Counter-Steering Your Dirtbike

A previous thread reminded me of the counter-steering technique that I have played with.

How many people do this in the dirt?

How many people have no idea what I am talking about?

How many people think I am crazy?

I have had some success with it, but it really depends on the riding conditions. It doesn't work for me at all when it is slick (I crash), but when traction is good, its tons of fun.


(FYI - Counter-steering is pushing the handlebar left to go left)

Edited by BryanK

I'm sure i do this but I'm not aware that I am doing it.

for some people that don't know what counter steering is, you turn left to tilt yourself down to the right. or so I think.

Counter steering improved my riding, it is essential for quick swerves and sharp turns. When you turn left at speeds over 20mph it forces the bike to lean right faster than you can get it to lean by moving your body weight to the right or pushing on the right peg. Now that I know this technique I always see people on street bikes making cumbersome slow turns by leaning out over the side of the bike the want to turn to instead of counter steering. It makes them look like total noobs.

Im lost... do you mean like a drift? like your bike is sliding and your bars are turned right, the bike is leaned left and you end up traveling left whilst the bike angle is semi-perpendicular to the direction of travel?

please 'steer' me in the right direction on this one, no pun intended.... alright, it was intended. lol

Counter steering is the whole reason I ride -- nothing better in the world on the adrenaline meter. I come from a dirt track car background, where counter-steering is required and way TOO MUCH fun. Its like my version of hanging 10.

Im lost... do you mean like a drift? like your bike is sliding and your bars are turned right, the bike is leaned left and you end up traveling left whilst the bike angle is semi-perpendicular to the direction of travel?

please 'steer' me in the right direction on this one, no pun intended.... alright, it was intended. lol

No. Counter-steering is pushing the right handlebar (or pulling the left) to turn right, opposite of what you naturally think. Push right, turn right. Push left, turn left.

Actually everybody does it, they just don't think about it, this is how motorcycles at speed work.

The heavier the bike and the faster you go, the more pronounced it has to be. This is why the street bike guys do it (know about it), but it works on dirt bikes too.

Try this. Ride out to a large open are where you can't hit anything and where you have decent traction (not a muddy trail). Ride along in second or third gear. Push the inside bar HARD opposite to the direction you want to turn. The bike will swoop down and turn like its on rails, no berm required.

Here is a good video about it.

This works really well on long fast sweepers where you can keep pressing on the inside bar while you accelerate out of the turn.

The harder you push in the opposite direction, the faster and tigher you will turn. This has nothing to do with your wieght on the pegs or even the angle of the front wheel relative to the back, its all about the gyroscopic forces of the wheels.

Edited by BryanK
Added video

ooooohhhhhh, okay i get it now.. that video really helped me to get a grasp of what the term meant. except the dude sounds like Ben Stein from those clear eyes commercials haha

well then i guess i learn something new everyday! thanks for bringing it up!

We all use counter-steering to initiate a turn at speed, its how motorcycles work. Because our dirtbikes are light and most of us don't go that fast, it doesn't take much force, so we don't even realize we are doing it. We then lean to maintain the turn.

Here is your homework assingment (no math required).

Instead of using countersteering just to initiate the turn, keep pushing on the bar while get on the gas and you accelerate through the apex. Don't be afraid to push hard. Put most of the your weight on the outside peg for best traction.

Report back your results.

counter steer is fun as hell,if you can control your traction a bit i love leaning back and giving a little tug on the bars to wheelie out of the slide!!!

It will make you a better rider. Long sweepers is way cool. I learned this teqnique on my street bike trying to go faster on turns. I was pulling on the bars while hanging off the bike and realized that the bike would drop way down giving you that rail feel.

as bryank astutely mentions, we all do it. it's the only way to make a 2-wheeler turn. you may not be aware you're doing it, but you're doing it.

I must be riding a different sort of two wheeled machine other than a motorcycle, because when I countersteer I use it to stabilize momentarily or push back up a bit once i'm already committed to the turn in form and don't want to turn as sharp.

I've done it plenty of times. I usually do it when I turn onto the main trail from a side trail and drift. I counter turn to keep myself from sliding all the way down. Works like a charm and extremely fun to do.

