The "had to lay 'er down" myth debunked


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The "had to lay 'er down" myth debunked

Post by Viking »



I read an online plea from a friend of a rider who, upon entering a local traffic circle, was surprised by an SUV and “had to lay ‘er down” in order “to avoid broadsiding” said SUV.

Keep an eye out for this SUV, they said – those jerks didn’t even stop.

Come sit with me for a moment, and let’s think about that.

The motorcycle did not make contact with the SUV. But the rider insisted that “laying the bike down” was the best course of action, and insisted that all of this was the fault of the SUV driver.

I’m willing to accept that the SUV probably didn’t yield to the traffic already in the circle per local law. Heck, that driver might have been toying with their phone instead of watching where they were going. And the reason the jerks did not even stop was probably because they did not even know they were instrumental in causing an accident. But the blame in this case falls with the motorcyclist.

Let’s break it down.

Last I checked, the coefficient of friction of metal and plastic on pavement was quite a bit lower than that of rubber. That is, given similar momentum, a motorcycle will slide a lot further on its side than it will upright on its tires with the brakes well and properly engaged.

So unless the brakes on the motorcycle he was riding were completely shot (not the SUV’s fault) or the tires were so old they had no grip left (I know, I’m reaching), or the SUV got very, very close to the rider (not bloody likely given the fact that there was no contact), the crash was entirely the motorcyclist’s fault, for not knowing how to brake.

Let’s stop kidding ourselves, fellow motorcyclists. It does us an injustice. When we say “I had to lay ‘er down” we are saying we had to crash to avoid a crash. This makes approximately zero sense. In fact, when there is no contact you are worse off from an insurance/at-fault standpoint. When there is no contact, it is a single vehicle accident and you cannot sue anyone for damages.

You cannot expertly throw a motorcycle to the pavement without some kind of training. Are local clubs holding “lay ‘er down” seminars on a sacrificial bike? Have they done this so often that they know where the bike, and they, will go, upon pavement contact? Mustn’t they be spending a ton of money on the gear they’re replacing, or hospital bills for all that skin loss?

Do yourself a favor, each and every rider. Take yourself to a deserted parking lot and learn to brake. Use both brakes. Unless your motorcycle is a relic, your brakes are better than you think they are. No “toss you over the handlebars” myth applies. Front brakes apply the majority of your bike’s braking force, so use them. Learn to make your tires howl without breaking contact, and learn to love that sound. Learn how fast you can brake without skidding. Learn to ride out a skid that does happen. If you have ABS, learn what it does and where it engages so that it never surprises you.

Knowing how to stop your motorcycle is just as important as knowing how to make it go fast, and someday, when that SUV enters a traffic circle, or cuts you off entering your lane of traffic, unexpectedly, right in front of you, you won’t be picking up pieces of your bike in the road. You’ll be cursing that ignorant driver and continuing on your ride, none the worse for wear. Okay, your brakes might be a little warm.

But relegate the “lay ‘er down” myth for the ages. You’re just admitting that you’re a bad rider.


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Re: The "had to lay 'er down" myth debunked

Post by Rednaxs60 »

Agree wholeheartedly with themainviking. I have been taking and intend to do one advanced course per year. On these courses, the "had to lay ‘er down" syndrome is talked about a lot. There is no motorcycle course that teaches anyone how to lay their bike down. These courses have accident avoidance and emergency stopping sessions incorporated. Every one that I have been on teaches rear brake, front brake and downshift in that order. Happens rather quickly but it is what is being taught. This applies to all bikes regardless of the model.

Using the rear brake first "grounds" the rear of the bike prior to applying the front brake. Using the front brake first will unload the rear of the bike, moving all weight forward to the front brake after which any use of the rear brake will be extremely minimized and most likely render the rear brake ineffective. This all happens very quickly, and probably simultaneously; however, the sequence is the important part and should be practiced as themainviking mentions.

One of the courses that I took was instructed by motorcycle police. During coffee the instructors would give us the reader's digest version of some of the motorcycle accidents that they had investigated. We were told that whenever there is a motorcycle accident, the motorcycle police will try to duplicate what the motorcycle victim did. In almost every case, proper braking and accident avoidance could/would have changed the outcome. One accident where the rider decided to leave his bike while entering a corner at too great a speed for the rider's skill level resulted in the rider become a fatality; however, the bike survived the corner and other than some plastic being crunched, the bike was able to be ridden.

