10 Things I’ve Learned From 10 Motorcycle Crashes

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Motorcycle Crash

6. Choose Your Friends Wisely
When I crashed last year, Jon’s wife Nikki changed my grossest bandages. Sean made sure to keep me in tacos, Mark picked me up and took me on field trips in his car so I could get out of the house. Mollie and Sam made sure I had a roof over my head and food in my belly. Another friend also named Mark drove me to the hospital while I bled all over his car. And pretty much everyone I know had to put up with months of slack and flake and gimpiness. I’m still friends with the people who understood and helped and I’m not friends with the ones who didn’t.

7. The 15 Minute Superman
Want to know how much you’re truly capable of? Hurt yourself in a life-and-death scenario. You’ll learn whether you’ve got fight or flight and the adrenaline that kicks in after makes possible feats of survival you’d have never thought possible. You’re much stronger than you think, you can deal with much worse problems. You can overcome. Knowing where your limit truly lies will make you a more confident person in everyday life. You will learn who you truly are.

8. Skip The Pain Killers
Narcotic pain killers are one of the worst crimes perpetrated by our health care system. They don’t actually do a great job of killing any pain, but they do poison your mind and body, making you weak, sick, constipated (don’t laugh, it sucks), screw with your mind and possibly lead to addiction. As soon as possible, I’d rather man-up and deal with a little pain than be mean to the people around me and destroy my body. Depending on where you live, more natural solutions may be possible, use them, they work.

The scar that remains to this day.
The scar that remains to this day.


9. Wes’s Guaranteed Physical Therapy Method
Get your butt out of bed and go to the gym. You’re going to want to work out your entire body, focusing on the large muscle groups with compound lifts. And yes, you’re going to want to concentrate on the injured parts too: just do so safely. Be smart, listen to your body and don’t hurt yourself further. I started back this time barely able to bench the bar and had to add like 125 lbs of assistance in order to do a pull-up. But I was doing bench presses and pull-ups and using my body. And my body responded by healing itself.

Even if you have a cast on your arm, you can still work out your legs and use some of the back and ab and shoulder machines. Doing machine squats and other big lifts like that helps trigger body-wide, hormonal responses, building muscle and strengthening bone.

Eat super healthy, too. Give your body the tools it needs to repair the damage.

And just get out of the house and be active. It doesn’t matter if it takes you three hours to do something it took you thirty minutes to do before, you’re doing it and you’ll get a little better at it every time.

10. It’s Not Worth It
As you might know, or might surmise from the above, injuring yourself stinks. You really don’t want to do it. The toll — financially, psychologically, on your relationships and to your work — is more than you’ll ever know, until you’ve done it. So don’t do it. You don’t need to be the fastest guy on that group ride or get where you’re going precisely on time. Nor do you need to be the coolest looking guy at the party or save cab fare on the way home. Motorcycling is always going to be dangerous, it’s always going to be risky, but it’s a lot more enjoyable when you’re overcoming that danger and managing those risks than it is when you’re laying in a hospital bed.

Related Links:
Safety Starts Here: A Beginner’s Guide To Motorcycle Gear
Gloves With Palm Protection: Racer R-Safe Motorcycle Gloves Review
Ride Safer: 10 Common Motorcycle Accidents and How To Avoid Them

  • Gordon Pull

    Awesome read again, Wes. 100% agree with #8. I did one night of painkillers when I tore my ACL and told myself never again. I’ll deal with a little bit of discomfort. Have had 2 shoulder injuries since and have turned out just fine.

    • Brett Lewis

      Yeah. #8. 7 months ago I had rotator cuff and bicep tendon surgery. Took Vicodin for over a week (Had most of the prescription left over, didn’t want to get hooked). A week after that lots of terrible side effects. Still have a little issue related to that…

  • susannaschick

    well said! I’ve learned from all my crashes, even the ones that “weren’t my fault” according to the law. I found a great healer to work through PTSD with, and found acupuncture to heal the injuries and the pain better than any dope. After breaking my pelvis in half, 6 ribs and a collarbone (on a BICYCLE!), I had my acupuncturist begin treatments as soon as I was allowed visitors. I was off the narcotics at 6 weeks, walking like normal within 3 months, and still (1.5 years later) feel like nothing ever happened. I even found ways to prevent the sort of anger outburst that led to that crash in the first place (meditation, mainly).

    • Mark D

      Have you changed how you ride a bicycle since your accident? As in, riding more defensive and/or only with long pants and gloves? I commute on mine, quite quickly down steep SF hills, and I’ve been bothered by realizing that I 1) wear no gear other than a helmet, 2) hit about 30-35 at times, 3) ride in busy rush hour traffic, and 4) have a POS 70s road bike with sketchy brakes.

  • AndrewT

    Thanks for sharing some very valuable lessons. I hope I never have to learn the hard way, but I’m aware every time I get on the bike that anything can happen out on the street. It helps put things in perspective (cost of gear, time it takes to gear up, sweating rather than bleeding), and perspective is one of the best safety features you can have.

