Almost stopped in time for inattentive left turner

Discussion in 'Face Plant' started by Grinnin, Jul 23, 2019.

  1. Grinnin

    Grinnin Forever N00b Supporter

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    tl;dr slightly swollen knee, bent handlebars and maybe other light damage to KLR.

    I hit the side of the SUV at less than 10mph (est). There was enough traffic at the intersection that I should have watched more carefully and slowed more and earlier.

    It was a T intersection where I was riding a KLR left-to-right across the top of the T. My neighbor had been driving right-to-left across the top of the T and was stopped to turn down the vertical of the T. A car well in front of me did turn right to the vertical, and after they cleared the intersection my neighbor followed. I was a good distance behind the car in front; it wasn't like I was hiding. I had a very clear view of my neighbor starting his left turn. It's an easy intersection to miss traffic where I was riding; most traffic uses the other 2 legs of the T and less than 1/3 uses the part I was on. I have seen cars turn left there in front of oncoming cars or trucks. My bad for not expecting to have someone turn in front of me. (Still, I am certain the Sheriff's deputy cited the other driver.)

    I was hard on the brakes (1st-gen KLR w/semi-sintered pads and braided stainless lines but otherwise stock. New fluid and bleeding about a month ago). The front was slowing me while the rear left a skid mark. I am certain that the brakes on the DRZ would have stopped me before the impact. But this wasn't the DRZ.

    I hit the passenger-side rear door of the Chevy Equinox. Glancing blow with my tire sliding toward the car's rear tire and my right handguard hitting the window. I fell onto my left side. Roadcrafter 1-pc was unscathed. Helmet never touched anything. My Sidi On-Road right boot got pressed against the engine but no foot or ankle injury My right knee is slightly swollen but still would look like a knobby knee if you didn't have the knobbier left to compare to.

    White helmet and red Roadcrafter. The only front light on the KLR is the stock H4.

    Bent handlebar and probably a bent headlight frame. Something doesn't feel right in the steering so I got trailered home. Could just be interference between the extra wiring on the speedometer/tach and the possibly bent headlight frame. Or twisted triple clamps. It could, of course be more serious, but I'll have a more detailed look in the coming days.

    The impact was slow enough that I might have been able to release brakes and swerve into the oncoming lane. Trouble is that the oncoming lane had more traffic behind my left-turner.

    After 14 years of riding I have now had my first car-motorcycle collision. Could have been worse.

    EDIT: More on the intersection. Sightlines are great for going straight, but most traffic makes the turn that the other driver made. Sightlines for that turn are not so good with a hill in the way and slightly acute turn. It's easy to get focused on what's around the corner and easy to not re-check for oncoming traffic straight ahead.
    #1
  2. fastring

    fastring Been here awhile

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    Glad your are still with us and injuries not devastating. Thanks for sharing the details, its a good reminder for us to be vigalent and to ride at whatever protection gear level we think we should be riding at during these warm temps.
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  3. Manrider218

    Manrider218 Been here awhile

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    +1
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  4. mminob

    mminob Been here awhile

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    Thanks for sharing your well detailed info on what was a very close call, and I hope you get back to normal soon.. And us bikers face the dreaded left turner quite often so your story was a helpful reminder.

    Your KLR vs DRZ braking capability is a good example of what needs to be taken into consideration , as some bikes just don't have threshold panic braking systems designed into them...

    My 2 first gen KLR'S and 1 second gen KLR had upgraded lines and pads and rotors ,but still lacked a good feel when you really needed them... and my 3 DRZ'S as well , one was a DRZ SM that could stop on a dime...

    I guess the long travel forks some bikes have just allow too much weight transfer, which can be a problem when you hammer the brakes ...

    On my daily intersection travels , I have been using the " Blocker or car ahead of you for cover " , instead of entering the intersection on your own ... But it needs to be done carefully and boldly ... yikes !

