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Thread: Don't Drop the Bike

  1. #31
    I'm a huge believer in the Peltzman Effect, or the idea that when one safety feature is implimented, humans naturally accept more risk and therefore there is no increased level of safety. People drive faster and more recklessly when they have airbags and seatbelts. If you don't believe me, you probably will agree that you would be significantly less likely to tailgate if there was a spear jutting towards you from your steering wheel.

    Point being, I dropped every bike I had, probably 8 drops in three years. All the bikes had crash bars or frame sliders. A year ago, I took the frame sliders and crash bars off, giving myself the full knowledge I'd do significant damage to my bikes from a careless drop. No drops since.

    I can't prove that the absence of crash bars caused this, as I'm a young rider so increased skill may have something to do with it. I will say that the care I use now is much greater than the care I used when a dropped bike didn't have consequences.

  2. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by bogthebasher View Post
    Oh come on! Now I gotta hear the story!
    Don't know his story, but you always read about this one on advrider. That's what I call planning ahead!

  3. #33
    Rpbump USN RET CPO Rpbump's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Jacksonville, FL


    At one time or another I have dropped every bike that I've owned. In the dirt, on the road, practicing tight turns, on purpose, etc. Now that I have purchased a sidecar rig dropping the bike should become a memory of times past.
    Ride Safe

    PS: I have never dropped a borrowed bike (Thank God).

  4. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Rpbump View Post
    PS: I have never dropped a borrowed bike (Thank God).
    oh man... i have. pretty hard and really embarrassing. !

    i was not being disrespectful of the other guy's bike, either. just wham.... down.


  5. #35
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    If it's not too late, here are couple thoughts related to front brake mistakes:

    Rolling stops with right turn: I used to really hate putting feet down, and would creep toward the stop sign, looking for traffic. More than once I was surprised after starting to initiate a right turn and grabbed too much front brake. Now, if I'm not absolutely certain about visibility before I downshift to 1st, I keep my eyes forward and stop completely before looking for traffic--besides, that's the legal way turn at a stop sign.

    In gravel or very tense slow maneuvering situations, I use two fingers on top of the brake lever. Between lack of leverage and lack of friction, it's harder to "grab too much" brake.

    Rotating the hips and shoulders, along with head and eyes, in tight U-turns helps turn head and eyes farther and hold them there longer.

    Dropping the elbows creates a more relaxed upper body and helps prevent the arms from fighting each other's inputs. Joe Morgan, Cincinnati Reds second basemen (back in the day) was famous for flapping his inside elbow when at bat. The reason was it reminded him to get it into the ideal position before the pitch. I check my inside elbow, then relax and drop it before pushing on the opposite bar at low speeds.
    Rick Swauger

    84 R65
    98 1100RT
    02 Kymco Cobra Racer

  6. #36
    Atomic City Boxer 154048's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Santa Fe, NM
    Excellent hints!! I had to laugh because I did the exact thing on my RS, where I modified the handlebar position and the the brake lever hit the fairing as I pulled out of a parking spot....

    With no warning what so ever, I found myself laying on the pavement with the Boxer propped up on its' left jug...I didn't even have time to brace myself.

    I know the tourists walking by probably thought I had a few pints in me, to fall over at one MPH!
    Steve in Santa Fe
    1980 R100RT
    96' Triumph Trophy

  7. #37
    Registered User Bullett's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Southern Oregon coast.

    I've dropped my RT twice

    I blame the first time I dropped my RT on lack of coffee, but it was really due to lack of attention and too much front brake with (I surmise) the wheel slightly turned when I tried to follow my husband, who suddenly pulled into a parking space along the road. My bike fell over so quick I was left standing over it swearing like a sailor. It took me a really long time before I would ride before coffee again.

    The second time I dropped my RT was in a parking lot. I thought I had shifted down into first, but was actually in neutral. I gave the bike some throttle and it just fell over. I landed about 6 feet away on my back. I had no idea what had occurred until we got the bike upright and I saw it was in neutral.

