By Mike Howell

And no, it's not as "straightforward" as it sounds.........

Leaning into the corner.

This is how most people go round corners before they learn about counter steering. It basically involves leaning a little in the direction you want to go, and as if by magic the bike seems to turn that way. But leaning alone won't turn the bike; watch racers as they approach bends. They shift their weight to one side long before the bend in preparation for hanging off, but the bike still travels in a straight line so shifting your body weight doesn't have any effect.

What actually causes the bike to turn is that as you lean your body into the corner you gently push the inside handlebar away from you. Effectively what you are doing is counter steering, you just don't know it You can use the leaning technique for you entire biking life and never have a problem, but if you want to steer quickly and precisely you need to use...........

Counter steering.

The basic theory goes: - Turn the bars to the left and the bike will go right. Counter intuitive, counter steering*.

So how does it work? When you first counter steer, the bike will actually begin to move in the direction you turn the bars. If you want to prove this , try aiming at a mark in the road and counter steer just before you get to it, you will will pass the mark on the road on the side that you have steered and then move in the other direction immediately afterwards.

It's this initial movement in the "right " direction that helps the bike to tip into the corner . Gyroscopic forces from turning the spinning front wheel accentuate this.

Using counter steering lets you pick the exact spot at which you want to begin turning. It also allows you to get the bike turning very quickly, instead of waiting for it to drop slowly into the corner. On roads you know you should aim to use counter steering to get to your maximum chosen lean angle for the corner as quickly as possible, instead of slowly easing the bike over and then easing it upright again. Counter steering means that you don't need to lean the bike as far over for the same speed through the corner.

Steering with the throttle.

There are two ways to steer with the throttle, one is very easy , the other very difficult.

1. Easy. This relies on the fact that for the same lean angle the bike will turn tighter the slower its going. So if you want to tighten your line in a corner you should slow down and if you want to open it up you should accelerate. But beware and bare in mind that backing off mid-corner is best avoided if you are leaning a long way as it loads the front tire and could cause it to slide.

2. Difficult. Accelerate hard enough whilst in the corner and the back tire will begin to slide outwards, pointing the bike into the corner and tightening the turn, It's called over steer. Top racers use all the time to modify their line in a corner but for road riding it has limited benefits and big drawbacks if you get it wrong. If you shut the throttle when the rear is sliding you're likely to high side.

Weighting the pegs

Some racers say that they make minor adjustments in corners by putting pressure on the footpegs. The best way to see if this works is to try it. Road riding experts say that this has little relevance to road riding.

*A reader sent in the following note:
Just a little additional info on "counter steering". The term refers to a law of physics known as 'gyroscopic precession'. Very simply the law states that "a rotating body when turned through it's axis will tilt with equal force in an opposite direction". To demonstrate the law, hold the axle of a bicycle wheel between your hands, held straight out infront of you. Now get someone to spin the bicycle wheel. If you then try to turn the axle,as you would the handle bars of your motorcycle, you will notice that the top of the wheel will lean in the opposite direction to the turn. Not much of an explanation but it may help you to understand whats going on between your wheels and bars!

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