These courses also teach that to get maximum braking out of your bike it must be upright and going in a straight line. I was taught to straighten the bike up as soon as possible/practical even in a corner and then apply the brakes. It doesn't matter how much room you have, straighten up and get on the brakes.

It was mentioned on my last course that during braking, the maximum speed reduction is approximately in the last third of the braking. If it takes you 100 feet to stop quickly, it is in the last 30 or so feet where the maximum speed reduction happens.

The cost of an advanced riding course is, IMHO, better spent money than what we spend on insurance. You only have to use one of the skills learned once and the course has paid for itself. The course will also teach you the proper technique(s) that you can then practice on your own. Using insurance means something went wrong.

As to the crux of this thread, agree with themainviking, "had to lay ‘er down" should be relegated to the annals of history. Bad enough when we have to admit we dropped our bike.
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Re: The "had to lay 'er down" myth debunked

Post by WingAdmin »

Honestly, I think that 99% of the time you hear "had to lay 'er down" it can be more accurately translated to "I lost control and crashed, but my ego won't let me admit it."

One of the best pilots who ever lived, Bob Hoover, often said that when faced with a plane that is going down, to "fight like hell and fly the plane as far into the crash as possible." You never give up, you keep control as best you can, and do everything you can to scrub as much speed (i.e. energy) off as you can before impact, if it is inevitable. Same goes for riding.

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Re: The "had to lay 'er down" myth debunked

Post by OldZX11Rider »

Just to play devils advocate I'm going to disagree. :lol:
Maybe he's saying he "had to lay her down", because he wasn't paying attention like maybe he should of been. He " had to lay her down" because he was afraid to use the front brake. Afraid he'd flip over the handlebars.
He "had to lay her down" because his avoidance skills need work. But on the other hand, ( :lol: ) I don't know the rider, he may be an excellent rider that just got caught daydreaming.
Now, I agree with you all. Rubber has a lot better coefficient of friction than chromed steel and plastic.
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Re: The "had to lay 'er down" myth debunked

Post by f1xrupr »

Interesting topic! Lots of wisdom above. I think it's possible that on dirt you may stop faster "down" on a standard. Otherwise, rubber side down! I think wingadmin hit the nail on the head.
I use both front and rear almost always, but never really considered the timing factor (rear then front)! I'll try to remember to practice that....thanks!
Question...how about the brakes that are linked-are they orfised to achieve that?
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Re: The "had to lay 'er down" myth debunked

Post by Rednaxs60 »

f1xrupr wrote:Question...how about the brakes that are linked-are they orfised to achieve that?
Linked brakes are not an issue. The linked brakes on my '85 1200 are such that the right front and rear brake are linked, but the right front caliper pistons are smaller than those on the rear brake and the left front brake. This reduces the impact of the front brake compared to the rear brake. Applying the rear brake first does get a boost from the front right brake, but once you squeeze, yes squeeze, the front brake and apply the left front brake, you put all the stopping power to play. As you get more proficient with emergency braking, you will find that as you apply more front brake, you will reduce the amount of rear brake that you apply. This prevents the rear wheel from locking up, maintaining the maximum braking that you can have. The reason I say this is that maximum braking can only be achieved when the wheels are turning. If you lock up the back, you reduce the overall braking of your bike.

If you do lock up your rear brake, concentrate on maintaining a straight line while still applying front brake pressure. The rear of the bike will follow. Letting off on the rear brake when the rear wheel is locked up will be cause some very unpleasant bike maneuvers. If you lock up the front brake, you must let off the brake and then reapply.

I was told by the instructor on one course I took, that when I did the emergency braking session and came to a full stop the front tire was compressed to about half the height aspect ratio, and I did not lock up the front wheel.

ABS brakes are also a good discussion item. ABS can assist us in braking as fast as possible; however, proper emergency braking can be achieved without having the ABS engage. Professional riders, such as police motorcycle cops, can actually stop a bike with ABS faster if the ABS does not engage. This is because ABS modulates the braking action so that brakes are on/off actually making the stopping distance longer.

