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5 Things to learn at Royal Enfield Slide School

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Pratik Bhanushali

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Introduction

Royal Enfield Himalayan Right Side View

I’ve attended several track days over the last few years, including go-kart and FMSCI-certified ones. However, my experience with riding off the tarmac is zero. But right when we attended the Royal Enfield Rider Mania 2022 in Goa, the Slide School hosted by Royal Enfield proved to be a commendable learning ground for team BikeWale. 

Now, with very little clue of what and how to slide, I entered the arena and bumped into Gary Birtwistle. For reference, Gary was our coach for the day and is also the 2022 DTRA Flat Track Champion. So, what’s better than learning from the top man? All geared up and ready to slide (kind of), I boarded the stripped-down Royal Enfield Himalayan. But what exactly can one learn from flat tracking? Let’s find out through this breakdown. 

Look Where You Want To Go

Royal Enfield Himalayan Right Side View

Vision is a crucial aspect wherever you ride/drive. Be it on the track, road, or an oval full of loose sand. And flat tracking, just like any other motorsport, also demands your undivided attention. So, where you look is where your bike will move. We learned to look toward the entry/exit of the corners as per the line of choice. Supposedly, if you’ve started steering inside the corner, the line of vision could be near the exit. However, the rider has to keep looking forward and avoid target fixating. Moreover, the goal is to look at an adequate distance so you don’t miss out on the consecutive trajectory.

Engine Braking over Rear Brakes

Royal Enfield Himalayan Left Front Three Quarter

We were told to go as fast as we could and let go of the throttle right at the entry point. This led to intense engine braking since the bike was ridden in the first gear only. Now, the rider can slow down using the rear brake, which could lock the rear wheel and cause a possible low side. Further, you need consistent momentum to slide in and out of the corners which can be attained by mitigating the throttle thereby relying on engine braking. However, slight taps on the rear brake can come in handy but a full stomp will wash out the rear tyre. 

Countersteer All The Time

Royal Enfield Himalayan Front View

To give you a perspective, the flat track-ready Himalayan rides on block pattern tyres and is devoid of the front brake setup. So, the only way to chop the speed is the rear brake. And similar to riding on the tarmac, flat tracking also includes counter-steering to move in the correct direction. This means the handlebar would point to the right side while you are entering/exiting the left-hand corner. It allows you to carry speed through the corner and adds to the balance when the bike is leaned over and the contact patch under the front tyre is decreasing. 

Body Position

Royal Enfield Himalayan Front View

One of the trickiest bits and also where we all struggled the most was the body position. Simply put, your torso needs to be straight with elbows up, right kneed tucked towards the fuel tank, hips twisted, head and foot up with your toe pointing ahead. Yes, that’s a lot to memorize at once but once you get a hold of the current body position, flat tracking gets even more exhilarating. Moreover, the throttle needs to be operated as if you’d twist a door knob: light grip and relaxed inputs. Let the bike decide the flow with your inputs following it ahead. 

Define Your Pace

Royal Enfield Himalayan Rear Tyre

All the above aspects work in tandem once you understand your comfortable pace. Right from the throttle input to the entry point, cutting the gas, counter steering, mitigating the rear brake, and then siding out again, the pace needs to be increased gradually. Once you are close to the limits, try to go faster, set tighter lines, and exit with a little more gas. The point is to understand the entire process step by step and then execute it together. After all, these actions have to amalgamate for a perfectly executed slide.

Photo Credits: William Mathew 

Gallery

Royal Enfield Himalayan Right Side View
Royal Enfield Himalayan Front View
Royal Enfield Himalayan Right Side View
Royal Enfield Himalayan Rear Tyre
Royal Enfield Himalayan Left Front Three Quarter
Royal Enfield Himalayan Front View

Royal Enfield Himalayan [2015-2023] Gallery

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