  • http://thecrumb.com/ thecrumb

    Both ‘incidents’ I’ve had I’ve hit the outside (pinky area) on the right hand.

    The first time I mangled all the bones in that area (ouch) The second time I just fractured that knuckle. All the gloves I see have knuckle and wrist padding but nothing for the side of the hand. Maybe it’s just me :)

    ATGATT protected the rest of me – Aerostich, Shoei, decent boots = no road rash.

    Great advice – I’d only change #9. If you do get injured – go to physical therapy!!

    In the first get off I didn’t think I’d ever be able to use my hand again but went to an occupational therapist who inflicted a great deal of pain upon me but got my hand working again (about 95%).

    • Ryan Deckard

      My Held Evo Thrux gloves have some superfabric, kevlar, and padding in that area, check them out.

    • Jorn Bjorn Jorvi

      That’s an oft neglected but common injury, especially in low side crashes on pavement. Some manufacturers are making gloves that bridge the pinky to the ring finger. That makes a difference and keep your pinky from snapping back. It’ll help your riding too if you already have a damaged pinky because it will tie it to a stronger finger on your hand and you won’t be exercising the muscle as much. Try taping those two fingers of you glove together and see if you like the feel.

    • Mitchel Durnell

      Side hand protection seems to only be in the top most gloves of any range. My Rev’It Jerez gloves have some sliders on the side; some Dainese gloves have a little bridge where the pinky meets the palm.

  • Evan Patrick Luckey

    How did you get your leg back to normal? I wrecked 3 months ago and my knee was gashed to the bone. I can walk now but I have a gimp when trying to go down hill or walk fast.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Still working on it. I do a three-day gym rotation: back/biceps/abs, chest/shoulder/triceps and then leg day: squats, leg presses, extensions, calves etc etc.

      I also walk the puppy 6-10 miles a day, up and down some pretty big hills, which helps a ton. It just takes time.

      • Evan Patrick Luckey

        I guess it’s back to the gym then. I’ve been hesitant to lift anything with my broken collarbone and shoulder blade, but I’m sure some light weight exercise can’t hurt.

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          There’s always something you can do. Leg extensions in a machine? Leg curls in a machine? Stairmaster on super slow? Elliptical? Don’t be afraid to start at like 5 lbs when lifting. The point is just to get everything moving and working again.

    • ThruTheDunes

      Not sure what was done to correct your knee issue, but anyone who has had knee surgery (meniscus or ligaments) will tell you that going down stairs is one of the last things you are able to do. Since going down hill and down stairs are so similar, I am not surprised this is still giving you some trouble. After my first one, I about pitched head-first down a flight of concrete steps, the pain was so sudden/intense/unexpected. It was a good 4-6 weeks before I was able to go down stairs with any comfort – at that was a surgical impact. I would expect injury to take longer to heal.

  • http://thecrumb.com/ thecrumb

    #11 – Practice more. Take more rider training. I used to be pretty good about taking the ERC every few years but got lazy recently. Going to be more diligent about that in the future. Accident #2 was totally avoidable but I’d gotten lazy and as a result fell down.

  • Nick Gnaime

    Well done on this one, Wes!

  • Sid

    Wow… coming from my first really really serious crash, I appreciated this post so damn much… Especially the last point. I was aiming to cover a really long distance in too short a time. What was I trying to prove? To whom? Nothing. Ended up learning a life lesson. Saving up for new gear. Belong on a motorcycle.

  • Jorn Bjorn Jorvi

    Are hard knuckles really good for much? It seems they are mostly for put it there for aesthetics as that’s the one spot on glove that doesn’t need to flex. Other than a cartwheeling high-side I can’t think of a scenario that would make them all that useful… Other than punching stuff

    • Stuki

      Any damage to the knuckles can be very detrimental and hard to heal, and spreading impacts across a wider area is a good strategy. Also, there are few downsides to padding the outside of the hand, while any padding on the inside have to be done with lots of care, in order not to affect feel and control. Hence, knuckle pads can have positive cost-benefit, even if the benefit isn’t all that big.

    • Strega_Rossa

      Yes they are. When the cager moves over on you you can take a swing at their side view mirror and not hurt your hand ;P ::half joking::

    • Michael Howard

      If you happen to land on or roll onto your back, the backs of your hands will likely smack or slide on the pavement. With very little skin covering the knuckles, the asphalt will really mess them up.

  • Stacey

    No links for palm sliders? Oh and to be somewhat helpful, Dainese does offer Kevlar armored jeans for around $180, they have knee and shin armor built into it.

  • Stuki

    Out of 10, how many on the street, on tack, and offroad?

  • Jorn Bjorn Jorvi

    My experience:
    You will not crash how you think you’ll crash. I’ve crashed (mostly in the dirt) more times than I care to count. It never happens how you expect it too.

