Motorcycle Riding Techniques
© 2002 - 2010, Raymond Wood

How to steer a motorcycle

For most motorcyclists, it is the art of cornering that gives them the most pleasure and satisfaction. So it is surprising to realise that not all bikers know how to steer a motorcycle!

When asked: "How do you turn a bike round a bend?" answers can include "I shift my weight to one side of the bike", "I push my arse out", "I lean the bike over", "I turn the handle bars in the direction of the bend".

In fact we all use the same technique whether we realise it or not.

At speeds of greater than say 20 mph / 33 kph it is impossible to turn a bike round a bend without using counter-steering. This means turning the handle bars in the opposite direction of the turn in the bend . For example: in a right hand bend, we turn the bars to the left and in a left hand bend we turn the bars to the right. Most of us started our two wheel careers on bicycles and at low speeds we do indeed turn the handle bars in the direction of the the turn. But at higher speeds this is reversed and we use counter-steering.

At much higher speeds there is an argument for shifting your weight right out and putting your knee to the floor but we are talking of riding on public roads in this article, not on race tracks where weight shifting is more appropriate.

Knowing that it is counter-steering that causes the bike to turn, greatly increases your ability to control the behaviour of the bike in bends.

If you are not familiar with counter-steering then start by being conscious of what is happening to your handle bars while in a turn. Get a better feel by making slight counter-steering adjustments so that you can judge the effect it has on your bike. Start to consciously use counter-steering at the turning point of future bends and your biking career will never look back!

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