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If you don't know emergency countersteering...

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' at netrider.net.au started by Pinx, Aug 17, 2007.

  1. If you don't know emergency countersteering... find out!

    This is particularly addressed to L-platers. In Vic not all Ls courses teach it - you have to wait 'til doing your licence test. Yesterday I was reminded of how critical it is to have this skill, paricularly commuting. If you don't know it, you can't dodge quickly.

    I was in my car (I've been a cager recently) and, although I'm used to people making dangerous manouvers, yesterday's would have had me doing a Superman or splat for sure (if I was riding and hadn't countersteered). I was going at 60km/hr in the left lane, had just crossed the intersection when the woman in the slip lane pulled out right in front of me trying to cross to the right lane (2 lane road). I swerved fully into the right lane, then immediately back to avoid smashing into the right turning cars ahead in that lane. The woman must have woken up and slammed on her brakes, coz she should have hit my rear.

    If I was on a bike, she might not have seen me even with the swerve, which could have been bad too, but in the situation I had about 2m to brake. Not a great situation for a motorcyclist regardless of skill, but MUCH better knowing how to countersteer.

    So, if you don't know how to countersteer or aren't confident you could do it aggressively in an emergency situation, please get someone to take you to a car park and show you. Mentors are great at this stuff
    Mentors/Tutors to help newer riders
    or, pipe up in this thread and maybe someone experienced in your area could help.
  2. Target fixation would apply a LOT in emergency cases I think. Look at WHERE YOU WANT TO GO. Doesn't matter how good/much you can countersteer if you are looking at the "emergency" instead of escape route.
  3. Countersteering = a forward input into the bar in the direction you want to go.

    Emergency Countersteering = a really strong and sudden forward input into the bar in the direction you want to go.

    Learner and P courses tend to focus on the emergency bit and noobs come out fearing countersteering as a result.

    A bike can't steer any other way >20km/h. There's nothing to fear.

    A ripper way to get the feel of countersteering is to play slaloms with the cats eyes or broken white lines. Mucho funo! :grin:

    p.s. Nice driving Caroline!
  4. That's very true Undii, but it's worth noting, that looking where you want to go is'nt going to save you without knowing how to countersteer in the first place.
    ie. driving down a straight piece of road in heavy traffic...suddenly a pot hole appears from under the car ahead, and you have no time at all to do anything but hit the bars to emergency countersteer around it, without leaving your lane.
  5. Haha, lucky Victorianites..

    Its not mentioned at all in pre-L or the MOST test (pre-P).

    When I asked about it in references to the obstacle avoidance test, they said 'its too complicated it will just confuse people we won't go into it here'.

    Seemed pretty stupid considering that part of the P test is designed for emergency avoidance skills.
  6. UK magazine "Bike" has a section called "ask the experts". Recently, a question was asked: "how much do I need to think about counter-steering?". the experts came up with these two answers:

    Expert 1:
    "All the time. [...] Don't rely on the explanation of 'look where you want to go' or 'just lean the bike' because while these rules are fine for a relaxed rider at moderate speeds on open roads, it doesn't quite cut the mustard [in an emergency]. Unless you think about countersteering, understand it totally and rely on it in all weather conditions you might instinctively do the wrong think when faced with hazardous situation"

    Expert 2:
    "Most people counter-steer automatically. You don't need to worry about it. Concentrate on your preparation for the corner and shifting your body weight - get your body position right and counter-steering will happen automatically."

    Hmm... so, who do you want to believe?
    Expert 1 was Sean Hayes, who runs a track school. Expert 2 was Ron Haslam, who also runs a track school these days, but is also known for winning a couple of Grand Prix races in his time... so take your pick.
  7. I agree with Expert 2. I dont know anyone who rides a bike and does not know how to counter steer. If you're leaning, you're countersteering - its automatic.
    Being able to react in an emergency situation using counter steering is a different matter altogether.
  8. +1
  9. Sounds odd, but the experts are agreeing with each other at a deep subtle level. It looks like they aren't on the surface though because they seem to be answering different perceived questions.

    They are both right.

    The bit that I don't think was well said was expert 2 saying that countersteering will happen automatically. Yes it will after you've set up for the corner, shifted weight, looked though etc, but in an emergency you actually consciously need to put a big input into the bars. The thing is, you don't want to be thinking about which way to push the bars when the emergency arises.

    It's as simple as:

    Push right, go right.

    Push right HARD, go right HARD.

    And vickyversa.

    For efficient inputs get your forearms as parallel to the ground as you can. And when you put the input in, for gawdsakes don't counter it with a death grip from the other arm at the other end of the bars!

  10. Exactly. Thank you, Rob. The two answers, could confuse some newer riders.
  11. As a newbie I have only really learnt to fully relax through corners in the last few days. And I must say that there is a deffinate difference between what your body automatically/instinctevly does and what cornering should feel like.

    During my last few rides I have actually been able to purposely try counter steering through corners and practise weaving in my lane on empty roads at night or with heaps (<40 cars spaces) of room between me and other cars/hazards.

