In a nut shell, counter steering is simply pushing the handle bars right or left in order to steer the motorcycle. In other words, push left to go left, push right to go right. On most full size cruisers the necessity for counter steering occurs at about 15mph and up. At low speeds, below 15mph whatever way you turn the handlebars, that’s the way the motorcycle will go. It’s called, handlebar steering. Counter steering doesn’t come into play until the gyroscopic effect of the two-wheeled vehicle takes over. The shorter the wheelbase of the motorcycle, the lower the speed gyroscopic effect takes place. I don’t believe it’s anything you have to think about as it is one of the few riding techniques that is instinctual. In order for the motorcycle to turn at higher speeds, you must counter steer whether you realize you are doing it or not.
A friend of mine who recently purchased a Kawasaki Nomad and obtained his learners permit, asked me to help him pass the motorcycle drivers test. Unfortunately, he picked one of the most difficult motorcycles to drive through that particular course.
The course was designed years ago when most motorcycles had short wheel bases. The problem area with the state course is the off-set cone weave. This consists of 5 cones set 12 feet apart, with 2 of the cones having a 2′ off-set. In order to maneuver through this exercise on any long wheel base cruiser, especially the Nomad, you have to be able to turn the handle bars from lock to lock at less than 2mph. For new riders, or even experienced riders who don’t know the technique of HEAD AND EYES or have not mastered the friction zone, it’s damn near impossible.
I set up a replica of the exercise in a parking lot and was able to get my Kawasaki Nomad through it, but did find it quite difficult. Most people believe it is impossible to get a large motorcycle through this exercise. While difficult, it is not impossible. However, it is going to take considerable practice. Your best best is to borrow a friend’s small 250cc, etc. type bike or take the motorcycle safety foundation course. If you are intent on passing the motorcycle exam on your cruiser, here’s my recommendations to get you through it.
Get yourself 5 cones, cups, cans, etc. Set them up in a straight line 12 feet apart. Keep your foot on the rear brake, stay in the friction zone, keep your head and eyes up and look at least two cones ahead. The more cones you set up the quicker you will learn to weave your way through them. If you are worried about dropping the motorcycle get some heater hose or an old garden hose and tape the pieces to your crash bars. You will be going so slow that if you do drop the bike, it should not cause any damage. Once you get comfortable weaving through the cones, start off-setting the 2nd and 4th cones in 6 inch increments, until you eventually get to the two foot off-set.
With enough practice and patience, this can be accomplished. If at first you have to put the cones 14′ apart to comfortably weave through them, do it. Good luck and ride safe.