…and sometimes you crash

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I didn’t even take photos before sending the GSX-R off to the frame shop to have the right side motor mount re-made. The frame slider caught on something and snapped everything below the bolt clean off. Most people and all insurance adjusters would call that a total loss. Whatever. There’s an old man in Pasadena that knows how to work magic with a heli-arc.

For a little more than $300, I should have a fully functional, albeit ugly, GSX-R by next weekend. I really liked the classic Suzuki blue and white racing colors, but I hate the way they splinter into a million pieces, scratch easily, take two different tools and a million fasteners to come off and I really don’t want to pay $500+ for another set. I think it’s going to get some cheap race fairings, some black paint, and a hole for the factory headlight and passenger seat.

I learned that passenger pegs are actually stronger than rearsets and act as sliders in the event of a crash. I’d always wondered about how that would work, and now I know. My gear also performed admirably. The Alpinestars Kinetic jacket I’ve been wearing for the last year is amazingly unharmed. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that I’d waxed it. My Apex gloves are toast. They were already torn up from 20,000 or so miles of hard commuting and rain, but they took the hit and saved my hands. A lot of people questioned whether or not the Dethkillers jeans would actually be of any benefit in a crash. I wasn’t wearing them when I hit the ground at 50mph Friday night, but I’m pretty sure that had I been, the 1/4 by 3/8 inch patch of skin on my knee would still be there (a pseudo-injury; I can’t really complain about considering I slid 50 feet or more). I also wouldn’t have another hole in my favorite polar fleece pants. My favorite bottle opener might still open bottles too.

The thing about motorcycles is that sometimes you crash. It’s pretty much an inevitability. There will be times when, even though you’re cautious and you decide to take that corner at 50 instead of 60 (like you usually do), your front tire may run through some oily kitty litter left over from some previous accident. No amount of good body position and riding skill will get your front end grip back. When you hit the ground, it helps to accept that you are, in fact, crashing, and that there’s no saving it. Let go of the bike and do what you can to avoid smacking your head or breaking bones. All you can do with situations like this is wear gear that you have confidence in, buy good insurance if you can afford it and do your best to protect your bike with sliders.

After the sliding was over, I stood up and walked slowly to collect my bike, inspect the damage, and see if I could figure out just what caused my front end to lose grip so suddenly. This is when I noticed the aforementioned oily kitty litter all over my fairings and front tire. Things didn’t look that serious, plastics, rearset, radiator. I was immediately reminded of all those stories about frame sliders breaking off motor mounts when my eyes moved to the ground up slider sticking out at a funny angle. I found the little chunk of aluminum sitting in the street 40 feet away. I cursed the CHP officer that’d written me a bs 110 mph ticket on my old ninja 250. That two pointer is still on my record, and keeping full coverage insurance far out of range. This is what went through my head as I picked the bike up and wheeled it into a parking lot.

Once home, I spent a few hours worrying endlessly about getting my bike fixed, the damage to my helmet and how much it sucked to crash. But by 2 o’clock the next day, the logistics of repair had already been sorted, and I was done wallowing in post-crash what-ifs. Lesson learned — it doesn’t help to be angry, frustrated or sad. Do what you can, when you can, to fix your bike, heal up and keep riding.

  • John

    Good read.
    There’s lots of kitty litter still on the roads in Maine. They say they “sand” the roads.
    It’s more like pea gravel.

  • Gregory

    Yeah… crashing sucks. I love the looks you get. The car behind you stops. Driver stares googly-eyed at you through the windshield, not believing what they just saw. Hopefully, subsequent cars don’t crash. Everyone comes over to offer condolences. It’s actually quite amazing what you _can_ survive, with good gear. I’ve done a few “whoopsie daisy” tumbles. Everything akimbo. But good armour _really_ helps. Bikes need a few scratches for character, anyway. Walk into work Monday morning you feel like a 1%er.

    Portland, OR
    2008 KLR 650 w. milkcrate

    • Sean Smith

      Crashes like friday night’s make me wonder how wrong the statistics are. I’ve never been hurt in a crash, and never wanted the points on my record that come from an at fault accident, so they’ve never been recorded. I wonder how many other well protected riders are out there crashing, walking/riding away, and never telling the police and other people who compile the statistics.

      I’m actually thinking about painting the 1%er diamond on either side of the bike once it’s back together. I think it’d be nice on an all black GSXR. I’m pretty sure the looks from pirates will be worth it.

