Countersteering on a cross bike (or any bike)?

In comments for the post Local trails on the cross bike, Christopher asked:

Lee, what’s your take on the cornering technique described here?


He’s talking about countersteering, which is a real thing, but I seldom teach it specifically because most of us do it automatically (and thinking about it balls most people up).

Countersteering is a useful way to help you lean any bike or motorcycle. If you are riding well, especially at high speed, I guarantee you’re already doing it.

Here’s a diagram from MMBSii:

Say you want to turn left:

1. Bump the bars to the right.

2. This creates a gyroscopic force that leans the bike to the left.

3. Relax your grip and let the bike steer left. You’re carving left.

The key to cornering well is leaning the bike independently of the body. Judging by the author’s comments and the photo of him riding, he tends to keep the bike upright and steer.

By countersteering, he was getting more bike lean and — viola! — the bike turned better.


Cornering with a high seat


— Lee

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8 replies
  1. Mike says:

    Glad you posted this. I just followed all the links chaining these articles together on turning the bike and had an epiphany on what I am doing wrong.

  2. Eric says:

    A fine point that I’ve been wondering about related to countersteering. To turn a bike we’re told to push the inside grip into the turn. The result is that the bike leans and we start turning. But is this action a result of gyroscopic forces (like in the above diagram) or is it simply that the bike is light and we can directly lean it by moving the inside grip towards the ground? And are both of these actions “countersteering”?

    I can very easily feel this “push left to go left” effect on a motorcycle. Push the left grip forward and the bike leans left. Push it more and the bike leans further. On a bicycle, it feels noticeably different even at high speed, no doubt because of the difference in mass/inertia between the two machines. In which case, at what point do the dynamics of the situation transition from “bicycle” to “motorcycle”?

    And, more importantly, how can I use all of this to go faster?

  3. Geoffrey says:

    Actually, it isn’t gyroscopic effects. If you hold a bicycle still, and turn the handlebars, the bike will lean. It’s simply a mechanical thing, based on the rake of the fork.

  4. Eric says:

    Agreed. I was trying to be consistent with the terminology of the original post, but you’re right, you can hold the bike stationary and observe this mechanical response, so it’s not a gyroscopic thing. I do still wonder if there are two fundamentally different techniques on a bicycle. Turn the handlebars, bike leans. Or, lean the bike and the handlebars turn to match the lean angle.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Countersteering. It’s an advanced level of steering, used for sharp turns or turns that have more bends. The way you do it is that, once at speed, you push one hand down. Your wheel will start to turn to that side, but as the bike begins to lean, you will turn to the other side. […]

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