If you can take a course that has an emergency braking and accident avoidance component - highly recommended.

Just my thoughts on your question.

Cheers
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Re: The "had to lay 'er down" myth debunked

Post by f1xrupr »

Nice reply-thanks! I never owned a bike with dual breaking, so I'm not familiar with the set up. What you said about different size disks makes good sense.
I'm 53, been riding on and off since I was 12(?), and learned long ago about the front brake being 70% (that's an old figure-maybe different now) of your stopping power, but I'm not to old to learn more.
By the way-some folks find it hard to believe in conversation that that is true....so, then I suppose they "could" try some "other" method of stopping fast... :-(
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Re: The "had to lay 'er down" myth debunked

Post by Rednaxs60 »

The courses that I have been on still use this type of percentage, and the end result is that the front brake does do the majority of the braking. What has evolved over time is the change from drum to disc brakes, and the bike weight and distribution of this bike weight.

With the use of disc brakes the stopping power increased immensely. Technology has evolved so that the calipers and discs, depending on make and model, dual versus single discs, two piston versus three piston calipers, and size of piston in the caliper all affect on the braking power of the bike - lots to consider.

The weight of the GW and other touring bikes changes this type of percentage to approximately 60/40 - front/rear. A rider would be hard pressed to get the rear of one of these bikes off the ground if ever when stopping quickly, unlike a lighter sports bike. It is because of the transfer of weight to the front wheel that I have been taught to apply the rear brake first, then the front brake. The riders who did the courses on sports bikes were also instructed to use this braking sequence and were surprised at the difference it made.

The emergency braking session had us use rear brake only, front brake only then rear and front brake combined. Even the sport bike riders had to admit that the rear/front brake application (in that order) was the best braking sequence for the shortest stopping distance.

I have mentioned that in my opinion, an advanced riding course once a year, or every two years for that matter, is money well spent, and it reinforces the skills necessary to keep me safe. I also know that I need to have someone critique what I am doing so that I am doing it correctly. Repetition of the skill required to do accident avoidance and emergency braking is one of the key elements to keeping you safe. You do not have time to think about the required action, it just has to be done. Your subconscious must do what is necessary or the game is over.

The emergency braking session always started at slow speed, approximately 30 KPH, then increased in increments up to 80 KPH (only a few riders got to this speed in the available distance). At all times it was stressed that you did the session at your comfort level, but not faster than instructed. It was also stressed that you must be able to do emergency braking from the speed you are travelling at. This is a key element of the session. If you cannot and will not apply your brakes to do emergency stopping at the speed you are travelling, you are actually driving beyond your skill level.

The main issue here is that the rider felt he had to put his bike down as part of an accident avoidance and emergency stopping scenario. Since the rider's mindset is that this an acceptable form of action, this is probably what occurred, it is exactly what was done. I am 62 and I find I do not bounce back from issues like I used to. To maximize my survive ability, I need to have an ingrained skill set necessary to keep me safe so for me a tuneup once a year to keep my skill level up is what I require.

MCN magazine has some contributing authors that talk about rider training and rider awareness. In the last issue Lee Parks talked about situational awareness and how we humans who are at the top of the food chain as occupiers of this planet are at the bottom of the food chain when riding on roads. He discussed how we see our surroundings as predators (top of the food chain) and as prey (bottom of the food chain). Predators can be very focused on what they are looking at and do not need a more global view. If you are in a 4 wheel vehicle this will serve a person fairly well. When we are the prey, riding our bikes, he mentions we should see our surroundings as prey would with a much wider vision. Something akin to sneaking up on a deer for a bow shot, the deer is always aware of its surroundings both near and far. Lee Parks' premise is that we should be doing the same when out there. Do not become focused on what is close to you, be aware of it, but focus as well on what is happening some 300 meters in front of you. What is happening well ahead of you can provide indicators of what those close to you will do. Not talking about those who do the unexpected regardless of whether it is a bike or car that is affected.