      • http://www.urbanrider.co.uk UrbanRider

        Good point. I’ve crashed twice and didn’t report either.

  • Dale

    Glad you made it out in one piece. What kind of Levi’s are those?

    • Sean Smith

      511 skinny. They fit pretty well, and they look alright once you get past the weird zippered pockets on the back.

      • http://www.thisblueheaven.com Mark D

        Good to know jeans don’t immediately rip open, and all the skin on your legs peal away, when you crash. Thought about going for a streetfighter look on the GSXR?

        • Sean Smith

          Only for the short term, no more than a few weeks, and only until I can get some cheap fairings. I like the wind protection and high top speed that comes from fairings and a tall windscreen.

          In my experience, jeans don’t usually do this well. Especially not at the speed I was going. I don’t really know why they stayed together so well, but I’m happy they did.

          • Toby

            I crashed my CBR250 at about 40mph wearing a pair of Levis 514 selvedge jeans, and they looked almost exactly like yours here. I expected to look down and see shredded jeans and torn flesh, but I was pleasantly surprised.

            • Ben

              I crashed my BMW F800s at a mere 30 mph and the knee of my Levi’s ripped right open and the road stole a nice chunk of skin from right below my knee. Guess it could just be the impact/direction you hit the pavement.

              • aristurtle

                Yeah, the angle is everything; my crash was at 30-40-ish and it ripped open the knee of a pair of fucking Cordura overpants.

                • Restless Lip Syndrome

                  Lowsided a 600rr at 50ish and tore a belt loop on my jeans. No other damage to them even though I slid a good bit. Who knew?

          • http://www.postpixel.com.au mugget

            At a guess I’d say that the oily kitty litter stuff kinda helped you slide easier. I mean if there was that much of it that it was all over your front tyre and fairings…?

        • Bronson

          It depends on the road surface you ride on. Most of the backroads we ride on have a course surface that will shred a pair of jeans in a blink of an eye. I’d rather sweat than bleed, so full leathers for me, always.

          • HammSammich

            That’s a good point. There are some amazing rural roads out here in E. Washington State, that I won’t ride on without good leg protection…When you’re going 70+MPH they appear to be nice smooth ashphalt, but if you were to stop and look at the surface, it’s actually chipseal made of a mixture of jagged stones and tar…I suspect a crash would be like sliding across a cheese grater at speed.

  • aristurtle

    Good to hear you’re okay.

    You might be able to make use of some of the existing fairings. When I crashed my Ninja 250, I was able to glue the fairing back together with some ABS cement (found in the plumbing section of Lowe’s). The fairing bracket ended up a little bent, but it’s all pretty much fine.

    But then, cheap race fairings aren’t available for my bike for my definition of “cheap”, so…

    • Sean Smith

      Those fairing are trashed man. They’ve already got a high-side on the right side, and a low-side on the left. I’ll probably ride it naked until I can get the new fairings painted and ready. I’ll either buy a $300 Optimal racing set or buy an old team corona Hotbodies set that was never used and paint over the McDonalds colors.

      Check around on ebay, there aren’t a lot of people racing EX250s, but there are a few. At some point they’ll have used stuff to sell.

  • Ray

    Try to bend back the opener. If it breaks, get it heliarc’ed too.

    • Gregory


  • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate BeastIncarnate

    First, I’m glad you’re okay, Sean.

    Second, I hear the call for sliders, but wonder if the damage wouldn’t have been less without them. I’m about to order some sort of protection for my bike and I keep going between cheap (traditional sliders), protective (crash bars), and stylish (Rizoma sliders). I’ve known several folks who dick up their frame with the traditional single bolt sliders. It worries me. But damn the crashbars aren’t pretty. Rizoma’s setup is great looking, but considerably more expensive. Decisions, decisions.

    Third, and totally unrelated, is that I’m lucky to have an awesome gear shop down here called Moto Liberty. Today was their annual crawfish boil – totally free as a customer appreciation gig. I’ve gone the last several years and damn if they don’t make my day every time. I wonder if they’d join the lagniappe program?

    • Sean Smith

      Without sliders it would’ve been worse. The clutch cover would be toast, the whole right side of the frame would be pretty nasty, and the motor cases could even have been destroyed. If I’d had beefy fiberglass/kevlar/carbon fiber race fairings instead of frame sliders, I probably would have been able to ride away with a lot less damage.

      • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate BeastIncarnate

        Sean – My real decision on protection is between Rizoma sliders and a small crash cage. The cage isn’t pretty, but there’s no doubt on protection. Ah, decisions. Any opinion?

        Rizoma: http://rizoma.it/en/accessories-bike/bike:6726/kawasaki-z-1000-2010-11.html

        You can see the slider mounted across the engine – it mounts to two bolts on each side – and a separate additional slider for the lower right side.

        Cage: http://shop.sw-motech.com/cosmoshop/pix/a/g/sbl_08_647_10000__b1301330087-7654.jpg

        • Sean Smith

          When I think crash cage, I think of a guy wearing camo pants, an icon vest, a cheap full face helmet, and maybe a pair of DC’s. He likes to do stand-up wheelies, is totally sic wit it, and crashes often.

          My opinion on crash cages comes 90% from this, and 10% from knowing that if the bike is ridden any faster than a cruising pace, the cage drags, levers a wheel off the ground, and whoever is riding finds themselves in a situation like I was in on friday night.

          Coming from that point of view, I have to say Rizoma. If you crash, you’re bike will probably have broken stuff anyway.

        • jonoabq

          I have a touratech motor cage with a bit or rash on both sides…saved my (plastic) tank more than twice. I’d go the cage route, but then my bike is already butt ugly.

    • Terry

      Shit – I missed the crawfish boil again? I hate myself so much right now…

      • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate BeastIncarnate

        Sorry, Terry! I missed it one year and kicked myself. Never again, I swore. Get on their email list!

    • Steve

      +1 Moto Liberty. Best in Texas. (not that this is the strongest of endorsements, but they are a really nice shop full of nice people and lots of gear from the best manufacturers)

    • andy727

      Another + for Moto Liberty. The number of bikes and people was quite a sight.

  • DoctorNine

    Great to hear you’re alright. I really hate the way cagers act worse than anything, though. Pet peeve. Even if it’s a totally impossible to prevent wreck, they always throw out the old, “I don’t know why any lunatic would ride a motorcycle anyway. They ought to call ‘em donorcycles..” Even while you are lying there bleeding, waiting for the ambulance to show. ER staff can be just as harsh.

    You know, certain activities have certain risks. But you’d be hard pressed (except for STD’s prolly) to find any other group that was so maligned when needing assistance. It’s weird, and it kinda sucks.

  • David

    500+ miles logged during the week at speed and through canyons and then this? Bummer!
    1. Sorry to hear about it and glad you’re OK!
    2. Ditto Ray’s comment on the opener…
    3. What about a vinyl-paper covering for the new fairing (a la Brendel)? :>)

  • JTourismo

    Like many have said, glad you are safe. That was an excellent write up. It’s nice to read a crash story where the rider has an excellent mind set at the end of it. It happened, and the focus is on doing the necessary repairs and getting back on the road.

    It is also nice to know that jeans don’t evaporate when they touch pavement, and Alpinestars gear is worth the money.


  • Justin

    Crashing sucks. It hurts and often cost you some scrilla. That’s part of why I’m happy my main road missle looks like this http://i813.photobucket.com/albums/zz60/jtkardel/CIMG0235.jpg . I can crash my F2 at 50 and not break anything, pick it up and rape my bike past new literbikes with a little corner speed, reworked suspension, sticky tires and some nuts. Good gear is a must. Good boots, jackets, gloves and armor is key. I absolutely love wearing knee pads under jeans. Yeah they’re a pain in the ass, but it’s a bit more respectable than wearing race leathers and will protect your knees from any injury lowsiding at 50+. Trust me… Fortunately I haven’t cracked my brain-bucket even after a couple high sides, but knock on wood, that lil’ F2 has been through hell and back with no frame damage and minor parts loss. It kinda helps all the fragile stuff left the bike 2 salvage titles and 2 motors ago!

    EDIT: Forgot to say, I’m happy you didn’t hurt yourself too bad. Anytime you go down, it’s hard to predict how it’s going to turn out. Will your buddies run over your flailing body mid turn? Will a cager make you into a road pizza? Or will you go off a cliff? I’ve been lucky so far and I’m glad you got lucky this time around. Be careful, and get that GSX-R going again. There’s nothing better than getting back on the bike after a wreck. It’s the only way I can get my head on straight and stop blaming myself too much.

