The best kept MX steering secret! (video)

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3/4/2019 6:50 AM

Through most motocross corners, you are steering with the front wheel. I say most because sometimes, riders are steering with the rear wheel by using the rear brake or throttle. When steering with the front wheel, most riders don’t really know how they are doing it. That’s hard to believe, right, but it’s true. Okay then, before reading any further, take a minute and think through how you steer with the front wheel. Now, read on and find out this one very important part of steering. Most riders think that you just lean the bike over and kind of hold the handlebar through the corner. But they would be wrong. In order to have the most control and use the least amount of physical energy you should know this one simple fact! Use your inside arm to steer, not your outside arm!

I would guess that 98% of riders weight the bars while steering and to make matters even worst, they weight both sides evenly. Weighting the bars is the first mistake. They should be supporting as much of their weight as possible on the foot pegs first, the seat second and the least amount on the handlebars. When they support they’re weight on the bars, they are making the bike top heavy. Obviously, this is not good for how the bike handles. It’s also not good for the upper body of the rider to handle the bike. This is because the upper body should remain loose, so it can move and balance the bike and maintain the body’s center of balance. The legs and core should be the stabilizers, not the arms! Through my motocross schools, I coined the phrase, “Tight Legs, Loose Arms” as a reminder. When they are weighting the bars evenly they are losing the ease and accuracy of steering with the inside bar. It only takes a very small amount of weight, pushing down, on the inside bar to make the bike turn more, and even less weight to make it maintain steering through a corner. This should be happening while the outside arm just holds the proper upper body framework and controls the positions and movements of the upper body. When you begin practicing this unique technique, it’s best to start with an easy flat, smooth corner, while going well below your max speed. After you get good at it, you’ll find it’s useful in all types of corners, even rough corners.

Before you begin practicing this secret corning technique, you should watch this short video on this very subject. It is number 5 of the “Seven most common cornering mistakes relating to body positions and movements”. This entire new video and many others are only available in my VOD Streaming and Downloading subscriptions. There you will have instant access to over 37 hours of techniques/training videos and many PDF files with illustrating photos. Download the free Intelivideo app and watch them on any Smart TV, Mobile Device or browser (without the app)! Learn more at… https://garysemicsmxschoolsandvideos.intelivideo.com/


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[b]"BECOME A BETTER, SAFER RIDER"





Gary Semics MX Schools and Technique DVDs

3/4/2019 8:45 AM

Thanks Gary. I never thought about that concept.

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3/4/2019 9:06 AM

Holy fucking shit.

My mind is blown right now. Great post.

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A wise man once said nothing

3/4/2019 9:26 AM

Man I wish you had some schools in new england

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3/4/2019 9:28 AM

As always, thanks Gary!

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3/4/2019 9:34 AM

The bike wants to physically lean the opposite way the front wheel turns.

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2017 CRF450r

3/4/2019 9:37 AM

I feel like I should be paying for this information. Thanks for sharing.

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3/4/2019 9:43 AM
Edited Date/Time: 3/4/2019 9:49 AM

I may not be able to ride like Semics but I do know physics. What he's describing but not identifying is "counter steering". A very unintuitive aspect of 2 wheel vehicle dynamics. Turn right to go left and visa versa.

The concept is more easily understood when you consider that the only way to get a bike to corner is to LEAN it first. And the only way to LEAN a bike over is to steer the front wheel "out from under" the bike itself. And the only way to LEAN a bike in the direction you want to turn is to steer in the opposite direction!

If you steer the bike left it'll "fall over" or lean to the right since the center of gratify is now offset to the right side (as determined by a theoretical line drawn between the contact patches of both wheels and a theoretical line orthogonal to the ground and the CG).

After the bike is LEANED the influences of fork rake and mechanical trail will kick in and produce a torque about the steering axis which works like power steering, turning the whole front assembly into the direction of the lean. Every lean angle has a corresponding steering angle associated with it based on the geometry of the bike, speed and corner radius.

Assuming the rider achieves the correct lean angle by counter steering (correct as it produces the correct steering angle for that particular corner/speed) all the rider needs to do is apply a small "correcting" force to maintain it throughout the corner. So the transition from counter steer to this more steady state condition is critical.

For example, if a rider just kept counter steering (beyond that required for the corner/speed) the bike would simply continue to fall over until it hit the ground! Counter steering is typically used to "setup" for the turn, getting the bikes vertical momentum going so that it'll naturally "fall" into the turn at entry.

However, counter steering produces no cornering forces on the front wheel (the force produced between the tire and the track which ultimately results in a successful turn). Cornering force requires some amount of steering angle in the direction of the turn as described above. Therefore, shortly after the "setup" stage the rider will need to stop counter steering and if necessary augment the "power steering" effect that will naturally occur, both in search of the proper steering angle to negotiate the turn.

By this time (in MX at least) you'll typically be a corner apex and to exit everything is just reversed! Simple.

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Retired Mechanical Engineer, published technical writer, mscperformance.com, Bisimotoengineering.com,

3/4/2019 2:22 PM

Go in a straight line. No pressure on either bar end, in fact, take your left hand off the bars. Lightly push your right bar forward....the bike will practically FALL into a right turn. And you never touched the left bar end to "steer" it to the right.

