help book titled, "The 30 most important things to do at the point of impact".

Last edited by hueyhoolihan; 04-27-17 at 09:10 AM.
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Old 04-27-17, 12:50 AM
  #112  
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Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
this thread reminds me of the fictitious the golf self-help book titled, "The 30 most important things to do at the point of impact".
Only for adults.

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Old 04-27-17, 05:03 AM
  #113  
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Nice post. I want to add one thing. I always find it is more effective pulling than pushing. I mean, pull left to go right, pull right to go left. This is my experience, I also read it from somewhere.

Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
Not wanting to start a new topic - lots of good discussion and points here already. I made a (blog) post explaining the physics and dynamic behind counter-steerng. Also explained exactly how to do it (as best as I could). Might be useful for new riders, as well as for experienced ones who are still not consciously using it. I've learned about it only after having started riding motorcycles, and using it consciously and with practice after that, has improved my bicycle handling skills as well.

As a kid, I understood the effect as if bicycle needs a bit of a "running start" in order to turn more quickly, just like I needed to crunch down a bit in order to jump further.

Here's the link:

Countersteering - bicycle steering - Cycle Gremlin
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Old 04-27-17, 06:13 AM
  #114  
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Originally Posted by ozgur.nevres View Post
Nice post. I want to add one thing. I always find it is more effective pulling than pushing. I mean, pull left to go right, pull right to go left. This is my experience, I also read it from somewhere.


Logic is the same. My first contact with the theory as it is came from motorcycling. There, at high speeds, it is much easier to push - weigh one foot against a footpeg and use that as a leverage to push the handlebars. Takes some effort at higher speeds. Pulling on the opposite side simultaneously, of course, but my sense is that most work is done with pushing in that situation.

For bicycles, the front wheel is a lot ligher, so recommending pulling would have been just as appropriate as an explanation.
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Old 04-27-17, 07:56 AM
  #115  
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Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post



For bicycles, the front wheel is a lot ligher, so recommending pulling would have been just as appropriate as an explanation.
as you say, the forces involved with bicycles are so slight that in general, its not something that you notice you are doing.
On a recent loaded tour however, with lots and lots of downhills and downhill curves, I very much noticed the action involved as the bike had front panniers and handlebar bag (and rear panniers etc too) so one has to make a much more concerrted effort with counter steering--but I also come from a motorcycle background so the feeling on a loaded bike is similar to a motorcycle in terms of force input.

in any case, its all done instinctually so unless its for people who are new to two wheels, its like talking about a person having to breathe or something, we just do it.
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Old 04-27-17, 08:10 AM
  #116  
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Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
I like the explanations of balance and forces . My only quibble, or suggestion really, is that it is technically true - not a misconception - that the bike steers only by turning the wheel. It's just that you can't turn the wheel without balancing the forces, as you explain, else you'll just fall.
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Old 04-27-17, 09:34 AM
  #117  
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
as you say, the forces involved with bicycles are so slight that in general, its not something that you notice you are doing.
On a recent loaded tour however, with lots and lots of downhills and downhill curves, I very much noticed the action involved as the bike had front panniers and handlebar bag (and rear panniers etc too) so one has to make a much more concerrted effort with counter steering--but I also come from a motorcycle background so the feeling on a loaded bike is similar to a motorcycle in terms of force input.

in any case, its all done instinctually so unless its for people who are new to two wheels, its like talking about a person having to breathe or something, we just do it.
Agree to a point. For me at least, knowing exactly how it works has helped. More so on a motorcycle, but on a bicycle as well. Imagine riding the loaded touring bike, and facing an unexpected obstacle, having to avoid it quickly, and not having the previous motorcycle experience with countersteering.

Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
I like the explanations of balance and forces . My only quibble, or suggestion really, is that it is technically true - not a misconception - that the bike steers only by turning the wheel. It's just that you can't turn the wheel without balancing the forces, as you explain, else you'll just fall.
Thanks for the constructive criticism. I've edited the post.
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Old 04-27-17, 10:05 AM
  #118  
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Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
Agree to a point. For me at least, knowing exactly how it works has helped. More so on a motorcycle, but on a bicycle as well. Imagine riding the loaded touring bike, and facing an unexpected obstacle, having to avoid it quickly, and not having the previous motorcycle experience with countersteering.