    There are good crashes and bad crashes. Granted, any crash that results in an injury is bad. Beyond that, sometimes you’ll crash and before you even stand back up you know exactly what you did wrong. Maybe you were too hard on the binders, maybe you were looking in the wrong place, maybe your suspension wasn’t settled or you were in the wrong gear, maybe one of a million other little things put you on the ground. These are good crashes. You’ll learn from them and as soon as you pick up your back and climb back on you’ll be a safer, faster rider. These kind of crashes will make you eager to go try it again so you can do it the right way.

    Then there are those crashes that leave you dumbfounded. The ones where you have now idea what you did wrong and you have no idea why the bike behaved a certain way. These will kill your confidence and make you timid. They’ll make you worse at riding in all circumstances. Don’t dwell on them. Like Wes said, get back on the bike as soon as your body will let you and remind yourself that, to whatever degree, you know how to ride a motorcycle. Those ghosts needto be exorcised.

    And finally, but a dirt bike. You’ll have a lot of good crashes and an occasional bad one. This is opposed to a street bike where you’ll have mostly bad crashes and the occasional good one.

  • Joshua Winn

    Good thoughtful article.

    Agree with it being your fault. I have told a few people that even if I was right, I really don’t want to be dead right.

    And constipation does suck. For me, it was weighing my options between a stuck kidney stone or a good hard read on the john. Thank you Friction Zone.

  • Nishant Sukharia

    I live in India & I’ve been riding bikes since the last 7-8 years & trust me the traffic here is pure chaos.Most of my 20-30 kms of daily commute takes place in city during office hours.If you don’t know about Indian traffic & riding mentality , let me give you a little idea : 95%+ People here don’t believe in safety gears. Helmets are NOT mandatory.
    In these 7 years I’ve had one fall ( cuz of a goat which changed its trajectory all of a sudden & I was riding at around 60 kph speeds , & the only protective gear I was wearing at that time was an LS2 Helmet , I know I should wear more but I am a student & don’t have any money…but hopefully I didn’t got a single scratch thanks to the leg guards I had on my bike which took all the impact) & a couple of near-misses.
    But that doesn’t stop me from riding my bike.This is what I do to make sure I don’t crash at any times.
    Always account for error !! Always !! Vision is the key to safe riding.
    Don’t take anything / anyone on the streets for granted.
    Learn to judge the traffic.This will come from experience & experience only.Now , I am not a sexist, but my experience instructs me to be extra careful when riding near / along a female rider or driver & old people.These people are the most susceptible to ignore you.
    Keep an open mind & try to learn new methods & techniques to ride safely. Articles like these help you to do so.For example, I didn’t knew about flashing your tail-lights technique since a couple months back. But I practised it a lot & now its a habit.Same goes with panic braking. Panic braking is the most crucial aspect of riding a bike in my opinion.If you master this , you have won half the battle.
    Playing computer games pays a LOT !!! If you are good at playing games , chances are you have better reflexes then an average guy who doesn’t. This was first pointed out when I started taking car driving lessons & the instructor asked me whether I have driven a car before or not & when I said that its my first time he was shocked. Later that day he asked me whether I have played racing games or not , & then I told him that I do play a lot of games & then he said that that’s why you drive better than most newbies.

    And as Wes pointed out try to wear proper gears all the time.Its the best insurance policy you can have.
    As of now I wear helmet,gloves,army shoes ( can’t afford riding boots ) & casual jacket . Saving for knee & elbow guards at the moment.

  • Michael

    I have a set of plates and screws just like that in my dresser drawer at home

  • Michael

    GREAT ARTICLE! I’ve had a new nasty crashes and I can attest to the truthfulness of each of Wes’ points


    Good stuff all around.#1, #5 and an honorable mention for #8. #1 & #5 because the right gear and the right attitude/skills are the two biggest things under your control that could prevent a crash or keep you alive.

    I’d add one – ride within your limits. I’ve only ever gone down on the track (2x times) and that doesn’t count – I chalk that up to never riding above 6/10ths on the road and being paranoid about other drivers. Meanwhile at the track where I’ll ride 8/10ths and occasionally 10/10ths if I go down, I go down – rarely but I know it can happen, I accept the risk and know the consequences are hopefully controlled. So far I’ve just slid and tumbled a lot – I’ve been lucky…. frankly it was sort of fun (minus the damage to the gear and bike.)

    #8 for sure. Narcotic’s have a place – that place is while an injury is being stabilized. That’s in the hospital or maybe for a day or two after. After that if you can cope with it without them, man up and do. Like Wes said they take a toll. The lesser of two evils is Advil and a little makers mark here and there – in moderation obviously, take enough advil and enough whiskey and your stomach will hemorrhage. Pain sucks but unless it’s mindsplitting and there’s end in sight you can live with it I’ve found – sort of reminds you that you’re alive.

