speed wobble

Discussion in 'Face Plant' started by speedtrials, Oct 10, 2019.

  1. speedtrials

    speedtrials Been here awhile

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    Hi Guys,
    I've enjoyed reading this section for long time and now (unfortunately) I have my own contribution.

    Preface: I've been riding for 10 years and considered myself a 'safe' rider. I definitely don't consider myself an expert but certainly a few steps above a beginner. I don't push the speed on corners or anything. Just enjoy getting from A to B at a safe pace, and so I considered myself a safe and aware rider. I used to read the posts on this faceplant forum to try to learn from other peoples mistakes. I've done numerous trips, including big ones cross country, and felt very confident about it all. Early on I had a couple very minor accidents at low speed which definitely helped me from getting arrogant. But both of those I rode away from without a scratch on my skin.

    Cut to: May of this year....driving across town and I decided to save a bit of time and take the highway. Just before my exit, on an elevated portion of the highway, on a turn, something happens and I have a speed wobble. I have about 1/2 a second to think about it before it oscillates me into a highside. I'm going about 100km/h (60 mph). Luckily its a Sunday morning so traffic is very light. I quickly get up and my adrenaline is jacked. Nothing seems broken. Some nice folks stop to see if I'm ok. They follow me as I ride off the highway to make sure (later they will drive me to the hospital). After the adrenaline wears off I realize a trip to the hospital is in order. I was NOT ATTGATT.....just jacket, helmet, leather gloves but not motorcycle gloves. Nylon pants and gloves are shredded. My Olympia textile jacket is pretty shredded but mostly did its job. At the one shoulder it wore right thru unfortunately so there's a good bit of rash on my shoulder. Helmet did its job.

    At the hospital they do x-rays and verify nothing is broken, which I feel pretty good about...just some road rash. The worst is on my knee and right index finger. On the knee it looks like its almost down to the knee cap and about 2.5 inches in diameter....so its pretty big. But they do some tests and find my knee capsule is ok so my knee is just missing skin. Not too bad I think.....could be worse I think. They tell me I'm lucky, which i guess i agree with. On my finger it looks like its down to the bone too but i guess it wasn't quite that far.

    Up until this point I'm mostly embarrassed about it all. Now comes the BAD part. Some of my road rash needs to be cleaned out. They say they will do "conscious sedation". I've never heard of that but I agree. They give me ketamine for this. I'm not sure if its supposed to be like this but they basically put me into a k-hole while they work on me. It feels like a near death experience...it feels like I leave this plane of existence and travel somewhere else where I meet the creators. Its intense and awful. I feel like I lose my mind.

    It takes me a few weeks before my head and mood start to feel ok after this. There is a month of misery because I don't want to bend my knee or finger and then they get so stiff that bending them again becomes an issue. Although I only have a few spots of road rash, they are pretty deep so I'm going to the nurse daily to have the dressings changed. Showering is an issue. Anyway, I could go on about the recovery. It takes about 3~4 months of daily dressing changes before I am back to my regular activities like going to the gym. And now 6 months later, the scar tissue on those road rash spots is still sensitive as hell and thin as hell and not really back to normal. But I see that it will be.

    My bigger question is will I ride again and this is where I was hoping y'all could share some of your wisdom as the idea of getting on a bike again makes me nauseous at the moment. On the one hand, I think if I was ATTGATT, I would have walked away from this accident with only a few bruises and nothing serious. So on the one hand I think that I'll simply learn from this and wear the right gear and I can go back to riding. But having gone thru this (and still sort of going thru it), I find it hard to simply learn from my mistakes and move on. I'm not sure if I have PTSD from the accident or from the ketamine or both. But, like most of you here I imagine, motorcycling used to be a big part of my life so I'm not ready to simply leave it in the past. I always thought i was a very safe rider, very aware of the cars around me etc. But when the accident happens due to just a problem on my motorcycle (which btw I think was caused in large part by an aftermarket windscreen that I had added), then I think there are going to be instances of things I can't prevent and that is scary. In a way, I think you need to feel a bit invincible when you ride because the alternative, thinking that you may at any moment crash and seriously hurt yourself is kind of an awful feeling and (I think) no way to ride. So I don't feel invincible anymore. But maybe I'm thinking about this all wrong. What do you guys think?
    #1
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  2. Rhino-1

