Counter-Steering A Bicycle


Most people don’t realize they’ve been counter-steering a bicycle – pushing the left handlebar forward to go right and the right one to go left. The phenomenon is caused by the rotation of the wheel that reacts to that force by turning the opposite direction. It is more pronounced as the revolutions increase. Having bought my first bicycle in 1946 and riding it hundreds, if no thousands of miles, I first became aware of this phenomenon until I bought my first motorcycle in 1957 when I was 20 years old. If you think I’m spoofing you, try it.

This month, July 2019, I took delivery of Raleigh Tristar Tricycle. The purpose for the trike is to make it mobile radio trike so I can live up to the standards of the Bicycle Mobile Hams of America. I was challenged with the assembly (one would never dream I worked two decades as a line mechanic).

When it was ready I took it for a spin and promptly drive into a fence. Not once, twice. That was when I recalled the counter-steering phenomenon. Unlearning something so deeply embedded is a tall order. To accomplish this I must say the word aloud, “turn”. It’s working. But I still must stay out of traffic until it has become a habit.