  • Kyle Toy

    Wes, I think this is the most original and important rideapart article I’ve ever read. As a relatively new rider (who rides every day, rain or shine) this speaks volumes to me, so thanks for sharing it.

    I think I’m going to read it again now.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Thanks dude.

  • austin

    That knuckle protection can be important though, saved most of my hand bones from being crushed to tiny bits after a 1985 cadillac pulled out in front of me without seeing me coming.

  • Hand Guy

    I’m going to *conditionally* disagree with #3. Yes, “instinctually”, people put their palms down. People also instinctually think that you steer right to go right, that gripping tighter on the bars is better, and that they can avoid an object in a corner while looking at it. Motorcycling is full of counter-intuitive actions that need to be practiced. I think Keith Code is up to 7 categories of “SRs” now, which are his name for instinctual reactions on a motorcycle which are exactly the wrong thing to do.

    One of the disadvantages of motorcycling, though, is that you can’t exactly practice crashing. Nobody is good at things they only do a couple times in their whole lifetime. So we compensate by getting really good protective gear, and practicing crash avoidance. That’s usually good enough.

    But really, even when you’re not on a motorcycle, if you find yourself taking a high-angle dive into the ground, you shouldn’t be putting your palms down (unless maybe you’re a gymnast and planning to do a handstand roll!). People who have practiced falling in martial arts will know to keep their hands in loose fists, and to spread the impact over their arms and back. Keeping your fingers spread out on the ground while your body flies over them is a good way to break fingers, or worse.

    I’m glad I have good leather on the palms of my gloves, but I’m even more glad to have knuckle armor!

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      So we should design gloves for martial arts specialists, not the majority of motorcyclists?

      • Hand Guy

        No, that is not at all what I said. I apologize for being unclear, but I don’t see anywhere in my comment where I said that.

        Personally, I’ve heard and read countless crash stories, and I’ve never heard anyone else ever mention knuckle armor injuring them, so I suspect it may fall under the category of “freak occurrence”. I’m skeptical that it’s an issue for “the majority of motorcyclists”.

        Even so, it is a strange reason to remove a safety feature of an item simply because newcomers won’t be experts at its use. Unlike most types of consumer items, motorcycles and motorcycling gear are, generally, made for people who are willing to take the time to learn how to use them. You aren’t going to get optimal performance out of any piece of hardware purely by “instinct”. (Were that so, motorcycle races would be pointless.)

        The answer to “newbies don’t know how to countersteer” isn’t “get rid of motorcycles”. It’s “teach newbies to countersteer, and give them a bunch of opportunities to practice it safely”. The answer to “newbies don’t know how to fall safely” shouldn’t be “take away anything harder than a marshmallow”. It should be “teach newbies how to fall, and give them a bunch of opportunities to practice it safely”.

        Perhaps the confusion arises because you seem to assume that only a “martial arts specialist” can fall properly. Not so! Lee Parks advertises that his classes teach mental concepts usually only taught in advanced martial arts classes, and I don’t know if that includes falling, but I think it would be a great thing to add. We should be eager to pick up useful ideas from other fields of study that are useful to us in ours!

  • 77BeatsPerMinute

    #5 is retarded. Putting blame on yourself for an accident that wasn’t your fault. That’s like saying “why didn’t you smell the beer emitting from the car 3 cars behind you. That would have told you to get out of the way. It’s your fault you’re paralyzed because your scent isn’t like a dog… or you don’t have spidey sense”.

    BTW, it doesn’t matter how much gear you have. You can die any time on a motorcycle. All riders should accept this when your shift to first and throttle out.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/77BeatsPerMinute My YouTube page of me and my friends riding through So Cal. We all accept that we can die anytime.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Have fun with that dying stuff. I’ll keep trying to stay alive. It’s amazing how much a little skill, effort and intelligence can help with that.

      • 77BeatsPerMinute

        Goodluck with that. Death is the only guarantee in life and riding a motorcycle reduces your life expectancy. I’ll only quit riding if 2 things happen: paralysis or death.

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          Nice sentiment. Now please go read some books and take some classes on skilled riding.

          • 77BeatsPerMinute

            I’ve read Keith Code’s books and had a private lesson from one of his personally trained instructors. Yes I’m lucky he’s my neighbor. You sound like a pro rider. You live in California? Which tracks do you teach at? Do you teach canyon carving too on how to avoid deer jumping across the road? Or how to avoid being killed by a drunk driver that causes a 3 car pile up?

            • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

              Ride at a pace where you can stop within the distance you can see ahead. Observe what’s going on around you while you’re in traffic, keep a “safety bubble” of space around you and arm yourself with the ability to use your motorcycle’s complete handling and braking performance should you need to take evasive action. Wear the best gear possible so, if you do hit that deer, you minimize the injuries caused.

