Highsider

Discussion in 'Face Plant' started by Joerg, Jul 16, 2007.

  1. Joerg

    Joerg Long timer

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    On the memorable date of 07/07/07, some people got married.

    On the memorable date of 07/07/07, I experienced a highsider.

    Imagine a beautiful day with blue sky ... the first one after too many days of rain and cold. We are leaving for a week of holidays with friends in Burgundy. From Lausanne, this means a relaxed 3-hours ride.

    My lady will be going with friends in a car and back with me on the bike, so we prepare our luggage. While I'm trying to sort my clothes and other stuff - in other words, the usual last-minute pre-holiday preparation - , I receive a message from a friend, saying that her father (79 years) is seriously ill and in the hospital. Both are good friends of mine, so we spend a while on the phone ... but she encourages me to go for holidays, and so each of us continues his business.

    My trusty R80GS is loaded as usual, Pirelli MT21 front, Mitas E09 rear, tire pressure fine, I'm in full ATGATT dress, and off I go. It's a beautiful road into France, many bends and curves covered with the usual, varying, coarse, typical french countryside tarmac. I know this road quite well, it's a pretty lonesome twisty that is close to our house and that I might call my “sunday morning ride”. I also see that the road is still wet in places, yet the tires stick well. Almost no traffic, sunshine, I'm in a relaxed mood and swing through the corners.

    Until I'm coming around that right corner.

    Coming around one right corner, I notice that the bike is drifting on both (!) wheels. Speed must have been somewhere in the 40..50 km/h range. I don't recall if it was the front or rear wheel that started, or if it was indeed both – but what I remember is that I did not go down in that moment.

    Yikes! Bike is sliding, I'm still sitting on it. :clap

    Bike is still sliding, into the opposite lane. No traffic at all. Handlebar is wavering a bit; must be due to the “non-grip”. Bike is slowing down, we're slowly getting upright ... and ... I'm still sitting on it! Wheaouw! :wave Would someome take a picture please?!

    Whew. And we're aligned along the road. If I'm a bit lucky I might ...

    Wham.

    Something slams into the right side of my body, and the next thing I remember is that I'm hanging in the air. Next, the right-upper front of my helmet touches the ground. I'm coming down over my right shoulder and roll on my feet. I'm now crouching right at the edge of the road, flip my helmet up and recognise that I'm breathing violently for a while. I scan my body and find no particular damage – I can move freely, do not feel dizzy, just “a bit” confused since I do not yet fully understand what just happened. It takes me a while to note that the impact that I received went into my right chest, which probably emptied my lungs ... so my body was now gasping for oxygen. :knary

    Now ... switch the engine off.

    I turn around and see the bike just a few steps behind me, standing almost upright in the ditch at the side of the road, and perfectly aligned parallel to the road. To the opposite lane, that is.

    Looking at the damages on the bike, I can only presume that this was a highsider. I think that that the bike flipped over to its left side under me, leaving me “hanging” in mid-air. The blow that I received into the chest was eventually from the right rear mirror, which would also fit to a bruise on the right upper leg (handlebar?). The bike would then continue to roll and slide onto its front until it was upside-down, ripping away the instruments. Reaching soft ground, it would flip over the handlebar and land - almost upright - in its final position.

    I jump forward and grab for the key.

    Now where is that key? Or better ... where are ... the instruments? The speedometer? The whole cockpit is missing ... sh******t! This is going to be expensive. :2cry

    Since the engine is switched off, I step back and try to relax a bit. Helmet off, gloves off, Jacket off. Close gas petcocks.

    I grab the cellphone from the tankbag to inform my lady, but this area is so far from the next village that there's no way to fetch any signal. OK, we will talk later. Not much she could do now anyway.

    Now ... shall I take a photo? I admit it: I didn't. I was just not in the mood to. I ride this bike for 17 years now, and it was just too sad to see her damaged like that.

    A few cars pass by and ignore my signals. Since there is no chance to get the bike out of the ditch on my own, I start to look at the details.

    Instruments are mostly gone, just the cables are there – cleanly pulled off at the ignition lock. The handlebar is bent upward, clutch lever assy is shifted about 2 cm inwards so there must have been some violent impact on the left end of the handlebar. Clutch and brake lever are intact. Cover of brake fluid container is scraped but still sealing. Kill switch is turned 180 degrees around! Both handguards are intact but scraped, and covered with dirt. Front wheel sits at a strange angle under the mudguard. Tank has a small dent at the right front side, where the fork slammed into it – which means that the lower triple clamp is damaged, too (the “nose” that limits fork movement is almost sheared off). Tank bag and both hardbags are still firmly attached to the bike, due to the straps that I always use. GPS and holder are fine and still working (“no signal” since we are in the forest). Some fluid starts to leak out under the bike; I presume it's gas since the tank was pretty full, so I decide that I should position her more or less upright instead of letting her lean for a longer time.

