Casey Stoner Explains How To Slide a MotoGP Bike

Casey Stoner sliding a bike at Mugello

One of the great pleasures in watching Casey Stoner ride a MotoGP machine is the controlled way in which he manages to slide the bike through the corners. In an era when the spectacular slides once so beloved by fans have been tamed by electronic intervention, Stoner has managed to convince his engineers to limit the electronics sufficiently to give him enough control to slide the bike to help get it turned. 

His ability has fascinated both fans and journalists around the world, and many have tried to get him to explain how he does it, but Stoner himself has always found it very hard to say exactly what he is doing. At Qatar, a group of journalists - including MotoMatters.com - pressed the Repsol Honda rider again to explain exactly where and when he chooses to slide the rear, and what benefits it provides. Though he protested it was hard - "It's really difficult to explain, so many people have asked me," he said - he went on to talk at length about what he does and why.

The most important distinction to make, Stoner emphasized, was between sliding the bike under control and finding it sliding when you hadn't planned to. "Normally, when you're sliding the bike under control, it means you're in control of it," Stoner said. "It means that you're mentally doing it on purpose, you're not just going into a corner and it's starting to slide." But it was not something that works everywhere. "It's something that only works in certain corners in this type of racing, it doesn't work in all the corners. When it does work, sometimes it can be a bit scary; you can go into the corner, and if you make a small mistake when you are sliding, the finish of it can be a catastrophe. When your heart beats really hard is when you slide when you don't really want to," he explained

The key to sliding a bike was confidence, Stoner told us. "It's basically about confidence going into the corner, knowing exactly what you're doing, what the bike's doing and then having the will to either go into the corner harder or get on the gas harder to try and break the rear." That was not without risks, however: "Most of the time when you break the rear it means you're going to highside. So there's a fine point between breaking it and keeping it, and breaking it and ending up flying through the air."

So how do you know when to try to slide the rear and when not to, Stoner was asked. "It's really difficult to explain," Stoner responded. "You know when you can and when you can't and not many riders are able to do it and to do it well, especially to be faster. Anyone can slide a bike, but to slide and be fastest is something more complex, to try to minimize the amount of spin."

One of the reasons explaining how he slid the rear was so difficult is because there was not a single method to achieve it, and each corner required a different approach, Stoner explained. "It's more or less impossible [to give one answer], because every situation is different, every corner you must slide through is different to the others," Stoner said. "The system to make the bike slide is completely different. Sometimes you have to really go in, push the front hard, and close the gas to make the front want to turn, then the rear will come round more easily, as you get the weight off the rear. Then another time, you have to go into the corner and basically slowly break it away, though if you break it away too quickly, it's just going to want to highside," Stoner said. "It's not just like, you go into a corner and you slide, it's very, very different."

What was the most important part of the process? "The process for me is commitment. In Turn 3 at Valencia, Turn 3 at Phillip Island, it's the same sort of commitment," Stoner said. "You have to go into the corner with a lot of aggression - both corners are very similar, both of them are left handers, medium fast left. You have to go in there a lot harder, weight the front, take the weight off the rear, and then get on the gas very quickly, but to a certain point that it doesn't want to come around too quick. But you have to get on the gas quicker to break the rear, because there's a lot of grip in these two points, it doesn't want to come around. Valencia there's a lot of grip, in Phillip Island, you're in 5th gear, there's not a lot of power in 5th, so you have to really push it hard to make it break away, and then from that point you need to keep the corner speed. If you slide and you're sliding too much, then you're losing all your corner speed. If you're sliding and not sliding enough, then the grip will come back and when the grip comes back, you'll push the front and fold it. It's really difficult to explain."

Was this a conscious process, or something he did intuitively? Stoner was emphatic: "You have to consciously do it," he said. "Some corners call for picking the bike up and driving it out hard, but these couple of corners in particular, Turn 3 at Phillip Island and Turn 3 at Valencia, these are corners that after the left, there's a right that you have to get it back for. So most people go through there, roll through the corner, and they're rolling going wide and they have to get back for the next one. While I'm sliding it, keeping it tight, keeping the corner speed, and then I'm already ready for the right. That's how I use that corner."