Road racers understand this innately.

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Ironman Texas, May 17th, 2014, I became an IRONMAN.

3/4/2019 2:35 PM

This is called counter steering. It works. Physics demands it.

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2017 CRF450r

3/4/2019 2:47 PM

I see no one has mentioned speed yet. Counter steering only occurs ABOVE speeds of roughly 22-25mph. Slower than that and you simply turn the bars in the direction you want to go and/or lean.

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3/4/2019 3:27 PM

+1. Lead with that inside hand by pushing on it. "Throw that inside hand down towards the ground". Your outside hand should be almost in front of your chest when you are turning. The inside hand should extend outside your shoulder. Butt crack should be on the side edge of the seat.

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3/4/2019 4:51 PM
Edited Date/Time: 3/4/2019 4:52 PM

mimafia wrote:

I see no one has mentioned speed yet. Counter steering only occurs ABOVE speeds of roughly 22-25mph. Slower than that and you simply turn the bars in the direction you want to go and/or lean.

.....sort of. To be more accurate, at speeds lower than some critical minimum (let's say 22-25 MPH just for argument, but I would argue it is much slower,) you need to account for gravity a little more. As speeds get slower, the direction of countersteering decreases and it eventually crosses the centerline of your frame. You are still countersteering, however, when compared to the direction of travel.

Let's imagine you are going VERY slow... just chugging along in 1st, barely keeping the motor alive. In a right-hand turn, sure you are steering to the right. However, you are not turning the bars all the way to the stops, are you? Nope, you'd immediately stand the bike up and go left if you did that; highside to the left in fact, not turn harder to the right. Instead, what you are doing is still countersteering to the left to a mild degree. Since you are leaning right, gravity wants you to fall to the right. By turning right, you are in effect "standing up" the bike, keeping it from falling. From a steering perspective, however, you are still steering ever so slightly left compared to your direction of travel.

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Braaapin' aint easy.

3/4/2019 4:56 PM

Ride laps of a track sitting down but don't put your foot out through corners. You'll feel what Gary means. I'm from a road race background, unfortunately I still carry my elbows down too much haha

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3/4/2019 4:58 PM
Edited Date/Time: 3/4/2019 5:09 PM

mimafia wrote:

I see no one has mentioned speed yet. Counter steering only occurs ABOVE speeds of roughly 22-25mph. Slower than that and you simply turn the bars in the direction you want to go and/or lean.

Correct, with a few caveats.

Anytime you are going so slow as to not produce any cornering force the bike will still turn but only because of the mechanical profile of the tire just like dropping a washer on the floor and watching it follow a curved path because it was slightly leaned to one side.

It works great when moving the bike around the garage and at jogging speed but changes once you add decent "traction" and race speeds (in all but the tightest corners). You'll see examples of NOT counter steering even at the pro level. Typically happens when the rider panics coming into a tight corner and tries to physically "steer" the bike into the turn without leaning first. Essentially, the bike wants to continue straight even though the front wheel is turned into the corner. Since the front wheel is not aimed in the direction the bike is traveling it'll start to skid and if not corrected will "wash out" just as if the rider jammed on the front brake. Another tail tell sign is excessive dabbing and/or dragging of the inside foot towards the back of the bike.

Granted, there are other ways to initiate LEAN like hanging off the inside like a roadracer or literally "throwing down" the bike using your upper body. However, while these techniques have a place they're typically inefficient in most situations. For example, a really heavy rider can much more effectively lean a bike using upper body than a lighter rider who'll probably end up leaning more in the opposite direction than the bike, a net change of zero. It's a case of action-reaction.

There's Gyroscopic Precession forces that are significant only at certain speeds but that's a whole different discussion.

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Retired Mechanical Engineer, published technical writer, mscperformance.com, Bisimotoengineering.com,

3/4/2019 5:04 PM

Some of you dont have a motorcycle endorsement and it shows haha.

Good post gary. Always great content from you

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3/4/2019 5:25 PM

mimafia wrote:

I see no one has mentioned speed yet. Counter steering only occurs ABOVE speeds of roughly 22-25mph. Slower than that and you simply turn the bars in the direction you want to go and/or lean.

mark911 wrote:

Correct, with a few caveats.

Anytime you are going so slow as to not produce any cornering force the bike will still turn but only because of the mechanical profile of the tire just like dropping a washer on the floor and watching it follow a curved path because it was slightly leaned to one side.

It works great when moving the bike around the garage and at jogging speed but changes once you add decent "traction" and race speeds (in all but the tightest corners). You'll see examples of NOT counter steering even at the pro level. Typically happens when the rider panics coming into a tight corner and tries to physically "steer" the bike into the turn without leaning first. Essentially, the bike wants to continue straight even though the front wheel is turned into the corner. Since the front wheel is not aimed in the direction the bike is traveling it'll start to skid and if not corrected will "wash out" just as if the rider jammed on the front brake. Another tail tell sign is excessive dabbing and/or dragging of the inside foot towards the back of the bike.

