am i on the verge of a major discovery here?

a few days ago i started to notice that when turning at small roundabout or swerving around a manhole, i have better control by just leaning the bike( keeping my upper body straight up) than leaning together with the bike

is it a normal practice? or I am doing something different?



Whilst doing slow turns it can be useful to counterbalance the lean of the motorcycle by keeping your body straight.:slight_smile: This technique and the concept of countersteering is taught to learners in the states, but sadly not really covered here as yet :wink:


i think most people countersteer naturally to some degree, but yeah if theres a manhole i just flick the bike rather than going with it, depends on the bike you have though

I think you are confusing things; what he’s going on about is not coutersteering; countersteering is when you actively push the left bar to go left and the right bar to go right…what he’s talking about is counter BALANCING; its not that safe, particularly at speed. You hang off on corners to get more weight into the corner, so the bike leans less, and corners the same. Hence, tyre wise, you’ve got more grip. Effectively what you’re talking about is hanging off the wrong way, which means you need to lean more for the same corner. Hence less grip. Doesn’t sound that good over manholes. It means you can flick the bike around more, but its not as safe gripwise, so only do it at VERY low speeds.

What you’re doing is exactly what you tell pillions not to do; ie ‘lean with the bike, don’t resist it’. You’re not leaning with the bike, which isn’t good.

Like BBSMonk I find this is the only way for me to take very slow corners in town with confidence. If I try and lean with the bike when I’m cornering at walking pace it can all get a bit unstable. To get a tight line I just keep myself pretty much upright and just tip the bars into the turn. I think it helps that my bikes weight is all at the front and it has nice wide bars. When I get it right it’s more manouverable than my old scooter. Any faster than very slow and I lean with the bike.:cool:

Yeah thats fine; at very slow speeds its works fine. At very slow speeds, you can’t really lean much, as there isn’t enough cornering force stopping the bike falling over, so you have to counterbalance it if you want to lean a lot. Personally I rarely bother; I just turn the bars at very low speed, and normal countersteering at anything more than walking pace.

i haven’t tried this at high speed, it seems there is no need doing that at high speed. i also like to do it when doing very tight right turn, i do not like to lean my body towards on-coming traffic.

Just be aware that you’re doing the opposite of what you should do in order to maximise grip; because you’re not leaning with the bike, the bike is having to lean more to compensate for this. Hence reduced grip. Practise counter steering by deliberately pushing the left bar to go left, and the right bar to go right. Keep your forearms more or less horizontal and just smoothly push the appropriate bar forwards to turn. This sounds wrong, as its the opposite of what you do to turn at low speed, but you’d be surprised how much better you’ll become if you do it. Everybody does it unconciously, but knowing exactly what it is that makes you bike turn and deliberately doing it gives you much higher levels of control. Problem is when you’re leaning against the bike, not only will you have reduced grip, you’re not in a position to control the bike if things go wrong. Save it for very low speeds.

Yes thanks gaffertape - I should have indicated that one should only try this at slow speed…:wink: I just find it useful for doing tight U turns in town.


You certainly can’t countersteer a U-turn.

Not suggesting you can, just commenting on what techniques are taught, or not to learners. Al

bike turning is quite complicated thing to understand, i thought counter balancing the leaning bike would reduce centrifugal force, hence increase the grip

There is force pushing the tyre DOWN, which causes friction between the tyre and the road, which IS grip. There is force pushing the tyre outwards, which is what causes the bike to go in a lowside. Hopefully your grip overcomes this force. This force is dependant on speed and corner radius, and has nothing to do with body position. The other variable is that the more rubber you have on the ground, the lower the frictional coefficient will be, hence the loss of grip. The more you lean, the less rubber will touch the floor, so less grip. COunter leaning means the bike needs to lean more, so less grip.

thanks gaffertape, that’s quite educational

Just basic physics really.

Surely by keeping upright your centre of gravity acts through the tyre (providing more grip) while by hanging off the bike your centre of gravity acts on a point waay outside the bike’s (providing more force which’d cause the tyre to move laterally)?

What I’m saying is, from my (admittedly rather basic) physics knowledge, I reckon that the centrifugal force acting on you as you resist the direction of lean is trying to make the bike sit up, which you deal with by counter-steering. Conversely, the centrifugal force acting on you as you hang off is trying to make the bike lowside, which you (hope!) is dealt with by the grip of your tyres.

In the past I’ve got my knee down by hanging off, and scraped the footpegs by resisting the direction of lean - and the latter feels alot more stable.

This being said, all my knowledge of biking screams the opposite at me, and so I lean into medium- to high-speed corners as is taught and to hell with the laws of physics.

I’d appreciate correction/clarification of the issue, if someone can right me (sorry!) on this!

Centrifugal force is dependant ONLY on speed and radius of corner, and it is the centrifugal force that is pushing your tyre outwards hence would cause a lowside. Your weight as you lean would cause a MOMENT around the point of contact. Yes, putting your weight over the bike would both decrease this moment AND increase the force pushing the tyre into the road, but this is countered by the fact that for the same corner, at the same speed, you have to lean the bike over more; hence increasing the moment, and decreasing the force you are pushing the tyre into the road with. Undoing all your hard work.

Add to this the fact that as the bike is leaning more, the contact patch is much smaller, so the coefficient of friction lower; all adds up to DON’T DO THIS AT ANYTHING MORE THAN WALKING PACE!!!

If you are scraping the pegs like this; I suggest you, erm, don’t.

You would be cornering much safer if you lean with the bike; I’m not talking about hanging off, just move your body a little bit and lean with the bike, instead of resisting it.

Just remember the more the bike leans, the lower the grip; grip is not so dependant on where your body is; this would have a negligible effect compared to other factors.

The aim for a safe, fast corner is to get round it with the LEAST lean possible, hence maximising your grip. For you, since you say you are uncomfortable with hanging off (as you obviously will be until you are an experienced rider), the ‘least lean’ will probably involve just shifting your body a little bit into the turn. But certainly don’t shift it the wrong way.

The reason you find it ‘more stable’ is because you are not used to leaning over enough, and leaning against the turn gives you a false sense of security, almost making you think you aren’t actually leaning that much. But it is a false sense, and if you knew what was going on with the tyre you’d feel differently.

I have an engineering degree and have studied stuff like this in depth; but if you want it from a more bike orientated practical viewpoint; I’m sure if your instructors saw you doing this they’d have a word.

Thanks for the advice; due to present, short-term financial constraints my current instructor is a lamp post in an empty car park, and so generally has little to say on the matter.

I appreciate the effort you’ve taken in explaining the physics, by the way!

did a graphic to understand the complexity of the advanced physics:D


In this case, the person on the left has SLIGHTLY less grip. But this is not a good comparison since they could not possibly be going around a corner of the same radius, at the same speed. In this diagram, the person on the right is cornering slower than the person on the left.