Anatomy of a highside

Dailies -


Highside-Anatomy.jpgA highside occurs when a rear tire suddenly regains traction during a slide, suddenly and forcefully flicking the bike upright, often throwing the rider into the air. Highsides are usually caused by applying too much throttle in a corner, but can also be caused by too much brake. The latter is often the reason cruisers highside on the road. Valentino Rossi’s season ending highside prompted many to ask for a clearer definition, this photo sequence breaks the accident down step by step. This guy was luckier than Rossi, walking away with a smile and a big repair bill.  >




























CaliPhotography via

Thanks for the tip, Ninjah.

  • Ken

    Assuming the motor drive is completely consistent, you can see the big difference between shots 6 & 7. That’s bad things happening really quickly.

  • The Grudz

    That’s a sequence I’d hang on the wall were it my blunder.

  • Tom

    Who could ever forget this one.

  • RT Moto

    Glad to see that he is ok. Chuckwalla, at least I assume from the looks of it, can definitely make you get a little throttle happy and overconfident in the corners.

  • Cynic

    Some one was lucky to get all those photo’s in sequence. That’s one fast expensive camera.
    I know what a highside is through personal experience… but it is hard to explain to the non motorcycling crowd. So thanks for sharing!

  • Sean Smith

    Is the SV high-side Roadracing World has in their latest issue? It flows about 90 times better with one photo right after another.

    Possibly my all time favorite crash photo one in this set. After he realizes he can’t save it, but before he gets shot to the moon, there’s a moment where the bike is totally sideways, his head is turned in the direction he’s moving, his boot is off the peg, and his eyes look a lot like a cartoon. Awesome.

    • Wes Siler

      No clue, don’t read RRW. Shots 4, 5 and 6 look like what you’re describing.

      • NoBody

        No, it isn’t in the latest RW issue. It is in the last issue (June 2010). It is a lot easier to see the expression on his face (like the eyes in pic #3) in the printed version.

        Someone on the WERA forum has the above photos done as a slow movie – it works. They posted that a long time ago

        The RW issue I got today (July) has a great one of the rider off the bike but his hand still on the throttle – perfect motivational poster shot. We’ll probably see it here next month.

        Oh yeah – if, unlike most New Media people, you have more than a 10 second attention span (i.e., don’t have Twit-For-Brains syndrome)read Mat Oxley’s article on Eddie Lawson in the latest RW. Especially the last 2 paragraphs. The metro crowd here won’t like it.

        • Sean Smith

          Looks like I’ve got new RW to look forward to in the morning :D

    • VetteWrecker

      My sincere wish is that you get the chance to experience this awesomeness first hand.

  • Al Garcia

    I’m all over the net lol! It was still relatively early, and I was trying a few different lines into the turn 9/10 complex. I wasn’t really pushing hard, but I got into an area that hadn’t been ridden yet. As a result, I got caught in an area of the track that had a fine layer of sand (you can see the sand being kicked up by my slider in the first few photos when the photos are enlarged). Carrying that lean angle, I ran out of grip (and talent).

    I ended up with a slight fracture in my fibula but raced with Willow Springs Motorcycle Club (WSMC) two weeks later!

  • Al Garcia

    And it did happen really fast. I felt it slide and I thought “Oh crap.. but I’ve got this” then all of a sudden “Oh oh, I’m no longer attached to my bike!! This is not gonna end well”

  • NoBody

    I’m too lazy to figure out the credits for this:

  • the_doctor

    If you scroll really, really fast, it looks like he is cooking it almost as fast as Rossi.

  • Logan

    Al, Glad to see you made it to Celeb Status!! All the boys on are cheering you on!!


  • michael

    “Oh crap.. but I’ve got this” LOL! Every wreck i’ve ever had started just like yours. :)

  • Nick

    He should have done a thumbs-up in photo 4. It would have made for a cool picture that would have made Ruben Xaus proud.

  • Core

    Thanks for explaining this.

  • Duge

    the MAIN difference between this and rossi’s highside is that Rossi most likely tried to hold onto the bike (because he can usually save it)but this guy let go (smart move) and wasnt flung so high…oh yeah, and the whole speed thing…

    this is not something i would want to happen to me on my sportbike (happened to me a couple times on my supermoto, but that’s >40mph

  • Duge

    i meant <40mph :oP

  • chili sv

    Nice job your gloves did for you Al, because that’s not the way you want to fall.

  • Heaven for textile

    In the 7th picture, it looks like he’s kickflipping the bike!

    • Odie

      No, no, no. He’s bike surfing!
      Congrats on having gone viral. I wonder if we can make this big enough that someone in Italy who is in Rossi’s circle of friends will call him and say “Vale, dude! You have to check out this American guy’s high-side in California! Molto bene!”

  • LADucSP

    There is a way to save a highside, but there’s no way to practice it, and you have to pray you do it in time. Although, there are still some circumstances where you’re screwed, no matter what you do.

    The technique to saving a highside requires you resist and overcome the natural reaction of shutting the throttle. You have to keep the rear spinning, get your weight up and forward over the fr wheel as much as possible, and don’t target fixate.

    How do you do this?….stand up on the pegs and get your body and weight forward over the fr wheel as quickly as possible, and most importantly, stay on the gas!

    If you get it right, the rear swings around underneath you and eventually regains composure.

    Your nardse are in your throat though, and you gotta get lucky to pull it off.

    I did once. Sears Point; February. What’s called the “stream” was running in turn 1 (underground moisture that comes up through the tarmac and runs down the camber of the corner. If you hit it, its like ice.

    Rider’s meeting: “streams running; adjust your line.”

    I had someone on the inside, and I couldn’t avoid. I thought, “how bad could it be?”. Pretty freakin bad, as it turns out!

    I adjusted to give space for the other rider, but had to cut the stream as a result, and BAM…rear steps out almost 90deg!

    Don’t know how I pulled it off, but stood up and forward over the fr wheel and pinned her….rear went back and forth but came back under me, and off I went. Thank god too, or I’d have been tossed over the hill and down a few stories into the carousel on the other side!

    Scared the shit out of me, but realized I could either get off the track, or man up and recover. I man’ed up; high on adrenalin and bad sense no doubt.

    When the session ended and I got back to the pits, turned out a friend was right behind me and was so freaked by seeing it, HE got off immediately. Wimp.

    Don’t know if I’d ever be able to pull it off again, but that one time I saved a highside.

    • Al Garcia

      Thanks for the advice. Next time I approach a corner a corner and have a nanosecond to react as the rear end starts to slid, I will ponder your sage advice. I hope Rossi, Lorenzo and others are reading as well, as I am sure they have a lot to learn from you.

      Thanks again! : )

  • Harry Mallin

    Man… I didn’t need to see this on the first day of owning my new bike. It was on my mind during the first ride, but eventually I was having so much fun I forgot about it. Great series of pictures. Somehow, it works even better than a video of it would.

  • 2ndderivative

    #7 is one funky dance move.

  • Trojanhorse

    Hey, you can’t talk to him like that! He rides a Du-CAH-ti! You don’t wanna get banned from the Catalina wine mixer!