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 Motorcycle Safety
 Sharing of Lessons Learned
 (Another) front brake in a slow turn crash
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mstram
Male New Member
11 Posts


Toronto, Ontario
Canada

(None)

Posted - 08/18/2015 :  8:54 PM                       Like
I just rode the Grom for the first time at the Get-your-feet-wet area at Honda's RTR Aug 8 at the Canadian hq.

That was the first real motorcyle I've ridden "in a while".

~40 years ago I rode some kind of small moto in back of the local moto shop thanks to a friendly mechanic, but I can't remember what it was. *Might* have been a CT70. Also around the same period, I rode a friend's CT70 'round the block. AFAIR, there were no manual clutches on those.)

It would have been nice if the GYFW area had been just a little larger. I paced it off it was 120' x 120' !. And with one side ~15 feet wide dedicated to the "pits", around 15mph max was the limit (well mine anyway lol) (on the "straights" (for ~ 1 second lol)

A few times there were 11 bikes riding in that area ! It was good "mini-traffic" awareness training !

After reading all the tips here re: braking, and specifically front brakes in slow turns, I was wary, but still wanted to safely "get a feel" for how much front-brake I could get away with, while turning.

Down the "back-straight" (heh all ~80 feet of it), I practiced some "hard-slow-downs" (lol) from ~15 mph to ~ 8 mph), and all was well. I found that even at that "hard braking" ONE finger was more than sufficient ! ( I used my middle), and kept the brake lever "covered" all the time (thanks to this site for the idea !).

I did some very gradual (front) braking on the "big turns", i.e. the circular race track using most of the area that the majority of traffic was following. Again no problems, well I was only scrubbing off 4-5 mph so why would there be ? ;)

"Inside" the larger race track, a ~10 foot diameter or so circle had been setup with markers, and after a few laps I "slowed way down" ha, from ~12 mph to ~7-8 for the small circle. I did that a few times, rejoining the "big" pattern when I started to get dizzy heh.

At one point I was back in the "small circle", doing rather well, "looking where I wanted to go", slipping the clutch, good feel for the throttle, and still watching out for all the traffic.

Then it happened.

I was in the midst of a slow circle, about half way around, on the side where all the traffic was coming from (to my right), looking left, when my peripheral caught something moving quickly towards me from the right.

I *grabbed* the f.b and you know what happened.

Fortunately at ~8 mph, and only a ~225 lb bike, it was more embarrassing than injurious. (I had a leather jacket, helmet, gloves jeans, and boots on).

I did smack my left hand pretty hard against the ground, but my glove "knuckle guards" took the force, and felt only a mild jolt.

Almost before the bike hit the ground, I was up, picking it back up, annoyed with myself, for dumping the bike, especially after reading many posts on many sites including here about my exact situation.

(btw the other rider was kicked out of the area for his unsafe "fast close pass" he made to me. There was *more* than enough room (~10-20 feet I'm guessing) for bikes on the "outside" to pass the "inside" circle. "Mr. Hotshot" had to cut that much closer though).

Though, I know that sh** like that happens in the real world, and again it was good training (though mildly painful and embarassing), to "expect the un-expected", and it was incorrect technique (or lack thereof) that ultimately lead to my first fall.

So lessons learned :

1)In a panic you will repeat your learned behaviors (I've read that all over this site). Even if your "learned behaviors" are only ~20 minutes old !

2) The Grom (and from what I've read, most motorbikes) has a powerful front brake ;)

3) If you GRAB the f.b. while in a slow tightish (bars ~ halfway locked) turn, it WILL SUDDENLY fall over.

The speed at which the bike fell over, really took me by surprise.

At the moment(s) during my grab-fall, I was aware of "Oh sh**", and "wow, I'm falling over, that was FAST", and maybe "Yeah, it really is true what I've read" ;)

I *had* been practicing with the rear brake as well, but I found even at my ~15 mph "quick slowdowns" there was a very noticeable difference in the braking power between it and the front brake.