    The most embarrassing drop occurred with my R26, a much lighter bike. I was 15 years old and just got my license. I went to a local motorcycle shop and purchased a new pair of riding gloves. There were 4 or 5 guys in the store watching me go back out to my bike. When I took my first kick on the starter ( which involved putting all my weight on the kick starter while facing the bike from the side) it didn't start and I dropped the bike and cracked my mirror. I was mortified. The guys all came running out of the shop and picked up my bike for me. Did I mention how much I like electric starters?
    '07 R1200RT (my favorite!); '12 Yamaha Super Tenere (El Gordo); '07 Suzuki DR650SE (!);
    '59 R 26 (my first)

  8. #38
    I admit it. I'm an old guy, newbie biker. I got my ticket and rode a Suzuki Burgman 650 for a year and then got a R12GSA. Stupidly, I have dropped the GSA a couple of times. The first, I won't even count, as it left not even the slightest mark on the bike at all. Rode it home from the dealership. Pulled into my parking lot at work, where I've parked the Burgman about a million times on the upsloping motorcycle area. Stood there for a minute, trying to figure out how to turn off the engine the dealer-recommended method of using the key instead of the kill switch, without the benefit of either a rear brake on the left hand, or a parking brake as the Burgman had and dealing with the clutch as the Burgman did not have. I puzzled with this momentarily, lifted my right foot back to apply rear brake, turned it off at the key. Got started to get off the bike, not having put the kickstand down. Duhh. I set her down as gentle as a lamb on the smooth asphalt. Didn't leave a mark at all. Not even a little one. Decided from then on, the kill switch would be just fine for shutdowns on any kind of slope.

    Then there was the very close call, that I don't feel too bad about. Came up to the top of a steep hill, to make a left turn, had the green arrow. Rolled into the turn and spotted a pickup truck cresting the hill at a rate that immediately in my mind said, "he ain't gonna stop". I was right, grabbed the front brake while trying to straighten out. Got quickly down to 0mph and my pant cuff cut the toothy metal footpeg of the Adventure. I went down on the left side. Left a few marks on the adventure case and crash bar. I was fully geared, so not even a scratch on me. Righted the bike with a little help and rode on. The pickup driver probably never even saw the red light, much less saw me go down. Had I not stopped quickly, I would have been hit. Decided I needed to deal with my gear a bit and to install rubber footpads on the adventure's pegs. (the ones from the 650-Xcountry fit it perfectly).

    The last one, entirely my stupid fault. Intersection at the bottom of a steep hill. Following a buddy in traffic. Light changes, I stopped too quick and toppled over at 0mph. Sigh. Another little scratch in the crash bar, no harm done.

    Things I've learned: It takes time to get used to a new, big motorcycle. There were parts of my riding experience from a year on the Burgman that were undeveloped, such as dealing with the clutch, parking in slopes (a breeze on the burgie) and that even though the Burgman 650 features powerful ABS triple disc brakes, the powerful ABS triple disc brakes on the R12GSA are way more powerful and completely unforgiving of technique. The Burgman for whatever reason, despite being heavier, is a lot more forgiving of braking technique. You can squeeze it hard for dear life and it just won't dump you. The GSA, well, it will happily dump you on your butt for being a little sloppy.

    The Burgie is also easier to pick up, even though it is heavier. The GSA, that thing is hard to lift, even though it is 60 lbs lighter.

    Confessions of a real life semi-newbie.

  9. #39
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Bainbridge Island, WA
    The first time I dropped my bike was coming up to a stop where the ground was uneven and when I put my right foot down, nothing but air....

    The next time was a double drop... I broke my own rule after riding several miles to pull into a nice flat spot to park and easily get off. Instead I spotted a nice restaurant with a parking spot in front which sloped down toward the curb. I was fully loaded down. As I was backing down into the slot down went the bike on its right side... I was so pissed I picked it back up without the kick stand out and down she went onto the other side... This time a couple guys came to my rescue and helped me right it...

