Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Eclectic offerings.

I've been gifted a few days to kick back and catch up on some time with Katie. Since the factories are closed down during this week for inventory, we've been given the week off as paid vacation. Still planning on doing some blog posts but just as I feel like it. This seems like a good chance to do a little catch up. There's a few things I've been saving back. Here they are for whatever benefit or amusement they provide for you all.

Anatomy of a high side.

This file is a pdf concerning a high-side incident suffered by an individual in the Armed Forces. Take away from it what you will. I can't stress enough the importance of good gear. By that I mean gear designed specifically for use while riding a motorcycle.


This incident was track oriented. As a street rider you probably won't find yourself sliding the rear wheel sideways in corners. At least you shouldn't. Using proper cornering technique, which includes setting the correct entry speed, will do a lot to keep a traction reserve. I'm not saying it will never happen. What I am saying is that most high-sides in street riding result from skidding the rear tire by over-applying the rear brake and then letting off again.

High-sides can happen at surprisingly low speeds. Have you ever heard the old wive's tale about not using the front brake hard for fear of throwing yourself over the handlebars? Motorcycles are not like bicycles. It's very hard to throw yourself off the front of a bike. Usually the front wheel will slide first. However, a high-side in an intersection incident can look like the rider came over the bars. This adds fuel to the dogma by those who don't understand what's really going on. Interestingly, it's a REAR brake thing, not a front brake thing.

In an ideal world the bike would skid with the front and rear wheels aligned. Unfortunately, things like crowned roads, weird handlebar inputs, looking to one side or the other, road surfaces, and so on, will cause the rear wheel to step out to one side. The bike continues to travel in whatever direction it was headed in before the rear tire locked up. The reason the rear tire hooks up again and causes the high-side is because the rider lets up on the rear brake. If this happens when the rear wheel's out of alignment with the front wheel, a high-side is likely.

The secret to reducing the likelihood of high-siding, then, is to keep the rear tire locked up and sliding. Keep your eyes up and looking well ahead. Keep the handlebars straight. Continue braking with the front brake. Leave the rear brake mashed until you stop.

It sounds simple. Riding has a way of throwing in complications. How much directional control does a rider have over the bike if the rear tire's skidding? Absolutely none. The bike may flop like a dying fish but will continue to travel in one direction. So what if we locked up the rear tire while setting up for a corner? We're going to have to let go of the rear brake at some point so we can make the corner. If we don't we'll just slide off the road. At higher speeds and in dicey traction situations, ( like wet roads ) the rear of the bike will tend to fishtail back and forth. When's the magic moment where we'll have the least chance of high-siding? When the front and rear wheels are as closely aligned with each other as possible.

Been there on a police motor during a pursuit. Got into a corner too hot on a wet road. Hard braking was inititated. I remember sitting there feeling the bike move under me and waiting for the wheels to align. Back and forth. Back and forth. Wait for it. Now! Knowing what to do and when to do it kept the shiny side up.

This is information to file on your mental index cards. Hopefully you'll never need it. If you ever do find yourself rapidly flipping through the cards looking for a quick solution, I hope this will help.

The ubiquitous "left-turning car".

Here's a link to a video that's now available on Oregon State DMV's website. It's aimed at drivers. The purpose is to make drivers aware of looking for motorcycles. You'll see the thrust when you watch the video.


Remember. No matter how imcompetent drivers are, it's our responsibility to take care of ourselves out there. Don't hide in traffic!

Just for fun.

Here's a video about Japanese motorcycle police officers. They're competing in a rodeo-type event on Honda VFR 800's. Some of the lack of technique makes me shudder as a professional trainer. It's still fun to watch. At the end of the video it shows a couple of crashes. The video's close to 7 minutes long but seems to load well.


Enjoy. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year's, and Seasons Greetings to everyone!

Miles and smiles,


Steve Williams said...

As always your selection of safety missives and material is outstanding. I have a friend who could have benefited from the "Don't Hide in Traffic" piece.

I never realized how well the VFR's bounced until watching the Japanese Police bike video. I know my Vespa could beat those bikes through the cones but I was still impressed by how well those big bikes can be pushed around in those tight turns.

There was a lot to take away but the one thing ringing in my ears came from the Air Force document --- Manage your Traction. I'll add that to my manage risk chant.

Thanks and best wishes for a great New Year!

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

Anonymous said...

If you own a STeed, I hope you're familiar with ST-Owners.com. Lots of good folks there.


irondad said...

Glad to pass along things that help. My hope is that riders all share things that make us all better. Individually we may not be excellent. As a group, we're pretty darn good! We all contribute to the treasure chest in one way or another.

I do own a STeed. I have a STOC # which is 2489. Are we talking about the same thing?