              No, ultimately you can’t account for every conceivable hazard (ie engine locks up while cornering), but you can massively reduce the odds of something wrong by planning ahead, being careful and riding both conservatively and with great skill. For instance, you can reduce the odds of that engine lock up through careful maintenance. Or, you can probably avoid that deer if you see it soon enough and are riding at a pace where you can safely stop or maneuver around it. Vision and stopping distance are two things you can easily improve with practice.

              This isn’t intended to be a safety lesson, you can find plenty of those elsewhere on RideApart, it’s about attitudes. If you approach riding with a “no excuses” approach to safety, you will be safer, it’s that simple.

      • Mary

        I was just going to write how I agree with #5 100%. That’s why they’re called “crashes” and not “accidents”. There is always something you could have done to avoid them. Knowing what they are and learning from them makes you a better rider.

        • 77BeatsPerMinute

          The ONE and ONLY way to avoid crashes or accidents is not getting on a motorcycle in the first place. Riders who feel safe and secure on public roads… and honestly believe that they’re skilled, smart and ready for the worst are oxymorons. I may be a moron for riding a motorcycle in a distracted cager world, but I’m no oxymoron.

          • Mary

            And the only way to avoid the risks of life in general is to never leave your house. Your point?
            I never said you will be 100% safe on motorcycles (unless you just keep it in the garage and sit on it every now and then). Even the best and most skilled riders have crashed. As the saying goes there are only two types of riders, those that have gone down, and those that will go down. But the really good riders will tell you what they could’ve done to avoid the crash in the first place–learn from it and become a better rider because of it.
            But to accept that if you ride, you’re likely to crash doesn’t mean you need to be fatalistic about it! It means you do what you can to be a better rider to avoid them in the first place.

    • Mark D


    • Strega_Rossa

      Haters gonna hate (5 down votes). If the Universe decides its your turn to go no amount of gear is going to save your sorry a$$. I firmly believe full leathers just make it easier for them to pick up you up as opposed to being in several pieces. Yeah roadracers wear leather because they are riding at 200mph I know I don’t ride HALF that fast on the street. Leathers won’t prevent a broken bone that’s for sure.

      Hubby and I recently bought a couple of sweet A* leather jackets only because the sap’s wives made them sell the bikes. We *stole* the jackets, new, not broken-in for $100 each. ;)

      Skin heals maybe not as pretty but your body takes care of itself.

      You risk your life getting out of bed – why aren’t people walking aroung in bubble suits then???

      • 77BeatsPerMinute

        Haters are oxymorons. Thinking all the gear in the world will keep them from death. I may be a moron for riding a motorcycle in a distracted cager world… but I’m not an oxymoron. The 5 down voters are oxymorons.

      • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

        You obviously haven’t ever crashed a motorcycle…

        Go look at your Alpinestars jacket and tell me what’s in the elbows, shoulders and back. It’s armor. That armor does a very good job of reducing impact forces to crucial areas of your body, lowering the odds of a broken bone.

        Let’s try a little test: go jump off your porch and land on your back, arms, side or hands. What happened? Now go do it again in your jacket and a good set of motorcycle gloves. Did it hurt less? I bet it did. Now multiply what you learned times 85 mph.

        • Piglet2010

          I crashed and landed hard enough to take a big chunk out a knee slider, and it did not even hurt. Without the knee armor and SiDi Cobra boot, I probably would be recovering from knee and ankle surgery. Elbow took a good hit on the pad too, and my rain suit was shredded.

          As for #4 – after checking that the fork and frame on my bike were still straight, they had me hose the grass and dirt off, and I was back out on the track during the next session.

          • James

            I take my permit test tomorrow and I can’t help but feeling reading this will help me even though I haven’t ridden yet. Thanks for the great post.

        • Strega_Rossa

          You’re right. I’ve not yet crashed unless you count the time I ran off the road and had the bike land on my leg when I was first learning and not heard of countersteering.

          The jacket has elbow armor and a pad of some sort in the back. I bought it only because it was such a sweet deal.

          You can swear by attatt just don’t expect me to do the same. I wear a helmet because a bang on the head doesn’t heal but skin and bones do. My Levi’s jacket is great for my commute (3 miles).

          Riding a motorcycle is a risk. I accept that. If I want to ride in jeans and a jean jacket my helmet and gloves let me be, okay? Wear what you have to (10+ crashes I *hope* because you AMA/WERA roadrace) and I’ll wear what I want. I have medical coverage so as far as I’m concerned all bases are covered.

          • Piglet2010

            Your thinking is quite wrong.


            • Strega_Rossa

              I spoke with Brittany at the NYIMS she does have quite a tale to tell. The fact that she is there to speak proves my “I’ll heal” point. I am so sure it was very painful and took a long time, but she healed.

              For trips in cooler weather when I’m slabbing it I have a Kilimanjaro but for around town riding I dress for comfort/ease of use. If it takes longer for me to gear up than to get there, I’m driving my Jeep!

