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Downhill technique: Flairing one's knee

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Downhill technique: Flairing one's knee

Old 03-10-20, 10:43 AM
  #26  
big john
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Originally Posted by Robert A View Post
Please explain why the rider's weight should be on the outside pedal and not the inside one. Is there a benefit to shifting one's weight to the outside of the turn?
The best way to experience this is to slide the rear wheel on a dirt bike or mtb, especially on an off camber turn. If you're turning left putting your right foot down and applying your weight to it will help the rear wheel stick and if the wheel starts to slide, you can control it with the pedal/weight. Another way to look at it is if you're turning and your weight is on the saddle the force of gravity has greater leverage to pull the bike down than if more of your weight is on the pedal.
Most road bike turns don't require the same control as turning on dirt, snow, or other slippery surfaces but if you practice the outside foot down thing it will become instinctual and if you do slide your road bike it may help you recover it. I know it has helped me.
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Old 03-10-20, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by woodcraft View Post
Flair: "a sense of style; dash"

Flare: "a curving outward"
How many pieces of flair are you wearing?

Last edited by big john; 03-10-20 at 10:48 AM.
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Old 03-10-20, 10:55 AM
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It's mainly just to air out your crotch on a hot day.
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Old 03-10-20, 11:00 AM
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Wait. When I FLARE my knee is it safer to descend in the drops or on the hoods?
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Old 03-10-20, 11:05 AM
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Counter steering is not actually how you steer, but how you initiate a turn. (Once you're turning, you no longer counter steer.) It is very effective, but it isn't the only way to initiate a turn. At low speeds, of course, you just turn the handlebars in the direction you want to go. At high speeds, counter steering has the disadvantage of being rather slow, because it relies on gravity to to get the bike leaning. If you watch good descenders on fast technical descents, they don't counter steer -- they simply force the bike over to initiate a turn -- because it's a much quicker technique.
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Old 03-10-20, 11:37 AM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
Counter steering is not actually how you steer, but how you initiate a turn. (Once you're turning, you no longer counter steer.) It is very effective, but it isn't the only way to initiate a turn. At low speeds, of course, you just turn the handlebars in the direction you want to go. At high speeds, counter steering has the disadvantage of being rather slow, because it relies on gravity to to get the bike leaning. If you watch good descenders on fast technical descents, they don't counter steer -- they simply force the bike over to initiate a turn -- because it's a much quicker technique.
I'm curious how you think they "force the bike over".
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Old 03-10-20, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
Counter steering is not actually how you steer, but how you initiate a turn. (Once you're turning, you no longer counter steer.) It is very effective, but it isn't the only way to initiate a turn. At low speeds, of course, you just turn the handlebars in the direction you want to go. At high speeds, counter steering has the disadvantage of being rather slow, because it relies on gravity to to get the bike leaning. If you watch good descenders on fast technical descents, they don't counter steer -- they simply force the bike over to initiate a turn -- because it's a much quicker technique.
You can countersteer in a turn or out of a turn to change lean angle. If you're in a turn and you need to increase lean, you countersteer.
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Old 03-10-20, 12:10 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by Cypress View Post
I'm curious how you think they "force the bike over".
Push down on the bars on the side you're turning to.

Originally Posted by tyrion View Post
You can countersteer in a turn or out of a turn to change lean angle. If you're in a turn and you need to increase lean, you countersteer.
Yes, but the bars are normally still turned in the direction you're turning -- you just tweak the angle a little bit. You rarely turn them so much that they are "counter" to the direction you are turning. (Other than when you initiate the turn, of course.)
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Old 03-10-20, 12:11 PM
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Motorcylists are typically accelerating through a curve and flare the knee to counter the centrifugal forces trying to force the bike upright. I can't imagine that being necessary on a bicycle but I'm not a racer or someone that tries to turn at the highest possible speed.
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Old 03-10-20, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
Push down on the bars on the side you're turning to.


That's countersteering.
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Old 03-10-20, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
Push down on the bars on the side you're turning to.



Yes, but the bars are normally still turned in the direction you're turning -- you just tweak the angle a little bit. You rarely turn them so much that they are "counter" to the direction you are turning. (Other than when you initiate the turn, of course.)
Tweaking the angle a bit is countersteering.
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Old 03-10-20, 12:21 PM
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I never consciously push down my bars to countersteer. I enter the curve (turn) at a proper speed, look at where I wanna go, and the bike magically leans and I got to that direction. I practice my handling and get faster after each try until my next crash and then start over from there again. Not sure flaring knees help you. I watch good descenders like Nibali, Sagan, and Froome and see what they do. There's also a good Cancellara vid on youtube from 2005(?) TdF. Sometimes they stick out their knees sometimes they don't. I guess knowing the descent is also important. There's a fast downhill to where I live. I used to stick out my knee until the day I didn't and took the curve just as fine. But I have to say, it looks pro if you do it in style.
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Old 03-10-20, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Cypress View Post
That's countersteering.
Not necessarily. You can push down on the bars and not counter steer.
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Old 03-10-20, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
Not necessarily. You can push down on the bars and not counter steer.
I don't think you understand countersteering.
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Old 03-10-20, 12:25 PM
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Originally Posted by tyrion View Post
Tweaking the angle a bit is countersteering.
That's a bit of semantics. I would not call it counter steering of the bars remain turned to the right during a right hand turn. I would only call it counter steering if the bars actually were turned to the left during a right turn.
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Old 03-10-20, 12:27 PM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by Cypress View Post
I don't think you understand countersteering.
I do understand counter steering. As I stated earlier, it's a very effective way to initiate a turn. But, it's not the only way to initiate a turn, and it's not always the fastest way to initiate a turn.
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Old 03-10-20, 12:31 PM
  #42  
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What a great thread! I want to play, too. The ONLY way to initiate a turn on a two wheeled vehicle, at slow OR fast speed is to countersteer.
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Old 03-10-20, 12:36 PM
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Motorcyclists flare the knee, as has already been revealed, to gauge the angle of lean. Pros do it for a variety of reasons, maybe in this order:

It's a windbrake. Obviously this is only done while coasting, so it prevents the bike from continuing to accelerate in the corner and without using the brakes.
It moves the CG to the inside, which reduces the bike's angle of lean slightly, which may or may not improve adhesion, depending on a whole host of things.
It emphasizes weight transfer to the outside pedal.

Be that as it may, your fast descending respondent here doesn't do it because I don't descend in a group. I make sure other riders are well behind me and thus don't affect my riding during a descent, either that or I let the crazies go and stay about 30' back. I don't get paid. This is all because I corner like a motor racer - I try to come in slow and out fast, thus accelerating out of the corner and immediately passing the knees out rider on my inside. Or not. But that's the idea. Coming in slow also helps to prevent unseemly things such as not falling while changing line due to a rock or hole in the road.

Besides the knee thing, I also rotate my body slightly on the saddle so that my inside hip and shoulder are very slightly ahead, This helps me press my inside knee against my top tube, all of which also reduces lean angle very slightly and stabilizes the frame in the corner. It probably also countersteers a bit.

But do whatever makes you more comfortable.
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Old 03-10-20, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
That's a bit of semantics. I would not call it counter steering of the bars remain turned to the right during a right hand turn. I would only call it counter steering if the bars actually were turned to the left during a right turn.
It's good semantics. It's useful and accurate to call this countersteering. Even if you're not moving the bars past the straight-ahead alignment to change lean angle*, you're still moving them in the opposite direction of your desired lean angle change.

*I think at high speeds you are usually moving the bars beyond the straight-ahead alignment to increase lean, but at slow speeds you might not. This is much easier to analyze on a motorcycle where you can explore this physics for hours on a winding road or a track.
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Old 03-10-20, 02:37 PM
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If you have Di2 you don't have to counter steer.
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Old 03-10-20, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
If you have Di2 you don't have to counter steer.
If you have eTap you have to counter-countersteer.
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Old 03-10-20, 03:01 PM
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Lots of misinformation above. Countersteering is turning the bars in the opposite direction of the turn. Notice that I said push on the right side to turn right. That means that the fork rotates counterclockwise to turn right. Also countersteering does NOT just initiate a turn. If you quit countersteering, the bike will straighten up and quit turning. Anyone who rides a motorcycle should know that.

The bike magically goes where you want it to? That approach will get you into trouble. One of the most common motorcycle accidents is coming into a right hand curve and either due to too much speed or too little countersteering, going over the centerline into oncoming traffic. Often the rider panics and quits countersteering, causing the wreck. The other solution is to slow down quickly, to tighten the turn.

The average cyclist never has to negotiate many tight corners at high speed, like those who ride in the mountains.

Last edited by DaveSSS; 03-10-20 at 03:11 PM.
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Old 03-10-20, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
Lots of misinformation above. Countersteering is turning the bars in the opposite direction of the turn. Notice that I said push on the right side to turn right. That means that the fork rotates counterclockwise to turn right. Also countersteering does NOT just initiate a turn. If you quit countersteering, the bike will straighten up an quit turning. Anyone who rides a motorcycle should know that.

The bike magically goes where you want it to? That approach will get you into trouble. One of the most common motorcycle accidents is coming into a right hand curve and either due to too much speed or too little countersteering, going over the centerline into oncoming traffic. Often the rider panics and quits countersteering, causing the wreck. The other solution is to slow down quickly, to tighten the turn.

The average cyclist never has to negotiate many tight corners at high speed, like those who ride in the mountains.
Exactly. Letting off the pressure during the corner will upright the rider and send them into the opposing ditch. As will hitting the brakes mid-corner (if the bike doesn't just skid out first).
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Old 03-10-20, 03:35 PM
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I should add that there is a time when you actually do turn the bars in the same direction as you want to go - at very low speeds, probably under 10 mph. Countersteering is not used at very low speeds. At higher speeds, the bars must be turned in the opposite direction, or you won't go where you intend. I once rode my regular 10 mile winding mountain descent with my hands in the hooks, but using an open hand so, all that could be done was to push on the bars. Push on the right to turn right and let up a little if the turn is too tight. Push on the left to turn left and let up a little if turning too tight. With hooked road bars, pushing down should cause countersteering, but down is not the real intent.
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Old 03-10-20, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Cypress View Post
Exactly...
Are you stating that your bars will turned to the left during the entirety of a right hand turn?
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