How To Lean On a Motorcycle Correctly [ Video Leaning]

man riding sports motorcycle on trail road

Motorcycle riding is an activity that requires mastery of skills. And then there is the physical aspect of riding a motorcycle. It requires balance, strength, and endurance. The physical strength required to ride a bike is proportional to the motorcycle’s weight. In other words, the more weight on the bike, the more it needs physical strength to balance the motorcycle.

This article will look at the physical aspects of motorcycle riding. We will look at the basics of leaning on a bike to turn the motorcycle.

Are You Leaning the Correct Way?

The Basics of Turning

Most people don’t even consider it, but it’s a necessary skill. Without learning how to steer, you’re not going to get very far, so follow this guide, and you won’t have a problem.

What is the best way to steer a motorcycle?

There are two ways:

  1. Counter-steering;
  2. Turning the handlebar.

To steer a motorcycle, you must consider the speed you are traveling at. If you are traveling over 15mph, you will use countersteering, and if you are traveling under 15mph, you will use standard steering.

You should learn to handle slow speeds by using one set of skills and techniques. To learn to handle fast speeds, read on.

Steering a motorcycle can be a challenge, but you will feel more comfortable riding once you have the basics down. You’ll want to check your handlebar position before you start. Your handlebars are only there to provide you with steering inputs, and they aren’t meant to hold your weight.

To keep yourself on the bike, you should be squeezing the tank with your legs or thighs. If you ride for an extended period of time, using the handlebars to hold on to the bike can cause wrist pain. You should always keep your head and eyes up, looking in the direction you want to go.

Look at the road in front of you; that’s where you want to be going. Don’t fixate your gaze on the ground before you, leading to target fixation issues. Target fixation is no laughing matter; most crashes occur when a rider runs off the road due to this.

Turning your motorcycle at slow speeds

Slow-speed turning is pretty straightforward – turn the handlebar to the left if you want to go left and right if you want to go to the right. Not too hard, right? 

Here are a few tips to remember, though:

  • Don’t force the bike to lean; you only lean if the bike does. 
  • Maintain your upright posture while shifting your buttocks and weight to the side and away from the lean. In a nutshell, let the bike lean beneath you.
  • Use the front brake only if the wheel is turned or your bike is leaning. Doing so will result in a crash or slide.
  • Your bike will take you where you want to go if you only look in that direction. When looking through the turn, keep your head and eyes straight.

Turning your motorcycle at speeds faster than 15 mph

If your speed is more than 15 mph, you can use countersteering to ride your bike. Countersteering or pushing a motorcycle in the desired direction is required to initiate a turn or steer it.

You push on the side of the motorcycle you want it to go. You must push on the right-hand grip to turn to the right. The handlebars will turn to the left, but you will go to the right. It’s counter steering; that’s why they call it that.

Counter steering is confusing to new riders. However, it is best explained by pushing on the side you want to go. When the bike starts to turn, you will see that the bike will lean; this is normal. However, unlike steering at low speed, you will want to lean with the motorcycle. 

Leaning While Turning

Riding upright is a common practice among motorcycle riders. While there is no problem with this, riding upright means the rider is missing out on an essential riding skill valuable when turning. Position your body on the inside of the bike when you are cornering. When done correctly, leaning can have both advantages and disadvantages, but if done correctly, the motorcycle does not have to lean as far given the speed and turn radius.

The center of gravity shifts lower on one side and closer to the ground as the rider’s body and motorcycle move together; this is known as leaning.

Leaning is turning easy

Leaning while turning keeps the tire’s contact patch near the center, thereby helping to put a level of power steering on the turn. This skill can be unsettling on your first attempt, but it gets easier and better with practice. We can tell you to keep working on the skill until you’re confident with it.

It’s like a dance

Leaning while turning is like a dance between you and your bike, especially if you’re on a series of turns. As you adjust your body on your bike during turns, it can be likened to you leading a dance partner across the floor.  

The various body positions when leaning

There are three levels of hang-off techniques when cornering: the basic, intermediate, and full.

1. The basic body position is perfect for typical street riding. You lean your upper body off-center, towards the inside turn. This position makes you look like you’re attempting to kiss your mirror. Keep your eyes focused forward while you maintain a low shoulder; this is an easy position to do, and it’s an excellent way to start learning to hang off your bike. 

2. The intermediate body position is perfect for riding tight street turns. Although this is perfect for aggressive riding, it’s nowhere near the position used in motorcycle races. 

It’s simple to learn too! Most of your weight can be supported by leaning your upper body into the turn and swaying your hips. With your inside arm and shoulder pressed against the inside handlebars and your outside arm slightly extended and relaxed, you’re perfect for countersteering just before a corner. You should shift onto the inside butt cheek just before the corner to countersteer. The technique is simple and effective.

3. The third body position is called the full hang-off, which applies to aggressive riding in and around corners on a race track. Although this technique has benefits, it can result in an accident if not done correctly. Here is a description of the method:

  • You have to get on the balls of your feet.
  • Using your legs and a little of your arms, lift your body into a position with your buttocks on the inside edge of the seat.
  • Place your shoulders and head inside, and keep your head low (as if you’re kissing the mirror).
  • Your hips should be parallel to the motorcycle.
  • Maintain 2 to 4 inches between your crotch and the tank.
  • Rest your inner thigh against the tank.
  • Use the inside foot to support half of your weight.
  • The grip should be held like a screwdriver with the forearm in line with the handlebar.
  • Relax by supporting your weight with your legs and torso.
  • Rest your outside arm on the tank.

An excellent way to get better support is to press your outer thigh into the gas tank. Make sure you have a solid grip by placing your toes on the outside footpeg and extending your ankle. Remember that the gas tank cutout in sportbikes is best for positioning your inner knee resulting in better stability. 

Transitioning side-to-side

When doing a side-to-side transition, you need to use your legs and torso. Remember that using our handlebars when you’re doing this technique will upset the balance of your chassis and your bike’s traction. Also, for better support, position your body over the tank and keep your arms bent. 

You need to get your body in position before you initiate lean. When waiting too long, the corner entry can be somewhat chaotic. Pre-positioning your body results in a quicker turn-in. It takes practice to brake while in the hang-off position, but it’s a technique that needs mastery.


A good turning technique can result in a safer ride. It’s good to develop your technique, but remember that a few things will need to be done differently depending on the riding style and situation.

Learning to hang off the bike will give you better stability and a feeling of control that will be invaluable on the track. It’s also a beneficial technique to learn on the street and is a skill that should be practiced regularly.