    Rhino-1 Been here awhile

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    So, in my mid-20's, I have my club-race GSXR750 all cleaned up and on stands after installing a new Yoshimura CDI box. The next door neighbor's daughter is home from college, and has a few friends over; they're standing in their yard, looking over, and giggling. Well, I just have to fire this thing up and go for a "test run." I pull it off the stands, jump on her back, fire her up, and proceed loudly down the driveway, and onto the street. As soon as I straighten up, I figure I'd goose it, do a hero wheelie down the block, come back, and declare it "tuned." Well, things didn't work out so sweet.... As soon as I jumped on the throttle, she came up alright, but I prompely slid off the back, rolled quite a few times on the asphalt, and watch my baby cartwheel once, then spin on it's side... within ful view of my audience, of course.... Turns out I hadn't buttoned-down my one-piece tail section....

    I jumped to my feet, bravely ran over to my bike, righted her, and rolled her back home. Then I went inside to wash up...and I realize suddenly that I'm missing some skin from both my arms, and my back doesn't feel very good either... and my knees start to burn... Well, a short trip to the ER later, I had the same procedure you did, but that stuff wasn't taking--and it fooking hurt! Hurt so much when they were scrubbing and picking that I almost blacked out a couple times (those poor nurses...). Neither Lidocain nor demerol were working, and finally I had to brake the cleanup on mostly 800 mg of Ibuprofen. And do it again, every few days, until my wounds started to heal... I felt like a mummy the first couple weeks, but then the stiffness and pain started slowly dissapating, and I was itchin' to get back on a bike again.

    Other than the obvious morals of the story (ATGATT, even for short stints, no Show-boating, Murphy's Law, etc.), I realized that the issue was PURE RIDER ERROR. Although it isn't always so, we can go a long way in mitigating the danger. I don't dwell on stuff like that, but I make sure to dot my i's and cross my t's when I'm working onmy bikes or selecting my gear. It's healthy to think about the "why's" from time to time, but do not let them dominate your ride (or your life). My .02
    #2
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  3. Roktman

    Roktman Been here awhile

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    Greetings speed trials, good contribution, after a couple near misses just cruising to the store or going to a friends house just a helmet and work gloves , no more, when I get on my bike it’s to ride and that means full ATGATT, motocross boots , knees, armor briefs, pressure suit ,my klim goretex pants and jacket, gloves ect , so consequently I don’t ride as much little stuff which I don’t really like anyway, so search the forums here , read faceplant which will ground you , cheers
    #3
  4. gve.mcmlxxiv

    gve.mcmlxxiv Been here awhile

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    Got any pics of the Olympia? I wear leatte dual axis knee and shin guards under a Revit pant. I go with the jacket ce2 armor in the Revit jacket but nothing supplementing. I’m thinking about putting on one of the hard armor shirts under the jacket.

    Did you have a jacket and pant that zipped together?

    This is is a scary story. Heal well.
    #4
  5. CCitis

    CCitis Been here awhile

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    Sucks man. Weird about the conscious sedation, have had it a few times (another round coming up in a couple weeks) and never had issues. Just wake up and don't remember anything. Tell your doc about this, I don't think it is normal. People react differently to anesthesia.
    #5
  6. Arbolmano

    Arbolmano Not so Studly

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    In my formative years, I learned to not crash by crashing a bunch. Never said I were a genius. Road rash is a drag. I would advise not over thinking your crash. If your ride murdercycles, you will crash eventually. It happens. All about risk assessment. I'd be more concerned about the Speed Wobbles. Generally speaking that is not supposed to happen. Tire pressure? Head Bearings? Swingarm bushings? Such an event is often preventable with maintenance which is just as important as wearing ATTGATT.
    Reacting to the Wobblys often does not have to include a get off. So perhaps a refresher MSF course is also called for.
    Wait till all healed up and go for a ride. If your emotionally challenged then you'll have to address that.
    Tonto
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  7. speedtrials

    speedtrials Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the messages guys. The Olympia jacket was an X-Moto 2. Sorry I don't have any pics...I gave it to the folks that drove me to the hospital and asked them to chuck it as it was toast. I actually really liked that jacket for the ability to open and close its massive venting but after this experience I think I would always want to wear leather at highway speed....the thickest I can find (insert 'here take, my money' meme here). I will also always want to wear a full gauntlet glove with hard knuckle protection at highway speed.....the scars on my wrist and knuckles are a good reminder. The problem with DS riding gear, obviously, is that the gear for riding the trail is not the same gear as for getting to the trail on the highway. I guess thats what luggage is for.

