Learning from the Pros Part III: How to Slide

A good rider is at one with their machine. It’s an extension of their body. They have no problem going in a straight line or cornering with firm traction in the dry…

But it’s a whole new game in wet, snow or on gravel. That’s when the expert needs to know how to slide.

So, get your full protective kit on and start up your bike. Pro tip: a long-wheelbase machine is best for learning to slide.

Where to go? Stay off public roads: Any surface without much grip will do, ideally a dirt track.

There are two steps to learning to slide: (1) apply the brake and let the rear wheel slide round up to 180°, often known as the hook slide; (2) bring on the slide with the throttle, or the power slide.

Hook slide

Sit with your weight well forward. Grip the bars loosely, feeling the road. With hand over the clutch, approach the corner at a fair speed – 30-40 kph will do first time.

Accelerate into the corner with your head on one side to keep an eye on the rear wheel. Ready…

Take in the clutch and apply the rear brake hard. The rear should slide out of the corner.

Stay balanced, steering into the skid (the opposite to what your instinct’s telling you). Watch that rear wheel slide round until it’s brought the bike to the direction you want to go.

Let out the clutch, give her a bit of throttle – and off you go!

Power slide

Trickier and therefore harder to master, but essential if you want to race.

Same as the brake slide – kit on, bike started, track chosen. Weight forward, elbows up, and keep the clutch covered. Pulling it in is the quickest way to reduce power.

Approach the corner at 30-40 kph, ready to lean into it. Here we go…

As you hit the corner, power on and lean the bike towards the inside of the bend. Put out your inside leg as a stabiliser and cushion in case you fall.

The whole bike – with you balanced on it – is now drifting around the corner in a cool slide. Steer into the skid. If you find you’re losing it, take in the clutch to cut power.

Use the handlebars to ease yourself round the bend, and bring the bike upright when you’re facing where you want to go. Hit the throttle again and you’re off.

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