    During this time, a bicycle rider stops by and asks if I need help, and yes, I do. Together, we try to pull the bike out, and I recognise that this man must have some experience in off-road matter: Instead of pulling wildly here and there, he grabs and rotates the front wheel by the spokes. Anyway, the bike is too heavy, and I take the bags off. While fiddling with the tank bag, I notice that I'm still quite shaken since I need three trials to get it off the bike. It's quite interesting to observe yourself in such situations: You think about taking pictures for AdvRider, but you forget how your tankbag straps works ... :confused

    With all that activity, I notice that I'm extremely thirsty. Good thing to have that 1.5-l-bottle of water with me. :1drink

    A few cars and motorcycles pass, but ignore our signs. Finally, a car driver understands and stops, and the three of us roll the bike out of the woods. I'm back on the roadside, phew! And the bike looks as if I could get home with her.

    Now I “just” need to find out the contacts: The ignition key has three positions, and a total of five cables. After a few trials with the VOM that I always have in the tankbag, I find the two wires that are needed to start, and she fires up on the first try. Good girl! :super

    The bicycle rider has been waiting until that point, so he was sure that I could get on by myself. I can merely say “thank you so much”, then he's gone. I doubt that he might ever come across these lines, but - “Merci mille fois!”

    I take the tools out and roughly adjust the handlebar etc., so that I can ride. I collect the shattered parts (speedometer and various other parts), pack the luggage, put on my gear, and manage to ride the 30 km home (at very low speed, of course). The bike behaves not too badly, but anyway: as soon as I arrive home I start disassembling most parts of the the front fork to reduce strain on the material.

    Since I feel not too bad, I will go for holidays anyway. I drop a phone call to my lady to inform her, relax a bit, and then I take the car. I arrive in Burgundy four hours later, with a slight headache and sore muscles but otherwise OK. During the next days, I need a lot of sleep and avoid shaking my head too much since I can literally feel my brain dangling around ... but otherwise I'm pretty much OK.:kurt

    PS. The week in Burgundy was indeed nice – albeit we had lots of rain in the first days, there's quite a lot to see, and of course wine and food are excellent!
    #1
  2. Tbone

    Tbone off-ramp slayer

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    Wow !!! what a strange sensation a hi-side must have been. Your old girl( bike) understands you didn't mean to bang her up, and you'll have it back together in no time I'm sure. Glad your okay !:clap
    #2
  3. Joerg

    Joerg Long timer

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    ... this being said, as far as I can see the list of damages above is almost complete - add a a number of “smaller” things at the rear (luggage rack, etc).

    A number of usually fragile things are astonishingly not broken: both rear mirrors, all turn signals, headlight, tail light look re-usable. GPS has not a single scratch, albeit is was sitting at the handlebar:

    [​IMG]

    Btw, as posted in “flea market”: What I'm currently looking for is a more or less complete cockpit for a GS or Basic, white - see the photo above. What I do not need are the ignition key (lock) and the headlight, but I do need the two halves of the housing, the control lights, and the Speedometer (W747). Since BMW prices are prohibitive, I'll try to find it elsewhere first ...
    #3
  4. Bicycle Phil

    Bicycle Phil Been here awhile

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    Joerg,

    Great write-up on your recent tarmac touchdown.

    So glad you are OK, and your bike is repairable.

    BicyclePhil
    #4
  5. Incabiker

    Incabiker Long timer

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    A highside and you practically came out unscathed, nice....

    Do you know what had caused your tires to slide?? Was it the mixture of wet road and tires that weren't warmed up enough, did you hit some cow shit??

    I ran over some horse shit the other day and that had me slipping and sliding for about 50 yards, that stuff greases up the tires real good. I thought that it would wipe right off on the asphalt, but its like diesal, its stays on the tire longer then you expect.
    #5
  6. Joerg

    Joerg Long timer

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    Hi,
    Indeed ... I usually ride ATGATT, and this one confirmed again that you should really wear everything, all the time. A quick tour of my gear and bruises, for those interested:

    I was wearing full gear. BMW System 5 full face helmet, almost new ... scraped right side of visor and chin bar. Helmet is probably due for replacement, but I'll have it checked by Schuberth before I dump it.
    Summer gloves by FLM. On both gloves, the leather above the knuckles (i.e. on the outer side of the gloves) is worn through – but these gloves have hard shell protections in exactly this place, so they did exactly what they were supposed to do.
    Rukka jacket – a bit scraped on the outside of the right arm, but no real damage.
    Pants – Polo Pharao II, no visible damage (fortunately ... since they were due for a warranty exchange anyway, and it would not have looked good if they would have been scratched :D).
    Boots – Daytona TransOpen GTX, no visible damage.

