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Down at 65mph (AKA Draggin Jeans, Alpinestars Leather field test)

Discussion in 'Face Plant' started by jakemuay, Aug 26, 2008.

  1. jakemuay

    jakemuay Lurking, mostly.

    Dec 29, 2007
    West Lake Erie

    So I'm crusing down the Southfield Freeway, keeping up with traffic at around 65mph in the middle lane on my 04 Triumph Thruxton. Cresting a hill we come uppon a driver going around 40 MPH in the center lane. There is a driver close behind me and to my right, left lane is open but I have to act fast. Flick on the blinker, look over my shoulder, accellerate and begin to turn. I see headlights begin to rapidly illuminate my bike on it's left side. I look over my should again to see the asshole behind me comming up fast right next to my bike. He must have floored it to pass left at the same time. I flick the bike back to the right, at this point we are VERY close to the slower car in the center lane. I touch the brake with one finger out of panic and down goes Frasier, I'm on the pavement.

    Sheer terror as I slide on my ass, spin around and face traffic sliding down the freeway. I picture how upset my parents are going to be and how bad it's going to feel going under some car. Luckilly I have way more momentem than I thought and the cars behind me see me in time and get on the brakes. Come to a sliding stop waving my hands at the cars about 30 yards from the bike. I jump to my feet and sprint to the side of the road. Check for injuries my ass, staring down three lanes of traffic coming right at me made me want nothing more than to get the fack out of there.

    Traffic is in awe that I am up and moving. Three lanes 5-10 cars deep have stopped, but now creep up even with me on the side of the road as I'm ditching my helmet and gloves. Quick pat down of my limbs and I run down the way to my bike and get it off the road. All of this happened in a period of probably 20 seconds but it felt like about three blinks. People are staring at me from the cars, I give thumbs up to let them know I'm OK and some continue moving.


    1. Better mirrors. I could have watched that idiot behind me without turning my head around twice.

    2. Lane splitting. I freaked out when I saw his car come up behind me but there was surely enough room between his car and the slower one to split the two once I saw he was on me. Rossi I aint so I couldn't react fast enough.

    3. Driving in the left lane. I had just been in the left lane but moved over to let someone pass as the 55mph signs on Southfield must read Michigan International Speedway to the urban crowd. 80+ for some folks just isn't fast enough.


    Corcoran 1941 paratrooper pattern leather combat boots: Scarred but kept my feet in perfect condition. Double leather over the toes and heels and they look cool off the bike. MX boots they ain't but they served me just fine.

    Draggin Jeans Camo Kevlar cargo pants: I had not attached the included knee armor and paid for it a bit. I have a silver dollar sized road rash pdatch on one knee and a scrape on my shin on the other leg. The kevlar patch on my knee did fail, but I feel that it did it's job considering the speed I was traveling. The pant's aren't for freeway riding and had I used the knee armor I'm positive I'd have had zero injury from this crash. The hip and arse portion were very scuffed up but the outer fabric did not wear through to the kevlar. I'd buy these again so long as I was brighter and stayed off the freeway with them.

    Alpinestars Stage Jacket: Back, elbow and shoulder armor in this jacket protected me from impact with the ground. The leather stretch pannel was defeated but I have zero abrasion where the hole is. Jacket shows minimal damage except this should patch. I'm having it repaired and would trust it again in a similar slide.

    AGV S4 helmet: I never once touched my head to anything, how amazing is that?:evil

    Icon el cheepo leather gloves: Protected my mits from abrasion, lost some stitching but these were not race quality to begin with. They did their job well.

    BIKE DAMAGE: My poor Thrux suffered a scrapped muffler, handlebar ground down about 6 inches, scrapped engine case, broken shift lever and a broken cluth lever. It's like it stood the entire slide on the muffler and handlebar. No paint damage! few hundred bucks and she'll be good as new.

    Overall I am very luck to be alive and in such good shape. Preaching to the choir around here I know but ATGATT! The gear works people!

    I'll try to post some pics of the Draggin Jeans and Jacket damage when I get home Friday.

    Stay safe friends.

