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Thread: High-Risk - Low-Risk

  1. #21
    RiderCoach 4000 Posts! AZridered's Avatar
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    What is shown in the video clip, the bob-and-weave, is very much exactly what I see from a student who does not understand how to use countersteering. Most riding students have the ability to use countersteering nearly immediately, it is not something that we have to teach. The problems surface when a rider has to countersteer fairly quickly. This requires understanding of countersteering beyond the basic instinctive level. When asked to perform a swerve or cornering maneuver more quickly and decisively than they have before we see, steer in, try to correct, steer in again, try to correct again, etc.

    Is countersteering instinctive? Pretty much. The problem that children run into is that they are put in the situation where they need to master two skills simultaneously. Balance while pedaling, AND, steering the front wheel to maintain balance. When these two tasks are separated by introducing a child to a strider bike (no pedals, feet flat on the ground), nearly all children who are ready to learn (a certain amount of physical readiness is required) will pick up how to use steering for balance and turning very quickly. In general, readiness is somewhere around five years old. And truthfully, training wheels generally lengthen the learning process.

  2. #22
    For me counter-steering is a choice of control that is dependent on the speed you're traveling. If I'm moving below 30 mph, or taking an intersection, or 90 degree turns, I use my my handlebars to turn the bike in the direction I want to go. Once I'm above 30 and navigating around curves without strong deceleration I use counter-steering because the gyroscopic force generated by my wheels allows me to do so.

    I also do it because it's the best part of riding. it gives me the control and precision that turning my handlebars doesn't. On my Downtown (Maxi-scooter) there's no gas tank or frame to lean against to or push for a sense of steering. For me the ride is an experience of counter-steering on a level that may be different from a motorcycle.

    As Joseph Hanna said there's more to counter-steering than turning the bike. There are a number of calculation that we mentally make, and take into account before, durning and after we navigate a turn, make a panic swerve, or take on a blind curve. Speed, angle, perception and approach make or break hitting that perfect line. This is something that is learned through practice, experience and the challenge of the riding conditions -- the road, the weather, and time of day -- morning, noon or night. In time, it becomes muscle memory.

    In June I'll start my 8th riding year, but there's still a part of me that doesn't drop my guard in thinking I know what I'm doing, and ride passively, like in automatic mode. It would be nice to think 'I got this' and think about my own problems while I ride because I can react to anything. I think the video of the truck crash proves there's no telling what's coming around the corner.

    -Wolf

  3. #23
    RiderCoach 4000 Posts! AZridered's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scooterwolf View Post
    ...use my my handlebars to turn the bike in the direction I want to go. Once I'm above 30...
    Quite understandably, we tend to think of countersteering as a comparison between the centerline of our bike and the direction in which the front wheel is pointing. It is not that straightforward. It may be clearer (?) to think of countersteering as the difference between where the front wheel is pointed and our bike's direction of travel. At moderate to higher speed this is fairly easy to see because the steering is hardly turned at all and our steering input is readily detected by the feel of pressure at the handgrips. At low speed, when maintaining balance is also an important factor, the steering is clearly turned in the direction that we are turning and it is more difficult to tell exactly what is going on.

    An example of countersteering still being at work, even at extremely low speed, is when we execute a very tight u-turn. Quite clearly we have to keep the steering turned nearly all of the way in the direction of the turn. Let's choose a left turn. midway through the u-turn, if we are going to make it, we find ourselves with the handlebars turned all the way to the left. Agree? So, where's countersteering? Let's take the example a little bit further. We are now about 3/4 of the way through the turn and we are beginning to lose balance and we fear that our bike is going to fall to the inside (left side) of the turn. How to recover? Because our bike is going to fall to the left, "direct steering" theory (turn the wheel in the direction that you want to go) tells us that we should turn to the right to prevent falling to the left. Ever tried that? Probably only once. Somehow, to save a low speed fall to the left, we actually need to steer even farther to the left, opposite the direction that we actually want the bike to go.

    To review: we are making a low-speed, left-hand, u-turn. We have the steering fully left, we are leaning to the left, we are at the tipping point of falling left, so to recover we need the bike to straighten up a bit (move toward the right). In order to make this happen, we need to momentarily turn the steering a bit more to the LEFT. Turning the front wheel to the right clearly makes the situation even worse. Making the bike move to the right by steering to the left of the bike's path of travel, is countersteering. This is part of what makes low-speed tight turns so challenging. When we have our steering already turned to the left we find ourselves with our normal balance-maintaining resources quite limited. On some bikes, maybe none left over at all.