    At this point I had to decide if I wanted to go into the coffee shop after such an embarrassing display or just ride on off... I was hungry so in I went.. A lady sitting at the counter who watched this whole episode unfold said to me, don't you hate it when that happens...

    Living here in the Northwest a lot of us commute by ferries. I like to mention something here about putting the bike on the center stands.. If the boat encounters any heavy wave action there is the possibility the bike will get pitched forward off of the stand.. It's a good ideal to put it on the side stand and in gear.. and if you are crossing the straights and it's really nasty out just hang with your bike and go rinse the salt water off after getting off the boat...
    Steve Clark
    94 K75s 94K75 standard

  10. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by roofertoo View Post
    The first time I dropped my bike was coming up to a stop where the ground was uneven and when I put my right foot down, nothing but air....
    Level ground or not, that happens to me all the time with my HP2e.....


    Go soothingly through the grease mud, as there lurks the skid demon.
    __________________________________________________ ________________________________
    '67 Trail 90 || '86 R80 G/SPD+ || '97 F650ST || '00 1150 GS || '06 HP2e || '07 Xchallenge || '14 Grom

  11. #41
    Registered User
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    May 2009
    Sandy Springs, GA

    You wanter pictures of drops? You got'em.

    This is my 2000 R1150GS taking a nap after a full lunch of 87 octane (only gas available) at Twin Butte, Alberta, Canada, in Jluy 2010. This was the second day of a 34-day trip from Missoula, Montana, to Deadhorse, Alaska. I tried pushing Big Bertha away from the pumps, the side stand drug, and when she leaned toward me, she just kept leaning! This was the last time I pushed her. Ride that five feet and stay balanced!

    My son helped me get the bike back up after taking the picture and laughing hard. He got his someuppance at our camp site at Liard Hot Springs in northern British Columbia a few days later.

  12. #42
    All in all I've had better luck with bikes than cars, I think. At just a few days past my 14th birthday I received my brand new drivers license. It went like this. Drive to the Courthouse; then drive around with the State Trooper. Walk inside and get my new license. Walk back to the car. Get in. And get hit by an oncoming car as I pulled out of the parking space. In my defense, it was a one-way street and I was parked on the left side instead of the right side so couldn't see very well, but still. I drove almost exactly 6 feet with my brand new license before my first accident.

    Essentially no damage to my car. Contact was just with the bumper. But the car that hit it and slid on by had a crease starting at the front fender and proceeding back across both doors and the rear quarter panel. Looking at the crease you could actually see how the front of the car dipped when she slammed on the brakes after she hit me. My first accident reconstruction case.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell

  13. #43
    From MARS
    Quote Originally Posted by PGlaves View Post
    All in all I've had better luck with bikes than cars, I think. At just a few days past my 14th birthday I received my brand new drivers license. It went like this. Drive to the Courthouse; then drive around with the State Trooper. Walk inside and get my new license. Walk back to the car. Get in. And get hit by an oncoming car as I pulled out of the parking space. In my defense, it was a one-way street and I was parked on the left side instead of the right side so couldn't see very well, but still. I drove almost exactly 6 feet with my brand new license before my first accident....................
    We have a winner!

  14. #44
    Kbiker BCKRider's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    B.C. Canada

    OP finally back!

    Below is the revised article for the ON. (I'm emailing it to Roger Miles tomorrow.) I reviewed every response to the original article posted on this forum as well as the PM's before doing the re-write. Then I let days elapse before re-reading, just to be sure I didn't want to change anything. I trust you will see your "hand writing" in some of the changes if you made a contribution to the discussion.

    I tried to make this article as concise as possible while still making it readable - and suspect it is too long for a single "Motosafe" article. If any of you reading this have Roger's ear, perhaps you could make suggestions to him.

    He will probably also ask for some appropriate photos - which I can also not provide. Again your help is requested.

