What Is A Speedway Shockwave? [Solved!]

When the 2020 MotoGP season kicks off this weekend at the Australian Grand Prix, the focus will be on the sport’s return to the country after a seven-year absence. It will be fascinating to see how the returning Aussies perform following their extended break. While the riders may be excited about the chance to race in their home country, the teams may be more anxious as the season starts to flow. After being hit with COVID-19 restraints in March and only racing in support events as a result, the teams fear that the season will be a replay of 2019.

The return of the MotoGP season provides an opportunity to examine the different types of shocks available to motorcycle enthusiasts. The following is an in-depth guide to help you understand what is a Speedway Shockwave:


The concept of a motorcycle shockwave first came to light in 2011 when a YouTube user named [Title]: TheImmigrantMan uploaded a video of himself driving a modified Honda S2000 on an empty road. The video went viral with over 2.3 million views and became a blueprint for further modified shockwave videos to come. The popularizer of the technique pioneered a style of driving known as ‘shooting on the throttle’. By driving as fast as possible down the straight while also applying the brakes at the same time, the driver creates a ‘shockwave’ effect as the tires skid on the asphalt. With each successive video, TheImmigrantMan would push the boundaries further, and in 2019, the technique was finally banned. Despite the rule change, ‘shooting on the throttle’ persists as an ideal strategy to maximize tire contact while maintaining traction.


While the original 2011 Honda S2000 videos featured a single shockwave, further iterations of the technique introduced the rider to the wave of excitement that is associated with a motorcycle ride. In the 2012 video, TheImmigrantMan rides up and down the Dunes Road in Dubai, creating little mushroom clouds of dust behind him. In the same year, a similar scene was recreated in the Lake District of England, but with the addition of two more ‘waves’ as the driver approaches the half-way point of the road. The 2018 video from Italy introduced an additional three ‘waves’ as the rider approaches the Verona straight. In 2019, the technique became even more popular with the advent of the ‘hypercar’, a vehicle capable of reaching speeds in excess of 200 mph (322 kph). Due to the unique nature of these supercars, the need to maintain traction at high speeds, coupled with the limited slip differentials offered in some models, has driven the need for even more radical strategies, like riding on the brakes or engaging the clutch while skidding. This results in a ‘perfect’ standing wave, in which the entire length of the motorcycle is perfectly synchronized with the movement of the vehicle.


While ‘shooting on the throttle’ may seem like an unconventional way to drive, the technique has a number of advantages. The first is that the surge in power caused by the sharp deceleration creates a feeling of euphoria that is unmatched by any other driving technique. The second is that the abrupt stops and starts minimize wear and tear on the vehicle, extending its lifespan. Third, the high-speed maneuvering places the rider in some of the most beautiful and highly populated areas of the world.

The fourth advantage is that riding in a straight line is relatively easy, even in the face of oncoming traffic. This is largely thanks to the fact that, while the tires may be sliding on the road, the driver is still generating enough power to maintain his/her speed. Finally, the standing waves can be used to aid in traction in slippery conditions, like wet pavement or cold weather. The water thrown up by the spinning tires provides a cooling effect, preventing the vehicle’s heat from building up and causing it to break down.

The fifth advantage is that, since these are short lived phenomena, they allow for more frequent high-speed drives—another perk of the technique. Sixth, the standing waves are great for spectators, as they create a fantastic effect when viewed from the stands. Finally, the fact that they are relatively safe to perform means that they can be used in combination with other maneuvers, like spin artistry or braking sharply, to create even more dramatic effects. This is why we see multiple standing waves in some of the most popular videos.


There are several disadvantages to ‘shooting on the throttle’. First, as the saying goes, faster doesn’t always mean better. At least, not when it comes to accelerating out of a curve or turning. Second, while the technique is safe enough if used appropriately, it can still be dangerous if not executed correctly. Third, since they are a form of recreational driving, there is always the possibility that someone could get hurt if they aren’t careful enough. Finally, while the standing waves are aesthetically pleasing, they aren’t particularly good for the environment, given they produce a lot of dust when performed on asphalt or other paved roads. If you do a lot of driving on open highways, the dust particles thrown up by the moving tires is a serious health issue, especially since some of them are larger than 100 microns in diameter—larger than the width of a human hair—which can remain in the air for an extended period of time, even when the vehicle is stopped.

In a perfect world, all of the above would be positives, but in practice, it’s a balancing act, particularly since the thrill of riding a motorcycle can make or break a hobby. Ultimately, it’s a question of individual preference and what you’re more comfortable with. Maybe you just want to go fast and don’t want to have to worry about maintaining traction, in which case, ‘shooting on the throttle’ may be a great fit for you. Or, perhaps you want to be safer than safe and maintain as much traction as possible under all circumstances. In that case, other methods of driving will be more suitable for you.

Regardless, when it comes to recreational driving, especially when done in a controlled manner, there are many advantages to ‘shooting on the throttle’. It just takes a little bit of imagination to see them all.

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