    Believe it or not, just dumping my thoughts here and reading your replies is making me feel better and the thought of riding again more doable. So, thanks again!
    #7
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  8. Berchunis

    Berchunis Been here awhile

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    I had installed a Harley touring windshield on my 2014 FXDL (Dyna Low Rider), rode onto Interstate 10, ran up to 70mph and bike began to wobble. I stayed on the bike and slowed down and got off at first exit. Immediately rode over to local HD dealer and spoke with service advisor, who blamed the windshield. HD techs standing around mumbled: "Gee we don't know the answer".

    Problem I was told by a long time Harley rider was.....loose steering head bearings, which I tightened at home. I also installed a HD compact windshield to replace the taller shield. NO wobble.

    I have an aftermarket touring windshield on my 2015 R1200R and no wobble. Steering head bearings are tight and there is a OEM steering damper on the bike.
    #8
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  9. gmk999

    gmk999 ____ as a Rotax

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    Sorry this happened. But the takeaway is that as bad as it could have been. You are OK. Good people came to your aid when you needed help, and your basic gear did it's job and kept you alive.
    recovery is a PIA.. it always takes longer then you think and can be grueling or even overwhelming at times. Just ride it out soon it will be well behind you.
    Ride, don't ride, that is completely up to you, time will work that out as well.
    So take the lessons you are learning now, use them and and share them , maybe they will will save a life.
    Good luck to you!!

    ~ 8 years ago , over the bars at 60 mph. ATGATT saved me for sure but I was sore as hell for weeks. Old men are not built for that shit.. Still riding and enjoying every minute of it ~
    #9
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  10. CaptCapsize

    CaptCapsize Long timer

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    Ouch! On the subject of Wobble and Weave here is an old video which provides some good information. I think you may be right about the windscreen. I think weight distribution from aerodynamics may have been a contributing factor.


    I was supposed to have "conscious sedation" for an outpatient procedure a few week ago. But the forgot to give me the special K. When I asked about sedation the Doc said, "too late now". I sure wish I didn't remember what they did! But after your description maybe I was lucky they forgot.
    #10
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  11. speedtrials

    speedtrials Been here awhile

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    Guys, if I could make one recommendation about conscious sedation its to try to get good ol' fashioned morphine instead. Not sure what the criteria is or how they decide which to use but I know 100% that next time I will INSIST on morphine.
    #11
  12. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Long timer

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    Huh, when I’ve had wounds scrubbed out, it’s always been done straight up. From your description, I think I prefer it this way.

    get back on the horse. As soon as you can. There’s wisdom to that old instruction. You may subsequently decide to bag it. But you’ll have made that decision as a rider, not as a crash victim. The difference is substantial.
    #12
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  13. PhotoAl

    PhotoAl Adventurer

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    Takes time, you have to get back on and ride. I clipped the right handlebar on a rock wall. Helmet (over a baseball cap) pants, shirt and running shoes! 15 MPH on a scooter on the island of Capri in Italy. Wife was on the back - it was her idea to rent the scooter which we have done several times before. She was fine. Concussion, cuts on face, deep scratch gouge on chest, cut on knee, shattered kneecap and a sprained big toe - all on right side! Don't think they know what pain meds mean in Italy. I got nothing until I got back to the US and went to the ER. Hauled off in an ambulance - very tiny ambulance! IV placed on the ride of about a mile. Didn't cut any clothing off just checked where it was torn. One stitch in face and 4 or 5 in knee then off the X-Rays. No pain meds sets and abrasions were roughly scrubbed to get dirt n stuff out. Sewed up without deadening anything either. Wrapped knee with gauge to stabilize it and was sent to Sorrento to the hospital where they had an orthopedic doc. I stood up and walked out of the ER - no crutches. Sat on a wood bench in Sorrento for 5 hours before I saw anyone, more X-Rays, doc was ready to operate and I asked how long did I have to get it fixed, was told 7 days so asked if I could go home to get it fixed. Yup that was OK. I got a knee brace, crutches, antibiotics and a blood thinner. 2 days later flew home to US. 15 minuets after we got home had daughter drive us to ER at local hospital. Had pain in the chest when breathing, wanted to make sure it wasn't a blood clot and to get foot checked. Pain meds, i got pain meds! some relief at last. I had been taking three ibuprofen at a time along with Tylenol. It was three months before I got on my bike again. It was a Ninja ZX6R 636, I rode for 10 minutes and went straight back home - knee pain.