  • Josh

    Glad that your OK Sean. Crashing is definately part of the deal when riding, regardless of how careful we are. I’ve been riding for about 6 or 7 years now, and everyone I spoke to when I started riding said to me that I was lucky if I made it through my first 18 months without a crash. I was quite proud that I had gone through that 18month period without a crash and even more proud of my first 5 years of riding crash free. However an old man put an end to that streak when he decided that I was in his way as I rode through a green light, t-boning me in the process.

    In the miliseconds prior to impact, a few thoughts ran through my head; “This is happening, let go of the bike, don’t fight it, let it happen.” I think this was probably the key factor that led to my minimal injuries. I let go of the grips as the front of his car drove into the side of my forks. I ejected off the bike and went fairly limp. My body ragdolled onto his windshield and bounced up over his roof and caused me to fly freely (and somewhat disgracefuly) through the air for 25 feet, between a street sign and a power pole (to score a fieldgoal!!) to then crash tackle into a picket fence next to the sidewalk. The property belonging to that picket fence was a medical centre.. W000t!

    My injuries were somewhat minor considering both the car and bike were written off.


    I was wearing a teknic textile jacket, helmet, gloves, jeans and sneakers. My only injuries were burns on both knees, a sprained ankle and a tiny chipped bone on the top of my foot which was caused by my foot clipping my FRAME SLIDERS as I ejected off my bike…

    So Sean, will you be putting some frame sliders back on your bike? :)

    • Sean Smith

      I’m gonna keep wearing boots ;) I’m planning on doing something a little different from standard frame sliders next time around, but it’s definitely going to have something more than just fairings and motor hanging out unprotected.

      • Josh

        Ah yes! I now wear boots at all times (crash happened while commuting) not just on the big weekend rides.
        Best of luck getting your bike sorted quickly and back on the road! :)

    • Roman

      Getting t-boned is my biggest nightmare. I’ve had a couple of low to mid-speed getoffs (mostly self-inflicted stupidity), always walking away with nothing more than a few scratches. But getting t-boned is just so completely out of your control and the potential for serious damage just seems much higher. Glad you got off relatively lightly, just another reminder to wear good gear, I suppose.

  • Mykola

    Wow, talk about timely; Just this morning the last corner before my house ended up being a 15mph slide on my arse. Slick new rear tire + Slick painted crosswalk stripes = Loss of traction. There’s only scratches on the mufflers to indicate anything happened at all though, so that’s one more ‘safe’ crash to go unreported.

  • GoFasterPB

    Damn Sean, i know you wanted to pressure Wes into giving you a press bike, but didn’t know you were THAT committed. Sorry to hear about the fall, glad you made it out ok.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      He’s definitely not getting press bikes now…

      • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate BeastIncarnate

        I can’t imagine why not. HFL is a cruiser magazine, after all, and everyone knows cruisers don’t crash.

        • soban881

          Just give him the Diavel!

          Seriously though, glad you made it through alright. And I’d rather see a bike that’s been ridden and sports a few war wounds than a pristine low-mileage toy any day of the week.

  • http://twitter.com/hagus Luke

    Did the sequel to the ‘how to slide your knee’ article just morph into ‘how to straighten your frame’? :)

    The good news? Now this bike is actually yours. This is a key bonding experience.

    Being a veteren crasher, my advice is that when you bin your roadie and don’t want to (or can’t afford to) replace the plastics, just go and get your friendly fiberglass shop to do you some race glass with holes poked in it for lights. Easy on, easy off, and it can be easy on the eyes if you find a good paint shop too.

    Probably set you back less than a grand. I’d wager if you replaced all the panels on a modern sports bike at RRP it would be the entire cost of the bike again.

  • James

    Last crash was Jan 18 in a parking lot of all places. Some one turned left into me into and out my rear wheel as I tried to swerve out of the way and avoid a T-bone. The driver didn’t notice me until the car was resting on the poor thing. Hypermotard 796: just over $5,391.85 in repairs which included a new swing arm, handlebar, mirrors and handguards, front and rear break lever, both foot peg plates, reart tire, etc… Fortunately, the driver’s insurance paid everything. This was the third time I had been knocked off a bike so I wasn’t in much shock about it and it gave me an opportunity to enjoy my city’s lovely public transportation for the six weeks it was out of commission.

    • Sean Smith

      Good on you for using your motorcycle as a tool for transportation. It sucks that you had to take the bus/train/walk for 6 weeks, but too many people buy bikes and just let them sit 29 days out of the month.