I like to pretend I am racing flat track haha

even after that video im not 100% sure what countersteering is

dont know how to phrase quotes on this site but CXCMOTO put it best "Counter steering is the whole reason I ride -- nothing better in the world on the adrenaline meter." all i have to say is ahmen to that.....and launching 50 feet in the air :smirk:

Countersteering the bike goes along with drifting the bike, when u can get the most possible traction it is the fast when you are pinned enough that you have to countersteer. The amount of traction on the front is another factor because if you countersteer too much youll high side in a high speed turn (best to keep front wheel in tract with rear). i feel like im countersteering constantly to the next rut in hare scrambles because when the line gets used so much its not loose anymore. The rear scrapes down to make a flat track like surface which is very unpredictable. I would practice this technique in corners you have set up and time which way is faster for you. Theres people that come from street bikes and are faster "power sliding" around turns like a car using the very outside line and others are faster tucking inside keeping both wheels in line for max traction. Its all in your style and how you feel comfortable. I tend to go with the line i feel fastest with, some powersliding some tracking, i feel like i powerslide the most on somewhat sharp corners(ie - around 60 degrees) i try braking as late as possible and gas it as soon as i settle in my line. if you have some pictures of what corners your wondering about POST AWAY. the more pics the more feedback i like to say

I read someone said push down hard on your handlebars, i would do that if you want to should be resting your weight through your legs, butt and feet, in that order. pushing on the bars dramatically when countersteering makes turning very difficult. Countersteering is all about controlling the rear of the bike, turning the handlebars is so insignificant that little pressure is needed on the bars concentrate on squeezing with your legs. you want to practice feeling the balance of bike while shifting the weight from your butt to knees to feet depending on how fast your going and how much your sliding the back end. Watch the pros on high speed sweepers and anywhere they dive inside on the entrance and swing outside at the exit dex of the turn. if they dont make a huge ass rut they will deff be powersliding

even after that video im not 100% sure what countersteering is

Counter steering is simply turning the handlebars to the left to make a right turn. Practice this in any open area. Ride straight, turn the handlebars slightly to the left and the bike will lean over to the right. I've found it an especially valuable skill on the road race track. If you need to get a bike over from upright to a lean then countersteering is the fastest way. The quicker the input into the bars, the quicker the bike goes from upright to a lean. If you are already leaned to the right and you need to tighten a turn, you turn the bars to the left again to lean more to the right. That is why it is called 'countersteering'. It is counter-intuitive to what you think should work, it is turning the opposite way you want to go. After the bike is leaned, the bars will be returned to close to center to hold the line. Hopefully this didn't add to the confusion. Troy341

We have 2 definite, very different, ideas of the meaning of "counter steering" here I see. One is actual counter steering, "push left to go left", the other that is being refered to is actually known as "rear wheel steering".

Actual counter steering is using the gyroscopic force of the spinning front wheel to lean the bike. If the wheel isn't turning all that fast (under 25mph or so) counter steering won't work because there isn't enough gyroscopic force produced by the slow spinning wheel, and you turn like a bicycle (steer into the turn). If your going fast enough and the wheel is spinning fast enough (the reason why it works so well on street bikes, 17" wheel and tire, with greater mass, turning way faster than a 21" dirt bike wheel/tire at the same speed), counter steering is the only way you can get the bike to turn. Warp the front wheel out of it's gyroscopic line and the opposite force WILL lean (and thus turn) the bike. Even rear wheel steering has to start with leaning the bike, slowly like a bicycle, or at faster speeds with counter steering.

As speeds go up, and the gyroscopic force builds, the harder it is to initiate a turn. You gotta put some real effort into the "push left to go left" when you start getting around 100mph. By 150mph my Busa is almost locked in a straight line. Not that I'm wanting to do much turning at a buck and a half anyway.:smirk:

Yes, what OlHillbilly said. Counter steering is NOT sliding the rear wheel and steering the opposite of the turn. If it helps anyone to understand, it's the exact same thing on a bicycle. Above say 10 or so mph the only way to turn a two wheeled vehicle is to lean it, counter steering simply initiates that lean quicker.

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