In good Canadian fashion, I apologize for this lengthy post. To close and in keeping with the intent of this thread, if you lay your bike down intentionally - not by accident or some youthful folly, you need to get or find some different form of instruction and practice it for your own safety - road rash at any speed sucks.

Just a few thoughts on the issue.

Cheers
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Re: The "had to lay 'er down" myth debunked

Post by f1xrupr »

If I could, I would click "like" for your post....ps...I want to be at the top of the food chain! O:-)
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Re: The "had to lay 'er down" myth debunked

Post by OldZX11Rider »

When the brakes are applied, front or rear, weight is transferred to the front wheel.
Since I learned many years ago the front brake will not flip me over the handlebars, I reckon I've developed a nasty habit of grabbing the front brake first. :o
The time or two I've had to stop in a hurry, and used both front and rear brakes, I couldn't say if I hit one before the other or simultaneously. :roll:
I also think the weight of the 1500, which really boogered me for a while, has made me look ahead further and anticipate stopping and lane changes sooner. :lol:
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Re: The "had to lay 'er down" myth debunked

Post by WingAdmin »

Rednaxs60 wrote:The weight of the GW and other touring bikes changes this type of percentage to approximately 60/40 - front/rear. A rider would be hard pressed to get the rear of one of these bikes off the ground if ever when stopping quickly, unlike a lighter sports bike. It is because of the transfer of weight to the front wheel that I have been taught to apply the rear brake first, then the front brake. The riders who did the courses on sports bikes were also instructed to use this braking sequence and were surprised at the difference it made.
I have locked up the front wheel on my GL1500 twice. Once was on a recurrent MSF ERC course, when I was doing maximum threshold braking and hit a tar snake. The front wheel went sideways instantly, I immediately came off the front brake, and it snapped back to where it should be.

The other time was a genuine panic stop last year at a rural intersection. I had a green light, but a vehicle going across decided to ignore the red light, and me for that matter. I was hard on both brakes to the point where my front wheel locked up briefly. It stayed straight, I came off the brake momentarily and reapplied, and came to a stop. I don't want to even think about how much rubber I scraped off on that stop.

In neither instance did my rear wheel even get light, let alone come off the ground.

I slid through an intersection once on my GSX-R750 with the front wheel locked, but that was my own stupid fault, going too fast on cold tires on a cold day.

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Re: The "had to lay 'er down" myth debunked

Post by FM-USA »

Can this be called a bonafide "had to lay it down" situation?
Bike goes into a "Death Wobble" and only getting worse. There's no way to stop it so you lock up your front wheel to force the bike onto it side to keep it from tumbling over.
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Re: The "had to lay 'er down" myth debunked

Post by WingAdmin »

FM-USA wrote:Can this be called a bonafide "had to lay it down" situation?
Bike goes into a "Death Wobble" and only getting worse. There's no way to stop it so you lock up your front wheel to force the bike onto it side to keep it from tumbling over.
I don't know... I suppose it depends. Usually the best way to stop a death wobble is to alter the suspension loading - and the best way to do that is to accelerate, hard.

The wings generally have a front end instability when decelerating, in gear, through 35 mph. If you get on the throttle, the instant you unload the front end by accelerating, the wobble vanishes.

On the other hand, braking generally makes it worse, as it loads up the front end and amplifies the diversions.

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Re: The "had to lay 'er down" myth debunked

Post by FM-USA »

WingAdmin wrote:
FM-USA wrote:Can this be called a bonafide "had to lay it down" situation?
Bike goes into a "Death Wobble" and only getting worse. There's no way to stop it so you lock up your front wheel to force the bike onto it side to keep it from tumbling over.
I don't know... I suppose it depends. Usually the best way to stop a death wobble is to alter the suspension loading - and the best way to do that is to accelerate, hard.

The wings generally have a front end instability when decelerating, in gear, through 35 mph. If you get on the throttle, the instant you unload the front end by accelerating, the wobble vanishes.