    I like to think I am the person who "got the ball rolling" on a mostly ignored topic that effects almost all riders. But if this article is ever published, it will be a co-operative effort. I think the information, not the credit, is what is important.

    My thanks to all of you who dared to admit your stupid mistakes, and consequently made this article as comprehensive as it is.

    BTW, while I am done revising the article, comments on it and additional "unfortunate experiences" can certainly be posted on this forum.


    Don‘«÷t Drop the Bike

    Let‘«÷s define dropping the bike as ‘«£a motorcycle accident at 0 ‘«Ű 2 mph.‘«ō These accidents inevitably cause elevated blood pressure, fears about how to raise the fallen beast, at least some damage to the bike if not the operator, and acute embarrassment. The otherwise excellent books and articles about riding safely mostly ignore the causes of these accidents and the preventive measures one should take to avoid them. My qualifications for writing this article are simple: in twelve years and about 60K miles of riding I‘«÷ve made several of these mistakes and also admitted them in campfire conversations. Virtually every rider I talked to told me about a time or two that he also dropped a bike. Some of the ideas come from these conversations. Even more come from the Just Ridin‘«÷ MOA forum where I posted the first draft. The candid admissions of these mostly very experienced riders helped fill out this article.

    There is a myth that these are problems which only plague beginners. I wish! Sure, beginners make these errors more often, but I believe it is a life-long problem. Most of us don‘«÷t repeat too many of our previous errors, but learning through print how to avoid any type of accident is definitely better than learning through experience.

    Side Stands: While taking the MSF beginner course I once dismounted the bike without putting the side stand down at all. I thought I had put it down! Moral: always be sure the side stand is down and will take the weight of the bike before dismounting. On flat concrete you have no worries after you are sure the side stand is really fully extended. On every other surface, beware. Make sure the ground is not too high or too low or too soft before you commit yourself. Before you leave the bike, ask yourself if the side stand could sink into the asphalt - quite possible on a hot day - or if the weight of the bike could push the stand deeper into sand, gravel, or grass. Carry some sort of pad to place under the side stand whenever there is a question mark. Make it standard practice to always use the side stand before dismounting. When your right foot encounters that forgotten duffle bag as you dismount, you will be glad that the side stand is taking the weight of the bike.

    I guess it is obvious that parking a bike with the front wheel pointing downhill is inviting disaster. Occasionally it is unavoidable. Shift to first gear, use the rear brake to hold the bike in place as you shut off the engine, let out the clutch and release the brake to engage the engine. Then put down the side stand and dismount.

    Center Stands: There is a knack to putting a bike on a center stand, but it is easily acquired (with most bikes) if your bike doesn‘«÷t have a lowered rear suspension and the ground is hard and flat. Remember those words, ‘«£hard‘«ō and ‘«£flat.‘«ō If that bike tilts ever so slightly to the right because the ground under the two center stand contact points really wasn‘«÷t flat or the right leg contacted softer ground, gravity will yank that bike out of your hands. I think it was Voni Glaves who labelled the center stand as ‘«£the mechanic‘«÷s stand.‘«ō Great for checking oil level, removing the rear tire, etc. Not so great for most parking situations.

    Front Brake Mistakes: I guess almost everyone realizes by now that it is the front brake that provides most of the stopping power in most situations. The old fear of flipping the bike is almost groundless. The fear of locking the front wheel and falling down is not groundless! One problem with the front brake occurs on sand or gravel roads, or worse still, sand or gravel on hardtop. The instant that front wheel locks you will suddenly find your bike horizontal. I‘«÷ve twice dropped a bike making a very low speed turn when there was gravel on pavement. Both times I saw the gravel, did my serious slowing before reaching it, but I think failed to get completely off the front brake before the wheel touched the gravel. Riding on sand or gravel roads, favor the rear brake and use the front brake very judiciously if at all. On wet pavement (maybe all pavements) ease off the front brake lever when you are almost stopped and use the back brake for the final stop. Yes, I‘«÷m afraid this is the voice of experience. The road was wet, my wife was the passenger, and all of a sudden there were two very unhappy (but unhurt) people and another scratch or two on the bike. And this was just a simple stop sign, not a panic situation at all.

