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Old 03-31-2010, 06:26 AM   #1
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Steering Alone Turns A Bike

tb 0102BOODWFAB

Keith Code's No Body Steering Bike uses an extra set of
bars solidly mounted to the bike's frame to prove that body
steering/leaning will not cause the motorcycle to turn.


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So how do you actually turn a motorcycle?

BY CLIFF GROMER
Published in the February 2001 issue.

The argument has raged since the days of the earliest motorcycles: What technique actually steers a motorcycle—body lean or turning the handlebars? This is no light matter. Investigations, in which accidents were reconstructed, found that in the vast majority of rider versus obstacle conflicts, the rider does not even attempt an evasive steering action that could save him. Much of this inaction can be blamed on conflicting information about how the motorcycle steering function works, which can lead to rider panic and uncertainty in emergency situations.
Keith Code, a leading motorcycle riding instructor and founder of the noted California Superbike School, has put a cap on this controversy with his new No Body Steering Bike (No B.S. Bike). This specially designed motorcycle proves that only steering, and not body steering/leaning, turns a bike.

After researching the fundamentals of counter steering—covering the gamut from the Wright brothers and their studies of counter steering and tandem-wheel vehicles, to studies done by Honda Motor Co. in the '70s—Code built the No B.S. Bike, a midsize ZX 6R Kawasaki. Code added an extra set of handlebars, solidly mounted to the frame above the standard bars. Then he added a second, functional throttle to the extra bar assembly so riders could maintain speed while grasping the bars.

More than 100 riders have tested their body steering/leaning methods on the No B.S. Bike, and all have come away with the irrefutable conclusion: Body steering and leaning does not steer a motorcycle. Steering alone turns a bike.

Code also has authored a number of motorcycle riding instructional books and has produced videos on the same subject. You can get more information on Keith Code, the California Superbike School and Code's books and videos by calling 805-969-3744.
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Old 03-31-2010, 07:42 AM   #2
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Quote:
The Correct Brothers
It shouldn't be alarming to me that riders still question how to steer their motorcycles but it is. Apparently, even after 90 years when it was first observed by the Wright brothers some confusion remains on this subject . Yes, their first engineering attempts were as bicycle manufacturers. The very observant brothers, determined that tandem-wheeled (one wheel in front of the other) vehicles countersteer. That was and still is correct.

Sources of Confusion
It is easy to see how confusion arises on the subject of steering for anyone of us who started their riding on pedal bikes. The steering is so light on a bicycle that riders have difficulty in separating the shift of their body mass (leaning into it) with the slight effort it takes to countersteer.

Further confusion arises from word of mouth advice on riding. I have even seen articles in usually credible national magazines extolling the virtues of body mass type of steering. Body Steering as it is called. I have surveyed thousands of riders on this point. Most riders still believe that some of the steering is being done with their body mass or weight shift or pressure on the motorcycle's tank or pegs. Their estimates on how effective these are in getting the bike to turn range anywhere from 10% to 90%, some believe all of it is weight shift.

Swoopy Steering
If it weren't so grim, it's almost comical to watch a rider who does not understand how steering is accomplished. You can see them riding down the freeway trying and failing to change lanes by body steering and still appear cool while doing so. I have seen it dozens of times. It goes like this: The rider does a very swoopy upper body swing in the direction he wishes to go but for an agonizing (to me) moment, nothing happens. There is a perceivable lag between the upper body swoop and the bike's deflection from its original course. How terrifying it must be to find that the bike doesn't instantly respond.

Stiffen To Steer
Following that is a stiffening of the rider's upper body. Only then does the bike respond and change lanes. You see how this works? The rider's body is positioned off-center, from his swoop, in the intended direction of the lane change. The stiffening on the bars creates the countersteering action, because he has either pushed on the inside bar or stiffened and pulled on the outside one or a combination of both. This stiffening is actually a mild panic reaction. Many riders have simply learned to live with the lag and to think it is how their bike handles. That is false. A motorcycle responds almost instantly to countersteering.

Vague Technique
Riders have a number of ideas, which are vague and hard for them to describe, on just how their weight shifting accomplishes this so called body steering. "Throwing" their upper body mass to one side or the other (the swoop) is one. Some say they just push down on the inside peg. Some say they pull the bike over with the outside leg against the tank. Some say it is a combination of two or even all three of the above methods. Do they work?

Clear the Issue
My job is to make riding simple and to clear up conflicting information that a rider may have on the subject of riding. Any confusion translates into reduced control, as in the lag from swoop to lane change; and confidence, as in the bike won't do what I want it to, when I want it to. Riders don't like the uncertainty and love the feeling of confidence. I decided to clarify this steering issue, body vs counter, very simply and very plainly. I reasoned that anyone who could see how it works and experience the real steering procedure would have dramatically improved their chances of survival against the perils of 21st Century Earth street riding. Steering must be done and done quickly if a rider has any hope of confidently neutralizing those perils.