  • Dennis

    For shame! Guys who go around riding the their Ninja 250s faster than they are capable of going make it harder for all motorcyclists. And besides, casting ‘go faster’ spells outside of Hogwarts is going to get you expelled.

  • Ben

    I had something very similar happen to me just three weeks ago. I was taking my f800s through a low speed turn and hit either gravel or mud or something because the bike just lost traction and fell over. I wasn’t cranked over into a turn and it wasn’t an acceleration slip because the bike didn’t spin. Something slipped and it just fell right over on its side and slid off the road with me bouncing after it. Despite a pretty epic case of road rash (never not wearing a jacket again) I was able to just pick it up and ride it home. It only suffered some minor scratches on the handlebar, footpegs, and kickstand thank god. +1 for passenger pegs acting as sliders. That’s exactly what mine did too.

    • noone1569

      Hipster safety gear = fail ;)

  • Gregoire

    Yeah “keep riding” … when you can, because actually in my case i have to wait … i’m frustrated.

  • Mr.Paynter

    Glad you’re up and okay with everything!

    There seems to be something in the air as of late, I went down on the highway at 80mp/h on March 11th on my Er6-N!

    After, I was also surprised at how calm I was with dealing with the idea she’s gotta get a good make-over and cost me some money! There’s nothing else you can do but carry on really and hope it gets sorted quickly!

    I hit a pot-hole/eneven surface near some roadworks, and tank-slapped out of the bend, eventually realised I was either going to ride on to the median, tank-slapping at 80 and get flung or worse or just put her down and slide. It happened fast but I remember thinking, this is happening and just leaning over and going down!

    I was very lucky, just some roadrash (Never riding without gloves or tight/secured jeans again!) and very helpful cagers who even helped me get my bike home on the back of a truck!

    I find it crazy that your guys insurance is so jacked! We have no checks on our licences or previous tickets or anything! Our system isn’t really linked at all, it’s on you to disclose anything and even with speeding issues the increase in insurance is minimal.

    Comprehensive insurance is only like $50 a month for me and they’ve paid out for full repairs ($6720) even though I am currently in court for a seperate speeding violation (120mph in a 75 zone) which they don’t know about because the claim form asks about any other CONVICTIONS and I’m still fighting it because despite what their radar says I wasn’t going that fast!

    • HammSammich

      “I find it crazy that your guys insurance is so jacked!”

      Guessing you’re in the UK? Anyways, premiums vary widely in the US depending on the state you’re in – since insurance isn’t federally regulated, the bike you’re riding, and your driving record. My pokey ’07 Bonnie costs about $300 a year for full comp and collision, and that’s just gone down about $80 a year even with a $4500 claim for my high-side last year.

      • Sean Smith

        I pay $162 a month for a piece of paper to show the cops if I get pulled over. If I so much as scratch the bumper on a Lexus, I’ll be out of coverage and paying cash.

        • HammSammich

          Ouch! That’s high for liability only. Definitely one of the advantages of my slowmobile…I’m sure it’ll be a wake up call when I finally decide to get something with sporting intentions. I’ve heard horror stories of guys buying new sport bikes and paying more each month on insurance than on their bike payments (probably guys w/ questionable records, but still)…

          • Sean Smith

            Ha, my record is about as questionable as it gets. No reported accidents though, which you think they would care about.

  • http://www.muthalovin.com the_doctor

    I would like to nominate Sean for the 2nd annual Scar-Off.

    Seriously, though, I am glad you are alright. I had a serious near miss 2 weekends ago, that was totally my fault. Greasy road, trying to get around a car at a stop light that turned green. Sideways, up and down a curb at a pretty serious lean. Somehow I saved it, with no damage (naked bike) and just imagined the cagers behind me.


    I’ve done more damage to jeans in bicycle crashes. Well done.

  • http://www.karinajean.com karinajean

    dude, totally glad you (and your bike) are so relatively unscathed. with the awful winter we’ve had around here I’m extra twitchy about road surfaces… there’s gravel, sand, frost heave (like in tight turns, whee!), parts of the edge falling off, and OH LORD THE POTHOLES. it’s terrible. with my new rear tire I’m practically bicycling around corners and even with the whiff of imminent danger it’s *boring.*

  • markbvt

    You know it’s a decent on-street slide when you have time for your brain to register that you have to wait to stop sliding before you can get up.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/Adeysworld adeysworld

    Oye vey…last time you crashed. I did the same shortly after. It’s like Final Destination for us…who’s next?;P

  • Zane H

    Glad you’re alright and the bike seems salvageable… Never an enjoyable experience, but all things considered great to hear the story

  • Core

    I’ve done really well so far in a fourwheeler, only a fenderbender.. I hope that when I do crash on my bike, its the equivalent that its something simple. Where the bike still goes, cosmetically damaged, and the worst thing that is damaged is my EGO.

