The art of the slide explained.
Whether you like motorcycle racing or not, you have to admit that there’s something about flat track racing that’s undeniably rad. It’s a whole series based on skid races. Ok, that’s oversimplifying it a little bit, but that’s also pretty much describes what it’s about.
There’s an art to the slide and for those of us curious to learn a new set of skills, a flat track school is a great place to start. Even better is when you get to learn from a seasoned rider such as Johnny Lewis who’s currently racing with Royal Enfield’s AFT Production Twins crew. After a promising debut in 2020, which also marked Enfield’s first participation in the series, Lewis confirmed that he'll be back in action in 2021. In the meantime, he teaches noobs how to slide their way around the dirt oval.
The RideApart crew was invited to attend the school, but sadly, with the currently traveling restrictions, we weren’t able to safely send anyone to Florida to attend. While we’re waiting for our raincheck, we decided to share with you this video from MotoGeo who got to attend a South California Slide School workshop hosted by Lewis to check out what flat track racing is all about.
While Lewis’ competition bike is based on the Interceptor 650, for the school, they opted for a fleet of modified Himalayans instead, dubbed FT411. As Lewis explains in the video, the FT411 is lighter by a few pounds, weighing in at 375 pounds and the output is the same at 27 horsepower. Though that might not sound like a lot of power, he says that there’s a good amount of torque which works well for the track.
He schools us in proper form, explaining that we need to shift our bums to the right edge of the saddle, a position he calls “crack on crack”, referring to the bum crack being aligned with the seat's “crack” (or the edge). This allows the rider to press the right leg up against the fuel which helps push and lean the bike in the left-hand-side bends.
As he gets ready to give flat tracking racing a whirl, MotoGeo summarizes Lewis’ teachings; Shift in the seat, steer with the rear end, and don’t forget that there’s no front brake. After a few laps, he makes a pit stop to fit his left boots with a “shoe”—a metal fitting with a slick sole that allows him to put the foot down in the corner for more stability but without all the grip.
At the end of what looked like a fun and satisfying day, MotoGeo explains that the day's lessons go beyond the dirt track. Learning to control the bike on a loose surface such as dirt can help improve your overall skills as a rider, even when the only track you deal with is the street. By the looks of it, if you’re planning to attend a Johnny Lewis workshop, you not only learn new tricks but also get plenty of track time to gain confidence and hone your control of the bike.
Now we really look forward to being able to attend one of those workshops ourselves...