sometimes it is what you ride

Discussion in 'Face Plant' started by passing through, Nov 30, 2013.

  1. passing through

    passing through Adventurer

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    I was traveling with three friends down the west coast. They had cruisers, I was on my Multistrada. We were taking side roads and sometimes jumping off on parts of the old # 1 just to enjoy the twisties. Just north of Gold Beach Oregon on one of the old sections I was leading the group (they usually just pulled over and waved me by when it started getting "interesting", not due to me, but the Duc just goes around corners better). There was a right hand bend where the road surface had subsided and left a dip right in the middle. I remember the bounce while going through it and I hoped the guys following saw it in time. A few klicks down the road I pulled over at an intersection to wait for the rest to catch up.
    After waiting for a few minutes I got a bad feeling and turned back. Right at the dip I found things scattered around the road and two of the guys helping the third.
    Talking about it afterward it seems like the guy who lost it dragged his pipes on the right side due to the suspension compression when he hit the subsidence, over compensated trying to recover and the front wheel hit the gravel on the opposite side of the road before he could get it back. The guy following him saw sparks off the right side just before the bike went vertical. The bike went straight into the bank across the ditch and the rider went through his windshield. Three quarter helmet didn't protect very well, so lacerations to nose and jaw, as well as some embedded gravel. Gloves, armoured jacket and pants, and boots meant no serious damage anywhere else.
    Fortunately a helpful guy just up the road provided a phone and a trailer to haul the bike into town (forks bent, wheel twisted). An ambulance ride to the hospital and several stitches later and the best of an unfortunate situation. The bike shipped back to Canada with thanks to the helpful folks at Highway 101 Harley Davidson in Coos Bay and my buddy on a plane back to B.C.
    Looking back I credit the additional clearance of the Ducati (and the Ohlin suspension) for my just riding through the dip with scarcely a second thought.
    Fortunately the incident didn't dampen my buddy's enthusiasm for riding and once the insurance paid out he was back on another bike. Still didn't decide to go for a dual purpose, but that's his choice.
    #1
  2. brenter

    brenter Brenter

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    Anything that sets so low that it drags hard parts in a corner is just flat out dangerous!! I was riding a dual sport once and the guy behind me was on an 1800 VTX. We had been pushing each other on a straight away when we got to a corner, I went through at about 80 MPH, looked in the mirror and the vtx was throwing sparks off of the exhaust. Next thing I saw was the guy go off the curve and his bike coming up out of the grass about 30' in the air with the head light pointed at the sky. It was not a pretty site. Fortunately the ground was soft due to a lot of rain, he broke a few bones but I felt fortunate that he did not die.
    Large bumps with shitty suspension a spooky on a scooter. I will stay with the GSA for now.
    #2
  3. elel

    elel Adventurer

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    I'm really glad this rider was mostly OK. Good suspension is just as much of a must for this situation as good clearance. I have a KLR with stock suspension (that is, wet noodle suspension) and I had a very similar experience with a bump in a corner compressing the suspension and causing me to start skidding on my crash bars. Fortunately there was no one coming the other way and I recovered with only crossing the double yellow.
    #3
  4. bonox

    bonox Tryin Hard

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    it's the vehicles fault right!? so taking responsibility for the limitations of your vehicle is not part of operating one of these machines?

    time to get the 28 tonner out and start doing laps at the local track. What could go wrong!

    If it doesn't have clearance, you need to slow down. Same shit as when you've got dirt tyres on instead of slicks when you're at the track!
    #4
  5. Tim McKittrick

    Tim McKittrick Long timer

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    On my last ride of the season I followed a skilled rider on his Fat Bob down one of our local twisty roads. He was dragging his floor boards around every corner, from entry to exit.

    He had good, smooth lines and exercised precise control, and had obviously ridden the route many times as he was using every inch of every corner, traveling as fast as his bike could go.

    .... Which, frankly, was pretty slow- just barely at the roads ridiculously restrictive 45MPH limit. Fine with me- ride your own ride. I can always pass if I want to go faster. My only gripe was that even though I felt his pace was low he was at the absolute limit of what his machine could do, and had little margin for error should something unexpected have happened.