On the other hand, braking generally makes it worse, as it loads up the front end and amplifies the diversions.
Accelerating hard is something that's opposite of how we are wired to survive.
Also unloading the front wheel that's wobbling via more throttle can be difficult when the throttle grip is almost being ripped out of your hand. I know, had that happen 1.5 years ago.
(Can't find this video) CHP (California motor cops) on a controlled circuit video showed how to stop a front end wobble by shifting your weight forward, but this was done on a BMW. I get wind vortex wobbles on the expressways when passing semis and I have slowed that wobble by shifting my weight forward, so far its worked every time.
Every bike is different so one correction may not work for all.
Maybe someone will invent a bolt-on Anti-Wobble device with its own PC program that will tighten/loosen friction plates on the triple tree when it senses wobbles. :roll: (Go fig'r, I'm one to advocate less electronics on our bikes)
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Re: The "had to lay 'er down" myth debunked

Post by f1xrupr »

I think resonance plays a part-I can set my 1100 standard vetter on the center stand, and take 2 fingers and hold the handle grip, and wiggle it at the same frequency (or close to it) as a wobble, and can actually artificially create the wobble....it's not only in the front end, but the whole bike! I hope you get what I'm trying to say. Now...I'm not having wobble trouble at this time-I have new donlops.
It would be interesting if some of youguys tried that, and see if you find the same results as I.....
I have considered shortening my handle bars, to try to distort the resenent frequency, but....then my mirrors might hit my windsreen (vetter).
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Re: The "had to lay 'er down" myth debunked

Post by FM-USA »

The steering head is the vertical pivot of the whole bike. The swing arm shake is something else and not going into that here.
Resonance is what can magnify a simple wobble into a death wobble. One of the experienced riders of stopping bike wobbles states clamping your legs tight onto the bike helps stop said wobble. It's probably changing or absorbing the resonance.
Bike wobble and resonance is along the same lines as a Perfect Pitch singer shattering a glass. If someone were to touch almost anywhere on that glass, the resonance is subdued or absorbed. Torquing the steering head bearings to GoldWings 29 Lbs., is the absorption of resonance (wobble). Said torquing is creating a 'bind' in the bearings thus creating a dampening (or drag) effect. A steering dampener rod does the same thing, it absorbs. Some could call it a resistance.
Your different handlebars is changing the absorption of said resonance. Sure it can happen since it stops the initial minuscule shake but if the front wheel hits a pothole... well let's say it'll take Gorilla arms to absorb it.

These are my thoughts on this subject, not scientific facts. ;)
Nor have I used equipment to thwart wobble. I'm simply using common sense.
AND OF COURSE, I could be wrong... but not totally wrong... somewhat... maybe. (Playing off 'Red Green Show' 'Possum Lodge' prayer)
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Re: The "had to lay 'er down" myth debunked

Post by WingAdmin »

Resonance of the steering system is 100% involved in the wobble - it's the CAUSE of the wobble, ultimately. If you have loose steering, swingarm pivot, axle bearings, or any of a number of other things, along with suspension loaded at a certain weight, with a certain amount of sag, with a given amount of friction on the tire, at a specific speed, you can hit the resonant frequency of the steering system. If the system is diverged at the point, it can enter either a stable or dynamically unstable (getting worse - i.e. tankslapper) state.

That's why the weight on the faired GL1100's (in place of the headlight bucket) is so important - that weight lowers the natural resonant frequency down low enough that it is not going to be encountered at otherwise dangerous speeds.

Handlebar end weights also help lower this, as does the weight of hands and arms hanging onto the grips. That's why you'll see people posting "hey, when I let go of my grips when decelerating, my bike enters a wobble." You've raised the resonant frequency and decreased the damping resisting the wobble by letting go, even with just one hand.

There are products that stop this. They're primarily found on racing-type bikes, where the steering system is designed to be unstable as possible, to allow for quick cornering. No doubt you've seen a video of a racing bike come unglued and enter a tankslapper, throwing the rider from the bike. These devices are basically a rod connected to the triple tree that slides inside a sleeve, connected to the frame. The sleeve applies friction (usually adjustable) to the rod, to dampen (hence the name steering damper) the resonant frequency and make it so low that it will not be encountered during riding.

You can get a steering damper for the GL1800. I know someone made one for the GL1500 once upon a time, but I don't think it's sold any longer.



