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Before you try to improve your riding skills with this technique you must understand countersteering. It is a well-known and widely discussed way to make your bike change directions. Wikipedia has an article on it HERE. It addresses it from both a technical and rider perspective. Google "motorcycle countersteering" and you will find several YouTube videos showing and explaining the method.

Some (even many) riders will tell you that there is no other way to turn a motorcycle. They are partly right and blissfully ignorant. While I know of no other effective way to initiate a turn, Kissing the Mirrors is definitely the way to go to manage the turn after that.


Beyond Countersteering

Kissing the Mirrors - A Step Beyond Countersteering

Much has been written about the riding technique called "countersteering." To the reader who may not be familiar with it, in brief, it calls for pressure into the handlebars on the side of the direction you want to turn at any speed beyond a trot. Never mind why; it's true. Countersteering is as necessary to safe, efficient riding as coordinated braking and if you can't do it yet, go learn it and then come read this; you're not ready yet.

But it is not the ultimate in effective curve control. Let me begin with an oversimplified but useful example from another skill: flying. When an airplane is properly "trimmed," with all flight controls in a hands-off neutral position, it will maintain straight and level flight - that's what it wants to do. Give the wheel a push or pull and the plane will begin an ascent or descent, but let go and it will return to level flight on its own. That means you have to keep the wheel pulled back for a long climb, which is both tiring and a nuisance. So what you do is "trim" the control. You turn a little crank that moves a tab on the elevator (that's the small wing on the back of the plane that makes it go up or down.) That moves the elevator to a new angle, and as you turn that little crank you can feel the pressure required on the wheel diminish. When it's all gone you can let go of the wheel and the airplane will continue to climb, hands-off.

Stability is also inherent in a properly set-up motorcycle on a smooth, flat road; it wants to go straight down the road, even with your hands off. To make it change direction you must supply an input, and that input is achieved through countersteering. Most of us learn countersteering eventually and that's where we stop. The result is that we go around curves constantly making little corrections and instead of carving a smooth arc we wind up with a bunch of little wiggles in our path. Why? Because we are forcing the bike to do something it does not want to do. With our weight centered it's not properly trimmed for the turn; it wants to go straight and it fights the countersteering.

So, try this; it's called kissing your mirror. This is not about high-speed, drag-your-knee riding; it's high-efficiency riding. In fact, it will let you go around a curve with less lean angle than most of us use with just countersteering because when countersteering we tend to try to sit up straight. That weight shift in the wrong direction requires more lean, not a good thing when you are already scraping hard parts on the asphalt.

To begin with, try it out on a smooth curve you know, one that requires a little work on the bars; a lot of freeway on-ramps are ideal. To refresh your body's memory of it, run through it normally using just countersteering.

Now run it again. You need countersteering to roll into the turn but once you're set up that way, slowly lean forward and try to kiss the mirror on that side - don't move your butt; it's not necessary. That will induce a weight shift both forward and to the side, which "trims" the motorcycle for that curve. Yes, it does! Trust me on this.

What you will feel as you move is the countersteering pressure go out of the bars. If you try to hold the pressure you will tighten the turn, so unweight your arms. Let your elbows get loose so you are no longer pressing the handlebar; your hands are just resting on the bars. Now you can let the "trimmed" bike do what it wants: turn. You will learn that you can even steer that way. And while I don't recommend this (lawyers, you know,) with new tires on a smooth curve I can even take my hands off the bars if the cruise control is set.

Every curve requires a different degree of "kiss" but you will learn that quickly. Soon the countersteer and weight shift will become one, fluid process and you will say to yourself, "Wow!"

So there you are. Now you know something that I'll bet 95% of the Harley riders in the country don't know. Use it to your advantage.


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