A motorcycle will fishtail when it loses traction, or breaks traction. To create the traction, the rear wheel of the motorcycle needs to be spinning faster than the front wheel.
The more torque the motorcycle has, the faster the rear wheel can spin, and the faster the front wheel can turn. The bike will reach its limit when the rear wheel is spinning faster than the front wheel can turn. This can happen on a wet road, or on a bike with a powerful engine and low gearing.
What causes a motorcycle to fishtail?
Riders often lock the rear brake
One of the main reasons why motorcycle does a fishtail is because the rider is slamming the rear brake too hard.
Unlike the front brake, the rear brake are not as friendly as the front brake. Since the rear brake is located under the foot, the legs can exert more force than the hands, but it is hard to feel the force especially if you’re wearing a thick boots.
What causes the rear brakes to lock?
Since a normal motorcycle has a telescopic front fork, if you apply the front and rear brakes at the same time, the fork will sink, and the vehicle body will tilt forward. Pitching mechanics results in a greater movement if the brakes are stronger.
The brake input ratio in front is 7: 3, but the rear could be lifted with an extremely strong brake near its limit, so in terms of the ratio in front, it is 10: 0. Thus, the frictional resistance between the rear wheels and the road surface will be zero, and the rear brake will easily lock.
Slippery surfaces and uneven road surfaces
All motorcycles have the same problem; when they lose traction on slippery and uneven surfaces, the rear wheel locks up and the bike tips over. This is called “fishtailing” and is a problem that all riders face. To end the fishtailing one usually brakes, which then causes the front wheel to lock up again.
As a result, the same thing happens, and you end up tumbling over. To avoid this, you need to learn how to compensate for the loss of traction.
What can cause a motorcycle to lose traction?
Motorcycle lose traction on slippery and uneven surfaces because the traction is limited by the available frictional force between the tires and the ground. While that’s a good reason for motorcycle riders to be very careful, it’s also a good reason for slippery surfaces to be very clean.
Tire size and condition
A tire slips when the surface (tread) where it touches the road separates from the surface. This tread has an area smaller than one postcard. A tire gives the motorcycle the power (propulsion force) to move forward while constantly rotating, and it always supports the car’s body with two small areas. The propulsion force causes the tires to rotate and the tread to move away from the tread, causing a merciless slip.
Other causes include poor maintenance like tire wear, insufficient air pressure, rain, snow, and frozen roads, which may lead to the tire losing its grip. A slip may also occur when the engine speed and gear ratio do not match during sudden braking or gear changes and the speed drops suddenly.
How to avoid fishtailing?
If you ride a motorcycle, you should be aware of the dangers of rear wheel slides and know about the best strategies for preventing or recovering from them. A common cause of rear wheel slides is rear tire overloading, slamming the brakes too hard (causing it to lock), and uneven surfaces
The best way to avoid rear wheel slides is to stay off the throttle and avoid leaning too far over. If the rear wheel does begin to slide, first straighten the bike, then firmly brake and give the throttle a quick twist to counter the slide.
How to get out of fishtailing?
On a motorcycle, when the bike gets a little bit of rear wheel slide, you have to do something relatively fast and precise to correct the slide so that you don’t go off the road. If you go off the road, you will crash and perhaps kill yourself. So you want to be able to stop the slide before you get off the road.
You can watch this video by Bennetts Bike for some tip on how to save your motorcycle rear wheel slide.
Some motorcycle are designed to slide
Dirt bike, adventure bike, and trail bikes are designed to make a fishtail especially on trails and uneven roads. When you are doing trail braking, you need to remember that it is essential to practice on a safe track before you are doing it on the public road.