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Re: The "had to lay 'er down" myth debunked

Post by FM-USA »

I can attest to HANDS ON stops bike wobbles.
Previous front tire had cupped and it begat low speed wobbles. But when I let go of the bars the wobble started every time. As long as I had just one finger (the lightest of finger pressure) on the bars, no wobbles.
Installed a new tire with no other changes to be sure it was the cupping, no wobbles.

GL1500, where is that Anti wobble weight? I've had my hand in the fairing all the way across, nut'n. Headlight out, nut'n. :shock:
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Re: The "had to lay 'er down" myth debunked

Post by f1xrupr »

I was just thinking-i dont think i have ever heard of any other bike prone to doing that.
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Re: The "had to lay 'er down" myth debunked

Post by WingAdmin »

FM-USA wrote:I can attest to HANDS ON stops bike wobbles.
Previous front tire had cupped and it begat low speed wobbles. But when I let go of the bars the wobble started every time. As long as I had just one finger (the lightest of finger pressure) on the bars, no wobbles.
Installed a new tire with no other changes to be sure it was the cupping, no wobbles.

GL1500, where is that Anti wobble weight? I've had my hand in the fairing all the way across, nut'n. Headlight out, nut'n. :shock:
The GL1500 doesn't have one. It was put in place on the GL1100 when they started putting fairings on them, because the weight and inertial mass of the headlight bucket was removed. The bike was originally designed with no fairing, and with a headlight hanging off the forks. So in place of it they put a heavy metal weight.

Once it was redesigned to always have a fairing (no bare GL1500's without a fairing), the weight was no longer required.

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Re: The "had to lay 'er down" myth debunked

Post by f1xrupr »

Wingadmin, that's interesting. When I got my standard (first goldwing), it came with everything to set it up as a standard-so, I did. Then, I thought I might want a windscreen. It came with full vetter farrings and bags. It was only when I installed them, that I noticed the decell wobble (that's with no hands-don't be to hard on me).
BTW...that term you used..."tankslaper",...that's unique-I wonder if that could be used somehow in the thread "what do you call a group of goldwings...or, what do they call us"?
My exercise bike is a goldwing.

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Re: The "had to lay 'er down" myth debunked

Post by WingAdmin »

f1xrupr wrote:Wingadmin, that's interesting. When I got my standard (first goldwing), it came with everything to set it up as a standard-so, I did. Then, I thought I might want a windscreen. It came with full vetter farrings and bags. It was only when I installed them, that I noticed the decell wobble (that's with no hands-don't be to hard on me).
BTW...that term you used..."tankslaper",...that's unique-I wonder if that could be used somehow in the thread "what do you call a group of goldwings...or, what do they call us"?
Tankslapper:



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FM-USA
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Re: The "had to lay 'er down" myth debunked

Post by FM-USA »

WingAdmin: THANKS for the WEIGHT info, never knew.
Curious: Since we have low speed wobbles, will adding some weight up front help?

Mother-of-all-tank-slappers... the dude didn't CLAMP his legs on the tank, as many experienced riders suggest.
I'm hounded for posting helpful solutions? ARGO!!! (2012 film)
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f1xrupr
Posts: 450
Joined: Mon Jan 13, 2014 6:13 am
Location: Triplet Va
Motorcycle: 1980 gl 1100 Std. Vetter

Re: The "had to lay 'er down" myth debunked

Post by f1xrupr »

Nor did he accelerate. It would be my guess that something in the suspension turned loose (broke), or a tire broke a cord!!!
Interesting enough, if you watch the slow-mo clip, he had no choice but to..."lay er down"!....hey-we're back on "track".
My exercise bike is a goldwing.

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2007 Aspen Sentry Trailer

Re: The "had to lay 'er down" myth debunked

Post by WingAdmin »

What normally causes them during racing like that is coming very fast over a rise, and at the same time in or entering a curve. The suspension completely unloads, in some cases the front wheel comes completely off the ground. When the bike falls back to the ground, if the front wheel is not perfectly aligned with the direction of travel, it jerks the bike sideways - which violently casters the wheel the other direction, which then jerks the bike sideways the other direction, and so on, getting worse and worse.

That's why you see it happen often when idiots doing wheelies come back down, with their front wheel turned:



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