    David Hough preaches that in an emergency your reaction will be your usual riding practice. I think this idea can be extended: in an unusual situation (for many of us, riding in the rain qualifies) you will probably apply your dry road habits, though you certainly won‘«÷t brake as hard unless you have and trust anti-lock brakes. If using only the back brake for the last bit of a stop in the wet is a good idea, I think doing the same thing on dry roads is also a good idea, even though easing up on the front brake certainly works just fine on dry roads. Build good all-weather habits

    Yet another front brake error that often ends badly is a low speed application with the bars turned. While this can occur at a stop in a turn, more frequently it happens at a stop sign or light. You make that full legal stop, turn the bars, start moving, and see a vehicle on a collision course. A light touch on the front brake and you are down. I believe the better idea is to get moving with the bars straight, just a few feet, and then make the turn. If a second straight ahead stop is required, there shouldn‘«÷t be a problem with either brake.

    Modifications: I had just installed a new windscreen and took the bike for a short test ride. When I pulled into a gravelled church parking lot and made a slow left hand turn, the bike again was suddenly on its side. The proximity of the church did nothing to improve my language. It took me awhile to figure out the cause of that accident. With the bar turned fully to the left, the windscreen touched the front brake lever. Rotating the clutch and brake levers a bit provided the necessary clearance. This is definitely something to check before you ride off with your new screen.

    Flat feet: I think it is a very good idea to be able to put both feet flat on the ground while sitting on your bike. It can be tough for people with shorter legs on some bikes. Tippy toes are ok on flat concrete. Every other stopping situation puts you at much greater risk of dropping the bike. There are some very experienced and very skilled riders with shorter inseams who disagree. This advice is for us lesser mortals. I recently spent three weeks riding a rented KTM 990 Adventure in New Zealand. That bike is just slightly taller than my K100RS and on a perfectly level road I could flatfoot it. Twice, I nearly dropped it backing into a parking space on sloping pavement. Twice, I mounted the bike and couldn‘«÷t right it from the side stand because the pavement sloped just a little to the left. Leg leverage, not bike weight, was the deciding difference between the two bikes. If you ever come to a stop and put your left foot down on something slippery, or have something slippery on that boot, a small difference in lean angle could well be the deciding factor in whether or not you go down.

    Check it out: A few years ago I was examining a friend‘«÷s quite new F650. Though this man has ridden many more years and miles than I, his right saddlebag bore lasting testimony to a drop. ‘«£We pulled into this gravel parking lot. I put my right foot down and it just kept sinking. Couldn‘«÷t hold the damn bike up.‘«ō I had a similar experience. After a weeklong trip with not a single scary experience, I confronted my formerly paved road just two miles from home. The road was now rolled gravel. I could have made a left turn, stayed on pavement, and added maybe 15 minutes to my journey. But, hey, the bike is already dirty, so what‘«÷s a little more dirt. Before I had gone ten feet I knew I had made a serious error. As the tires sunk into this wet gravel, I knew my only hope was to stay on the throttle. Somehow I made it through to pavement with a totally sweat fogged face shield.

    Maybe you should park the bike and check out suspect parking lots (or roads) on foot before committing yourself. That, of course, is for wimps. But being a wimp can save you both money and pain. I‘«÷m now old enough to take the kidding.

    Ramps: If parking your bike involves riding up a ramp, make it a very wide ramp. Yet another time I dropped the bike, the ramp was pretty narrow because the rise into the open shed was only a couple inches. I managed to kill the engine and that extra two inches before my foot touched ground was more than enough to put the bike on its side. And also into my wife‘«÷s scooter. Our bikes are now housed in another building that requires a ramp. That ramp is 4.5 feet wide.