Thanks for the constructive criticism. I've edited the post.
Awesome. Are you going to tackle the indirect counter-steering of no-hands riding now?
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Old 04-27-17, 10:13 AM
  #119  
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
Awesome. Are you going to tackle the indirect counter-steering of no-hands riding now?

Don't think it needs a separate explanation. Whether you use hands, stick, or weight to make the bars turn - the principle is the same IMO.

But I am writing a post on fast downhill road riding - entrance and exit paths, judging curve radius, apex, body positioning, braking etc. Explaining CS was an important introduction and reference, since leaning fast is important.
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Old 04-27-17, 10:20 AM
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Counter steering gets plenty of attention as if it's a thing.

The simple fact of the matter is that we all do it to an extent whether we know it or not. It's IMPOSSIBLE to turn a two wheeled vehicle before leaning into the anticipated turn. If you attempt to do so, the bike's track will move into the turn putting your body outside of the track and dumping you unless you recover by turning the other direction.

Actively countersteering, corrects for that by putting the wheel track outside of the intended turn. As I said we all do that because we learned to do instinctively early in the process of learning to "balance" in the first place.

That said, consciously countersteering more than you might otherwise, enables a faster harder turn in an emergency situation. that too is learned and done instinctively as one encounters situations and adapt.
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Old 04-27-17, 10:25 AM
  #121  
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Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post

Don't think it needs a separate explanation. Whether you use hands, stick, or weight to make the bars turn - the principle is the same IMO.

But I am writing a post on fast downhill road riding - entrance and exit paths, judging curve radius, apex, body positioning, braking etc. Explaining CS was an important introduction and reference, since leaning fast is important.
Well, counter-steering by pushing the bars uses the steering to shift balance, while counter-steering no-hands uses balance to shift the steering, so it's kind of interesting that the seemingly opposite actions have the same effect.
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Old 04-27-17, 11:49 AM
  #122  
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
Well, counter-steering by pushing the bars uses the steering to shift balance, while counter-steering no-hands uses balance to shift the steering, so it's kind of interesting that the seemingly opposite actions have the same effect.
No hands uses a relatively great shift in balance to make the steerer turn counter, then lean the bike into the corner.
Using hands skips the part of weight shifting - only hands are used to turn the steerer, leaning the bike.

So, IMO, principle is the same, just the tool for turning the steerer differs.
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Old 04-27-17, 12:01 PM
  #123  
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Wait 'til we get to "target fixation" and hitting the apex of a turn. Oh, boy.
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Old 04-27-17, 07:37 PM
  #124  
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Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
Agree to a point. For me at least, knowing exactly how it works has helped. More so on a motorcycle, but on a bicycle as well. Imagine riding the loaded touring bike, and facing an unexpected obstacle, having to avoid it quickly, and not having the previous motorcycle experience with countersteering.
I dunno, Im an instinctual sort of guy, and have been riding on two wheels since I was 4 or something, so I don't really think about it, on bike or motorcycle. I think just goofing around on a bicycle since one is a kid is the main thing, talking or writing about countersteering is I guess good, but again, its like talking about breathing.
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Old 04-27-17, 10:47 PM
  #125  
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
I dunno, Im an instinctual sort of guy, and have been riding on two wheels since I was 4 or something, so I don't really think about it, on bike or motorcycle. I think just goofing around on a bicycle since one is a kid is the main thing, talking or writing about countersteering is I guess good, but again, its like talking about breathing.
Also riding since I can remember - about 4 as well. Used CS, but, as a kid, explained it to myself as if bicycle needs a bit of a “running start” in order to turn more quickly, just like I needed to crunch down a bit in order to jump further. However, learning about it did help me use it just a little bit better. Though we're not all the same, of course.
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