    Up to this point the bike felt a bit heavy when going through corners faster than about 20KM, I felt like I was having to pull the bike down to lean it through the corner with me.

    However I recently hae started thinking about counter steering and actually pushing the respective bar on purpose. The first time I did this I almost freaked out :shock: as the bike felt completly different, the bike had suddenyl become really light ot put through a corner :p . At first I thought it was going to slide from under me, I know that probably sounds odd but that is how much lighter it felt from the way I was riding.

    Just to make sure this wasn't some sort of accident I tried it on the next corner and sure enough with hardly any effort she just leant and pulled and I felt more in control than ever. I found I was able to straighten up much quicker on the exist meaning I could get on the gas alot earlier and get away from trouble.

    I have since taken the opportunity whenever I can to practise this on straight roads both for my practise to get use to the bike and how it is suppose to feel and also as a good deterant from cagers. I have actually found that it seems to make me more noticeable weaving in my lane and besides who wants to be near an apparent drunk rider :p :LOL:

    I now just have to practise some more till this cornering technique becomes second nature as I still do tend to pull the bike with me occassionly.

    Anyway just thought people might like to see the opinion of a newbie that has just tested the difference.

  12. Absolutely. That rule can be applied to many riding situations. However, if you don't also have the skill to make the manouver, the looking-where-you-want-to go won't make it happen. You have to know it at some level. Take a cager, tell them to get their motorcycle Ls (without countersteering training), put them on a bike, then tell them to dodge to the right around a pothole. What's the bet they'll turn the handlebars right (pull right, rather than push right).

    Thank you for the definitions Rob & 250goespop. Some people, maybe even most, will find countersteering natural going through big sweeping bends. However, when you don't have time to ease into the direction you want to go, how many would just know to push right to go right? Maybe some do, but I sure didn't until I was taught. And talking to several learners, they don't know. So it's certainly worth at least checking that you can do it, and not just for corners!

    Well done, Nathan! Understanding how it works can certainly stop you fighting it, making cornering so much easier. I'm glad you're also trying the swerving on the road (I've used that to back cagers off too :wink: ). Next step is to pick a harmless spot on the road and see if you can dodge around it. Keep picking spots and see how close you can get, and still manage to countersteer around them. Imagine one coming from underneath the car infront of you (very little warning) and see if you can dodge that. If you practise that, then when it's not just a harmless spot, but a real pothole or even a vehicle, you'll have the skill to give you the best shot at avoiding it.

    To prevent natural, yet dangerous, human reactions from causing panic and preventing you using the skills you have to get out of the situation:
    1) keep practising being light on the bars (bars are for steering, not holding your body up). That will be more ingrained in you to hopefully not panic and get the death grip (grabbing hard onto both bars so you can't steer at all).
    2) And as Undii said, look where you want to go, not at what you're trying to avoid. We tend to go where our eyes and chin are pointed. So use it, in conjunction with pushing on the bar, to get you through.
    Target fixation and death grip will interfere with any skill, so practise practise practise your skills so hopefully THAT will be the overriding action when you're in a real emergency. At least you'll know you can do it.
  13. #13 rendezvous, Aug 20, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 13, 2015
  14. Good to see you practicing your counter-steering Nathan...as you are descovering...it's integral to riding a bike, and you should make it your mission to know it so well that it is "second nature", and instinctive.
  15. Nathan, what you were doing before was working against the bike. What you're doing NOW is working WITH the bike.

    The more you get out of the way of the bike, the more it will look after you.

    Cheers :)
  16. #16 Phanoongy, Aug 20, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 13, 2015
    That’s a tad harsh there...I doubt he even had a second to react to the bike in his path there
  17. Yep, but I bet he's glad he had a full face helmet on :eek:

    Also, my course instructor made us do the countersteering around an object for at least half an hour. Look Right Push Right, vice versa
  18. Actually I thought he has quite a bit of time, for a MotoGP racer anyway. However, instead of any attempt to steer away, he grabs the brakes and slid into the bike in front of him.

    Quite surprising really. :eek:
  19. Hard to say, it was a long straight so he must have maxed the throttle After coming out of the smoke and dust and seeing what was in front of him he only had prob less than a second to react. He reacted by grabbing the brakes. Maybe it is too hard to counter steer at high speed.
  20. These guys are racers....racing. They have little exposure to having to countersteer to dodge things on the road ahead like a regular commuter.
    They have the skill of course...just not a mindset that is expecting to have to make such a manouvre at high speed.

    At the speeds they are going they still travel alot of distance in an aggresive countersteering move..., and I doubt that he would have been able to avoid the bike ahead by the time he spotted it.
    Actually, at those high speeds, one could barely perform a quick countersteer...more like an agreesive lean to veer away from the danger with little time to get back leaning the other way before you'd run out of tarmac, methinks.
    At least he was able to reduce his overall speed a fair bit before he hit...ouch!