Top riding tips
Book yourself a track day and scrape that slider Rupert Paul ‘You need to be ‘on it’. And if you are, it’ll happen all by itself’ Get the crack of your arse in line with the seat and lean 45°
The first thing to know about getting your knee down is that you don’t need to do it on the road. Ever. There is no road situation (including trying to get to hospital where your wife is giving birth and you’ve somehow forgotten to be there) that merits riding that hard.
That said, I may as well admit that I’ve done it on the road about ten thousand times! This was back in the days when so-called extreme riding pictures were thought to improve magazine sales. I must stress that this had nothing to do with genuine fast riding. It was just a biking equivalent of a fashion model’s pout for the camera. (In fact, when I started club racing, and really tried riding as fast as I could, I found my knee hardly ever touched the deck).
So if you want to get your knee down, a track day is the obvious place to try it. Use your local roundabout if you want to, but I wouldn’t because a) policemen take a dim view and b) it’s a bit selfish to build the necessary concentration and flow on a road you share with everyone else.
At the risk of stating the obvious, you need leathers that allow your knees to spread a yard apart. You also want to be wearing knee sliders. If you neglect this detail, expect sudden intense pain and litres of claret. Reasonable suspension and tyres are essential. As is the confidence to have already obliterated the chicken strips on your rear tyre.
The basic technique is dead easy. Ride towards a corner, get the crack of your arse in line with the edge of your seat, lean over 45 degrees, and stick your knee out. If you are agile, you can do it at about two thirds natural knee-down speed. The bike will feel edgy, and probably wobble a bit on the entry, but you might get a trophy scuff on your slider. If you’d rather feel smooth and safe, you need to load up the suspension and tyres, and operate the brake, throttle and steering with a reasonable level of skill. In other words, you need to be ‘on it’. And if you are, it’ll happen all by itself. Build up your speed over a number of laps and you will naturally lean over further as the pace builds. Hang off a little more - without going mad – each lap until your lean angle and the amount you are hanging off balance each other perfectly and you feel that satisfying scrape of slider on tarmac.