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bike science: more than 1 way to turn a bike?

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bike science: more than 1 way to turn a bike?

Old 05-18-21, 02:11 PM
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bike science: more than 1 way to turn a bike?

My impression is that a bike can be either steered or leaned to turn.

That you can keep a bike more upright and turn it by moving the bars. Or that you can move the bars less and lean it over more to turn it.

Who is a bike science expert here?

I understand countersteering. I also see that wiki says "countersteering has not yet been fully described in scientific literature."

It seems like some geometry is more conducive to leaning a bike. ...Fork flop is a front end function. Some bikes have a slack head angle and thus a lot of fork flop and yet don't turn the bike quickly: like a chopper. The front wheel lays over more than it redirects the bike. Other bikes have steep head angle and small bar movements change bike direction a lot.

I feel like I can take slippery corners faster than many riders, especially in cyclocross, because I have more steer in my ratio of lean/steer. The bike might as a result slide in a corner but it doesn't fall down. (This happens in rain, mud, snow.)

In fast flat crit corners I feel like I can go thru them faster because I keep pedaling through the corner, again because of my steer proportion. ...In an UPHILL corner most know how to corner AND keep the power on, but some do get confused because they aren't used to powering and cornering at the same time.

[UPDATE: As I mention somewhere below, turning while keeping a more upright bike angle gives 2 kinds of safety that can benefit anyone: helps you avoid sliding out in a slippery corner, helps you do emergency moves like pothole avoidance more safely. I've benefited often from both. I've seen many crashes by those who don't seem to know how to do this. I've also seen science-types say it's not possible. I'm wondering what's happening. I've had elite riders tell me that my imagined ability to steer comes from bent arms which is what is keeping me safe not steering. So there's that.]
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Old 05-18-21, 02:19 PM
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You steer by both leaning into the turn and pushing the handlebar away from you — eg, if you are turning left, you are pushing away the left side of the bar.

Not that anyone needs to know anything about it to ride a bike. It just sort of happens.

Last edited by Koyote; 05-18-21 at 04:32 PM.
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Old 05-18-21, 02:23 PM
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I think a lot of crashes in fast groups happen because people swoop/bank/lean to avoid something and they lose control or collide w another rider or wheel. Steering seems a more precise way to move around. So if there are 2 ways to turn and one is safer then riders should know about it. I see the steer and lean aspects as being a ratio. ...Someone can hold their arms stiff and swoop to avoid a pothole -- just shove the bars and frame toward the ground -- and maybe crash. If you have more steer in the equation then the bars tilt over less but move more in the headset. And the saddle doesn't move as much.
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Old 05-18-21, 02:45 PM
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Heh. I was just thinking yesterday that we havenít had a countersteering thread in a while.
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Old 05-18-21, 02:45 PM
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Counter steering.

edit - indy beat me to it, by seconds.
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Old 05-18-21, 03:16 PM
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I prefer to stay as upright as possible when cornering or making turns. I shift my body weight and turn the handlebars. I don't like to lean over because that's how crashes and accidents happen especially when roads are wet or littered with debris such as leaves ..I also ride a fixed gear bike a lot and the risk of pedal striking the ground is too great when leaning over, I just prefer not to lean over.
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Old 05-18-21, 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted by JeffOYB View Post
So if there are 2 ways to turn and one is safer then riders should know about it. I see the steer and lean aspects as being a ratio.
There are not "two ways to turn." There are multiple things that happen at the same time, but you are trying to think of them as distinct actions.
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Old 05-18-21, 06:43 PM
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Yay! Counter steer thread!

Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
There are not "two ways to turn." There are multiple things that happen at the same time, but you are trying to think of them as distinct actions.
Agreed. I also think there is no way to change the amount of lean that doesn't also change turning arc or speed.

Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
I prefer to stay as upright as possible when cornering or making turns. I shift my body weight and turn the handlebars. I don't like to lean over because that's how crashes and accidents happen especially when roads are wet or littered with debris such as leaves ..I also ride a fixed gear bike a lot and the risk of pedal striking the ground is too great when leaning over, I just prefer not to lean over.
For a given speed and turn arc, the lean is going to be what it will be. There is no way to will or force the bike to be more upright without changing these two things.
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Old 05-18-21, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
There are not "two ways to turn."
There are indeed two ways to initiate a turn:

1. counter steering (turn bars away from intended direction)

2. body "english" (shift body weight towards intended direction)
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Old 05-18-21, 06:57 PM
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Hasn't it pretty much been proven that no one can accurately describe what they do to turn? If we had to think through keeping our balance in pretty much any context, we'd all flop over.
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Old 05-18-21, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
There are not "two ways to turn." There are multiple things that happen at the same time, but you are trying to think of them as distinct actions.
Huh? Look at what you quote. I'm not. See the term "ratio." As in a blend of things happening in varying degrees. As I describe in detail. Not distinct. Not in what I wrote, anyway. But science?

(Of course I beat everyone to countersteering, jeez!)
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Old 05-18-21, 07:06 PM
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Steering a bike is a combination of the lean angle and the orientation of the wheel (where the bars are pointing).

There are many combinations of these (infinite, theoretically) that result in the same radius turn.
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Old 05-18-21, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by AlmostTrick View Post
Yay! Counter steer thread!



Agreed. I also think there is no way to change the amount of lean that doesn't also change turning arc or speed.



