Motorcycle drifting > car drifting

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You know drifting. A bunch of 2 Fast 2 Furious types put carbon hoods on their 240SXs, then pretend to race while awarding each other style points. An impressive feat of car control, surely, but a little silly. But, what if a guy on a bike showed up — same track, same time — and beat the car guys at their own game? Nick ‘Apex’ Brocha did just that. Here’s exclusive photos and video. Wait, you guys practiced this first, right?

“We thought it would give Nick extra motivation to twist the throttle knowing a 2,400lbs car was about to run him over.”

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We asked Nick to explain how this motorcycle drifting thing works:

“It’s hard to say what’s the best way to start your adventures of tire smoke and highsides,” explains Nick. “But at the request of the honorable HFL crew we’ll dive head first into the subject.”

“Stock wheel base bikes are not like their stretched and lethargic brethren. So while what you saw in the Icon video is absolutely possible on a stock wheel base motorcycle, the reckless abandon we had those two days of shooting would’ve resulted in some serious hospital time. None of the drifting shots had any front brake application, just power over heavy handed riding.”

“Now that that’s said lets get you started. First things first, you should be able to do a rolling burnout. Once your comfortable with rolling and you’ve started to counter steer the bike into a weaving pattern you’re ready to feel out a drift.  Easiest way to get your feet wet is in first gear get the back tire spinning high in the revs while rolling as slow as possible, release the brake, wick her wide open and try and keep it straight.  From there you’re going to spend a lot of time SLOWLY feeding a little rear wheel angle into the bars.  Each pass you’ll want to monitor your tires life and get your head wrapped around the idea of what would happen if you get above your comfort level.  Highsiding at 50+mph can really put a damper one one’s weekend.”

“Drifting has helped reinvent the sport of street freestyle.  It’s led to many of the riders master backing in their motorcycles and greatly improved the speed of our riding.  If you care to see more fun highside play you can checkout the following YouTube video.  The quality is not there but you’ll get the idea.  Hope you enjoyed everything, it was a lot of fun to make!”

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Icon equipped Nick with one of its new Variant Salvo Hi-Viz helmets to justify footing the bill for all this. As the name suggests, it’s Icon’s awesomely unique urban/supermoto helmet, just here with brighter paint and reflective graphics. Wearing his, we can be sure no one can say they didn’t see Nick’s hooning.

Meanwhile, Icon’s Matt Sanders, who produced and shot this video, explains how it all came about:

“The idea (bike vs. car drifting) is one that’s been brewing for quite some time in my own head and I’ve tossed around producing a drifting video with Nick a few times in the past. It wasn’t until Nick called me after his trip to Aruba that it really started to gain traction.(ironic pun?) I believe his voice was at least 2 octaves higher than normal as he was describing what he encountered on the Island.”

“Apparently one of the more popular night time activities for sport bike riders and spectators is known as ‘Swinging.’ (not the 10 guys pulling trains around a nasty girl ‘swinging’ mind you).  Imagine a narrow street lined with extremely rowdy people on both sides as far as you can see.. A guy on a stretched liter bike (usually in shorts and not much else) is lined up at one end. The people at the other end of the street are literally in the middle of the road just so they can see. He launches the bike at redline in second gear down the middle of the road in a giant smoky burnout. He’s throwing it back and forth in a drift from lock to lock missing the bystanders by only inches. The people are literally running out of the way to make room for the bike as it comes screaming towards them at 80-100+mph sideways. Nick said it was one of the most horrific and violent things he’s ever seen done on a bike. Naturally, his intrigue was aroused. From there it took us about a year to figure out what to do with the concept.”

“Drifting on sportbikes has been done for quite some time in the stunt world, but because of the short wheel bases they are extremely twitchy and usually limited in speed and scale of the drifts… We’re talking small parking lot sized drifts in short bursts only. There is no way a normal sport bike could hang with a real drift car at speed.  Stretching the bike changes the whole equation and makes it possible to drift (somewhat) safely at very high speeds. The first time I saw Nick drift around a corner at speed on the stretched ZX10 completely blew my mind…it was way beyond any MotoGP drift I had ever seen.”

