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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok I just completed my MSF course yesterday the 17th of July. I got a perfect score on the written and lost a few points on the skills because I went too slowly through the decreasing radius curve which is funny since I was getting yelled at the instructors for going too fast during the practice and to slow it DOWN!!! It was easy though, I even did the boxed figure eight using only half the box. However, I came out a bit confused so I would like to ask these questions and get an exact answer before I find out the hard way.

To steer the motorcycle at slow speeds 10mph or under, you turn the motorcycle into the direction you want and lean the opposite way, which would be counter steering the bike.

To steer the motorcycle at speeds above 10mph you lean into the direction of the turn and use your hand to push the bike.
e.g. To make a right turn you would look right, push with your right hand and lean right.

Also, the course is great and even though I had 2 months experience on my ninja 250 and found most of the riding exercises were a breeze; I would still highly recommend this course because I did learn some things that I feel will be the basis for being a better and safer rider.
 

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We have several MSF instructors on here and one of them can hopefully explain it in terms that will help you get it. Try the New rider forums for more help.

I believe it has a lot to do with your center of gravity. As a graduate of the class myself, I think its much easier to turn the bike at slow speeds when I can stay upright. It 'feels' more natural on a cruiser than on a sportbike since the center of gravity is much lower. But basically it allows the bike to corner without falling over. Okay, that probably didn't help, where are all the MSF instuctors, because I am not doing a very good job.
 

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"To steer the motorcycle at slow speeds 10mph or under, you turn the motorcycle into the direction you want and lean the opposite way"
That would be called "counter-weighting", and it only works at walking speeds (much less than 10 mph).

"To steer the motorcycle at speeds above 10mph you lean into the direction of the turn and use your hand to push the bike.
e.g. To make a right turn you would look right, push with your right hand and lean right. " That is "counter-steering". It's called countersteering because by pushing the right bar to turn right, you are in effect turning the bar to the left. The bottom of the bike, where the rubber meets the road, does in fact first move to the left to put the bike into a lean. Most people will automatically stop pushing on the bar once the bike is leaned over (the others, who are too good at following instructions, keep pushing and fall into the ground because they haven't been told to do otherwise). You can use this technique to tighten up or widen a turn too.
 

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First, forget the "above 10 mph." It's true but it just confuses the issue. At low speeds you'll steer correctly by trial and error. I'd also advise you to forgo the need for a complete explanation (which includes understanding "gyroscopic precession") for the explanation itself only leads to more confusion. Just do it and forget about it. But here goes...

The key principle here is countersteering. You are pushing on the bar on the side you want to turn towards. This seems counter-intuitive but that's what you actually do and you have been doing it since you started to ride a bicycle (probably without realizing it.

What happens when you countersteer is that you put the wheels out of alignment (in a straight path). This causes the bike to lean (by itself) in the direction you want to turn which affects the actual turn. The wheels are actually travelling in different paths with the frame angular to forward (see what I mean.) The back wheel is following the front wheel but not directly behind as in a straight steer. This causes the bike to lean and turn.

You're confused about one of the hardest things in motorcycling to understand. But it's one of the easiest things to do so just give in to faith and experience and forget about the science. In the end, who cares.

If you want to go deep on this, go here: http://www.msgroup.org/TIP048.html
 

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as ghostrider clearly states you had counter-weight & counter steer mixed up, but I think it should be clear to you now. One thing I notice is people leaning out (counter-weighting) at speed. This is very poor technique and can get you into trouble. Try and make sure your body leans with the motorcycle or even a little more as you get comfortable with cornering at speed.

congrats on passing the course & enjoy the ride!
 

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Exhiliration said:
To steer the motorcycle at slow speeds 10mph or under, you turn the motorcycle into the direction you want and lean the opposite way, which would be counter steering the bike.
Sort of. Not sure if you meant this but countersteering doesn't necessarily involve leaning the opposite way. Technically, "countersteering" isn't really happening at the clipons/bars. It's actually the act of shifting the contact patch opposite to your intended path via pushing/pulling the grips or via body english.

The whole "leaning the opposite way" is for really tight radius slow speed turns, like a u-turn, to shift the center of gravity so you don't dump the bike. Normally, you won't need to counter-weight but if you're regularly making turns that tight, definitely bone up on practice so you know how tight you can go. The gist of the technique: slide butt off saddle to outside of turn, weight the outside peg, lean bike WAAY over, stay on the gas (if you chop off throttle, down ya go - so no, don't feather the clutch), look where you want go.

Ghost Rider and Jim Schmidt pretty much nailed it, but I thought I'd throw in my 2¢.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the replies. I think I have a good idea now and was confusing the two techniques as you guys said. Your right, pushing right into a rish turn will actually make the tire look left and thereby leaning the motorcycle into the right turn. I'm finnaly relieved this all now makes sense. Thanks.
 

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Everyone else has pretty much explained the 2 concepts (counter-weighting at low speeds and counter-steering at normal speeds). If you have a bicycle, you can actually see counter-steering. In an open and safe area, get pedalling at a decent speed, hold the bars lightly, and gently push on the right bar. You can actually see the front wheel turn left at first, then the bicycle leans right, then turns right. If you ride a bicycle, you have been doing this all along and likely didn't know it. It isn't possible to turn a motorcycle at speed any other way, so understand it or not, that's what's happening. Don't try to watch the front wheel on your m/c. lol

Ride safe and enjoy!!
 
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