In the June edition of my monthly Service department in Cycle World’s print magazine, I offered a basic explanation of motorcycle countersteering. I did so in response to a question submitted by a reader whose bike had been crashed by a relative who evidently did not know—or remember, if he did know—that countersteering is what a rider must use to make a bike turn.
Then, in the August issue, I included a reactive letter from a gentleman named Sam Adair who insisted that countersteering does not exist. He told me to stop spreading such “utter nonsense,” claiming that “I lean my bike into corners all the time, up to 45 degrees, and have never once ‘countersteered.’ Look left, lean left, turn left; look right, lean right, turn right… No countersteering necessary.”
I did not run Mr. Adair’s letter in Service to ridicule him; instead, I hoped it would motivate readers to respond with their own opinions on the topic and shine more much-needed light on a subject that every motorcycle rider should know and understand—and that could keep more riders alive and well.
It worked. Since the August issue reached subscribers and newsstands, dozens of responses, both electronic and paper, have poured in commenting on Mr. Adair’s unshakable rejection of pure physical reality. What follows are some of the, uh, more interesting excerpts.
“I was fascinated by Mr. Adair’s profound conviction of his belief that countersteering doesn’t exist. It’s like a conspiracy theorist talking about NASA’s ‘fake’ moon landing!”
“I’ll bet you [Sam] $10K in cash that at 30 mph, for instance, when you lightly press the left handlebar forward, effectively turning the wheel slightly to the RIGHT, your bike will lean slightly to your LEFT and tend to fall in that direction. The bike will TURN LEFT! Works every single time! THAT is countersteering. The laws of physics don’t change for you!”
John Manning, Jr.
“Cycle World needs to put a small paragraph on the first page from now on that says this: EVERY RIDER COUNTERSTEERS, car tires are not made for motorcycles, and your Harley 1450 cannot beat my Ducati 1100 because it has more cc. Lastly, Mr. Adair, I just heard that water is wet. That can’t be true, right?”
“In regard to Mr. Adair’s countersteering comments in the August Feedback Loop, I have a suggestion: Perfectly align his bike’s front and rear wheels. Secure the fork solidly so the handlebars do not turn. Trailer the machine about 200 feet from his favorite sweeping curve near an open field. Have him hop on and get going about 50 mph and do nothing but lean into his favorite curve. The open field will assist the paramedics in medevacking him to the trauma center.”
“Poor Sam. He is an accident waiting to happen.”
“Over my 40-plus years of riding, I’ve encountered more than one disbeliever when trying to explain countersteering. I’ve had a few of them see the light by pointing out that their ‘body-steering’ really is countersteering.”
“Here’s a suggestion for Mr. Adair: Attach a bracket to the fork and frame of your motorcycle so that the fork is locked in the straight-ahead position. Then have your buddies film as you ‘lean’ your bike through some twisties. The video should be very instructive…and hilarious.”
“I wonder what else Mr. Adair believes in. Santa Claus? Easter Bunny? Tooth Fairy? The world is flat?”