Tuesday, October 14, 2008


There's no bailout when you overdraw your traction account

An exert from a post by newish rider Chris at TWT about what can happen when you ask too much from your bike on a twistie road:
"So about noon we’re tooling down Highway 7, coming south from Ola, Arkansas, and I’m feeling pretty good about my technique – good enough to push it a little too far in one of the hairpins. Rather than pushing the bike on through the curve, I hit the brakes and discovered that that stuff about the handlebars wobbling out of control was really true. Lost control altogether and flew off into a ditch."
Unfortunately, I believe Chris may've learned the hard way what Keith Code refers to as the "One Dollar Rule". That is to say, think of the total amount of traction available from your bike as being one dollar. Turning draws a certain percentage of the dollar, and braking draws a certain percentage as well. If you're using 80 cents-worth of traction to turn, then simultaneously withdraw another 40 cents worth of traction for braking, you are at $1.20 and have likely just crashed.

Always try to feel what the front end of a bike is doing through smooth control inputs. The max amount of usable traction can't be found by chopping the throttle violently to zero while jamming the brakes, especially in a tight turn. That usually sets up an oscillation or tucking slide, as Chris found out.

That said, the important thing is that he's gonna be fine. He can heal up, fix the bike, and get back out there with the lesson learned. We've all crashed at one time or another. The important thing is to walk away from the fiasco with hopefully minor-to-no injuries and the knowledge of what you did wrong.

Glad you're okay, Chris!

<< Home