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How to Avoid and Control a Motorcycle Skid

How to Avoid and Control a Motorcycle Skid

Riding a motorcycle is more difficult than driving a car. Riding a motorcycle requires maintaining your balance at all times due to only having two wheels. A rider must be adequately skilled to balance, steer, and handle a motorcycle. Various factors can affect your motorcycle handling and steering, including bad weather conditions, poor riding skills, techniques, and not paying attention while riding. If the rider is not able to properly balance or control a motorcycle, it could skid and result in a collision. Therefore, a rider must learn what causes motorcycles to skid and how to prevent it from happening. Read this article to learn how to control a motorcycle skid.

1. What are the Causes of Motorcycle Skidding?

Learning the causes of motorcycle skidding will help you avoid it and be safer while riding a motorcycle. The reasons why motorcycle skids include:

1.1 Bad Weather Conditions

Bad weather conditions, including rain, snow, wind, and fog, can cause your motorcycle to skid. The roads become wet and slippery due to rain and snow, causing motorcycle tires to lose traction. Windy weather can cause your motorcycle to be buffeted by heavy winds at different angles that can cause you to lose your balance. In fog, most accidents occur due to riders suddenly applying the brakes due to poor visibility.


1.2 Poor Riding Skills

If you are a novice rider or have poor riding skills, you may have trouble balancing a motorcycle properly. Holding on to the handlebars too tightly and riding with a poor posture can also cause your motorcycle to skid.

1.3 Not Paying Attention While Riding

Not paying attention while riding can also cause your motorcycle to skid if you have to suddenly brake or swerve due to a sudden obstacle.

1.4 Sudden Braking

Quickly applying the brakes can also cause you to lose control and crash your motorcycle. Most riders forcefully apply the front brake lever in emergencies, resulting in your motorcycle skidding. When you forcefully apply the front brake, it can cause the front tire to lock up, resulting in the front and rear tires rotating at different rates. The uneven rotations between the front and rear tires can cause your motorcycle to skid.

1.5 Accelerating Quickly

Accelerating quickly can cause the motorcycle’s rear wheel to rotate faster than the front wheel, resulting in your motorcycle skidding.

1.6 Taking Sharp Turns

Most riders are not used to performing sharp turns and end up falling off their motorcycles while cornering. To turn a corner, you must learn how to enter a corner, how far to lean, and how to adjust your speed while entering and exiting a corner.


1.7 Leaning Too Far

Leaning too far towards either side can cause your motorcycle to skid if you cannot maintain a proper speed while holding a leaning position. If you enter a corner while leaning at a speed that is too slow, the centripetal force may not be enough to keep you in the leaning position, causing you to fall off. Meanwhile, if you enter a corner leaning at a dangerously high speed, you may successfully clear the corner but risk losing control while exiting the corner.

1.8 Suddenly Changing Directions

When you suddenly change direction by sharply turning the handlebars, the front tire stops due to no longer being aligned with the rear tire. Due to the extra friction suddenly applied to the rear tire, the momentum causes the motorcycle to skid.

1.9 Loss of Traction

Your motorcycle’s tires can suddenly lose traction due to any of the reasons listed above.

2. How to Avoid Motorcycle Skidding

Controlling and avoiding motorcycle skids are two different things. Before you learn how to control a motorcycle skid, you must learn how to avoid getting into one in the first place. Listed below are ways to help you avoid motorcycle skidding.

2.1 Check Weather Conditions

Check the weather conditions before you go for a ride. You can easily check the weather forecast on a mobile app. Avoid riding in rainy, snowy, and foggy conditions if possible.

2.2 Improve Your Riding Skills

Improve your riding skills by taking motorcycle riding training and safety courses. Highly-trained instructors can help teach you the skills necessary to become a better rider. You can also learn new riding skills, including balancing, handling, leaning, cornering, and hanging off your motorcycle by taking in-person classes and online lectures.


If you want to learn how to control a motorcycle skid, it is recommended you take off-road training as it can teach you how to stay in control while your motorcycle is sliding.

2.3 Avoid Sudden Braking

You must learn how to apply the brakes properly during normal circumstances and emergencies to ensure safety. Most riders panic and forcefully apply the front brake lever to avoid hitting obstacles or other vehicles, resulting in the brakes becoming prematurely worn out.