Was that similar to Turn 3 at Sepang, Stoner was asked, a corner where he - and many other MotoGP riders - are noted for sliding the rear round? He disagreed. "Turn 3 in Sepang is completely different," Stoner said. "Because you're carrying corner speed on the side, the bike immediately wants to spin, and you can spin all the way to the kerb on the way out. But you're losing that drive for up the hill, so basically it will start to come round, it comes round a lot slower, but you want it to come round a little bit, so that when it's pointing in the right direction, you can pick the bike up and drive across the kerb." In the end, this was an illustration of how you needed to tailor your approach for each different corner. "There's different techniques to different corners and when they should be used, depending on grip levels, and a lot of different things. Unfortunately, most of the time these days, sliding is not the fastest way, there's only some corners where it can still work."

Tweet Button: 
Total votes: 58

Back to top

Comments

It all makes a lot of common sense. The big issue is commitment and control,i.e: Throttle hand. The electronics are Marvel4volous,but without the rider at the helm they mean nothing really. Stoner turns the intervention down in order to increase his input as the bikes primary sensor.
Rather him than me. The way he slides it out of the final turn at PI is amazing.
The current King of Slide,rear wheel steering and brow beaten electronics without doubt.

Total votes: 229

I think Casey-Superman-Stoner neglected to mention to everybody 1 very important must-have ingredient. Besides knowing how,when, and where to slide the rear of a 240+ horsepower MotoGP bike... a rider must have the -stones- to do it too. Oh, Stoner calls it having "confidence"... Casey is a lot better with the media these days! Stoner's sliding ability makes you nostalgic for the old days of the 990cc Era and prior.

Total votes: 219

In that there is no hard fast rule for riding that hard and fast. That's where these guys are artists with rubber & tarmac. Another interview from a couple years ago on the Ducati had him explain how he would modulate front and rear brakes in turns as well to dampen things or shift weight. In some cases coming out of corners full throttle standing on both brakes! It makes no sense but that's why they pay him the big bucks. Another recent article asked to explain how he rode the Ducati. Similarly he started his answer with "it's hard to explain".

Total votes: 181

While the term is a terrible description of what is actually happening (much like heel-toe shifting), opening the throttle on or into the brakes is not a new or uncommon technique on the race track for bikes or cars. It gives the rider/driver control of suspension loading & weight transfer.

Obviously Casey has the ability to take the technique to the Nth degree.

It's also a fabulous way to get yourself killed on the street.

Total votes: 218

you certainly need a predictable front end to do it. I've trail braked all my front wheel drive cars in snow and in fast gravel driving. Its the only way to stop understeer.

In a bike with an unpredictable and unfeeling front end, its a really good way to launch yourself into the weeds. This year and last Casey has a bike that not only will slide like he likes, it gives him some warning that its loosing front end adhesion.

Myself, I want to know how gary Mccoy used to slide the front and rear around a turn --essentially driving his 500 cc yamaha like it was a 4 wheeled sportscar.

Total votes: 205

Yes trail braking is not new or uncommon i.e. tapering your braking off as you are entering the corner and possibly having some overlap of throttle and brake input as two overlapping curves of force but.... that's not what was being described of Stoner in that article. It was describing how he would apply the brakes after the apex as he's picking it up and coming full on the throttle. Yes he described it exactly for the purposes of solving various undesirable symptoms of suspension & chassis behavior but it ain't trail braking. I can trail brake into a corner on the street or track at my amateur pace but standing on the front and back brakes at full throttle on corner exit? Not in my wildest imagination.

Total votes: 202

And if you want to consider "trail braking" all pre-apex, that's OK.

However, whether in a car or bike, I put all that simultaneous brake & throttle modulation under the trail braking umbrella, even post apex.