  2. golen

    golen Ogre

    Jun 17, 2008
    Austin, TX
    holy crap man, glad you're ok. :clap
  3. helixblue

    helixblue Daredevil Clutz

    Jan 18, 2006
    San Francisco, CA
    Wow, quite an amazing story! I was actually thinking of a similar scenario while cruising down I-285 in the rain at 80mph. I had always feared being runover if I fell due to the sudden stop, but as I thought about it, the inertia should keep one sliding ahead at some kind of speed. Glad to hear that it worked out this way in at least one case :)

    I'm quite impressed with how the Draggin jeans held up by your account -- I can't wait to see the photos!
  4. fas

    fas Been here awhile

    Feb 2, 2007
    Bay Village, Ohio, USA
    Kudos Jakester........well written...........good show with your gear.

    I had an office in Southfield and I know what you mean.........

    You are one lucky man.

    From my POV, throttle is better than brake if you can see a hole to safeness...........we are not as wide as the cages.........and usually we can scamper ahead of them (or beside them) due to power to weight.......:super
  5. bostonsr

    bostonsr Just weight

    Mar 2, 2007
    good report, i always wanted to know how/if Draggin Jeans work.

    armor is important...next time don't leave it out (and isn't it a huge hassle to fiddle around with anyways???)

    early action beats late REACTION...remember that and be sure to initiate evasive maneuvers at the FIRST sign of IRREGULARITY, how come the driver that was behind you ended up beside you???? were you looking far enough ahead to begin with??? [not tryin to be a pest]

    i agree with the previous post...power is sometimes the least disruptive means of avoiding a developing situation...braking hard causes the greatest amplification of stress and disruption of the bike's steady-state at highway speeds. your bike probably won't wheelie or wheelspin on the throttle...but it'll
    stoppie or skid on the brakes.

    but hey, maybe the thruxton is too slow...:evil

  6. kwh

    kwh Fat Hairy Git

    Jan 30, 2005
    SA31, United Kingdom
    Could I make some other suggestions?

    1. You slid on your arse, and your bike slid close to you, and yet neither of you hit the slow car. That says you didn't need to brake hard at all. Certainly not hard enough to lock the front and go down. So I'm thinking that you might want to consider doing some reading about and some practice of high speed progressive braking techniques, and also as a secondary thing, some practice in dealing with a locked front brake in a straight line before you eat pavement as a result. I know that the California Superbike School have a braking trainer with outriggers that you can't crash and that they use to teach these critical skills in a safe way, but you and your bike practicing braking in a big empty car-park would be a good second best...

    2. Sight lines. Even on the motorway (err... freeway), you never want to be travelling faster than you can stop in the distance you can see to be clear. If there is a blind crest, ideally you'll roll off a bit until you can see beyond it and know one way or the other that there isn't a 4x2 across the lane or a queue of stationary traffic ahead that you won't be able to stop for.

    3. Your point about mirrors is well made, not just to check in before you manouevre, but because you want to keep a constantly updated picture of what is around you. Then when you see the slow car ahead of you and glance in your mirror, and the radiator grill that is behind you is not the same one that has been behind you for the last ten minutes, you know to ask yourself where it has gone and look for it.

    4. In the UK rider training syllabus there's a last, final check of your rear quarter blindspot that is called a 'lifesaver' that is drummed into every biker during training and testing. At the very last moment before any manouvre, even if you absolutely know that it is clear, a momentary glance into the blindspot will normally reassure you that there is nothing there. Once in every third blue moon you'll spot something that you have somehow missed but that would have really spoiled your day if you had continued the lane change/turn/whatever.

    5. If you aren't sure and if you are feeling rushed then why take the risk? Just roll off the throttle and wait behind the slow car for a few seconds until you are sure. OK, you'll be 15 seconds later at your destination, which sucks a bit, but you won't be laying on the tarmac watching three lanes of traffic bearing down on you anything like as often, and that doesn't suck half as much...
  7. reepicheep

    reepicheep Been here awhile

    Sep 12, 2006
    Lebanon, Ohio
    I avoid initiating any lane change until the *second* head check for just this reason. My sequence is:
    • mirror check
    • head check
    • look back forward check (new threats may have appeared during the head check)
    • then head check while changing until I am established in the new lane
    Obviously, this ain't going to happen for a "quick lane change". So it sometimes means I get stuck in the slow lane until a long line of cars gets by. It's just not worth it to try and "beat that car".

    If you had done the braking and the steering separately, either one would probably have kept the bike upright. Mixing the two is probably where you lost the front... but of course there may not have been enough runway left by the point you needed to abort the takeoff...