              • Piglet2010

                Not quite correct – she has permanent joint damage and severe scarring, and will never completely heal. No thanks.

                • Strega_Rossa


  • Rameses the 2nd

    I was so tempted to add a hooligan style bike (Street Triple or FZ-09) to my garage, but now I think I will stay with my slow and fun Scrambler. I am also ordering full size gloves and some sort of riding pants tonight.

  • Tom

    I take exception to two points:

    8. Painkillers may not work perfectly for everyone, but they are the best thing that we have to cure pain. If “natural” remedies worked, then they would be added to the ever-growing science of medicine. There is no such thing as alternative medicine, it’s either medicine, or it’s not. I seriously do NOT recommend that anyone take the idea that “natural” medicine is better. You want to know where aspirine is derived from? The bark of a willow tree, you can’t get much more natural than that. If something is proven to work medicinally, then we call it medicine, and it’s available as such.

    9. This is good advice, but for crying out loud, PLEASE check with your Doctor and/or Physiotherapist to make sure that what you’re doing is okay. The last thing you want to do is make your injuries worse.

    Other than that, this is an excellent article, thank you very much for posting it.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      On point 8, I think you missed my meaning. I live in California. Residents of Washington State and Colorado benefit similarly.

      • Strega_Rossa

        Ah yes smoking dope…. ::smh::

      • Strega_Rossa

        Smokin’ dope to alleviate pain…

  • Jesse Huff

    Great article I’m new to street riding and have to always remeber to stay super sharp and watch my surroundings

  • Braden

    Great article. Thanks for being so clear and unapologetic with #5. It seems like one of the worst social diseases that afflict the motorcycling culture is that of shifting blame and avoiding even the slightest hint of personal responsibility when it comes to crashes.

  • Mark Kimmerling

    Great article. In January I was hit from right side( lady turning left from side street) and my foot was crushed leading to right below knee amputation. Her fault but define fly things I could have done to reduce speed and etc. I took the msf again just to make sure I was good psychologically because I love to ride. Was doing 20000 a year. Now, I may avoid daily rides in the city( I hate that I have to adjust my lifestyle) and do long day trips. At some point I will buy another vstrom 650. Didn’t even apply the abs brakes when I got hit, went for the hole and didn’t make it. Team tripod says “never give up!”

    • Mark D

      That fact that you are riding with only one foot is amazing.

    • Strega_Rossa

      Hubby’s CB900F SuperSport riding group has a guy with a prosthetic leg. He rides the wheels off his oldie but goodie Honda. I never knew until he was wearing shorts at a bbq.

      • Guy Simmonds

        I even remember some guy in an article about custom prosthetics who had either the leg itself or a cover made from it specifically to match his bike… now that’s passion for you, huh?

      • Lourens Smak

        Check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbrIoPY4nO8
        I don’t know how it’s possible, but it is…

        • Strega_Rossa

          I *KNOW*!!! I saw that video before and was astonished, awed, etc, etc. Amazing guy and video. ;)

    • Joe Meyers

      Mark get ahold of me I lost my right right leg BK to the sport 10 years ago.
      Love to share and hear your story. I been riding allot for 9 1/2 years after the amp.


      The best

  • Justin McClintock

    Wholeheartedly agree with 1, 2, and 3. I’ve been fortunate enough to not have any experience with 4-10. I’m hoping to keep it that way, but I know there’s a decent chance I’ll encounter some or all of them. I’ll stick with 1, 2, and 3 to minimize the impact of the others.

  • karlInSanDiego

    Wes, Nice job, and Plus 1 on 5 and 10. No shame in being crash free, and that means riding well within your limits and not letting yourself get into situations where others can hit you.

  • taba

    I’ve been made fun of by friends for wearing MTGATT, but I like to remind them I’m just protecting them from taking care of me post-crash.

    Thanks for this, Wes.

  • Theodore P Smart

    Regarding #5…. I’ve determined that the only way i could have stopped the drunk cabbie from running a red light and hitting me was to have stayed in bed and not gone to work.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Could you have spotted him sooner by checking the intersection before crossing it? Could you have been going slower? Could you have been in a different position on the road? Could you have been wearing more/better gear? etc.

      • Piglet2010

        This was close to an unavoidable accident, but wisely the instructor was wearing proper gear.


      • Theodore P Smart

        Ya – If i approached the intersection at 15MPH I would have missed him. The view of the street the the taxi took was on is blocked by a building. The only bit of gear i wasn’t wearing that morning was kneepads. Sometimes another drivers blood alcohol level being 3x the legal limit is a variable you simply cannot control.

  • DucMan

    Hell-to-the-fuck-yeah!!! Well done.

  • Strega_Rossa

    Note to self: Never ride with Wes Siler. He crashes alot…. 10 or more… 0.0

  • Maximus

    This is the best article I’ve read by you, Wes. Original thought expressed really well.