    Glad to hear your alright.

  • Robbo B

    Glad you’re okay, good story. I am recovering with a broken collar bone and a couple of bruises after hitting the road at 60km/h whilst doing my best to avoid a car. The worst is having your arm in a sling and seeing those people in the office who told you the week before that riding a motorcycle is dangerous. I tell them you’ve gotta accept that sometimes accidents happen and you have to minimise those risks, and that’s what a good jacket, jeans and a helmet does for you. I count myself lucky as it could have been a lot worse without that gear.

  • Brad

    Glad you’re more or less ok. You must be talking about Mackie in Sierra Madre for repairs. Guy is a genius.

    When ever I suit up, and consider riding in jeans – I always think how stupid I’m going to feel if I fall down and get hurt with my nice leather riding pants hanging in the closet.

  • Stuart

    Glad to know you are ok and with very minor scratches.

    I always wear the gear. Top and bottom first layers and then the jacket with armor and back protector, pants with armor, boots, gloves with armor and of course helmet. I’m always thinking… I don’t need all this crap today but every time I end up spending a good 15mins putting everything on and wearing it all.

    Sometimes is a hauling drag to be honest but I force myself to go riding looking like Robocop even if its for just 20mins as I always hope to come back in one piece.

    Ride safe and dress safe my friends.

  • http://www.postpixel.com.au mugget

    I’m a bit late commenting on this one – but I’ve gotta say that I don’t agree with the comment that crashing is ‘an inevitability’, I know you qualified it with ‘pretty much’, but still – I’d even go so far as to say that’s a dangerous way of thinking, especially for anyone new to riding.

    I used to wonder why police would write a ticket for a motorcyclist who has just had a single vehicle accident. I mean there’s no one else involved – and it’s like a kick in the guts, I mean a ticket? You’ve just had an accident!

    But it makes perfect sense when you look at it from a “OH&S” type angle. If you’ve just crashed on the road – you’ve utterly failed to operate your motorcycle in a safe and competent manner. Some will say “but there was gravel mid-corner…”, but that’s the point – it’s our job riding on the road to identify hazards and avoid them so we can operate our vehicles safely, and be safe.

    Don’t get me wrong – I’ve had a few stacks, all low speed novice mistakes, one caused by what can only be described as absent-minded stupidity. So I’m not saying that anyone who crashes is a bad rider, or unsafe per se. We’ve got to accept that a crash can happen, but then do our best to make sure it doesn’t. (Hope for the best, plan for the worst and all that.) But in the event of an accident the most important thing is not to make the same mistake twice…

    I just had to say something in case readers got the wrong idea and came away thinking that if they ride they’re gonna crash. And yes I do know of one guy who has never crashed (it’s not an urban myth, I’m sure there are others out there).


    Glad to hear you’ve come out of it okay. And I think it’s a good thing to talk about crashes so that others can see our mistakes and hopefully avoid doing the same thing themselves.

    • Sean Smith

      It’s true. You may escape crashing forever and ever. I ride 20,000 miles a year, at the track, in the canyons, in the dark, the rain and the sun. For me, crashing is absolutely something that’s going to happen. Riding at the limit at the track, it happens all the time.

      What a lot of people don’t realize about motorcycles is that shitty road, small mistakes, mechanical problems, etc can affect whether or not you crash a lot more than in a car.

      Example: It’s 3:00 am, dark as hell, and you’re driving home. You run across some oily kitty litter, and you have a ‘moment.’ The car under-steers, you slide a bit, traction comes back after 5-10 feet, and you continue on your way. This kind of thing happens all the time. Cars have 4 tires and don’t fall over. If you take all the traction away and stop the wheels, they’ll just slide until they hit something or stop.

      Motorcycles on the other hand, are precariously balanced on two very small contact patches. The rotation of the wheels and some clever geometry allow a bike to stay upright and steer easily. If you’re straight up and down, and you stop both wheels on a moving motorcycle you’re going to fall over. If you’re leaned over and you lose traction on one of those two wheels, you’re probably going to fall over. Spinning the rear is a different; you’ve got less traction, but there’s still something there and sometimes it can be controlled.

