Understeer - How To Fix It

Understeer means that the motorcycle wants to go straight in corners or climb out of ruts. It is a balance problem and indicates that the front is higher than the rear.

To make sure the motorcycle performs at its best the balance must be correct. Balance is weight distribution between the front and the rear wheel. An "unbalance" will result in bad steering characteristics.

The Balance can be out for various reasons. One main reason for understeering is that you are too heavy for the springs (click here for the spring rate article). So before you plunge into this article you want to make sure that your bike is set up right. Once you have done that and the handling problems prevail then you can go on to apply this piece of advice.

How Do I Get The Balance Right?

So there are 4 unwanted situations:

  • either front is too high
  • or rear is too low

Both result in front higher than rear

  • either rear is too high
  • or front is too low

Both result in rear higher than front

In this article we will focus on the front-higher-than-rear-problem. When the dirt bike rides like a chopper you will experience understeer. The front wheel tends to push out or climb out of ruts in turns. You may also have difficulties finding the lines. It might feel quite stable on fast straights but feels not agile enough in tight sections.

For the rear-higher-than-front-problem please refer to my headshake and oversteer articles.

How To Fix The Understeer Problem

First you have to find out whether the front is higher than the rear or vice versa. This is important so you know where to start. Check how the bike looks when it is settling under its own weight. And how does it look when you are sitting on it. This will give you and indicator if the main problem is the front or the back.

Before you start

Before you start keep the basic rules of suspension set up in mind.

  • Once again: make sure static and rider sag are within the recommended range
  • have the standard clicks front and rear when you start and don't change more than 3 clicks at the time
  • only change one thing at the time or you lose track of what has the most influence

If The Front Is Higher Than The Rear

...and you want to make the front lower

  • Raise the forks a few mm through the triple clamps (moves front wheel closer up towards handlebar)
  • If you have preload adjusters on your fork remove some preload
  • Close rebound 3 clicks (slower rebound) or open compression (softer compression) 3 clicks

If The Rear Is Lower Than The Front

...and you want to make the rear higher

  • Add preload on your shock but stay with the recommended range of static and rider sag
  • Add compression damping (harder comp) or reduce rebound (faster reb)

What else

Stay always as close as possible to standard click settings!

The standard click settings have been tested for weeks on end with top sponsored riders on all sorts of terrain. So you have a setting that works very well, if you have the right springs and your bike is balanced.

Make the adjustments in the following order:

  • Fork triple clamp
  • Fork preload
  • Shock preload
  • Shock and fork damping

This is the most efficient way to understand the effects. If you do change the fork position in the clamps make sure you tighten the lower triple clamp to the recommended torque as over tightening has serious negative effects on your fork performance.

If you are not so familiar with you click adjusters read this article.

Top of page



Latest Articles:

Important articles