“It truly was an experiment because none of us knew what would happen.”

What’s the deal with the R/C car cam?

“The RC cam is just an idea I had to help us get a cool angle of the action reasonably safely,” says Matt. “I don’t know if it worked as well in practice as it did in theory.  The car itself is a Traxxis Rustler VXL with a Lithium Polymer battery and brushless motor. It is capable of 80+ mph in this configuration. I figured it would be able to keep up with the bike and car no problem through the slalom course.  What I didn’t account for, was how hard it would be to see it as it got to far end of the course. Something that small going 80mph away from you gets very hard to control. You can see for yourself in the video. Thankfully, it all worked out and I will still be able to write this toy off on my taxes this year. I also got to use it on another Icon video shoot recently where it became known as the ‘perv cam’…that video will be coming out in the spring.”


  • Kyle

    Drifting in a car just seems so ordinary now a days it really takes the fun out of it.

    I feel like I would never get used to drifting a bike comfortably. There’s just something about the threat of high siding, costing a few grand in repairs for both the bike and myself that takes the fun out of it.

    Hats off to those whose balls are a lot bigger than mine.

  • tomwito

    Pretty cool, but not too sideways on the bike. I’ve seen better at the Indy mile.

  • je

    “An impressive feat of car control, surely, but a little silly.” – Either your a two wheeled isolated tool or you lack the ability to have fun in a car that doesn’t involve turning left. I don’t get much jollies watching drift comps but I do enjoy doing it and thats the beauty of it. Almost anyone can pick up a cheap RWD car, got out to an remote road and drift. The great thing about is that you learn great car control in the process and experience one of the last remaining highs in a car that a motorcycle can not provide.

    I love HFL and aware of us all having our own opinions but I dont like your singled minded view with drifing which im obviously an enthusiast of.

    • Wes Siler

      I think you’re confusing drifting with just driving a RWD car.

      Drifting is a specific sport which takes place on race tracks in which cars are required to spend as much time as possible sideways and awarded style points for the size and location of their slides.

      Call me a road racing purist, but while it’s kinda neat, drifting seems fairly pointless.

      • je

        Drifting has become a sport.. the label is associated to a style of driving be it in a RWD, AWD or your crafty FWD guys that has been around a lot longer then your associated Fast and Furious association. It reaches far past your average redneck doing donuts in his f-350.

        Your hung up on racing when im trying to tell you drifting is amazing amounts of fun in a car that just happens to also teach car control that most people lack. If you think pushing the limit and having fun in a car or bike is pointless then your I see your point. If it wasnt for drifting I would have zero reason for owning a car over a bike for a thrill factor.

        I am glad they provide track time for this type of hooning now as I am with seeing bike guys push it at the track vs the risk of the every day road dangers.

    • Myles

      Drifting is the ice dancing of the motorsports world. It’s judged on style, while all other forms of motorsport are completely objective.

      Ice dancing is impressive. But it is a little silly.

  • Myles

    Reps to the guy in the FD, takes a lot of guts to stay sideways behind a bike while piloting a ~2500lb car.

    Like tomwito I’d prefer to see better angles on the bike, but still pretty cool. Sickest angles are on SMs:

  • SpeedyMoto

    Nice work Matt, The slow mo HD shots of both vehicles coming out of the corner made us want to go stretch the ol’ 1198 and chase the shop truck around the parking lot!!

    That would probably end horribly…

    • kat

      I can totally picture you guys doing that… ;)

  • JRl

    That was a HELLuva entertaining video! I don’t know what you guys were watching, but that bike was definitely putting it out there. It’s just not as obvious since the tire contact patch is so much smaller, he can’t put out a ton of smoke. They need a bleach reservoir with a sprayer on the tire to try to make some more smoke! haha.

    • Wes Siler

      That’s the best idea I’ve heard all day.

