Operating a motorcycle is more than just a type of transportation. Motorcyclists also signify a great deal of freedom and adventure to many riders. The adrenaline rush of motorcycles often creates an indescribable but powerful connection between riders and machines. Along with the intense feeling of freedom, motorcyclists also feel a great degree of responsibility. Mastering various motorcycle techniques is one of the best ways for riders to make sure that they remain safe. One of the most counterintuitive but vital skills for all motorcyclists is counter-steering, which ensures that riders control their bikes, especially during turns. Like any driving strategy, becoming a master of counter-turning takes both time and practice. The rewards of learning this technique, however, surpass just safety and can also end up improving the riding experience altogether.
Appreciating the Art of Counter-Steering
Many new motorcyclists find that the mechanics involved in counter-steering initially sound counterintuitive. With most vehicles, a person steers in the direction they would like the vehicle to go. On motorcycles, particularly those traveling at high rates of speed, these dynamics change.
When motorcyclists approach curves and want to turn, they do not turn the handlebars in the corresponding direction like they would if driving a motor vehicle. Instead, motorcyclists must slightly push the corresponding bike handlebar, which causes the vehicle’s front wheel to momentarily turn in the opposite direction. This shift subsequently causes the bike to lean to the right. Leaning like this is what lets motorcycles navigate turns as well as maintain both control and stability.
At the core of counter-steering is the nuanced relationship between physics, human input, and machine responses. This relationship emphasizes the deep relationship between riders and motorcycles, emphasizing that riding is more than throttles and brakes. Successfully navigating a motorcycle also involves appreciating the nuanced relationship between physics and the harmony of a rider’s emotions.
The Science of Counter-Steering
The principle of gyroscopic precession is the theory behind counter-steering. When wheels spin, they possess angular momentum, which is an external force applied to change its rotation axis, which results in the wheel reacting in a way that might not be anticipated by the uninitiated.
When motorcyclists apply pressure on the handlebars, causing the front wheel to turn slightly in the opposite direction, gyroscope forces push the wheel to lean in the direction of the pressure. This ultimately makes the bike turn in the manner in which pressure is applied to the handlebars. This complex relationship between applied force and a wheel’s response makes sure that motorcycles navigate turns both smoothly and stably.
Additionally, a tire’s contact patch, or the small section of the tire touching the ground, plays an important role. When a wheel turns opposite a driver’s intended direction, a bike’s alignment is disrupted, which causes the contact patch to ultimately shift and makes the bike lean.
This phenomenon emphasizes the value of appreciating the underlying physics involved in riding a motorcycle. Successful operation of a motorcycle is more than intuition and feel. However, complex scientific details are also involved with each turn a rider takes.
The Impact that Experience Has on Motorcycle Safety
Novice motorcyclists often face higher accident risks. This is mostly due to novice riders’ limited understanding of critical driving techniques. In 2021, approximately 36% of motorcycle riders involved in deadly accidents in the United States did not hold valid licenses. Novice riders tend to demonstrate riskier driving techniques, emphasizing the value of gaining appropriate training and experience.
Mastering the Technique of Counter-Steering
For motorcyclists who are interested in perfecting their counter-steering technique, remember the following helpful pieces of advice when learning this new strategy:
- Hand placement. First, motorcyclists should make sure to grab the handlebars firmly while also keeping their wrists flat yet supple to maintain maximum control.
- Initiating counter-steering. As motorcyclists approach curves, they should focus on heading in their intended direction. This means gently pushing the bike’s handlebars in the direction opposite how you’d like to turn.
- Maintaining balance. While your bike leans, remain relaxed and aligned with your bike. You should also lean towards your turn’s endpoint and avoid making any abrupt movements.
Advice on Successfully Counter-Steering
Some of the most helpful pieces of advice that motorcyclists should follow involving counter-steering include:
- Remain constantly aware. Remain as observant and alert as you can to your surroundings. Appreciating your surrounding environment helps you anticipate required movements as well as limitations, which ultimately makes practicing safe counter-steering easier and more effective.
- Routinely check your equipment. Make sure that your motorcycle remains in the best condition possible. The rate of response of your tires, brakes, and handlebars directly influences your ability to successfully counter-steer.
- Communicate feedback. Consider operating a motorcycle with a more experienced rider or even obtaining a coach. The observations and feedback of more experienced riders can end up influencing areas of improvement and improving your counter-steering.
- Body posture. Maintain a relaxed and centered position. Having too stiff a position can end up restricting your ability to lean into turns. Remember, your bike and body should move together harmoniously.
- Before executing a move on your bike, do your best to visualize the maneuver. This type of mental activity prepares your body for movement, which ultimately makes the actual performance of motorcycle moves easier.
- Practice riding in various conditions. After becoming confident about your skills in safely operating a motorcycle, practice counter-steering under various road conditions as well as during different times of day and night. Practicing in various driving environments ensures you gain safe driving techniques despite external factors.
- Remain up to date. A rider’s safe driving techniques can change over time. By participating in motorcycle clubs or online forms, you can make sure that you remain up to date about the latest developments and recommendations for how to best counter-steer.
Do Not Hesitate to Speak with an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Even if a rider utilizes the best driving techniques available like counter-steering, motorcyclists can still sometimes end up in accidents as a result of various factors including other reckless motorists on the road. If you or a loved one are involved in a motorcycle accident, you should not hesitate to obtain the invaluable assistance of an experienced motorcycle accident attorney.
At the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe LLP, we specialize in helping people who have been harmed by motorcycle accidents. With substantial legal experience, our attorneys appreciate the various complexities and prejudices often faced by riders following accidents. If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident, we will fight tirelessly so that your rights remain safeguarded and that your case is resolved in the best manner possible. Schedule your free consultation today.
For a free legal consultation, call 516-358-6900