    Rider: Several small bruises ("blue") on both hips and upper right arm. Lower right arm has a light burn due to the fact that the jacket liner slid over it – i.e. the outer layer of the jacket plus the protector were touching the street, but I was moving a few centimeters inside the jacket. And, after more than a week now, I still have some pain in the right side of my chest where the rear mirror hit – doctor says there's nothing broken, “just the muscles”.
    I believe that both of the latter could easily have been avoided by wearing a full-protector jacket (those that you wear like a T-shirt under the riding jacket) ... indeed I have ordered one a while back but it was still not delivered on that day ... !
    There was no cow shit or the like - that stuff is so slimy, it would have resulted in an immediate lowsider. Been there, done that - about 20 years ago and fortunately at very low speed (apex of a hairpin) :topes

    Thinking about it, that get-off is entirely my fault. My lean angle was too high, which means that I was just too fast for that corner at that time. I cannot blame the tires, since I found myself scratching with my feet over the tarmac a few km earlier on that same road – riding an airhead GS, this implies that I was "in the mood for cornering" that day.

    Or maybe I was distracted by thoughts about that friend in the hospital: When I ride, I usually concentrate on riding. This is my normal state, but on that particular morning I was probably a bit distracted by that message ... and, funny enough, I was even aware that I might be distracted by it. :ruskie Grmbl.

    Lesson learned (for me): Modern tires, even knobbies, stick better to the road that you might think ... but not always as good as you might hope. :bluduh
    #6
  7. Rubber Cow

    Rubber Cow GS Dork

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    Joerg,
    Damn man!....I'm glad to hear that you've come away relatively unscathed!
    MT-21s are wickedly unforgiving tires. I've ridden them for almost 5 years on my R100 GSPD, even in the nastiest Oregon rains, and they always scare the bejeesus out of me. I know that they're going to loose traction at some speeds, lean angles etc. ... it's just that they can do it so violently on pavement.
    Now get to fixing your bike!
    Cheers,
    Jorge
    #7
  8. aspad

    aspad Empty Suit Supporter

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    Thanks for the thoughtful write up and analysis of what you think you did wrong. It is very instructive and sobering to read about experienced riders making mistakes through overconfidence or lack or proper attention in seemingly innocuous situations.
    It helps to remind us that 'unconscious competence' should never be taken for granted. We all need to keep thinking and learning.
    Glad to hear you are fine apart from a few bruises.
    #8
  9. Mike Butt

    Mike Butt Agent Provocateur

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    Heal well. Not much more can be said. Diesel hit?
    #9
  10. Joerg

    Joerg Long timer

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    Thinking about it, I try to figure out how I could save myself (and the bike, please :D) in similar situations ... let's assume this (= bike starts sliding but is still on both wheels) happens to you, what can you do? Is there any chance to get out of this situation without damage?

    I remember that I caught myself thinking "what now?" - and I came up with nothing. I have taken several mc training courses in the past (two Enduro courses in the last year), and if this would have happened on gravel I'm sure I would have grabbed the throttle. But here, it came so unexpected that I was just clueless.

    Deliberately make it a lowsider, starting at the rear wheel (= either throttle, or rear brake)? This will still cause damage, but probably less than a highsider.

    Wait until the bike starts to get upright again, open the throttle gently and have the rear wheel spin deliberately? At some moment in time the front wheel will have grip again, which still leaves the risk of a highsider ...

    Any thoughts, experiences? :ear
    #10
  11. motorka

    motorka provocateur

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    Joerg,

    Whoa! glad to hear that YOU don't need much fixin' after a highsider like that. Thanx for your detailed dissection of the events and giving us a nice detailed closeup in slo-mo. What a rush! i guess we never stop learning, do we? Thanx, and good luck making your trusted steed feel well again!
    #11
  12. kluts

    kluts The Lost Tourguide

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    Good to know you are OK and that the airhead will see more days.

    It happened to me on Metzeler MZ55/88 Lasers, the stock tires for a Katana 1100, in 1993.

    While I like your technique analysis, I know in my case that even if I knew some of the mechanics of a highside, it happened so quickly and violently that I wonder if I could have recovered it at all. Once my lowside started, I automatically backed off the throttle and instantly realized my mistake. There was no recovering it even though I tried.

    I distinctly remember flailing with the handlebars while my body was stretched horizontal in the air, very much like a famous video clip of GP rider Randy Mamola, who recovered a high-side at the Argentina GP in '91. Only he was a trained race rider with quick responses, and I was a perfectly trained fool. :lol3 He got control of his motorcycle back and on the track. I got to bring my wrecked motorcycle back to the house by truck. Some many years later I saved a potential highside-- on an R100 RT with stock Lasers again(!), but this time I knew the message the bike was giving me.

    Bottom line, it is not just technique. It has to be readiness. Perhaps we would do well in our exercise routines to remember reflex is just as important as muscle tone.