    Taking this away from extreme low speed, maybe to parking lot or neighborhood speed, we can think of it somehat like this. We are cornering at 15 mph and the front wheel, again, is pretty clearly turned in the direction that we are traveling. We are turning to the right and we can see that the steering is clearly turned to the right. What we do not readily detect is that the handlebar angle and the curve of the road don't quite match. Avoiding calculus, but invoking a bit of geometry, imagine that while traveling along our curved path-of-travel, the differnce between where we are right this moment and the point where we intend to be a moment from now requires our bike to change direction to the right by fifteen degrees. If we could somehow accurately measure our steering angle, we would find that it required less than fifteen degrees of steering angle to actually negotiate that part of the curve. Still countersteering, but still not easy to detect.

  4. #24
    Flirting With The Redline 2000 Posts! Sorg67's Avatar
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    Great explanation AZ and exactly why I think "understanding" counter steering as nothing to do with riding a motorcycle. By the time you think though all that, you are on you butt.

    But if you just relax and let your feel do what it knows how to do, it is easy.

    The more you practice, the more refined your feel will become. And the more you push your comfort zone, the harder you will be able to ride.

  5. #25
    Flirting With The Redline Mad Matt's Avatar
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    I think this just comes down to personality and what it takes to make you confident. Some people just need to know what to do. Others need to know why before they can trust the 'what'.

  6. #26
    Flirting With The Redline 2000 Posts! Sorg67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mad Matt View Post
    I think this just comes down to personality and what it takes to make you confident. Some people just need to know what to do. Others need to know why before they can trust the 'what'.
    I am going to forward this to Trump. I think Mad Matt would be better as our chief diplomat than Rex Tillerson.

    However, in this case, "why" gets blurry and confusing. Is applying counter torque to the handlebars always counter steering? Or is it sometimes adjusting positive steering and true countersteering is only that brief turn away from the direction of the turn to get the bike to lean and the rest is just balancing the positive turn. When you are in a turn and balancing the turn, do you pass the center line? Are you aware of when that happens? Do you always push on the side you want to go? Or do you sometime pull on the opposite side? How do the dynamics change with speed and vehicle geometry? Tire pressure? Shocks? Temperature? Body position?

    When I got new shocks on the Harley and when the shocks were stiffened on the DRZ, the steering dynamics changed significantly. I took both of them on a few laps of the parking lot to get the new feel and I was good to go. There was no conscious adjustment to the different handling characteristics.

    I have four motorcycles and two bicycles in the garage. They all have different steering dynamics. A few swerves, turns, wiggles and circles and I have the feel and am good to go.

    I am working on getting my weight onto the inside of in corners. Especially on the Harley to reduce the board scraping. But with the ape hangers, the countersteering becomes more of a pull from the opposite side than a push in the direction of the turn when I get my weight inside. I do not think about this at all. My body just knows what to do.

    I think the video of the guy hitting the truck could have been caused by somebody explaining countersteering to him. He may have gotten confused and that created the problem.

    Maybe others have a different experience, but I think for at least some, maybe many, these ideas get them out of their natural feels and into their heads and I do not see how anybody could manage all those variables with the conscious part of your head.

    So if by "Understanding" you mean a physical instinctual understanding, I agree. But if you mean a conscious understand, then I do not. And words are very ineffective in developing a physical instinctual understanding. Drills and practice help to develop the physical, instinctual understanding.



    Highly skilled riders like Joseph Hanna may be able to refine their techniques with a deep understanding of the physics of how these dynamics work. But that is only because riders like him have a highly developed feel that allow them to think about such things while their feel works on autopilot.

    Less skilled riders do not have that luxury. Less skilled riders can't have the conscious parts of the brain interfere with the instinctual learning process. And when teachers start explaining counter steering, they are not helping. They are interfering with the natural learning process. Bobbing and weaving to me looks like thinking interfering with natural learning.

  7. #27
    RiderCoach 4000 Posts! AZridered's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sorg67 View Post
    ...the countersteering becomes more of a pull from the opposite side...
    That is the way that we used to teach countersteering. Pull left to go right...

