If you are into motorcycle racing, you have definitely seen racers backing it in. Where they go into a corner with the rear end sticking out and then straighten it out into the apex of the corner. So how do you back it in? How does it work? And why is it used? You don’t want to get into an accident and need to get a brand new one via a motorcycle trader. Lets figure this one out.
Three steps for backing it in
The way that it works is actually quite simple. Going into a corner on a race track, you are going to do three major things:
- Brake hard, using the front brake, this transfers load to the front wheel, which makes the rear wheel light, in some situations the rear wheel will even lift into the air
- Shift down to an appropriate gear for the corner and exit, which will naturally slow the rear wheel down
- Counter steer into the corner, which will cause the bike to lean over, and will also make you naturally apply a twisting force with your lower body to the motorcycle
So if you brake hard enough, shift down enough gears and counter steer at the same time, the rear wheel will come out into a slide. I’m not kidding, that’s literally how it works. It actually not that hard to grasp now is it?
Even though it’s an easy thing to understand, it’s not an easy thing to apply. In fact, if you are not naturally backing it in to corners, you should not go out and try to do it. It will come with enough speed and hard enough braking.
Why use this technique?
So why would you ever want the rear wheel to come out going into a corner? Well the reason is that you can brake later going into tight corners using this technique. Because you can position the bike towards the exit of the corner by letting the rear end come around. Thus the terminology, backing it in.
So then, if it happens naturally, but you want to make it stop, how do you make it stop? Simple, you pull the clutch and release the front brake gradually. You see, when backing it in, you will be trail braking into corner and gradually release the brake as you move towards the apex.
Gradually releasing the front brake, will put weight back on the rear wheel, and thus it will slip less and less. Sometimes you want to keep on trail braking but have the rear end stick sooner, then you would pull the clutch in slightly, which re-aligns the motorcycle.
This is also how you precisely position the bike towards the exit. In MotoGP you will see that most riders will back it in but re-align their motorcycle with the clutch to stop the slide and get a great drive out of the corner.
Supermoto en MotoGP tracks
In Supermoto, it is not uncommon to see pro riders backing it in and continuing the slide towards the exit. This difference is due to several things, firstly the tracks are very different, with Supermoto tracks being very tight and compact, whereas MotoGP tracks often have long sweeping corners, which doesn’t favor sliding the rear end out of the corners.
Secondly the compounds used in MotoGP and Supermoto tires are quite different, with Supermoto tires being specifically designed to slide, where as MotoGP tires, as far as one can guess, are optimized for maximum cornering speed.
Thirdly, the speeds are very different, and with higher speeds comes higher risk of highsiding, which is definitely a concern if you continue the slide towards the exit of the corner.
So there you have it; That’s how Backing it in works. Now that you have this knowledge, please don’t go out and try to do it. Just enjoy watching racing even more, knowing how much skill it actually takes to do what they do.