How to slipstream a bike at the North West 200

The world’s leading professional nutcases, daredevils and racing heroes reveal their expert knowledge on the most ridiculous biking feats you can imagine, don’t try this at home!

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Bruce Dunn is MCN’s resident speed tester and has entered the NW six times, four times on a 250GP and twice on a Supertwin. His fastest speed logged at 166mph on a 2008 Yamaha TZ250.

Now Bruce gives us insight on how to slipstream a bike at the NW200: "The NW200 is slipstreaming nirvana. I can sit in 6th gear for 1.5 miles at 165mph even faster if I can pick up a slipstream from another rider.

"I start to pick up the effect of slipstreaming when I'm around 20 yards behind another bike. As I get closer if feels like my bike has been given a sudden boost. The bike in front has done all of the work of pushing the air out of its way meaning I am quite literally inside his low-pressure wake of air.

"He'll feel more buffeting from behind because he’s now punching through the air for the both of us so it's working harder, whereas my bike's engine is set free to just create more speed and slingshot past him. The boost can be almost 10 mph if timed perfectly, and it's such a satisfying feeling when it all works perfectly.

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"All this is going on amongst a mass of other riders all trying to do the same thing at over 150mph, so you have to be able to gauge several things at once; your closing speed on the rider you're slipstreaming, anticipation for where other riders are likely to be when you make your overtake, and any potential unsighted situation.

"You have to be brave, hold your nerve, be extremely accurate, but also plan ahead. And try not to get literally sucked in to missing your braking marker as you scrub off 120mph for the upcoming corner."

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Andy Davidson

By Andy Davidson

Former MCN Feature writer