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What Is Countersteering?


faffi
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Yes, I know we push right to go right. But to me, countersteering means steering in the opposite direction of travel in order to initiate a turn and continue to countersteer until the desired lean is achieved.

 

Looking at my own videos, I cannot detect the countersteering, but it is clearly visible that I turn into the corners. Somebody then commented that I could still be countersteering regardless of the direction of the front wheel. This can only mean that it's tension on the handlebars that dictates whether one is countersteering or not.

 

So, what is really countersteering? Is it the direction of pressure/pulling on the handlebars regardless of where the wheel is pointing, or does it describe that the front wheel is pointed in the opposite direction of the way the road is turning?

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Yes, I know we push right to go right. But to me, countersteering means steering in the opposite direction of travel in order to initiate a turn and continue to countersteer until the desired lean is achieved.

 

Looking at my own videos, I cannot detect the countersteering, but it is clearly visible that I turn into the corners. Somebody then commented that I could still be countersteering regardless of the direction of the front wheel. This can only mean that it's tension on the handlebars that dictates whether one is countersteering or not.

 

So, what is really countersteering? Is it the direction of pressure/pulling on the handlebars regardless of where the wheel is pointing, or does it describe that the front wheel is pointed in the opposite direction of the way the road is turning?

I would say it is the direction of the pressure/pulling on the handlebars regardless of where the wheel is pointing. You have to lean to turn, and the lean force is created by the angular momentum of the front wheel. Here is a youtube video showing (at about the 5 sec point) how a wheel leans as soon as the axis it is spinning on is rotated. Try it at home with a bicycle wheel. Also if you look up "countersteering" on youtube there are a number of examples.

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Here we go again!.... :D You do realize this stuff has been hacked at over and over again on a million internet forums already, right? :D

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Countersteering

 

Putting pressure on the handlebars causes them to turn, it's just such a small amount that it is hard to notice. But it is the turning that makes it work.

 

The gyro thing is basically a myth. See the article linked above. Actual testing demonstrated that the gyro effect was only 12% of the cause at 50mph.

 

The primary reason it works is because it drives the tires out from under the bike.

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Well, I've always figured it was the way the wheel was turning. Hence the comment made that I was still countersteering despite the wheel pointing with the turn was false.

 

Next question; do you have to have to countersteer to increase the lean once in a corner?

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The gyro thing is basically a myth. See the article linked above. Actual testing demonstrated that the gyro effect was only 12% of the cause at 50mph.

 

The Wikipedia article seems not to agree with this:

While the moment from gyroscopic forces is only 12% of this, it can play a significant part because it begins to act as soon as the rider applies the torque, instead of building up more slowly as the wheel out-tracks. This can be especially helpful in motorcycle racing.

(my bold)
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Don't you already have a thread asking this question? :blink:

 

Countersteering is the act of INITIATING the turn...specifically it is the act of changing the lean angle of the bike by way of handlebar input. As your bike settles into its arc, the tire MUST turn in the direction of the corner, yes...however even at this point, if you'd like to change the lean angle, you must push in the opposite direction (push right - lean right, push left - lean left). This stuff is actually very well explained and demonstrated in the Twist II DVD. That is if you couldn't figure it out by going out on the open road and pushing on the handlebars. Even at low speeds, I can feel the act of countersteering leaning the bike, but if I continue trying to push on the bars, the bike gets VERY upset...as the tire wants to turn into the corner to make the arc, and I'm resisting it.

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The gyro thing is basically a myth. See the article linked above. Actual testing demonstrated that the gyro effect was only 12% of the cause at 50mph.

 

The Wikipedia article seems not to agree with this:

While the moment from gyroscopic forces is only 12% of this, it can play a significant part because it begins to act as soon as the rider applies the torque, instead of building up more slowly as the wheel out-tracks. This can be especially helpful in motorcycle racing.

(my bold)

 

Good point. But the often perpetuated myth is that THE reason countersteering works is because of the gyro effect. Case in point, stevo brought it up without even mentioning the out-tracking. It seems that new riders find that answer first and stop looking.

 

While the gyro effect *might* be a minor convenient benefit, it is not THE reason that countersteering works. If the gyro effect did not exist, countersteering would still work just fine.

 

Besides that, while I'm glad to see the wiki article mention actual tests and math, I don't see how the out-tracking "builds up more slowly." And I generally think their math example fails to take into account the whole picture, causing them to give the gyro effect way more credit than it deserves. For example there is no mention of the heavier spinning rear wheel which I would think would cancel out more than half of the front wheels gyroscopic precession effect.

 

I think I recall years ago reading that Keith Code did a test where they balanced a bike up on a jack, so the wheels were off the ground and it could easily lean one way or the other, then they spun the front wheel up to like 40mph with a drill, then turned the steering, and basically nothing happened, and that was without the rear wheel stability.

 

The gyro thing is just altogether a pointless distraction for someone trying to understand why and how countersteering works.

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After posting last night, it dawned upon me the probable reason why you can countersteer while still having the front wheel pointing in the "wrong" direction. I have been thinking in terms of the motorcycle, while I probably should be thinking in terms of the leading front wheel. So while leaned over going left, handlebars pointing more or less in the same direction, pointing the front wheel slightly to the right of its general direction but still pointing left relative to the bike will force the front tyre to change trajectory to the outside of the turn, again resulting in increased lean.

 

Sorry if some were annoyed by me bringing up an old topic already beaten to death, but without it I probably wouldn't have reached this (perhaps obvious) conclusion.

 

Oh, and whoever said I still used countersteering while having the wheel pointing in the "wrong" direction was correct. My apologies.

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...So while leaned over going left, handlebars pointing more or less in the same direction, pointing the front wheel slightly to the right of its general direction but still pointing left relative to the bike will force the front tyre to change trajectory to the outside of the turn, again resulting in increased lean.

 

Yep! If the bike is working properly, new tires, good geometry and all that, and you aren't doing anything to mess it up, the front will naturally steer into the turn exactly the amount it needs to in order to maintain its present lean angle. Thank you modern motorcycles with this "neutral" steering! And so when you countersteer you are pushing the bars to left or right of that neutral steering position, not necessarily to the left or right of center.

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After posting last night, it dawned upon me the probable reason why you can countersteer while still having the front wheel pointing in the "wrong" direction. I have been thinking in terms of the motorcycle, while I probably should be thinking in terms of the leading front wheel. So while leaned over going left, handlebars pointing more or less in the same direction, pointing the front wheel slightly to the right of its general direction but still pointing left relative to the bike will force the front tyre to change trajectory to the outside of the turn, again resulting in increased lean.

 

Sorry if some were annoyed by me bringing up an old topic already beaten to death, but without it I probably wouldn't have reached this (perhaps obvious) conclusion.

 

Oh, and whoever said I still used countersteering while having the wheel pointing in the "wrong" direction was correct. My apologies.

 

Not at all annoyed, just curious why you didn't use your old thread ;)

 

Glad you figured it out.

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