    The point is that the OP's buddy was riding at a pace that was at the margin of what his machine was safely capable of, and that his fall was simply because he was going too fast for the road conditions on the machine he was riding. The problem, in my eyes, is that many cruiser type machines have engineered in limitations (like woefully inadequate ground clearance) that are all too easy to ignore until it's too late and you are on your ass. I seriously doubt the rider who fell was aware of how little margin for error he had until it was too late.

    I don't wish to imply that this crash was in any way the bike's fault, and I don't think the OP had that in mind either. I do question the desire to own a machine that has such a restrictive operating envelope, no matter how pretty it might be.
    #5
  6. Iamsmiling

    Iamsmiling Adventurer

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    I have to agree with Tim McKittrick, the rider pushed the bike past it's capabilities.

    When I came back to motorcycles a few years ago my first bike was a cruiser. Traded up to a Wee Strom in less than a year after getting tired of scraping the pegs whenever I tried to push it.

    A friend just purchased a used Harley Road King (a '97 with < 1,000 miles and never registered for $7K) to go with his BMW. He spoke of how he'll have to really ride gently on the new beast.
    #6
  7. gearheadE30

    gearheadE30 Long timer

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    This. IMHO riding 10/10ths on the street isn't going to end well, regardless of if you're limited by pegs, floorboards, tires, whatever. Not all machines are intended to go quickly around corners, but I wouldn't say that makes them inherently unsafe. You just have to ride them a bit differently and respect the nature of the beast.

    I'm glad he's okay; that sounds like it could have been a lot worse.
    #7
  8. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Been here awhile

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    I would say he was at the limit of what he could do, not what the bike could do.

    I've watched big Harley dressers do amazing things in the right hands. I've seen them used by the stunt bike folk, with them doing stoppies and all the other same tricks they do with the typical bikes they use. I've seem those dressers run away from sport bikes in gymkhanas by skilled riders who could fling them back and forth better than many could a bicycle.

    It's almost never the bike that is the limiting factor, it's the rider.

    I would hazard to speculate that if you go back and re-visit your memories of this rider, you'll recall he never came off the seat, and was simply leaning the bike hard. As opposed to say chin-over-wrist, or one of the other techniques to minimize bike lean.

    This is a classic example of what I mean.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYxU_lYBHpY
    #8
  9. Ockrocket

    Ockrocket Long timer

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    Out of all of this the glaring issue I see is.......

    Why the hell does ANYONE wear an open face/pudding bowl helmet these days :huh

    I see guys here riding with those imitation German army helmets... how do those things even pass design rules for motorcycle use :huh

    I won't use an open face helmet on a motorcycle at any time... the exception would be if I was working as a Postie [mail-man doing house to house deliveries on a motorcycle], and even then I'd be worried about it.

    There are enough reports/videos/photos of riders in hospital with half their face missing after crashing wearing an open face helmet- and even some who ended up in the morgue :eek1

    Full face and flip face [only open when stationary or off the bike] are the only helmets I own these days- 2 flip, 2 full face and 2 full face spares for "guests" I may take on my bikes.
    I also have spare jackets, pants and gloves for guest pillions as well.
    My Mrs. has a full face helmet as well, plus all the other gear; pants/jacket/gloves all with armour too.

    Other than that, ride whatever bike you like/own within the limitations of its design parameters :deal
    #9
  10. manfromthestix

    manfromthestix Lost in Space

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    The problem, in my eyes, is that many cruiser type machines have engineered in limitations (like woefully inadequate ground clearance) that are all too easy to ignore until it's too late and you are on your ass. I seriously doubt the rider who fell was aware of how little margin for error he had until it was too late.

    +1

    I read articles in magazines about modern bikes having less than two inches of suspension travel and just marvel that people think that's adequate. WTF?? I guess if all you do is cruise from stoplight to stoplight it works OK, but for riding anything in the real world it seems like a recipe for disaster. Hitting even a smallish pothole could end your ride like it did your buddy's. I don't care what kind or brand of bike a person rides, but not having adequate suspension to handle a minor dip in the asphalt seems dumb and I wouldn't buy such a bike.