I did a Rally school event once where a guy was teaching left foot braking while gassing it out of corners, post apex. He still called trail braking, pendulum when using the hand-brake. Of course cars and bikes are not an apples to apples comparison. But I wouldn't even think of trail braking on a bike on the street, so that's all the experience I have with it.

I understand that what Casey is describing is not what any of us mortals would consider typical trail braking, but I gave it a name... maybe it's terrible name, or maybe its just semantics.

Stonering perhaps?

Total votes: 210

Was expecting someone to mention Qatar turn 11, since in Qatar. You can clearly see he's faster than anyone else opening the throttle coming out of corner 10 and accelerating towards 11 (time for split 3 also attests to that) and he's sliding it until he hits the curb. Sounds a lot like PI and VAL where before the left-hander is really over you've got to hit the brakes for the upcoming right-hander. I guess these turns might be very different in some way in the heads of these guys, though.

Total votes: 193

That the biggest underlying factor is the "Commitment" part of the equation. Like Colin said in a recent interview "The fastest guys are the guys who learn to completely trust the electronics. Casey is by far the bravest in this sense. He just throws it in there and trusts the electronics to keep him off his ass... "

So in other words... Pure Bravery.

Total votes: 213

Except that according to Casey, he does the exact opposite of what is described in that quote. He turns the electronics down as low as possible (or a low as they'll let him), and controls it himself.

Total votes: 209

thing is that we get to watch him !! We are very lucky.

As one of the Brit Eurosport commentators said; " I could happily watch him ride round on his own ".

Total votes: 216

I can attest to that. 4 years ago at Laguna I sat at the Corkscrew during a practice session and noticed Haden's Duc was crackling and popping from the TC kicking in the whole way through. His bike sounded just awful and would suddenly clean up as he picked it up. I would only hear 2 or or maybe 3 pops from Stoner's bike on the same turn. It was clear that Stoner was either chasing the TC with his wrist (an amazing feat in itself) or the TC was turned down to the "Holy crap are you nuts?" setting. Not liking him much before that, I definitely walked away with a new respect for the guy.

Total votes: 212

It's more down to traction control than anything else. He turns TC down to be able to slide the bike more, which helps steer the bike in certain corners. Honda's anti-wheelie and ride-by-wire systems (among others) are extremely advanced and I doubt Casey ever messes much with those systems. They work very well.

Unfortunately, most people still complain about the "electronics" influencing the performance, and that the rider should be in full control. They seem to look over the fact that electronic ride-by-wire throttle actuation has been the norm in GP's for a good while now. The last time a factory prototype had a rider actuating the throttle through a cable was a few years ago. Nowadays, no matter how good a rider's throttle hand is, the computer will always "filter" his input to give what it's programmed parameters deem best.

Sorry folks, but that's the truth.

Still, you need someone very talented and with lot's of "confidence" (as Mr. Stoner puts it) to get the most out of the package. Someone still has to pitch it in a fast corner at over 160mph. That takes a lot of bravery, hence my previous comment...

Total votes: 201

I have a liter bike, I got my instructions from Casey, and now all I need are the balls and the talent.........

Total votes: 189

Or is this 'sliding only allowed in the third turn of each track' another new rule Uncle Carmelo has slipped into the book late in the piece?

Total votes: 210

Your reading skills appear to be poor. The last sentence reads: "Unfortunately, most of the time these days, sliding is not the fastest way, there's only some corners where it can still work." The question originally put to Stoner was specifically about Turn 3 at PI and Turn 3 at Valencia.

Total votes: 197

... it wasn't funny, obviously. But I'm sure that won't stop you from trying again.

Total votes: 205

It's next to impossible to explain how to do it because there are so many tactile sensations involved. The only way to feel it is to know, and the only way to know is to feel it. That's metaphysical blather but it's also close to the truth. How can he explain? There's no language for "when I was in a corner going 160 MPH I felt this in my toes and this in my hands and this in my tingly bits and this in my elbows and this in my outside thigh and so I gave it some percentage of throttle and x amount of brake and hey the rear end is coming around slightly and hooking up at the same time LIKE A F*CKING BOSS."