    Hope you are back on the road soon. I am so envious of the beautiful regions you get to ride.... say hello to the Engadin for me...:wink:
    #12
  13. Joerg

    Joerg Long timer

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    Hi,
    I fully, fully agree with you ... but then, what *is* the right reflex to adopt in such a case? How did you actually save the RT (and yourself :D) from converting its fairing into plastic debris?

    Just curious to learn ...
    #13
  14. kluts

    kluts The Lost Tourguide

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    Joerg, the second time it began as a lowside again and I gassed it, but not heavily. There was a very short, split-second moment when the headstock shook starting a tankslapper, and I knew I had to get a grip or it was going to squirrel on me.

    What is interesting is I realized I needed to look where I wanted to go, and not down or sideways. And despite the headshake, gripping the bars too firmly would have caused trouble. It was an uncanny lightening like reflex that guided the bars smoothly to settle them down while I leaned more forward as I leaned on them through my intended curve. I stayed on the gas, neither opening or closing throttle. I rode it through as if nothing happened.

    My riding companion had plenty to say when we stopped. :eek1

    I think it's just getting more experience, even though by 1993 I had around 20 years without incident. And by 2005, I had thirty years' riding, but the 12 years after that highside did something for me, I guess.

    HTH.
    #14
  15. PacWestGS

    PacWestGS Life Is The Adventure!

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    Joerg, I'm glad you are OK and you did a smash up job of describing it. Highside, lowside, what does it matter the good news is your upside. You and the bike are mostly OK. Cheers. :freaky

    (I think you lowsided, but who am I, I wasn't there)

    I had that happen to me once, on my Ninja powering through an uphill turn, I hit some oil or a grease strip up the middle of the curve and lost the front end. As it was going down, I hit the gas and equalized the loss to the rear wheel, now sliding sideways (about a foot) I did the next stupid thing (being a dirt bike rider) I put my (right) leg out and dabbed my foot down, (big mistake) it caught the ground and almost threw me over the bike, (bad idea) but, it saved the lowside and I didn't highside. It was a good save but not the best, my foot hurt for a week.

    My friend on his brand new VFR-750 was happy, because he was right behind me and didn't have to plan the exit for running over me...:lol3

    To give you an answer, and it may not be the most correct answer - at that point of sliding sideways - hang-off the bike on the inside and get your body as low as possible while trying to get the bike as vertical as possible and then crank the throttle while looking as far ahead as possible. At some point if this is working keep steering in the direction you want to go and the direction you are looking.

    If it all works out, you have a great save story. If it doesn't, you will most likely lowside and spin out because of all the throttle you applied.

    No matter what - chopping the throttle does not help anything and will lead to a highside crash under the circumstances.

    I'm glad you and the bike are doing well.

    If Luzern is anything like Lausanne beautiful country man, I'm jealous (great skiing and nice old trains)...:D
    #15
  16. HardCase

    HardCase winter is coming

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    Thank you, Joerg, for the interesting/informative write-up. I'm glad to hear that you are okay, and good that you were ATGATT.

    I was struck by the fact that several passers-by, including motorcyclists, failed to stop and render aid. While motorists in this country are often quite inclined to keep going even when they see a person with a problem, motorcyclists are usually quick to stop and give assistance, even Harley riders. :D Good that the bicyclist was there to help out.
    #16
  17. datchew

    datchew Don't buy from Brad

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    WOW! I'm so glad you're ok.

    I think it's important to remember that there are times in life that you're only along for the ride and no matter how much you analyze it, you have to accept that there is simply nothing to be done for it.

    hope you mend quickly mate.

    As for parts, I recall alot of folks saying ebay Germany is a good resource and since you're euro's as well, it won't hit you as badly as it will hurt us dollar users.
    #17
  18. SUVslayer

    SUVslayer Long timer

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    Great write up. And glad to hear you're alright. Definitely a few lessons here.
    - ATGATT is the only riding policy. You never know when or where it'll happen, and because you didn't hit anything solid, it saved you from a possibly lengthy hospital stay.
    - I've only been down once, having lost the front on a NYC (read: greasy) onramp. Since then, I've read what I can find about slides and saving one. From everything I've read, including this thread, it seems the best thing to do is either stay on the throttle or even give it a little more - especially when the rear's loose and a highside's possible. Chopping the throttle seems a recipe for disaster.

    Thanks for your writeup. Heal quickly and good luck getting the bike back on the road.
    #18
  19. Joerg

    Joerg Long timer

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    Hi
    This is indeed the thing that I will teach myself as "the good reflex" ... when in doubt , gas it :D

    Thanks a lot to everyone for your input, I have learned a lot!
    #19
  20. rallybug

    rallybug Local Yokel

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    Glad to hear you're OK, Joerg :thumb
    #20