    I generally agree about 3/4 or 1/2 helmets, but each to his own. Any protection is better than none.

    I'm glad your buddy was OK and is back in the saddle!

    Doug
    #10
  11. bonox

    bonox Tryin Hard

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    Suspension travel is nothing like ground or cornering clearance.
    #11
  12. Ayedoc

    Ayedoc Adventurer

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    True, but if you're at full lean on a bike that only has 2 inches of rear travel, parts are going to ground out and control will more readily be lost on uneven road surfaces.

    Also, in one of the posts, the question was asked as to why modern bikes would be built like this. The answer is that they're not really modern bikes, other than having modern, more reliable components. I know a guy who rides a Heritage Softail who likes it specifically because it looks like something out of the 1950's but doesn't require the attention that an old machine would. As has been stated, if you ride one of these, you have to accept its limitations and ride accordingly.
    #12
  13. robtassie

    robtassie Adventurer

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    Several points I think have been the cause or the misfortune of the rider.
    We all have these situations even the most experienced riders
    Observation ? awareness .. of road surface/traffic etc.
    excess speed in given situation for that type of bike and capabilities ...
    wrong line chosen ? we all do it..at some point.[ Lack/loss of concentration]

    The roads we ride often and are familiar with but it only takes a small change and the situation changes very quickly ? Cant beat good protective clothing.. nothing like gravel rash ..lol
    good to hear your mate is recovering..
    #13
  14. GusinCA

    GusinCA Been here awhile

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    Yep, used to have a Suzuki 1800 cruiser, sold it less than a year later because it scraped around turns that no other bike I had ever scraped on. Cruisers are just plain dumb machines.
    #14
  15. DC2wheels

    DC2wheels Castle Anthrax troll

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    Years ago- wife and I, 2-up on our Honda 900F Supersport.

    2 lane road, we passed a couple guys on HD "choppers". Guess one of them didn't like being passed and came up fast behind us.

    I turned it up a bit and we got into some twisties. One righthander was pretty tight, but we had no problem. I look in the mirror and see him completely misjudge the corner speed, sparks flying and he shoots straight out into a cornfield.
    #15
  16. Badjuju

    Badjuju Biker Billy

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    Agree. I've seen this video and you can see in both normal speed and slo-mo view how the rider begins to angle his upper body/shoulders AWAY from the turn (to the high side) as the foot boards begin to drag. Had he hung off the saddle, lowering his hips and upper body into the turn and saving some hard-parts clearance for his turn, he would have easily ridden thru the corner. He was no where near the limits of grip with his tires. I've scraped the pegs on my Wee when I get lazy in the twisties, and that's running Shinko 705s.
    #16
  17. SilkMoneyLove

    SilkMoneyLove Long timer

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    I rent HD cruisers when I travel sometimes (hey, Eaglerider is everywhere and they have good rates) and I am sure I look like a goofball hanging off a Harley Ultra in a turn, but that is how I ride and those bikes can get going!

    The rider left himself no margin for error and paid the price. Hopefully he is wiser and will live to be an old biker some day. Leave a little room for error by practicing good riding technique and reading the road. Dress for the slide, not the ride.
    #17
  18. PT Rider

    PT Rider Been here awhile

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    H-D posts the lean angle specs on their web page. Some of their bikes leave the factory built with as little as 24° lean angle available. That ain't much, hanging off or not.
    #18
  19. PT Rider

    PT Rider Been here awhile

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    H-D posts the lean angle specs on their web page. Some of their bikes leave the factory built with as little as 24° lean angle available. That ain't much.
    #19
  20. RFVC600R

    RFVC600R SAND EATER!

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    Another reason I ride an old pig. Some of the roads around here get nasty.

    How did he get gravel in face? brain bucket?? Horrible feeling I'm sure.
    #20