Motorcycle Skills Guide: What is Countersteering and How to Execute it?

Motorcycle Skills Guide: What is Countersteering and How to Execute it?

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What Is Countersteering?

Countersteering is the act of pushing your handlebars in one direction so that your bike goes in the other. This may sound strange, but chances are you’ve been doing it for years. It’s important to remember that countersteering is subtle. In some cases, you may not even realize you’re doing it. Riders usually countersteer when edging to the right or left at high speeds. We’re not talking about 90-degree turns here.

All motorcycles need to lean in order to turn, it’s just a matter of how much and for how long. We’ve all seen those clips of Tom Cruise riding on a motorcycle with his body inches from the ground as he takes a tight turn. Hopefully, you’ll never get that close to the pavement. 

Let’s say you want to veer to the left. When you push on the right side of your handlebars, the centripetal force will cause the bike to dip to the left. You will then shift your body weight naturally to stay in the upright position. This combined with the centripetal force should send your bike veering to the left. The whole thing usually occurs in the span of a few seconds or less, so it’s easy to miss unless you’re on your bike.

If you’re confused, you’re not alone. The idea of turning in the opposite direction you want to go can seem downright confusing, but, if you don’t take our word for it, try it for yourself.

a bikers hand resting on the handlebars

How to Countersteer Like a Pro

To get started with countersteering, hop on your motorcycle and drive at a moderate speed of 10 MPH. Find a lonely stretch of road or an empty parking where you don’t have to worry about oncoming traffic. You should be able to complete a turn or veer to the right or left without spinning out in the dirt. 

Once you start riding, lay your palms flat against the handlebars so that your fingers are pointing straight up into the air. Now push your handlebars to the right without pulling them towards you. Your bike will start to lean to the left as the centripetal force takes effect before quickly veering left for an effortless turn.

Keep practicing until the entire motion feels like second nature. You shouldn’t have to think about the turn, but rather respond to the road by turning subtlety as needed.

Why Countersteering Is So Important?

Shenanigans aside, countersteering is about so much more than just looking cool on your bike. It’s pretty much the only way to turn when traveling on the highway or quickly dodging debris when driving off road. 

The bike moves quickly with minimal movement on your end for faster response times and less risk.

If you see something you’d like to avoid, such an oncoming car or a rough patch of road, use this maneuver to get out of the way without having to brake.

a man sitting on a red motorcycle

Additional Considerations

Countersteering usually takes some getting used to. As you start practicing, there’s a chance you could fall off your bike, turn too hard too fast, or wind up with a mouth full of dirt. 

Make sure you have the proper safety gear when practicing countersteering, including a full-face helmet for lasting protection and riding gloves. Use a Bluetooth motorcycle helmet to stay in contact with the outside world when you’re fiddling around on your bike, so you can still send and receive calls. Find motorcycle helmet speakers that produce crystal-clear audio without distracting you from the road. 

You can also use a hands-free motorcycle Bluetooth headset to listen to riding tips and tutorials while you master the art of counterseering. 

With a little bit of practice, you’ll be steering right and left like nobody’s business. 


Image Credits:

Dudarev Mikhail/

Iurii Davydov/

Vlad Linev/