For a given speed and turn arc, the lean is going to be what it will be. There is no way to will or force the bike to be more upright without changing these two things.
If you think of the lean angle using the center of gravity of you and the bike, I think you are correct.

However, you can go through a turn with the bike itself more or less upright by leaning the bike relative to your body.

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Old 05-18-21, 07:15 PM
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the tire & sidewall changes the outcome too. I had some skinnyish gravel tires that would easily give out on an aggressive turn, but I could lean a lot & stay moving. Try that with the slicks, & I'll be picking up my face.
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Old 05-18-21, 07:26 PM
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This video has a couple interesting modified motorbikes to demonstrate steering: One with a separate set of fixed handlebars, and one with a pointer on the tank to better show small movements of the bars,

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Old 05-18-21, 07:32 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Heh. I was just thinking yesterday that we havenít had a countersteering thread in a while.
^ This.
From tots on balance bikes to speedway and motogp, all bike steering is counter steering.

A rider might change lean angle by moving weight around, but that isnít directly related to actually steering.
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Old 05-18-21, 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
This video has a couple interesting modified motorbikes to demonstrate steering: One with a separate set of fixed handlebars, and one with a pointer on the tank to better show small movements of the bars,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWuTcJcqAng
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Old 05-18-21, 08:11 PM
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Back in grammar school with my coaster brake bike, I would just start a turn, lock up the rear brake, slide while laying down rubber and go on and repeat. Went through a lot of back tires.
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Old 05-18-21, 08:24 PM
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As well as bicycle racing, I did some motorcycle racing in my younger days. "Steering" a motorcycle is counter-intuitive. One of the firs things I was taught on the track was how to do a "flick", which is a quick turn in one direction or the other. To make a quick right turn, you actually push against the right grip and push the foot peg with your left foot, this causes the motorcycle to lean quickly and turn to the right. To make a quick turn to the left, you do the opposite. Once you are leaned over in the turning position, you more or less naturally maintain the balance necessary to navigate the turn, faster or sharper turns requiring a steeper lean than slower or more gradual turns.

Counter-steering is something one does when the rear wheels and the front wheels are attempting to go in different directions, such as when you lose control of a car (or motorcycle) on a slippery service. The back wheels slide left and/or right, and you turn the wheel or bar in order to make the front wheel/s counteract the direction of the rear wheel/s. In such situations, you control the overall direction by turning the front wheel/s in the direction you want to go, and controlling the direction of the rear wheel/s with the throttle. You'll see this in flat track motorcycle racing, or race cars "drifting." More throttle pushes the rear of the vehicle more outward, less throttle moves the rear of the vehicle inward. With no throttle, the rear wheel/s will follow the front wheel/s. On a bicycle this is irrelevant, as your legs cannot provide power as smoothly or as strongly as an engine.
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Old 05-18-21, 09:06 PM
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Dang, I thought it just happens naturally, like osmosis. I didn't realize it was that technical. Now, I'm thinking about how I trigger a turn. Honestly, I can't come up with an answer at the moment.
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Old 05-18-21, 09:23 PM
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I though when we learned as kids to ride with no hands we also learned about steering by shifting body weight. As with the video above, I recall needing a wide berth to make turns and sharp turns were not possible.
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Old 05-18-21, 09:59 PM
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Originally Posted by rsbob View Post
Back in grammar school with my coaster brake bike, I would just start a turn, lock up the rear brake, slide while laying down rubber and go on and repeat. Went through a lot of back tires.
I guess that makes three ways to turn... lol.

John
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Old 05-18-21, 10:00 PM
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Originally Posted by seypat View Post
Dang, I thought it just happens naturally, like osmosis. I didn't realize it was that technical. Now, I'm thinking about how I trigger a turn. Honestly, I can't come up with an answer at the moment.
Ride your bike in a big empty parking lot. Ride it in a straight line fast.
Push either the left or right handlebar forward hard.
Let us know what happens.
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Old 05-19-21, 05:01 AM
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Originally Posted by seypat View Post
Dang, I thought it just happens naturally, like osmosis. I didn't realize it was that technical. Now, I'm thinking about how I trigger a turn. Honestly, I can't come up with an answer at the moment.

Your first sentence is correct. You learned to do it without consciously understanding it. Our brains are "wired" so that maintaining our locomotion really isn't a series of conscious decisions to move this body part or another. If you had to actually think through all of the adjustments your body needs to maintain balance while bipedal walking, you just wouldn't be able to do it.

I was probably 4 years old when I learned how to turn a bike, pretty sure I wasn't doing it theoretically. "Relearning" another method is unrealistic . My brain simply isn't capable of redoing all the instinctive calculations that go into controlling myself on the vehicle.
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Old 05-19-21, 07:17 AM
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After taking a motorcycle training course to get a motorcycle endorsement on my driver's license and buying my first motorcycle at age 50, I learned from from the instructor to push on the right side of the bars to turn right. If you quit pushing the bike will quit leaning and go straight. Counter steering force must be maintained to keep turning. It's not just something you do to initiate a turn. The problem with drop bar road bikes is that pushing to rotate the bars from the drops is awkward. For most, it's pushing down that translates to a small rotation of the bars. With a straight bar bike, counter steering works more like a motorcycle. A common cause of motorcycle accidents is failing to push hard enough in a right turn. The rider panics and quits pushing, with the bike going into the on coming lane. Slowing down also tightens the turn.
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