    Even attentive drivers can not see a biker sometimes, the A Piller on a cage can obstruct their view , and the inattentive driver is just out to cause some carnage for us... Good luck brother :thumb
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  5. Nytebreed

    Nytebreed Need more braaap

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    Glad your OK.
    When I had my 1st gen KLR it has the ss lines, sintered pads, and 320mm rotor, it still was very under braked. Swapping to the SV650 2 piston caliper on top of the rest made it decent. Eagle Mike (no affiliation) makes the caliper bracket that I used.
    #5
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  6. Jay_In_Milpitas

    Jay_In_Milpitas Zero to sixty in February

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    Thank you for sharing the very descriptive series of events.
    Wishing you well and a quick return to riding.
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  7. shovelstrokeed

    shovelstrokeed Long timer

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    I rarely participate in these threads but curiosity has gotten the better of me.
    What could you have done better/differently to avoid the collision?
    #7
  8. Grinnin

    Grinnin Forever N00b Supporter

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    Thinking about that intersection, I now recognize how easy it is for an oncoming driver to pay more attention to everything on their left and less attention to oncoming traffic. That means slow down even more.

    The standard advice is to plan "escape routes". I can't think of many here, even in retrospect. Left and right were both "from the frying pan into the fire". Off-roading through a rocky ditch or going into the oncoming lane could result in more injury than hitting the SUV. Stopping is the escape route for this one. When I can't see an escape route, slowing down sooner would be a great idea.

    While I've been OK with the KLR brakes which are only slightly better than stock with good pads and braided stainless lines, I'm certain I will put on a large front rotor and SV650 caliper.

    I have been riding the DRZ about as much as the KLR. When I switch from modern brakes to an older design, I need to practice emergency stops every single ride to orient myself to the braking capabilities for the day.

    I think this is one situation where high-viz or more lights would be less likely to help. If the driver's attention is focused to the left, I'd have to be a big strobe light to get their attention back to oncoming traffic.
    #8
  9. shovelstrokeed

    shovelstrokeed Long timer

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    Well and good, you have a plan. Can we talk a bit about braking? Did you lock the front wheel? You mentioned skidding the rear, but not the front, why? Is the bike not able, or are you? Have you ever tried?
    I’m not picking on you, though it may feel like it just now. Indulge me, I’m trying to help.
    #9
  10. Grinnin

    Grinnin Forever N00b Supporter

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    The stock KLR front brake is not capable of locking on pavement with a street tire.
    #10
  11. shovelstrokeed

    shovelstrokeed Long timer

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    So you have tried?
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  12. Grinnin

    Grinnin Forever N00b Supporter

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    Yes.
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  13. shovelstrokeed

    shovelstrokeed Long timer

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    Well, as you well know, that ain’t good. There are upgrades to fix that that go beyond just pads and I would urge you to consider them. That extra few feet of stopping distance you gain with good technique and adequate braking could be critical next time.
    #13
  14. Grinnin

    Grinnin Forever N00b Supporter

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    You mean like the brake upgrades that I plan and listed above?
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  15. falcn

    falcn Squidless Soul Supporter

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    Can you share a Google Street view link of the intersection?
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  16. Philip Kuntz

    Philip Kuntz Fleasy Rider Supporter

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    Great write up. I think you covered it all well. Could have slowed more first, and need better brakes. What else is there? Nice job, rider!
    #16
  17. ManiZ

    ManiZ Been here awhile

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    Nice job. This counts as a save in my book; you did the best anyone on that bike could've done.
    #17
  18. Me and my monkee

    Me and my monkee Feels like Jackson Pollock looks

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    Outcome not to bad, all things considered.
    Did you figure out the bike damages yet?

    And just a little input on the efficacy of the KLR650 front brake. I have a KLR/Sputnik side car combo. When purchased it had the stock front brake with a braided line. It was amazing (in a bad way) how hard I could pull on the front brake on gravel before I could get it to lock. It was kind of a fun game, I wasn't going to fall off a sidecar, right? Its like one of those outrigger bikes that riding school used to have to practice threshold breaking safely.
    However, after a near miss with the back of a car I thought for sure was going to go through the yellow light, where I slid to within inches of the bumper with my rear brake locked and front lever pulled to the bar, I decided to take the plunge and upgrade to the 320mm rotor with sv650 caliper.
    Front locks on gravel with a gentle pull now, and the soft front forks are now the limit to braking on road.
    #18