During these winter months there is a lot less traction when going around slick, muddy corners that have a flat surface than when in drier conditions. This means that you definitely need to get as comfortable and skilled with your bike sliding around and drifting through the corner while in both the seated and standing position. Be careful while braking on the entry to a flat corner as there will be a greater tendency for the wheels to lock up and slide out, most likely resulting in a crash. Going around a tight or more open corner, you will need to be continually adjusting the 3 key points of cornering, which are:
1. Your body position on the bike (and how it relates to the 90 degrees of traction principle).
2. The lean angle of your bike.
3. Your throttle position.
While roosting around these corners, the goal is to maintain a smooth, consistent arc. You want to position your body at the very front of the seat, and “on top” of your bike when it is leant over through the corner so as you can gain extra traction by “weighting” the outside footpeg. A lot of times in these slippery conditions the bike will start sliding/drifting on you therefore it is important to help control your bike by using counter-steering of the handlebars, along with continued adjustment of the above three key points. If possible, try to find and use a banked surface to help stop your wheels from sliding out, or even utilize any clumps of mud or slop to support your wheels.
To really fast track your learning with this essential skill, try to find an open space that has a smooth yet consistently slippery surface and then start riding slow circle of about 15-20 feet in diameter. As you get comfortable start going faster without making a bigger circle. Eventually the rear wheel will begin to spin and slide, especially if you give your bike a quick blip of the throttle to initiate the spinning action. You want to keep the wheel spinning somewhat and try to slide/drift continual circles without stopping, controlling the bike with our key points. When you start getting good at this skill it is so much fun to do this drifting exercise. You will love it!
We will have an in depth analysis and demonstrations in our upcoming DirtWise Advanced Instructional DVD – Volume 2, which will focus on the techniques you use to master Braking, Cornering, and riding through Tight trees. Visit www.shanewatts.com for more info on this and the DirtWise Academy of Offroad Riding schools.