  8. #28
    RiderCoach 4000 Posts! AZridered's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sorg67 View Post
    ...By the time you think though all that, you are on you butt...
    The final phase of learning a motor skill is when that skill becomes autonomous. You no longer need to think about what you are doing, you siimply do the correct thing, automatically. Getting to that point is the trick. Especially when dealing with something as simple, and complex, as countersteering. In order to reach autonomy, you must necessarily go through a stage of deliberateness. This is a basic motor skill development principle which applies to everything.

  9. #29
    Flirting With The Redline 2000 Posts! Sorg67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZridered View Post
    The final phase of learning a motor skill is when that skill becomes autonomous. You no longer need to think about what you are doing, you siimply do the correct thing, automatically. Getting to that point is the trick.
    I completely agree with this statement. I once heard there are four steps to developing an ability. Any ability. Physical motor or cognitive. Unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence and unconscious competence. You start out so incompetent, you do not even know you are incompetent, then you learn enough to know that you are incompetent, then you learn enough to be competent with thought and then, with practice you get to unconscious competence.

    But I think with balance skills, you have to be careful with steps two and three. You do not want to muck up the body's natural balancing mechanisms with thought.

    Quote Originally Posted by AZridered View Post
    when dealing with something as simple, and complex, as countersteering. In order to reach autonomy, you must necessarily go through a stage of deliberateness.
    I am not sure this applies to countersteering. I think going through a stage of deliberateness for counter steering may get somebody to a basic functional level faster, but it slows getting to the stage of getting to natural feel and it is very dangerous to send them out on the road in that condition because a basic functional ability that depends on deliberate thought will vanish in an emergency. I think most teachers did not learn this way. They learned through the body's natural learning process of balancing skills. But it is very difficult to teach balancing skills. I think you want to create learning opportunities rather than provide deliberate instructions.

    Quote Originally Posted by AZridered View Post
    This is a basic motor skill development principle which applies to everything.
    I do not think this applies to everything. It applies to some things but not for instinctive natural balancing motor skills.

    For me this deliberate learning is required for getting my weight onto the inside of the bike. And it applies to me for resisting the urge to come off the throttle when I get into a challenging corner. These are not natural balancing skills and require deliberation for me. Hopefully with time, they will become automatic, but I am not there yet.

    But I do not believe deliberate learning is required for counter steering. Maybe this is because I have a lot of bicycle riding experience. Maybe I do not have a realistic understanding of what it is like to learn to steer a motorcycle without the foundation of a lot of bicycle riding experience.

    So maybe I am wrong, but I think when you ride a motorcycle or bicycle very slowly in a straight line, your body is learning the balancing characteristics of two wheeled vehicles. As you wobble back and forth, your body is learning how to balance with steering.

    Then you move on to turning. If somebody has trouble, just tell them look and lean. Resist the urge to explain that when you lean your are not really leaning, you are counter steering, blah blah blah..... Doing so only serves to move them from natural balance learning to deliberate conscious learning. Tell them this is very natural and your body knows what to do. Just relax and let it be easy. If they have difficulty, move back to straight line slow riding.

    Teachers default to teaching deliberate first because it is easier to teach this way. But it should be a last resort when all else fails since it delays getting to a natural feel. If you let people learn naturally, it may take longer to get to basic function, but once they get it, they will get to proficiency faster.

    You see this a lot in golf. Most golf instructors fill their students heads with all kinds of deliberate thoughts. You cannot hit a golf ball well with deliberation any more than you can steer a motorcycle with deliberation.
    Last edited by Sorg67; 04-06-2017 at 08:12 AM.

  10. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Sorg67 View Post

    I think the video of the guy hitting the truck could have been caused by somebody explaining countersteering to him. He may have gotten confused and that created the problem.

    The guy out rode his vision and his skill. His first move was to grab, not apply, not use, but to grab the front brake. At that point, he was done. There was still time to save the situation, just not with his skill.

    If you can't react to what comes in the sight TIME you have, you're no longer riding on skill, you're riding on luck, God's favor, or whatever it is you want to call it. Seeing something 200 ft away at 30mph, you have time to sip your coffee, adjust the radio, then react. You've got about 5 seconds. The same 200 ft at 100 mph, you're there in about a second and a half. The bike doesn't react as quickly at that speed, either, so if you've not practiced with the way the bike feels heavier at 80 mph vs 40 mph, and adjust accordingly, you're in trouble.

    That rider hadn't. He panicked. He wasn't going through a mental checklist, just too slowly. He did one thing that he thought might work, and froze.

    In an instant or blink situation, you don't rise to the occasion. You devolve to the level of your training.

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