Countersteer or not

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#1
I have just got back to dirtbike riding after a 15 year layoff.I have been riding street bikes forever. The problem that I have is that I am having trouble trying to turn quickly in the tight stuff. I still think I am on a street bike and try to counter steer. To go left you turn the bars to the right. I does not work too well on a dirt bike.What is the correct way and how could I practice it.
 

_SOLO_

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#2
Act like you are riding a bike. I don't know the difference between a street bikes handeling and a dirt bike's. But just act like you are riding a bike. That is all I can say because I am not very good with words.
 

Wraith

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#3
colorado-high, I'm having the same problems as you are. Got out of the dirt 10 years ago. Then got off the street 1 year ago. Now I'm back in the dirt. I'm improving but I think I'm going to buy some technic videos (anyone know which ones are the best out there). My problem was basically,,,,,,well, the basics. I found a way to get them embeded into the back off my mind was to over emphasize everthing, ie weighting pegs, elbows up, body position on the bike,etc, etc, etc. Try some technis videos. When I started on the street, I bought Keith Codes and it really helped. Then I went to his school and was enlightend. Or something like that :D ;)
 
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#4
The ONLY way to turn a bike at more than 10 mph is counter steering. The problemis this: On a dirt bike you lean the bike in the direction of the turn and MOVE YOUR BODY THE OTHER WAY. It seems very wierd at first to us with a lot of street bike experience. Try it. It really helps in gravel and sand!:D
 

mtngoat

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#6
I transitioned from street (30 years) to dirt too. My experience from street was that counter-steering was a subtle "turn-initiator", the degree of which "set" the lean, followed by fine-tuning using body lean. I quickly learned that more variables needed attention in the dirt.

Here's my question: I know about "counter-leaning", but when? Always? It seems that sometimes I'm better off leaning in than leaning out (especially if traction is good and depending on whether I sit or stand thru a turn). And I'm not able to do a lot of analysis when it's happening (seems that when I try to think it thru when it's happening, I risk busting my you know). Maybe you really never understand what or how you do it; you just do it... or don't.
I may be weird, but I like understanding.
 
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#7
If you look up the California Superbike School they have a fascinating bike that has an extra set of handlebars mounted on the frame. Many riders including pros have tried to turn the bike while holding on to these bars and none could.
 
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#8
My general rules of thumb for cornering are as follows:

Off camber or flat turns - get your weight to the outside edge of the seat and keep your body upright whilst leaning the bike over by pushing your inside arm down and away from you, and getting your outside elbow up high. Make sure you look at your exit point and where you want to go rather than down at the ground Weight the outside peg as well.

Berms - leaning with the bike is only going to be successful if you maintain a decent speed

I try and get my weight right up front as well, looking where I want to go is really important.

I hope this helps
 

Max Factor

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#9
Colarado,
I went the other way, been riding dirt bikes since I was a kid and got into road bikes and racing a few years ago.
From my experience, they are much more similar than you think. As many of the others here have said, on the dirt, counter steering is an essential techique to go fast on the dirt. The big difference is you need you weight on the high side and outside of a dirt bike. If you have a look at many photo's of pro's riding you'll see the classic outside elbow up, inner leg out and upright body, tip the bike under you. I once read that one of the pro's positions the edge of the seat in his crack as he tips in (sorry for the graphic description :eek: ).
If your still riding the street bike you'll notice how much the dirt riding helps. I now race a Superbike and being able to 'back it in' to corner like a dirt bike is an awesome feeling. Super Motard, here I come! :)
 
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#10
Street bikes seem to steer themselves, dirt bikes are all you. I recently bought a bumper thumper (dual purpose) bike, and I find it a lot harder to steer on the road than a street bike. Certainly, the aggressive nobbies don't help.
 
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#11
Over the years, I have had access to several different training tapes on riding a dirt bike. There have been a few theories which tend to contradict the other. For example, the issue of turning. Multi-Time enduro champ **** Burleson advocates turning the bike by simply pressing in against the gas tank/seat, while turning the shoulders slightly in the direction that you want to go. But do not, according to Burleson, lean away or remian upright as you turn. He feels the shoulder posistion dictates the bikes direction of travel, and that by keeping the upper body upright, you are giving mixed up signals to the bike. Gary Semics and Brad Lackey on the other hand insist that on flat/off-camber turns, you tilt the bike, while keeping your upper body verticle and erect. In negotaiting berms, you would lean with the bike. In all turns, it was noted that leaning your head into the turn would aid in cornering. I have tried both and have found the Semics/Lackey appraoch more effective for me. I suspect body size and type, have an effect in the way the bike responds to body input for direction changes. Another factor is that by completley relaxing the upper body, all your weight goes low to the foot pegs through your legs. This seems to aid in gaining traction and improving handling since the bikes weight is lower instead of being top heavy. A factor which will surface if your are tense.
 

mtngoat

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#12
Thanks for all the replies.
That "crack'o'the seat" tip seems to work well for me. And, I can see where the "lean with the bike" tactic would work; with fairly certain traction conditions, like on a track and into a berm. Leaning with the bike seems to increase turning momentum (and probably speed) requiring good traction to pull it off.
For unknown traction and inconsistent conditions (trails), the counter-lean seems to make a lot more sense since it seems I'm better positioned to recover/adjust from a loss of traction. Weird thing is I'm much more comfortable making a right turn than left; something that I didn't notice with street riding. More practice.
 
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#13
Hi:

I would like to add something. One of the main differences between dirt and road is that in the street there are no berms. When you turn weighing the bike from the outside,sitting on the edge of the seat, you are putting most of the traction (if you make a vector diagram you will see it) on the edge of the tire (the edge in contact with the ground) so you use this technique for flat turns. But when there is a berm where all the contact patch of the wheel is printing over the wall of the berm you can weigh the bike by sitting in the middle of the seat, putting all the traction on the center of the tire.
Other technique for brake slides on tight corners is this, when you approach the turn with the bike still vertical lock the rear brake and then countersteer (still vertical) the rear wheel will slide to the direction of the countersteer. Try this at slow speed, at first feels akward but you will see that works.

Hope I made myself clear. Good luck.:)
 

mtngoat

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#14
Thanks Pedro, I'll try that. It makes perfect sense, since I've used counter-steering to initiate turns on street bikes. The real trick for me is refining what happens next. Seems I can hold the counter-steer after the wheel breaks loose and slide through, picking a point after the apex to steer in and gas it. But, it also seems I can make the turn faster by steering in before the apex and throttling just enough to make the rear tire bite through and after the apex.