We're not talking about a gentle headshake here, we're talking a full-on, oh-my-fucking-god, lock-to-lock tankslapper with vicious intent and lightning action. Although a science in themselves, tankslappers tend to happen as you get on the power over a bumpy surface. The physics dictate that this is where they're most likely, but they can occur elsewhere, of course. Steering-dampers should soak up the resonance, but if you haven't got one, or it's set too low. then you might still have to deal with a terrible 'slapper.
There's no forgetting your first tankslapper. But, seeing as you're alive reading this, you must have survived it. Do you know how? I bet you don't. So here are some tips for surviving your next one. Described simply, a tankslapper is rapid oscillations of your front wheel, caused by a bump in the road that suddenly generates lots of energy. You may get a 'slapper from landing a wheelie crossed-up, or by gassing hard over some painted chevrons, cats-eyes, or just down a bumpy back lane.
The sheer violence of a tankslapper makes it difficult to know what to do. Initially, the things you should not do are more important. You shouldn't try and control the slapper with your hands - your reactions are too slow and may amplify the furious flapping. Tensing up only makes a tankslapper worse, as there's no way your arms can soak up the forces quick enough, and you may end up making the oscillations worse. Braking isn't a good idea either, as the last thing the front-end needs is more weight on it. Off-road experience helps, because gassing a bike through the slapper, thereby transferring weight to the rear of the bike, to the point at which the front wheel is lifted off the ground, is the tried-and-tested method of escaping. After it's all finished, make sure to pump your brakes because there's a strong chance that your pads will have been knocked out of their calipers. And we don't want another unfortunate act of unexpectedness to befall us, do we?
Was this article helpful?