Burnout 101, or: How many points do I have left on my license?
Disclaimer: This article is for your entertainment purposes only. Don't do this. All photos are of professional riders under controlled conditions, wearing safe and protective clothing. If you try this at home, it could rip your leg off. Or your mother will.
Mature Riders Need Not Apply
I'm an ex-glue sniffer who saw the light. I graduated. Now I enjoy the stench of burning rubber. And why not? Just say no to drugs and yes to idiocy. Have you ever seen some Yahoo burn his tire down to the cords and wish you could? Burnouts are cool. People respect burnout artists for being a bitchin' motorcyclist and a sensitive, caring human being. Chicks will dig you, especially if you're a woman. Heck, even the cops will like you. Believe that, and you've fried as many brain cells as me.
Although terrible for the environment, pocketbook, and neighbor/community relations, burnouts remain popular in the best society. Steve Forbes does burnouts. Bill Clinton wishes his own vices were this obvious. Done properly, a burnout is the best way to get rid of all those $200 tires. Even done wrong, there's a plus, 'cos it's an easy way introduce yourself to nurses. To help avoid embarassment and a possible loss of face (or butt), we'll tell the secrets of smoke.
Nobody needs a nitrous-equipped GSXR 1100 to be able to smoke a tire down to the cords. It helps, but you can get away with far less horsepower, and just as much smoke. Performing the smokiest burnouts of your life takes more brainpower than horsepower, although most burnout artists don't have much of either.
Here are a few simple techniques that can help you look like a burnout pro when you need to make big smoke. Surgeon general's warning -- don't get within 10 miles of a smoky burnout with a hangover.
Gimme Some Action
The first step is to learn about the clutch action on your particular smoke machine. With the rear brake on, pull in the clutch. Click the bike into first gear, slowly feed out the clutch to learn where the clutch starts to engage. Feed the clutch out gradually. Release the rear brake and determine where the end of clutch engagement is by cruising slowly and pulling in the clutch until you hear a slight rise in engine rpm's. This total distance is your clutch action.
Familiar with the action on your clutch lever, you can prepare for the first burnout. Find an area that is clear of police, angry neighbors, congressman and the like. Next, keep the area behind the bike clear. Some chicks may dig burnouts, but I don't know any that like picking molten rubber chunks out of their hair.
Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em
Stop your bike in the designated burnout area, place both feet on the ground. Pull the clutch lever all the way in. Before you start chewing that tire down to the cords, put the bike in second gear, it will keep you burning longer, and avoid possible engine damage from bouncing off the rev limiter. Make sure you are holding the front brake tightly. Slowly let the clutch out to the point just before engagement begins. Now rev the motor into the powerband, not redline, but somewhere in the middle of the bike's powerband, which is usually at about 80% of the motor's rpm capability. Wherever your bike makes power is a good place to start. You don't want to sit and zing your motor for nothing, so feed the clutch out aggressively, but remain smooth. The tire should be spinning right now, so hang on Smokey! If your tire is not spinning, you should try more rpm or feeding out the clutch faster. Real men and true idiots, of course, just peg the motor and dump the clutch. This is a good way to get hurt.
Low-powered bike, or are burnout-challenged? Standing with the bike beneath you, bounce it up and down by pressing on the handlebars. When you get a good rythmn going, feed out the clutch rapidly when the front end is at the bottom of its bounce. This is the point when the weight on the rear tire is going to be at a minimum, reducing traction, and increasing smoke!
If you're a real sissy, start with the rear tire in some water, or better yet, in a puddle of bleach -- the latter is slippery and increases smoke.
Now that you can smoke tires down to the cords, you're getting bored with the plain-jane burnout, right? There are several fun variations that can help you overcome standard smokey blues. Try doing donuts. I don't mean sprinkled and cream-filled; a donut is when you start a burnout and ease the rear tire around in a circle. You can also wag the rear end of the bike back and forth to create neat zig-zag designs, or try your initials. Think of the pavement as a canvas, you are the artist, the possibilities are limitless, so express yourself. Cops are just philistines. One of my favorites is to start a burnout, build up a huge pile of smoke, and then push the bike backwards into the stinking cloud, where I disappear, then let go of the front brake and launch out of the cloud, straight into the waiting ambulance.
Why Mom Thinks This Is Bad...
Remember, kiddies. The smoke clouds are filled with noxious, toxic gasses. These fumes may be more dangerous than the glue you usually sniff, so beware. When a tire is burning down to the cords, it throws molten chunks of rubber that can severely bug people who don't like their flesh in strips. When a tire has burned that much tread, it comes apart, throwing straps of tread and rubber, at which point you should be prepared to pull in the clutch and hang on. If the straps lock the rear tire up, you might fall over, which can be quite embarassing.
Now you can go to your local dealer, or shop and make good friends with the folks that work there, because you'll be wanting a discount on premium tires to replace the ones you just smoked into oblivion.