Granted, there are other ways to initiate LEAN like hanging off the inside like a roadracer or literally "throwing down" the bike using your upper body. However, while these techniques have a place they're typically inefficient in most situations. For example, a really heavy rider can much more effectively lean a bike using upper body than a lighter rider who'll probably end up leaning more in the opposite direction than the bike, a net change of zero. It's a case of action-reaction.

There's Gyroscopic Precession forces that are significant only at certain speeds but that's a whole different discussion.

Mark, it almost sounds like you know what you're talking about. Haha just kidding. Thanks for the more detailed explanation. You too Falcon.

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3/4/2019 6:28 PM

Good stuff. Thanks.

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3/4/2019 6:46 PM

That's like part of the holy grail. Awesome !!

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There's something happening here, what it is ain't exactly clear.

3/5/2019 8:46 PM

Excellent info.

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3/6/2019 12:26 AM

And now I know why I can't turn right.

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3/6/2019 12:14 PM



Counter steering and target fixation explained well. (WARNING! might be disturbing for some)

When I started road racing I wnt to a Suzuki school w/ Dave Aldana. He explained it well and it knocked seconds off of my lap times. We call it tipping in.
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3/6/2019 12:22 PM
Edited Date/Time: 3/6/2019 12:26 PM

VetMX.com wrote:



Counter steering and target fixation explained well. (WARNING! might be disturbing for some)

When I started road racing I wnt to a Suzuki school w/ Dave Aldana. He explained it well and it knocked seconds off of my lap times. We call it tipping in.

Here is another video demonstrating the principle with a guy steering by pushing with just one finger.

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3/6/2019 1:11 PM

Just another reason why using your feet is so important. If you ride from your feet this instantly becomes blatantly obvious.

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www.cromp.com.au
MX | Enduro | Adventure

we ride it. we know it. we love it. we sell it.

3/6/2019 3:22 PM

Another laymans video to show this.



I used to work at a motorcycle dealer and would trip out my boss (the owner) by doing this in front of him on the road. Especially when you do it with something like a Goldwing - he had no idea that you could change direction or swerve so fast.

I also did a fair amount of road biking when doing triathlons and the same thing applies. Quick swerve to avoid something on the road - push into the same side you want to turn to. It's fast!
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Ironman Texas, May 17th, 2014, I became an IRONMAN.

3/6/2019 5:19 PM

Counter steering, although not very intuitive, is required and done by everyone on two wheels whether they know it or not. The idea of steering the front wheel out from under the bike to initiate lean in the opposite direction is easy enough to understand if you think about it. However, there's another powerful force that can also come into play under the right circumstances that the one (disturbing) video link kinda touched upon. That force is gyroscopic precession.

Given a front wheel of sufficient mass (like an MX or street bike) spinning at a reasonable speed (pretty fast in MX, typical in street), IF the rider sharply (quickly) and forcibly steers in one direction (lets say left) the precession force created by the front wheel will literally force the bike to lean RIGHT, like a huge gust of wind suddenly slammed into the left side. This has nothing to do with moving the CG out from under the center of the wheel paths like counter steering. In fact, if you could somehow spinup the front wheel while standing perfectly still and snap the handlebars quickly to one side the bike would probably fall over to the opposite side!

So when people talk about how "quick" counter steering can react in panic situations what's really (also) happening is the effect of gyroscopic precession forcing the bike to quickly lean. The key here is "quick movements" both by rider and bike. You can't generate significant precession force with slow movement. Ever wonder how the SX/freestyle guys can get their bikes so contorted and bring them back. Now you know one of the secrets. It's also why a good whip is preceded and followed by quick "lock-to-lock" handlebar movement. Also illustrates as the video shows that doing the wrong movement can be disastrous.

What's really tough to understand is that the opposite is/isn't true (depending on how you look at it). If the rider forces the bike to QUICKLY LEAN by exaggerated body position (or whatever) without counter steering the precession force will actually try to stand the bike up! Ever wonder why your front wheel always seems to wash out more easily when you try and lean the bike using only your upper body as a counterweight? it's the same force but now acting in another plane (Steering moves the wheel side-to-side, Leaning moves the wheel top-to-bottom).

Now, don't forget the back wheel isn't immune to all this physics stuff either. It can drive you nuts thinking about it. If you're like me it's all very interesting, but I appreciate the guys that could care less and go way faster than I could ever think about.

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Retired Mechanical Engineer, published technical writer, mscperformance.com, Bisimotoengineering.com,

3/6/2019 5:35 PM
Edited Date/Time: 3/6/2019 6:05 PM

To further the point try this on a street bike: Going into a corner push on the opposite side footpeg. As you push down you are actually transferring that motion through your torso diagonally to your opposite arm/hand and bar end. Same with a dirt bike (but it's EZ to demonstrate on the street) so effectively by weighting the OUTSIDE peg going into a corner you initiate the counter steering technique while getting the advantage of weighting the outside peg (win, win).

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3/6/2019 5:47 PM

Always great info!! tc

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