    Glad you are OK, thanks for the play by play and the gear report.
  8. Tall_Canuck

    Tall_Canuck Been here awhile

    Jan 14, 2008
    Calgary Canada
    Great story and glad you are OK.
    Did the brown stains wash out of the jeans easy enough? :wink:

  9. DAKEZ

    DAKEZ Long timer

    Mar 18, 2007
    Begin Op Zoom
    Staying aware of what is around you. I think kwh nailed it. I ride every day and it is very rare indeed when I get surprised by anything.



  10. ragtoplvr

    ragtoplvr Long timer

    Oct 18, 2007
    central USA
    Look the helmet over carefully.

    Many years ago I went down in the rain, and would have sworn my helmet never touched a thing. After I healed up and fixed the bike, I was suiting up for the ride, and I noticed a tiny tiny pit in the center of the top of the helmet and then a faint 4" circle crack where the top oil canned. It must have hit part of the bike, not the road, in the process of my coming off. I kissed that helmet and went right out and bought a new one.

  11. doughy

    doughy Less excitable then I used to be

    Apr 23, 2008
    Everywhere I shouldn't be...
    Glad your ok!

    Just remember the best way to think is that every mother fu*king thing out there is trying to take you off your bike...
  12. gsmotodad

    gsmotodad GS Rider

    Nov 23, 2006
    Good that you are OK.And I will second the atgatt.From personal experience.It saved my arse allso.
  13. SocalRob

    SocalRob Long timer Supporter

    May 23, 2006
    Los Angeles @ base of Angeles Crest Hwy
    Great write up. I do, however, think you have used up your luck for August. Be careful out there! I sure hope I'm as lucky as you when/if I go down on a freeway.:lol3

    A agree with the lane split thing. Since its legal in CA, every single time I come up to a sharp traffic slowdown on a SoCal freeway I slip between a couple of cars. Its a learned response, and I'm afraid that since lane splitting is not legal in the rest of the country that some riders do indeed pay the price.:cry
  14. Ben-M

    Ben-M Been here awhile

    Nov 9, 2007
    Perth, West Oz
    So to help us learn from it - did the bike go down because the brakes locked up in a panic situation? And if so...

    ...would you spring an extra couple hundred $ for an ABS enabled Thruxton if they ever released one? ;)

    Glad to hear you and the bike both came out relatively unscathed!
  15. trumpet

    trumpet Group W Bench

    Aug 2, 2008
    Try a set of the small passing mirrors that glue to the oem's, allows for fast passes, minimal head movement.

    You could have, but the guy is carrying speed, and you telegraphed your intent by looking back twice

    Well, you were nice. See what you get?

    Missed one option, you could have slowed down, allow speedracer and friends to go by. Then picked up the pace again.

    Glad you walked away, could have been worse. Going to have to check out those dragging jeans too, need better commute pants.
  16. E-man

    E-man 4-4-09, 12-6-09, 1-13-10

    Jul 18, 2006
    This thread is worthless without pics.

    ONly kidding,

    Thank G-d you're ok, roadrash can heal, splitting head open is another thing.
    I dont have any advice, I guess ANY crash we walk away from is a good crash.
    you done good:clap
  17. Exevious

    Exevious Competitive Shooter - Team FCO

    Jul 26, 2008
    North Texas
    "Mommy mommy... look at that motorcycle rider.. he's playing slip and slide on the freeway.. and now he doing the Macharena... we dont need the water slide... we just need those pants!! " :rofl
  18. verboten1

    verboten1 nein

    Nov 29, 2007
    Monroe MI
    I know the feeling man, glad you are OK.

    I was on 696 (on my bike) the day of that fatal accident last month, about 5 minutes after it happened.....THAT was scary, people were all over the place
  19. m5guy

    m5guy Adventurer

    May 7, 2007
    Glad to hear you are okay. Please post pics of your gear if you have a minute free. I'd like to see how your Alpinestars jacket held up as I'm thinking of getting one to fill in the utility gap between my cordura stuff and 1-piece road race leathers.

    Southfield Raceway, I mean Freeway, is a crapshoot. Basically a 3-lane tube with no emergency shoulder. I used to live in Birmingham and that was my high speed route to Detroit Metro airport.
  20. GSman of La Mancha

    GSman of La Mancha So!? My dog loves me...

    Oct 15, 2006
    Northeast Georgia
    I am amazed. Great story. Sorry for your crash. Thanks for the post. This sort of info can be useful, I believe, as we try to become better riders.