Motorcycle Steering - Part II

In this part II of the motorcycle steering section we must reinforce the idea of countersteering.

I cannot stress enough to master the basics before diving into more advanced techniques. In fact the following techniques would not be of any use without the countersteering part perfected and they are here only to assist you and refine the control of your motorcycle.

Again, remember the correct position. Relax your elbows, keep an eyes level with the horizon, not tilted with the bike. Steer at the handlebars but not hold them tight. Learn to make the direction change and then relax to make the bike settled and stable. It's always good to exercise your back, stomach and chest  with weight training to keep your muscle strong where they should be. As you lean in the corner check and slightly squeeze the front brake lever. If the bike does not change the direction, it means you do it properly.

Motorcycle steering assistance with throttle

There is a couple of additional tips we want to talk about to assist with the correct motorcycle steering. Firstly, it involves the throttle. It is obvious that throttle control the speed but you will notice that it has also an effect on lean angle. Your bike will easily fall into a corner with the closed throttle. It will stand up out of the corner when your throttle is rolled open and will hold on a constant angle with so called "maintenance throttle" i.e. when it is a touch open.

On the approach the throttle is closed as the brakes are applied before the turn (see figure below, solid red line). It stays off until the bike has turned into the corner at which point the throttle opens up slightly to maintenance (dashed line). Note that when off the throttle your bike will continue to fall until you open the throttle slightly for maintenance when  you reach the necessary lean angle. Also, as you reach the lean angle you can push the outside bar to arrest the increasing lean angle. The maintenance throttle lasts until the exit from the corner is visible and that's when you can roll open to throttle to stand the bike up (solid green line).

Note that when the throttle is closed the motorcycle weight is forwarded to the front which results in compressed fork and the bike's geometry tightened. This helps the motorcycle to steer. Remember that any cornering will involve the three simple steps: Off the throttle, maintenance throttle and on the throttle. Never skip the maintenance throttle as it may result in running wide on exists or missing the apexes. Always apply the throttle smoothly and be more gentle on it the more you lean.

Steering assistance with footpegs

The next step would be to add pressure on the footpegs. As mentioned earlier, shifting your body on its own will not make the bike turn but it is has an effect on the lean angle. Placing your weight low to the inside of a corner will allow you to reduce the lean angle. In effect you're giving your tires more grip. Move your butt slightly to one side, load your footpeg and you will see the difference. No need to overdo this with moving off the bike and hanging off the knee. The only difficulty with this is that you need to time it perfectly, otherwise you will not take advantage of it. Remember not to push the handlebars as you move across your seat, use your legs to slightly lift you up and move. Practice, every time you go for a ride.

You have probably noticed that there is still something missing in the motorcycle steering section. That's right we have not talked about motorcycle braking. This is obviously a big part of motorcycle steering and we have intentionally left this in a separate section.

Return to motorcycle sport touring Home Page