Expert Opinions
I was actually in a deep confusion on this subject of body steering myself. Riders the caliber of Eric Bostrum have told me that they do it to some degree, to help steer. Freddie Spencer has made a statement to that effect and of course Reg Pridmore has made it the banner for his CLASS schools for 15 years. Jason's STAR school has been written up as teaching body steering as well.

With great to good credentials like that it should be so, and even I was a little shaken in my certainty. Maybe there was something in it after all. I hate to miss anything.

The Experiments
For my part, experimenting with pressure on the pegs, the tank, adjusting my body mass and combinations of all three on the bike resulted in nothing I would consider steering. In other words, something that could be used in an emergency maneuver or to aggressively flick the bike into a corner or through a set of esses.

Eventually I arrived at a potential solution to my questions that would eliminate my opinions and/or misunderstanding on the subject.

The Solution
Make a bike that has two sets of bars. One set as normal, the other set would be solid-mounted to the frame so they were not connected to and did not rotate the forks. This, as my theory went, would answer the question. And it does.

The Machine
Taking one of our Kawasaki ZX 6Rs and solid-mounting a set of bars 8" above the standard ones would positively isolate the various body shifting from the counter steering. If body steering had any effect it would be simple to show it. I created a bike with that setup. One necessary detail was to mount an additional throttle on the upper, solid-mounted bars, so the bike's stability could be maintained as the user rode down the road. So we wound up with two sets of handlebars and two operating throttles on the bike.

Dirty Exceptions
Before I go any further I want to address off-road motorcycles. An off-road motorcycle will easily steer by pressing down on the inside peg, and in conjunction with shifting the upper body mass, will go over pretty easily . Still not what I would call good control but it can be done fairly efficiently.

Again, I am not a true tech guy, but it occurs to me that the small contact patch on knobbies or dual sport tires plus dirt bike steering geometry (which is not intended to provide an enormous amount of stability at speed) contribute to the reasons why steering results from weight shifts to the degree it does on a dirt bike.

No B.S.
At this writing, we have run nearly 100 riders of all experience levels on this double-barred bike. It has made believers out of every single one in the actuality of countersteering of course. Even at speeds of no more than 20 to 35 mph, no matter how much you tug or push or pull or jump around on the bike, the best we saw was that the bike wiggled and became somewhat unstable. Did it turn? Not really. Would it turn at higher speed? Absolutely not. Could you avoid something in your path? No Way. Could anyone quick turn the bike? Hopeless! The best result was one of my riding coaches. He got into a full hang-off position and was able to persuade the bike, by jerking on it, to start on a wide, wide arc in the paddock at Laguna Seca, a piece of asphalt that is about 500 X 800 feet. Like turning an oil tanker ship, start at noon and be on the turning arc at around 1:00 PM. It wasn't smooth and it wasn't very effective.

We now call this bike "The NO BS Bike". There are no doubts in anyone's mind after they ride it that they have been countersteering all along. No doubts.

You can hear riders who believed in the body steering method, laughing in their helmets at 100 yards away, once they get those solid-mounted bars in their hands and try to body steer the bike. They just shake their heads. No B.S.

Dangerous Misconceptions
Now if you want to look a little further into this, what you will see is this: riders who still labor under the misconception that they body steer are devoting themselves to a system that can do a great deal of actual harm. Firstly, it is seriously misguided to add an additional series of actions to the steering process. When it is quick, critical steering that is needed to avoid something, that lag I have observed so many times in street riders, could cost you your hide.

Adding 2/10ths to 5/10ths of a second, or more, to the steering procedure at 60 mph means that you have just gone another 18 to 44 feet, or more, down the road before you started to avoid that muffler lying in your path. Kids, don't try this at home.

The way things are going there will be warning labels on motorcycles in the not too distant future.

WARNING: THIS VEHICLE COUNTERSTEERS. IF YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND COUNTERSTEERING DO NOT RIDE. SEEK THE HELP OF A QUALIFIED PROFESSIONAL Riding Coach.

Bull Steering
Another recognizable error, resulting in excess effort used to steer the motorcycle, is the attempt to turn the bike by bulldogging the bars. An interesting combination of pulling up on one and pushing down on the other, rodeo style, like bull wrestling. No, repeat No, steering results from this. None, zero, nadda, niente. Riders who think they can twist the bike into a turn in this fashion simply have another false idea and get tired. The Bottom Line.

