Steering is countersteering.

Motorcycle racing games amuse me, there is all this detailed simulation of moving weight around forwards and backwards to manage grip during acceleration and braking, yet the most basic part is utterly wrong move control stick left, bike goes left. This further propagates the misconceptions of how two wheeled vehicles steer.

On a motorcycle (or bicycle) apply a small force to the handlebars turning the front wheel to the right (usually by pushing on the left bar) and the bike will lean over to the left. Stop applying that force and the caster effect will cause the front wheel to turn itself to follow a stable curved trajectory.

At very low speeds, frictional forces between the tyre and road may prevent the castor effect so the rider must both initiate a small amount of lean and then turn the bars to follow the curve himself. It may be the case that a slow turn can be initiated by muscling the bars around and moving the body to balance, this will likely cause a wobble that will need steering input to correct, resulting in a similar counter steering manoeuvre.

Beyond walking pace steering is a brief light push on a bar to initiate lean, then applying no force to either bar as the wheel aligns to the lean angle by the caster effect. Small pushes on either bar adjust the angle of turn. Briefly push the bars so the wheel points further into the curve and the bike will stand up. Of course it’s all about knowing how hard and how long to push for, which is something one picks up with practice very quickly.

My point is the control input the rider makes is a torque (turning force) on the bars, not a degree of rotation as it would be on a four wheeled vehicle.

Furthermore one cannot steer a bike by leaning alone. This myth propagates as changes in body position executed badly cause a torque on the bars and thus turning. The Califonia Superbike school has a bike with one set of bars fixed to the frame of the bike and another fixed to the front forks, turning the front wheel in the conventional manner. It is a tool used to demonstrate to riders that lean alone will not steer a bike as a moving bike is incredibly stable.

If you can’t see it it’s not there.

Two MotoGP stars have ended their careers in recently years, citing invisible illnesses or injury. Casey Stoner I think I have talked about before.

 “…they demand visible proof – a plaster cast, bones protruding through flesh, something they can see. They are not prepared to accept invisible problems…” –Ben Spies on Asphalt and Rubber

I appear to be inadvertently wearing Spies’ helmet colours, partly as I liked the design, partly as the design was discounted on the HJG FG-15 I wanted. This was enough prodding to take enough interest in a the rider in case i was accosted  by a rabid fan. I have not found any in this country yet, but the helmet design gets plenty of comments and questions about who painted it.

I digress, Spies had a number of crashes landing badly on the same shoulder, which contributed to a career ending injury. He left MotoGP a shadow of his former talent, with a large proportion of both the MotoGP circus and fans of the sport unable to comprehend why he’d left because they couldn’t see the injury. I can almost hear the cries of “but you don’t look sick”.