  • Angelica Souto

    Excellent article, thanks God I never had any accident yet but yes practice more, take as much as you can more rider training and always be alert. I live in Florida and over here people drive very badly especially the old ones.

  • Sara Jane Tinker

    Thanks for the information. I don’t ride a bike but I know lots of people who do. I knew this sort of thing ought to be protective but I didn’t realize the extent of the protection or that having more expensive actually paid off. I get it now!!

  • Bill

    I have read so many times that we will all crash eventually, FLIP THAT! Being sensible and go slow have kept me from a crash. A co-worker and I both started to learn to ride 3yrs ago. We took the safety course, he bought a CB750 and I bought a SYM 175cc scooter. He laughed and teased me every chance he could that my ride was girly… Well, last year he was racing with someone and wiped out. Now he is on a wheelchair may be for life and I have moved up to a CB450sc.

  • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Sérgio Oliveira

    Loved it! Except maybe the tittle (http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/headlines.png)
    Ride safe.

  • DaveM

    Good job! and great article. You always get the straight story from someone who has been there. From an MSF Rider Coach/Trainer who has been riding for a long time. Thanks again!

  • Isaac Sousa

    Amen to #5! Realizing that’s always the rider fault and only the rider can prevent the crash and/or minimize the consequences is THE eye opener. Ride wise, ride safe.

  • MrDefo

    So what does the staff of Rideapart wear on a daily basis? Chest protector? Armored leggings underneath the Aerostitch? Or is that overkill?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Why would you need to wear armored leggings under an Aerostich? It’s got excellent armor in the knees/shins as standard and the hips (optional). I’ve got a chest protector in mine too.

      What we wear depends on where we’re going, what we’re doing and what we’re riding. Any given day sees me in my armored Vanson and jeans or my one-piece race suit or my Roadcrafter or my Dainese Teren ADV suit or my dirt bike gear. Or some weird combination of the above. What we never compromise, even when just popping around the corner, is a good full-face helmet, real gloves and good boots.

      • Piglet2010

        And presumably one of the Aerostich back protectors installed in the Roadcrafter.

  • Tiger Joe Sallmen

    I respect motorcycle gear – to a point! While I would never be the fool to ride without a helmet, I think putting on ALL the heavy body armor takes a lot of the fun and freedom out of riding.

    While I wouldn’t go as far as saying that if I had to be that heavily armored on every ride, why not simply get in the car and drive, I also want riding to be FUN. So it has to be comfortable, a lot of heavy duty riding gear isn’t, and most of all, comfortable to walk around in because you’re not on the bike ALL the time when you go on a motorcycle trip.

    Yes, I need to have rain gear, but that doesn’t mean I’m having fun riding in the rain with it on.

    • KevinB

      Nice gear is so much more comfortable than street clothes and I find it to be a lot more fun when I’m not worried around grinding off parts of my skeleton in a 25 mph crash.

    • Joshua Alandy

      What’s funny is I used to think the same way about riding gear vs comfort. I enjoyed riding without my jacket over the summer. I had TCX X-street leather riding boots but didn’t lace them up all the way so I could put them on and take them off more easily. Then I had my first crash.

      I highsided in the rain and ended up with fractures in a couple bones near my ankle. I had surgery last week to get a plate and screws in there. Luckily because of the rain I was wearing all of my gear, but I wonder if I had laced my boots all the way up if I still would have busted my ankle and be unable to walk for the next 2-3 months.

      For me personally, when I can walk again, my bike will still be my only mode of transportation but I will be ATGATT from now on.

      On the topic of freedom to wear what you want and all that. . .sure do what you want. Though reading these comments it seems to me the decision to gear up all the time is something most people don’t seem to understand until they get seriously injured.

      • Piglet2010

        For most riding you can find a compromise that will still reduce injuries significantly – modular lid, mesh jacket with CE Level 1 elbow, shoulder and back protection, reinforced jeans with CE Level 1 (or equivalent) knee armor, lighter leather or textile riding gloves (e.g. Aerostich Vegan) and lightweight riding boots (e.g. SiDi Air Strada). Not good enough for a track day on a super-sport or faster bike, but much more protection that your typical biker, squid, or scooter rider wears.

  • Mr.Paynter

    A long time reader of this site.

    I can honestly say remembering these crashes, the articles chronicling them and your recoveries Wes, and the straaight-forward look at gear inbetween has done more than anyone/thing else to get me from a kid in a hoodie and gloves taking stupid risks to a slightly older kid-at-heart who minimises risk and buys decent gear. At least once saving my life in the process.

    Thanks again guys!

  • mark backler

    The day you dont realize that YOU alone are responsible for your own safety, is the day you are going to get hurt! For my self, it just got to the point that the inherrant risks associated with riding a bike just got too much, and after 46 years of riding, I hung up my helmet!

