You should NEVER have to “Lay her Down”
Here’s a story I heard recently. A group of four riders were cruising down a winding road in Georgia. A pickup coming the opposite way crosses the double yellow line and sideswipes the second bike in line. That rider goes down and begins sliding on the ground. The rider behind the rider that went down, (here it comes), says to avoid hitting the bike and rider sliding on the ground, he had to “lay her down”. He claims it was either that or hit the other bike and rider.
What this guy is saying is he can steer better while sliding on the ground at 45 mph. Wait, it gets better. The last rider says he sees both bikes in front of him sliding on the ground, so he too must lay his bike down to avoid crashing into the two downed bikers in front of him. This rider also claims he can steer better and stop sooner while sliding on the ground.
The actual reason people say such stupid things is that they don’t want to admit they screwed up. It’s that simple. By the way, all three riders had many years of “riding experience”.
Now, let me dissect this crash and explain what really happened. I’ll talk about the two riders who “laid their bikes down” since the rider that was sideswiped was unavailable for comment.
The first rider that went down wasn’t looking far enough ahead so it appeared the crash happened very quickly. Next, since he has never practiced emergency braking using both brakes, he panicked and over braked his rear brake, locking the tire. This caused the bike to slide sideways onto the ground. It was not something the rider did consciously. It was simple physics. Lock the tires, the bike goes down. Once the bike goes down, you absolutely can NOT steer it. The bike will simply slide in the direction it was going until it stops.
Here’s a simple fact. You can stop in a much shorter distance with the bike up on its tires than sliding on the ground. Rubber on the road creates a lot more friction with the pavement than chrome and painted metal.
So, what should this rider have done instead of crashing to avoid a crash? First, straighten up the bike and brake using both brakes. That will slow you down very quickly. Then, release the brakes and swerve around the obstacle you want to avoid by turning your head and eyes in the direction you want to go.
As for the third rider, see the above. To be able to perform maximum braking without skidding the tires, you must practice exactly that. If you have ABS, it makes stopping quickly much easier. Just remember, even with ABS, you MUST first straighten up the bike to perform maximum braking.
As for swerving, again, you must practice swerving. You do that under controlled conditions in a parking lot or a deserted road. You must practice for emergencies BEFORE the emergency happens. Do that and you’ll never had to “lay her down”.
Till next month, get out there and practice. For more tips, tricks and techniques, log on to my website, www.ridelikeapro.com
Copyright 2016 Jerry “Motorman” Palladino