To properly apply the brakes, you must release the throttle, slow down, downshift, and then apply braking to stop your motorcycle. If you do not have much time to respond to a threat, gently apply the front brake and then apply both brakes simultaneously to avoid skidding. Gradually applying both brakes will cause the front and rear tires to slow down at an equal pace. Avoid engaging the clutch excessively while slowing down and stopping since it may cause it to become worn out quicker.

2.4 Avoid Accelerating Quickly

If you want to avoid skidding and ensure your motorcycle lasts longer, avoid accelerating quickly as it puts more pressure on engine parts and causes excessive wear and tear. Make sure to gently twist the throttle and shift gears at the right time. You must also engage and disengage the clutch gently to avoid skidding.

2.5 Practice Turning Corners

Most beginners and intermediate riders do not know how to properly turn a corner. They either enter a corner at high speed or lean too far, resulting in their motorcycles skidding. You must slow down and downshift while entering a corner and maintain a steady speed while cornering. If the corner is too sharp and you cannot see the end ahead, apply the brakes slightly to ensure you turn the corner at a slower speed. If the road is slippery or covered in gravel, avoid leaning and cornering at high speeds to prevent the motorcycle from losing traction and skidding.

2.6 Avoid Suddenly Changing Directions

In most cases, riders do not need to swing the handlebars very far to make a turn. If you want to turn left, gently push the handlebars slightly toward the left. To turn right, gently push the handlebars towards the right. Suddenly swinging the handlebars too far in either direction can cause your motorcycle to skid.

2.7 Avoid Obstacles

Pay attention to the road while riding a motorcycle. Road hazards can cause your motorcycle to skid if you cannot avoid them, including potholes, stones, critters, small puddles, and gravel. Unless you are not riding an adventure or a dual sports bike, avoid riding on unpaved roads since it can cause you to lose traction and skid.

3. How to Control a Motorcycle Skid

Even if you try your best to ride carefully and avoid road hazards, there is still a chance of your motorcycle skidding. To ensure your safety, it is best to learn how to control a motorcycle while it is skidding using the tips listed below:

3.1 Do Not Panic

Try not to panic if your motorcycle skids as it is possible to regain control if you keep a cool head. Otherwise, panicking could result in a motorcycle crash since you could lose the capability to make quick decisions. You must be calm and consider possible solutions to stay in control while skidding.

3.2 Slow Down

To control a motorcycle skid, you must slow down, downshift, and apply the brakes without engaging the clutch. Though the motorcycle will shudder a bit, it will eventually come to a stop.

3.3 Do Not Completely Close the Throttle

In case your motorcycle’s rear wheel skids, do not completely close the throttle or it will cause the front tire to stop, resulting in the front suspension becoming compressed. A high-side is when the front tire tries to become aligned with the rear tire, causing the bike to suddenly rotate around its axis.

Video Credit: RNickeyMouse

3.4 Ease Off the Brakes

If your motorcycle skids while you are applying the brakes, try to ease off on them to allow the front and rear tires to realign and regain traction. Do not completely remove pressure on the brakes as it can cause the front and rear tires to align too quickly and throw you off over the handlebars.

3.5 Turn the Handlebars

If your motorcycle skids, you can regain control by turning the handlebars until the front and rear tires realign with each other. As soon as you regain control of your motorcycle, point the front of your handlebars until they are straight to ensure both the front and rear tires rotate at the same speeds.

Video Credit: MotoJitsu


4. Final Words

Riding a motorcycle is more difficult than driving a car because it requires more expertise. Apart from handling and steering, you also need to maintain your balance while riding at all times. External factors, including weather conditions and riding skills, have a huge impact when it comes to motorcycle safety. If you are an inexperienced rider, do not know how to properly apply the brakes, or turn a tight corner, you may find it difficult to control a motorcycle.

Motorcycles skid when the front and rear wheels become misaligned, if the tires lose traction, the front and rear tires rotate at different speeds, sudden braking, quick acceleration, suddenly changing directions, and leaning too far towards either side. To ensure your safety on the road, make sure you learn how to avoid and regain control during motorcycle skidding.

Installing a fairing on your motorcycle can help block incoming wind to ensure better focus while riding. Installing saddlebags and sissy bars bags can also help you carry useful stuff, like a rain suit, extra gloves, and a first-aid kit. You can also install a sissy bar and a backrest to improve comfort and safety on long-distance rides.

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