      Tucking the front fucks you in two different ways:

      First, you’ve no longer got traction and things just don’t laterally accelerate themselves. Rather than continuing to be pulled around the corner, the front end of your bike goes where it’s momentum sends it and that’s pretty much that. Every once in a while, you’ll get lucky and catch a front end slide.

      So there’s that. Lose the front, crash. What other point could there possibly be?

      Take a close look at some photos of racers mid-lowside, and 9 times out of ten, even if they weren’t on the brakes, the front wheel is stopped, or barely moving. When it loses traction, it can no longer pull itself in an arc, and momentum forces it to rapidly straighten out. That tire is still in contact with the ground when it does this, and since it’s no longer being moved in the direction it’s pointed, it scrubs sideways and all that spinning and rotational inertia stops right there. That’s why the bike seems to fall over impossibly fast, and why it’s so damn hard to catch a lowside.

      The point here isn’t to explain how a lowside crash works though, it’s to show just how easy you can get into these types of situations and illustrate that motorcycles are very different from the cars most people are used to.

      A car will slide, and you can easily regain traction.

      A motorcycle will fall out from underneath you.

      If your riding is only 1,200 miles a year on a few select Sundays and you never lean a bike further than 7º, you might get lucky and never crash the bike. If you identify as a motorcyclist, and a bike is more than a neat trinket or something to make you feel cool, you’re almost certainly going to crash at some point. The odds are stacked heavily against you. Should you be scarred? No, fear is almost always a stupid idea to have hanging around.

      Wear the best gear you can, buy the best insurance you can, and try to make your bike durable. Some riding skills will help you avoid a lot of trouble too. You never know when you’re going to slide ass-first into an unfortunate situation.

      • http://www.postpixel.com.au mugget

        Just to be clear, I am only talking about road riding. For sure tracks are the place to test things out and push your limits, arguably many times safer to crash there.

        Looking at your example above of coming home at 3am and running across some oil/gravel, it’s a common enough situation, definitely something that would catch alot of people out. But that’s a perfect example to illustrate what I was talking about above, I don’t know why it just seems so blindingly obvious to me? Someone who crashes in that situation has failed to safely control the vehicle – they haven’t been riding to the conditions, most likely they haven’t been paying enough attention. What really should happen is that if they can’t see very far ahead speed should be reduced to give more reaction time and a greater safety margin. Paying more attention they will see the hazard and have time to avoid it or slow sufficiently and stand the bike up as they move over it.

        Like so many others my crashes have been cause by inattention, absent-mindedness or stupidity. Much better to teach new riders the skills to have maximum situational awareness and know how to ride to the conditions rather than just teaching them the basics and sending them off thinking something like “oh well, everyone crashes sooner or later”. No reason they have to crash, time on the road should be spent making sure they’re doing everything not to crash. What’s worse is some people seem to have a crash and just think that it’s part of riding, when the fact is that when a crash happens you’ve just stuffed up. This is probably made worse by most forums where someone will post about their crash and comments come in like “oh well, $#!T happens…”, “don’t worry – it’s just part of riding” etc. rather than asking do they know how it happened and helping them to analyze the situation so they can make sure it doesn’t happen again. Mainly I guess it’s that “crashing is a part of riding” mentality that seems so backward to me. Not having a dig at you, Sean – it just seems like that sort of mentality is so widespread, I felt I had to comment in case people came away from this article with that kind of viewpoint on crashing. Really I just wish people everywhere would stop crashing on the road so much.

  • http://pinkyracer.com pinkyracer

    Sean, good point in the further comment here: http://postpixel.com.au/post/4821990108/on-the-subject-of-crashing

    In 25 years on 2 wheels, I’ve had my share of crashes and I know exactly what I could’ve done differently in each one. Because I’ve modified the choices I make based on past experience, I’ve had fewer crashes the longer I’ve been riding. The same goes for most other experienced riders. Those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. And I sure felt stupid when I have!

  • Tim Norris

    Is that the “anthracite” or “tarmac” jacket? It looks like neither, but I’m diggin’ it.

    • Tim N.

      Well, it is the “tarmac” color for anyone else who might be curious. The photos on Alpinestar’s website look grey, but I just received mine and these photos are a more accurate representation of the color. Fit is great. Looking forward to trying it out tomorrow!