Steering a motorcycle results from the process of pushing the inside bar forward, the same angle and direction the forks rotate in the steering head bearings. You can also pull on the outside bar. You can do both push and pull. That is what turns it; that is all that turns it with any degree of accuracy, efficiency, quickness or smoothness. That and only that, No B.S.
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Old 03-31-2010, 08:05 AM   #3
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....because they used a kawi


So I suppose the front tire naturally wants to track straight and leaning off the bike causes the weight to pitch in that direction, basically counter steering the front until it comes down into the groove of the corner angle.
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Old 03-31-2010, 08:11 AM   #4
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Yea, the bike's not going to turn unless the front wheel is somehow moved off the center line. The bike doesn't want to turn unless you apply a force to the front wheel
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Old 03-31-2010, 09:37 AM   #5
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that's always a good read - has been for like 10 years, lol


leaning and hanging off most assuredly help steer - more by reducing lean angle thereby tightening lines but you can't argue with Code that initiation of steering itself is done through bar input.

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Yea, the bike's not going to turn unless the front wheel is somehow moved off the center line. The bike doesn't want to turn unless you apply a force to the front wheel
You can actually steer a bike without any front tire input - without the front tire even on the ground, lol

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Old 03-31-2010, 09:37 AM   #6
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front tire= one big gyroscope.


yup. remember when the gyroscope was placed on a notebook, and you would be amazed at how no matter the angle, it (gyro) was almost always straight up?

the faster it spins, the more upright it wants to be. the more upright, the more direct input/energy is needed to immediately change its course.
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Old 03-31-2010, 09:48 AM   #7
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uhmm Ill read everything later but cliffs for right now?
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Old 03-31-2010, 09:48 AM   #8
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sorry.

as cashtown states, its not necessarily the front tire.

only when the front tire is playing the game :P the rear tire plays its own game as well.
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Old 03-31-2010, 09:50 AM   #9
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There's a youtube video called no bs bike it's about 40sec long that may give you a visual on how the bike works. Can't post vdo from phone.
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Old 03-31-2010, 09:51 AM   #10
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uhmm Ill read everything later but cliffs for right now?
counter steer.
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Old 03-31-2010, 09:53 AM   #11
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Old 03-31-2010, 09:53 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cashtown View Post

You can actually steer a bike without any front tire input - without the front tire even on the ground, lol

When it's on one wheel it's a unicycle
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Old 03-31-2010, 10:13 AM   #13
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sounds like I'm doing it right then. Counter steer and hang off to lessen lean. But how would one know the right amount of lean?

EDIT:
Ill put in a track day soon hoping that trackdays could answer these questions.
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Old 03-31-2010, 10:18 AM   #14
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sounds like I'm doing it right then. Counter steer and hang off to lessen lean. But how would one know the right amount of lean?

EDIT:
Ill put in a track day soon hoping that trackdays could answer these questions.
Till your knee hits. Thats basically the safest amount of maximum lean angle. You can lean more but it takes more skill and being smooth to not crash at extreme lean angle.
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Old 03-31-2010, 10:20 AM   #15
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Quote:
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sounds like I'm doing it right then. Counter steer and hang off to lessen lean. But how would one know the right amount of lean?

EDIT:
Ill put in a track day soon hoping that trackdays could answer these questions.
If the bike is making the turn the way you want it to then it has the right amount of lean. The least amount of lean to get the bike through the turn, the better. The more you hang off and the less force you put on the front wheel, the less it will lean
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Old 03-31-2010, 10:22 AM   #16
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Till your knee hits. Thats basically the safest amount of maximum lean angle. You can lean more but it takes more skill and being smooth to not crash at extreme lean angle.
Okay, Ill try to get as much info out of this thread as much as I can.

So you can hang off the bike (to lessen lean angle) AND knee drag = safe lean? I always try to lessen lean as much as I can on turns thus limitting my turns to about 80-85mph at CRR.

EDIT:
Just saw Bevo's post. This is why I want to ride with pro's: To learn from them and for them to see what I'm doing wrong. (Sound very much like a track day no?)
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Old 03-31-2010, 12:07 PM   #17
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Old 03-31-2010, 12:15 PM   #18
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Quote:
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sounds like I'm doing it right then. Counter steer and hang off to lessen lean. But how would one know the right amount of lean?

EDIT:
Ill put in a track day soon hoping that trackdays could answer these questions.
Whenever you hang off the bike or lean you are unknowingly countersteering, that is why people get the misconception that you must lean to steer the bike.
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Old 03-31-2010, 12:49 PM   #19
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Old 03-31-2010, 03:22 PM   #20
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Just to clarify:

Making the bike change directions comes from moving the handlebars. Anything else will have little to no effect on changing directions.

Hanging off, only changes the amount of lean angle required to complete a given turn at a given speed.


It would be interesting to see what would happen, on a large enough piece of pavement, if the turn were intitiated and then the rider switched to the solid mount bars.
Would changing the amount of "hang off" have any influence once the bike was already turning?
I know it would change the available traction, at extreme lean, as the lean angle varied, but would the turn radius change?
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