    Funny thing about the crash was I had an expensive DSLR and lens with the strap around my neck and under one arm. There was not a single scratch or scuff on the camera!!!! Nothing, it was fairly new and I spent a lot of time looking for something.

    You can get hurt at low speeds when with no gear. I always wear all the gear on my motorcycle although a few times Ive skipped the pants when going a short distance in the heat and on slow not heavily traveled roads. I do ride my scooter (yes I still do) with just a helmet but only when going on short neighborhood trips. ad I been wearing my normal gear I would have walked away from the crash. Took my a while (no a long time) to get over some of my unease while riding. Im back to where I was before. Just takes time and going over the basics and trusting the bike. As for speed wobbles, I have always taken very good care of my bikes. My current BMW is the first bike I haven't done all the service on because I bought a service agreement with it. When I do it I know it is done correctly. My Ninja came without a steering stabilizer and it would "shake its head" under hard acceleration towards the top of second gear when leaned over and accelerating. I bought an Olins race damper for it and that cured the issue. A steering damper is not guaranteed to keep you from having a wobble but it significantly reduces the probability.
    #13
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  14. speedtrials

    speedtrials Been here awhile

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    Sounds awful but a great read! I loved the details....tiny ambulance!
    #14
  15. r60man

    r60man Long timer

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    I agree with Arbolmano above. #1 priority is figuring out why you got the speed wobbles and how can you prevent them in the future. I would not chalk it up to the windshield without giving the tires and steering head bearings a really good look over. The key when you get the wobbles is to get off the gas, and do not try to fight the bars, and NO BRAKES. You can save it, but it is not easy.
    #15
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  16. speedtrials

    speedtrials Been here awhile

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    Hmmm actually that's exactly what I did but it didn't work. In retrospect I wish I would have braked to reduce speed....could have been a better outcome at less speed...certainly couldn't have been a worse outcome :rofl
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  17. Rhino-1

    Rhino-1 Been here awhile

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    There is no real consensus on this. On the track, we were supposed to "lean back and power out"--that was the general consensus. But there are some who claim success by leaning over the front wheel and relaxing or even braking... It's best to discover the source of the wobble and avoid them.
    #17
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  18. r60man

    r60man Long timer

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    Just out of curiosity did you get a look at the road surface? a few years ago the ground a section of road and for whatever reason the road was seriously bad in a car, and caused several crashes for bikes. Once they figured that out the reground it and the issues went away. Sometimes the road surface can start the wobble, but the other factors on the bike can make it worse.
    #18
  19. speedtrials

    speedtrials Been here awhile

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    It was on an elevated portion so I think there may have been a wind gust that caught the windshield that could have started things. Also on this elevated portion, there are expansions joints in the ground so its not a perfectly smooth surface....every so often there's a dip where the expansion joint is. This could be ok going in a straight line, but on a curve like where my accident happened, i think these could have started the wobble too. Head bearings seem ok. The front tire pressure was maybe a little low and may have contributed but I think the other factors were the main culprits.
    #19
  20. PhotoAl

    PhotoAl Adventurer

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    My understanding of a speed wobble is they are initiated my an uneven loading on the front tire - one side is laded more than the other by hitting a pothole but not square on. Once the oscillation is started then it is underdamped which can be a number of factors. I'm a big fan of steering dampers but don't think they cure everything. From your description you would have been hitting the joints at an angle and a wind gust could have also contributed. I wouldn't over think it but I would take head bearing apart and clean and re-grease and make sure they are set properly. Would also check front wheel bearings and wheel alignment - string method. Generally all the things we are supposed to do but maybe don't do as frequently as we should.
    #20