The physics are mind-boggling, but the idea that a man gets on one of those bikes (or in a car) and makes it do things that no one else can is very special. Senna had that special intelligence. So does Stoner. So too do Rossi and Lorenzo. The thing that fascinates me is that the mid-pack riders, such as Edwards and Bautista, are phenomenal, amazing talents. And they can't even see a rider like Stoner or Lorenzo. How good do you have to be in order to be that good? Aliens, indeed.

Total votes: 202

and to think that those mid pack riders would be up the front on WSB, who are a few seconds faster then the WSS riders, who are a few seconds faster then the national superbike riders, who are faster then the club racers, who for me at least are still a few seconds a lap faster as well.

Total votes: 196

I used to do some club racing and one of those times Robbin Harms, a WSS rider, showed up on the track and ran with us. It was mindboggling.
I have seen a couple of MotoGPs live and various other motorcycle racing, but its very different to watch and to race along those guys..

Total votes: 196

I think you will find that in 2010 Nicky Hayden said that Stoner's throttle control was in his right hand. This is completely opposite to what Colin Edwards asserted ("The fastest guys are the guys who learn to completely trust the electronics. Casey is by far the bravest in this sense. He just throws it in there and trusts the electronics to keep him off his ass... ") I believe Hayden, for these reasons: 1, he was on the same team and doubtless was privvy to Stoner's data (no wall down THAT garage); 2, at several times in 2010 the two Ducati riders were close together on the track, so Hayden had the best possible vantage point to see what was actually happening; 3, I have seen photos of Stoner in the wet at Phillip Island opening the throttle out of MG Corner with just his thumb and index finger gripping the twist grip. Finger tip control. NOT electronics. Perhaps it is time to recognise Colin Edwards' views and set-up skills are about as good as Valentino Rossi's...

Total votes: 210

"Perhaps it is time to recognise Colin Edwards' views and set-up skills are about as good as Valentino Rossi's..."

Colin helped turn around a lump of a CRT machine with a handful of tests into a machine capable of running with satellite MotoGp prototype machines.

Rossi has 105 GP victories... I think he may know a thing or two about how to set-up a machine.

They may not have the raw speed of Stoner at the moment, but good lord, Colin and Rossi are two of the most accomplished riders in the world!

And just because an NFL coach cannot throw a 50 yard perfect spiral... doesn't mean he is not qualified to coach the player who can. Set-up skills, bike knowledge... and riding speed are two different things.

Total votes: 205

"Perhaps it is time to recognise Colin Edwards' views and set-up skills are about as good as Valentino Rossi's..."

That's just rude and ignorant.

Interesting what you say though about that fine finger & thumb throttle technique. The more we learn about how it's done the more amazing it is.

Total votes: 191

>>Colin Edwards asserted ("The fastest guys are the guys who learn to completely trust the electronics. Casey is by far the bravest in this sense. He just throws it in there and trusts the electronics to keep him off his ass

That's not what Colin said. The person who paraphrased it above did not do a good job. That sentiment is more applicable towards Lorenzo. The full quote was:

"I think I’ve put my faith in the electronics, (Casey Stoner is) 100 times more than me. Because as soon as he lets off that brake, he grabs it. And if you watch Casey, he’ll go and he’ll pivot and as he pivots, he dips his shoulder, he gets that thing upright and just goes brruuup. He’s an expert at the electronics. At this moment, he is the best. And if you look at (Jorge) Lorenzo, Lorenzo’s still more of an arc guy. He’s still more of a chuck it in late, carry it. He relies a lot on the electronics, but Casey’s more that point-and-shoot. He has the perfect bike, he has the perfect electronics package and he trusts it."

http://www.sportrider.com/features/146_1204_motogp_racers_colin_edwards_...