      • Brammofan

        You know where you find a lot of bleach? In the cabinets where people store cleaning supplies… usually found in bathrooms.

        Just sayin’.

    • Deltablues

      Isn’t bleach the same poisonous fluid that is sprayed on Guy Fieri’s hair? Just how un-Green do you want drifting to become?

  • GuessWho

    very fucking niiiiiiiiiiice. I need to learn this.

  • ike6116

    This is cool, I still want to see someone whip an R1200GS though. Can’t we get someone insane like a Metzger or Pastrana on that one?

  • stickfigure

    While this is cool, you can have all the fun and only a tiny fraction of the risk in the dirt. With the right technique, any big displacement bike (my 990 works admirably) will easily break the rear wheel loose and slide out sideways in a controllable way, no expensive mods required. After you get used to it, you never want a solid rear hookup in the dirt ever again.

    Crazy fun. Goes through knobbies fast though. At least it’s not as fast as this guy on the track…

  • Johndo

    Insane video!

  • ak

    This and street bike stunting should be the next two x-games disciplines…but its cooler to watch Rossi or Stoner back it in @ speed without the extra swing arm, form doesn’t follow function here.

    • ike6116

      I’ve grown up with the X-Games and would very much enjoy watching this. Street Bike stunting would be cool, like a jacked up version of the old Flatland bicycle events

  • Alex

    I used to ‘pooh pooh’ the stunt crowd until I attended a number of XDL events this year and spent A LOT of time around the riders (at comps, away from bikes, and at the practice spot). I have massive love and appreciation for these guys and this sport now. What they do on motorcycles these days is mind blowing, their level of control extremely commendable. Racing is racing and stunt riding is stunt riding.

    Don’t compare downhill giant slalom to slopestyle. They both take place on skis, but are two different sports. Just enjoy the show!

    Mad props Nick.

  • Alex

    PS: I’m a roadracer!

  • Case

    Credit to Nick and Icon for making something that I loathe (drifting) look super cool and fun.

  • seanslides

    Drifting came from road (and street) racers learning to use extreme oversteer to allow them to take different lines, scrub off extra speed at corner entry (while coming in too hot) and ultimately, make passes that would otherwise be impossible. Competition drifting takes this idea, and pretty much jumps the shark. They lose most of the racing aspect, and focus entirely on going sideways.

    I don’t know all that much about motorcycle drifting, but it seems like it comes from burnouts. Granted, plenty of people get sideways in racing, backing it in on corner entry, and occasionally pulling off insane power slides on exit, but sliding this ZX-10 around is something completely different and it seems to lack the feeling that the machine is being pushed to it’s absolute limit and sensation of speed of Tanner Foust in a fire breathing rwd Tc.

    In other words: Call me when you can pull of nice clean slides with your knee firmly planted on the ground.

  • Todd

    Gary McCoy, King of Slide. That is all.

  • Ray

    Actually pretty damn beautiful integration of human and machine. I usually only do this kind of thing with the sidecar…

  • 2ndderivative

    The bike-radius U-turn was my favourite.

  • Penguin

    Woah – That’s simply breathtaking.

    Motorcycle Drifting. Where is your God now?

  • Corey

    This could possibly be the first extended swing arm ever put on street bike that actually has purpose!

  • DoctorNine

    Motorcycling is man and machine in it’s most elemental form. And this is taking that to the nth power. I’d love to buy a beater, put some frame/engine sliders on it, and screw around with it like this. Don’t think there’s any way I could dress it up as a reasonable hobby to the wife though. She already thinks I’m insane.

  • mugget

    That is awesome! It’s always great to watch the Icon vids, but especially anything with Nick and that sneaky little guy Shin.

    Car drifing is so passe – I mean I have had a front wheel-drive car sideways across 3 lanes of road, it’s just not that hard. (Although I’d still welcome the opportunity to drift a high-powered RWD car…) Stretched sportbike drifting is where it’s at!

  • Paul

    Nice, but needs more Gold Wing. :)

  • Markus

    I always thought of motorcycle drifting as a supermoto thing?

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