  • Bob Goddard

    Wow! Well said, Wes.

  • Conrad

    #5 should be repeated throughout this article. It’s what I always remind myself of whenever there’s a close call. Great article.

  • Chaz Aagaard

    This is a well written article, with some great points. However, some of it sounds like a teenager that knows everything, and can’t see the other side of an argument. Both sides of #5 are valid. What Wes should have also said is sometimes there are accidents you can do very little to prevent, however there is still something preventable in every accident…. His view on #5 is the only correct attitude if you want to survive… but that doesn’t make it 100% accurate… just my thoughts…

  • Luis Taracena

    I think it is important to mention that riding within one’s skill level. Just because a rider may have a shinny new CBR1000RR does not mean the rider’s mind is capable of handling the motorcycle’s power and speed.

    Knowledge is Key, Learn Technique. You could have been riding for 40 years with out an accident. It does not mean you know proper technique. Learn proper braking and cornering techniques.

    Learn to trust your tires and your motorcycle, Just because you are afraid does not mean the motorcycle is not capable. If you ever become overwhelmed and panic, remember to commit and continue making the turn instead of chopping the throttle and braking.

    • Piglet2010

      And as Jason Pridmore teaches, if you start to panic in a turn, look even farther to the inside of the turn.

  • Regder

    “but they do poison your mind and body, making you … constipated”

    Very true, and something most don’t warn you about. Still can’t forget the diamond I pooped after three days on percocets.

  • hasty hughie

    YES, this is good stuff, especially the ride using good gear, once turned a slow city corner and got attacked by a pack of dogs and taken down, slid along on jacket.which was barely scuffed, dinged helmet, but I was ok and dog on my arm was not able to bite me..and stay away from pain killers, pain is pain, deal with it…add number 11, choose who you ride with. We all make mistakes but why add the distraction of riding with folks who shall we say have a different “style” than yours. Safer to ride alone than the distraction of constantly wondering WTF is going with these guys?

  • Hoang Do


  • Jeff C. Jensen

    Wes… I agree 100% #5 is always my #1 however because until we a riders wise up and learn to ride in a way that we understand a crash is ALWAYS our fault then we will continue to have friends killed. We have to be seen and ride offensively (if you ride defensibly you are stuck reacting to what someone else just did) and with in our limits. We have to continue to learn skills and practice constantly because riding is a transient skill.

  • IRS4

    Perfect from top to bottom Wes. I live by #5 and #10. It is my response when people tell me riding is too dangerous. By taking responsibility for myself and everyone ELSE on the road, I’ve managed 23 years of motorcycling with only one accident, were I FAILED and let a drunk, uninsured, unlicensed hit-and-run Mexican torpedo my six at a stop sign. Thanks to #1, I limped away with only a bruised hip.

  • ssdajoker

    Wow, I’m putting this in my bible.

  • djw0510

    I enjoyed reading your article, and will be reading it again. I’m an avid supporter of ATGATT, high-visibility gear and responsible riding. I learned my lesson the hard way a few years back when I was hit by a car and ended up in the hospital. Regaining the confidence to ride was/is the toughest aspect for me, I can’t help but thinking about what happened to me that day every single time I get on a bike. It plagues and frustrates me but at the same time I’m thankful that it has increased the presence and volume of the voice in my head that tells me to doubt every other driver, to go the speed-limit or slower, etc. I wish there were an easier way for many of us to learn this lesson. Too often when I go to fuel up I get harassed and stared at by over-confident bikers for looking like a power ranger but I know why I do what I do and at the end of the day I know that doing what’s best for my own well-being is all that matters.

  • William Billings

    Finally, a bike web site that is relevant. Got here on a link from a review of the GSX-R600. Excellent first-hand articles on injuries, and both the skills, and gear that can help reduce accidents, and injuries. I feel like I’m “home”.

  • Nenad Trecakov

    Thanks a lot…. I’m a fresh rider with only 15k of riding. And I’m also wearing usualy jeans in the town but doing longer trips I use full protection… I’m just about to register my new bike tomorrow and it’s great that I read this now….I will definitely make some changes in the dress code :-)
    All the best from Novi Sad, Serbia

  • rudedog4

    A couple years ago, I had a low speed get off on a very sharp left hand turn. I couldn’t have been going more than 10 mph, I hit a patch of sand as I was leaned over and just about to roll the gas back on. I lowsided, started sliding, so I let go of the bike. It slid to the curb. Had I not been wearing my Roadcrafter jacket and pants, boots, gloves and full face helmet on, I probably would have faced a trip to the hospital with at least some nasty road rash. Because I was wearing all the aforementioned gear, I got back up, and rode my bike the rest of the way to work.

  • rudedog4

    I have to disagree about the painkillers. I’ve had numerous surgeries over the years, and when I needed strong painkillers, I NEEDED them. Typically, by a week after the surgery, I was able to get by with ibuprofen.