>>Perhaps it is time to recognise Colin Edwards' views and set-up skills are about as good as Valentino Rossi's

I'm very impressed with his work on the Suter. I thought (and posted) that the Suter would never go as well as the ART because of Aprilia's huge R&D advantage. Mouth open, foot inserted.

Chris
http://moto2-usa.blogspot.com/

Total votes: 220

So I was a little liberal with the paraphrasing. My apologies. But the point still stands that he trusts the electronics to do their job, when maybe other riders don't 100% just yet...

Total votes: 187

His right wrist doesn't ultimately control the throttle. A computer does. He just provides the "input."

Doesn't make him any less talented though...

Total votes: 192

"His right wrist doesn't ultimately control the throttle. A computer does." Talk about pedantic!!!!!

And wrong. The right wrist tells the engine when, how much throttle and how quickly the throttle is opened and closed - which is what motorcyclists call Throttle Control.

Your beloved computer makes poofteenth variations to take some of the fluctuations out of the system, to efficiently to spin up and slow down the engine for various reasons including fuel economy in an 18,000rpm motor, and at some settings to control the rate and amount of 'spin up' and 'slow down'.

But how many times has Casey and independent observers said he has minimal settings in his electronics?

Give Casey a carby and a twist grip and cable he would be doing the same thing. In fact he was doing the same thing as an 8yo on a YZ80.

"He just provides the "input." ". Yep, that's right; Casey is just the monkey on the back along for the ride just providing non-essential input.

Ciao.

Total votes: 206

How it feels to get it wrong.

No thanks. I'll just watch in amazement.

Total votes: 183

Awesome! Great job guys!! Thanks so much for FINALLY squeeze this information out of him.

Total votes: 209

and surely as good as it gets for evidence that Stoner will respond to serious and intelligent questions in a thoughtful and informative way. His supposed P.R. persona has largely been garnered from responses to a microphone thrust into his face with some rather trite or inane question and the answer often selectively quoted to create a sensationalist text-bite rather than convey the message in context.

Great and very much appreciated work.

Total votes: 195

Imagine someone asking you "so, how exactly do you WALK?". How do you explain it? It's quite complicated (Honda spent years making Asimo do it), but it's something basically every one of us does without thought.

Stoner answering that question would be like you or I trying to explain the mechanical, sensory and feedback processes involved in how we walk. He just does it without thought.

Total votes: 196

Not so, when asked about that, CS specifically said in paraphrase that he considered every corner and every action needed to execute every slide. But I certainly agree it would like trying to explain any complex (neurological) motor task.

Total votes: 194

It was pure JOY to stand and watch Casey Stoner at Turn 3 at Phillip Island last October. He was the ONLY rider who could drift it sideways thru there, rear tyre smoking and at over 285kph. His skill was consummate. He was visibly faster thru there than anyone else. What a rider! what a legend.
It is pretty obvious now why he is the ONLY person to be able to ride and win on a Ducati. Magic!

Total votes: 205

@mullup

I'm a big Stoner fan but ... to say he was taking Turn 3 at PI "at over 285kph" is a little far fetched.

You silly sausage, you.

Total votes: 187

Have to agree with 'deenos'

Turn 3 at P.I. is the fastest corner in MotoGP, however, Stoners turn in speed is about 260 kph and his apex speed is around 220 kph.....

I have a 'front on' shot of him going through that corner, it gives a graphic view of how much lean angle he still has with the back wheel so far out of line (the shot also has the flag marshal waving the white flag at him to indicate the track is wet enough for him to change bikes if he needs to!! ........Balls!!)

Total votes: 203

Monster - you could post that in the 'solo and soulful' thread - you have top put it on Photobucket or another photoserver and create a link to it - but shots like that are what that thread is about, and very welcome.

And yes, 285 kph is a bit enthusiastic - and let's face it, the tyres don't smoke like they used to...but if ever a corner deserved Stoner's name on it, it's that one (P.I. management - this year, it just HAS to be so named.)

