# Counter-intuitive steering in crosswinds with hands off the bars

It should not be surprising that it is difficult to ride in a straight line with both hands off the handlebars when there is a crosswind.

However, I find it most unintuitive, that for example if there is a crosswind from the left, if I let go of the bars and try to keep my body upright, the bike wants to turn sharply to the left (into the wind). To counter this, I have to lean my body to the right, as if wanting to turn right.

I would have thought that the wind pushes me to the right and I have to steer left to keep going straight. Why is this not the case?

• en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Countersteering Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 22:31
• Which way is the road sloping? Could be if you ride on the left side, there's enough downslope to turn your wheel into the wind.
– Criggie
Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 3:59
• @Criggie Fair point. It's not visibly sloped. But the effect does not exist on the same road if there is no wind. Also, for the record, I am very certain that the wind came from the left, because after the road makes a 90 degree turn to the right, it was a tailwind. Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 7:51
• When you say, you need to lean right, you mean that you look at the right side of your bike from above? Well, if that's the case, the bike itself is leaning left. Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 12:33
• @cmaster That's right. Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 12:43

If the wind is from the left, you need to lean to the left to stop the wind blowing you over to the right; leaning left makes you turn left.

• That's what I had thought, but is the opposite of what I observed. Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 7:52
• @mkrieger1 Your question says your observation is that a wind from the left makes you turn left. You said this was counter to your intuition and you asked for an explantion. I just gave you the explanation. Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 9:14
• Ah, sorry, I misunderstood what you wrote! (The misunderstanding was that there are two different needs to lean: lean left to avoid falling over, but lean right to avoid going left) Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 10:15
• But I still don't quite understand why it's not as follows: I let go of the bars; wind pushes me to the right and I start to fall over to the right; I lean left to go straight again and to not fall over. Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 11:28
• @mkrieger1 I've edited to clarify (I hope!). And if you're cycling in a cross-wind, you're already leaning into the wind before you let go of the bars. Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 11:30