    I have transported motorcycles a few times in the back of my pick-up and remember getting the bikes in a rather scary experience with narrow plank ramps. The better ideas deserve another article.

    Pushing and pulling: A lot of bikes topple while being pushed or pulled. Hasn‘«÷t happened to me yet, but boy am I ever careful. These accidents frequently involve less than ideal footing such as gravel or wet grass, a slight grade (slight, because nobody expects to push or pull a road bike up anything greater) or else you bump into something. At home, figure out a safe routine for moving your bike in and out of where you store it. At a campsite you might want to park the bike and then figure out how you can park it under power so you can also ride out under power with no manhandling. Brainpower beats muscles in this department. If you err and there are people around, ask for help. I assure you they would rather help push and pull while you steer than help you pick up the machine. These efforts always involve both hands on the grips with a couple fingers over the front brake lever. I‘«÷ve heard that some more modern BMW‘«÷s have almost no front braking with the engine off. If that is the case on your bike, be sure to find it out before you have it pointed downhill with the engine off.

    Snags: I heard about a low speed catastrophe in Spokane at the 2004 rally. The guy‘«÷s pant cuff caught on the footpeg as he tried to plant his left foot. The foot peg severely injured his leg as the bike toppled over. Could this happen to you? Do you ever ride with loose cuffs? Lately I‘«÷ve started riding with my pants over my boots. Must make sure that the velcroed pants don‘«÷t present this very problem as they deflect the rain outside my boots. Before I bought my first BMW, a friend let me ride his K75RT. A fine bike and I almost dropped it, because there was fairing exactly where I was used to putting down my foot on my 1980 Honda CB750. Before you ride a different bike, be sure you can get your feet down.

    It‘«÷s going over! The advice of many was ‘«£get out of the way‘«ō when you realize the bike has passed the point where you can save it. Yes, you screwed up, and there is going to be cosmetic damage (maybe expensive) to your bike. Minimising that damage at the possible cost of a broken leg or wrenched back probably isn‘«÷t worth it. A tough, split-second decision which I hope you can avoid by not encountering the problem because you anticipated it.

    Getting it back up. First, turn off the kill switch and then the key. If fuel is spilling out, do something about that if you can. Then step back and take several deep breaths. If your dropped bike poses a hazard to other vehicles, your first priority is to warn them. Soon you will have help (I hope) with traffic control and help to raise your bike. When your bike is upright and safe from other vehicles, take some time to examine it. Scratched Tupperware is one thing: a missing shift lever, brake pedal, etc. something else. Don‘«÷t ride off until you are satisfied that both the bike and you are fully operational.

    If the drop occurs in a much more private setting, don‘«÷t rush to get the bike upright. Swallow your pride and get help if at all possible. You really NEED to look at Carol Youorski, AKA ‘«£Skert‘«ō site if you need to ever raise a heavy bike yourself. The only criticism I‘«÷ve read of the technique is that it is much more difficult if you don‘«÷t have cylinder heads (R-bikes) and hard luggage keeping the bike from lying really flat. Even fairly strong men may then have a problem.

    Summing up: It seems that having a serious accident has a certain cachet. Dropping your bike because you backed it into your car, etc. just seems (and is) stupid. But most of us have done a few of these really dumb things and only realized after the fact that the accident could have been avoided with a little thought. One of my thoughtful forum respondents summarized it all: ‘«£the common denominator in all these drops is a momentary lapse in attention.‘«ō I agree; you do have to pay attention. Always. The whole point of this article is things you may not have realized required your attention.

    Anyway, I hope this article saves some scratches on both you and your pride and joy. If you would like to add your experiences, or criticisms of this article, please do so on the MOA website in the Just Ridin‘«÷ forum. I have no illusions that this is the last word on the topic.

    Doug Sonju
    1992 K100RS

  15. #45
    Nice article. You covered the topic well and made it personal and interesting. It is both interesting and entertaining.

    My only suggestion is that you email it to Roger Wiles instead of Roger Miles.

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