Total votes: 169

Turn 3 at PI just *has* to be named for Casey. I've been to PI every year since 2007 and he is a BEAST not only through that turn, but all over the track. Watching him go over Lukey Heights just blows your mind! It is one of the biggest highlights of my year - watching Stoner at Phillip Island. We are blessed.

Total votes: 199

James Ellison speaking of his chances in MotoGP:

"I don’t think the riders at the front have that much more talent than the riders at the back. Yes they are better, but I don’t think the gap is that huge. It has a lot to do with the machinery available. If that gap can be closed with machinery then I think there will be many more riders coming up that haven’t been able to prove their talent yet and it will make it more interesting."

http://www.motogp.com/en/news/2012/James+Ellison+on+his+return+to+MotoGP

Umm... Am I being harsh here? My gut reaction is - actually James, the gap between Casey's talent and yours is, well, large.

Total votes: 209

He does have a point. Disparity in the machinery exaggerates the gap. While Ellison's talent may not compare that well to Stoner's he'd be a lot closer to the front on a factory Honda than he is on the ART.

Total votes: 189

Edwards was always a distant second to Rossi in his factory Yamaha days and Ellison was 1 minute behind Edwards in this race. That's more than 2 sec a lap slower than someone on largely comparable equipment.

It sounds harsh but its many a slow rider that thinks they would be a frontrunner with the proper equipment. In this case slow means fast enough to qualify on a MotoGP grid, which is faster than me, but its still wishful thinking on Ellison's part. The front 3 are clearly head and shoulders above the rest.

Chris
http://moto2-usa.blogspot.com/

Total votes: 182

@Oscar

I'm not the best with I.T. ....if you can give me an email address to send it to as an atachment I can do that no problem

Total votes: 192

But a worthy attempt by Mr Stoner! He really does fight the bike around (in a very skilled way of course), when I went to practice at Silverstone last year and the year before, you could actually hear him coming if no one else was nearby, the bike was howling for mercy (be it Ducati or Honda)!

There's only one thing for it, I'll be turning off the traction control on my BMW RT1200 tourer, I'll have another read of the article, and I'm going to get out there and jolly well give it a go!

That should get me to work faster.

Total votes: 196

http://www.gpone.com/index.php/en/201204116596/Rossi-Stoner-two-sailors-...

To which I'll add my tuppence. Because Stoner hangs off the inside of the bike in such an extreme manner this exaggerates the looseness of the bike and helps it to break traction at the rear. Like any racer worth his salt he is alway dominating the front - feeding, forcing and demanding traction here.

Was it Doohan that said Ruggia hung off too much to maintain proper control of the motorcycle? Perhaps Stoner's style wouldn't work quite so well on an old fashioned 500 - completely irrelevant of course with the point being Stoner has honed his technique to take maximum advantage of a modern GP machine. I think his combination of sublime throttle control and electronics keep the sub orbital highsides (almost completely historically actually) in check.

Total votes: 182

there are great artists and there are great teachers...and they often are not the same person.

at one end you have the great artist that relies on instinct....and so things go great when they're feeling great and go south when they're not. (and so begins the moaning)

and on the other end you have the great thinking artist. everything is a thought process...so things will still go ok even if theyre not feeling it....but maybe they wont reach impassioned stratospheric heights...leaving things a bit cold.

every person is a mixture of these two archetypes....with child geniuses relying more on instinct and the experienced veterans more the thinkers.

i'd wager both colin and vale would be able articulate things quite well...that's what make them such great development riders...and i'd imagine good teachers...

Total votes: 212

The physicist Hans Bethe described the difference as follows

An ordinary genius is a fellow that you and I would be just as good as, if we were only many times better. There is no mystery as to how his mind works. Once we understand what he has done, we feel certain that we, too, could have done it. It is different with the magicians. ... Even after we understand what they have done, the process by which they have done it is completely dark. They seldom, if ever, have students because they cannot be emulated and it must be terribly frustrating for a brilliant young mind to cope with the mysterious ways in which the magician’s mind works.

Ordinary geniuses never reach the heights of the magicians.

Total votes: 190