Is lack of awareness of the countersteering effect in motorcycles a causal factor in swerve to avoid collisions?

  • Rodney Shephard

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The countersteering effect in motorcycles describes the apparent need to steer in the wrong direction in order to cause the chassis of the vehicle to lean over in the required direction just prior to executing a turn. The inherent danger with this procedure is that in a emergency situation where a motorcyclist must execute a sudden swerve to avoid a collision, the required behaviour is counterintuitive and panic may cause the rider to make the wrong initial movement thereby reducing their chance of avoiding a collision. As the importance of the countersteering effect is not taught in UK motorcycle training courses, the current work has attempted to establish whether doing so could significantly improve the ability of riders in swerve to avoid manoeuvres. An initial survey of motorcycle riders suggested some confusion about the nature of countersteering. To explore this further, four groups of riders with different levels of experience and training: novice, experienced, advanced and expert, were tested over a simple swerve to avoid course that was based on the procedure in the current UK motorcycle test. All the riders used the same motorcycle with on-board instrumentation to record the steering effort and the response of the machine. The tests were also videoed to gain extra information about rider behaviour. The results suggest that those riders that had been trained in exploiting countersteering were better able to avoid the obstacle and significantly better at returning the machine to the desired path thereby avoiding a potential secondary collision. It appeared that those riders who had learned by experience were still not proficient when faced with a sudden swerve to avoid scenario.
    Date of Award26 Sept 2014
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Teesside University
    SupervisorAndrew Campbell (Supervisor)

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