I wonder what the outcome would have been with a "jammed" rear brake at ~8 mph in that same turn? I look forward to some PLP with my own bike where I can *gradually* explore that.

Mike

Edited by - mstram on 08/18/2015 9:04 PM

scottrnelson
Advanced Member
6886 Posts
[Mentor]


Pleasanton, CA
USA

KTM

990 Adv, XR650L

Posted - 08/19/2015 :  8:19 AM
At 8 mph if you had "jammed" the rear brake, you would have slowed to a stop and would have still been upright. You might skid the rear tire at that speed, but it's so slow it's very unlikely to toss you off.

I try to use the front and rear brakes evenly in the rare cases where I'm braking while turning. And by "evenly", I actually mean about 2/3 front and 1/3 rear. But only above 20 mph or so. Below that speed I don't use the front brake unless I'm going straight. Too easy to upset the balance of the motorcycle with the front brake at slow speeds.

In other words, it can stand the bike up quickly enough that the momentum can carry you on over in the wrong direction and put you down - or a skid can also put you quickly down.

Even a bike with a weak front brake can cause you problems at low speeds while turning.

Save your braking practice for straight lines or for speeds that are a bit higher, and don't be trying to find braking limits in curves at any speed.
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bachman1961
Male Advanced Member
2263 Posts
[Mentor]


colorado springs, co
USA

Honda

CB750 NightHawk

Posted - 08/21/2015 :  12:12 AM
I've experienced the feeling of front brake in a turn as you describe in the slow speed setting but luckily didn't go over. It's a feeling that left it's mark though.

I imagine the front suspension compressing feels like it expeditiously throws you to the ground and actually does so. That would be my take on why/how fast it felt going over even though you were at a slow speed.

** Glad you were not seriously hurt and thank you for sharing the experience.



.

Edited by - bachman1961 on 08/21/2015 12:26 PM
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Baggsy
Male Advanced Member
720 Posts
[Mentor]


Ottawa, Ontario
Canada

Suzuki

09 Wee

Posted - 08/24/2015 :  11:17 AM
Some brake levers can go almost to the bar in a hard stop.

Having your index finger under the lever, could prevent you from using applying full braking power.

I've seen some people switch to short levers, and use the index and middle fingers for control, but I've stuck with stock levers and four finger control.

It's best if you have room to straighten the bike up to stop.
Sometimes it might take some preplanning to have the room.
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greywolf
Male Moderator
1492 Posts
[Mentor]


Evanston, IL
USA

Suzuki

DL650AL2

Posted - 08/24/2015 :  12:07 PM
It is important for a rider to familiarize himself/herself with the bike by taking it easy at first. I was a Suzuki DL650 V-Strom rider who test rode a BMW F800ST once and made the mistake of not testing the brakes first. On the first stop, I activated the front ABS system. I pretty much had to become a two finger braker for the remainder of the ride. Somebody making the switch in the other direction could have had a ruder surprise.

A lot of new V-Strom riders coming from sport, cruiser or touring bikes complain about the brakes. The V-Strom is an Adventure tourer that is meant to get a little off road use. It is too easy to lock up a very powerful brake off road so the V-Strom is set up to pretty much require four finger braking on road. Used in that manner, the brakes can lock up a front wheel so they have enough power. They just need to be used appropriately. If I had an Adventure tourer and a Sport tourer, I'd probably use four finger and two finger braking respectively as an adjustment to keep my emergency braking reflexes appropriate to the bike involved.
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rkfire
Advanced Member
1689 Posts


Stratford, CT
USA

Suzuki

Bandit

Posted - 08/24/2015 :  2:41 PM   Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
quote:
Originally posted by Baggsy

Some brake levers can go almost to the bar in a hard stop.

Having your index finger under the lever, could prevent you from using applying full braking power.




I think a brake lever that would go that far needs some serious bleeding or more.

I'd have to go back to the days of an ill maintained drum front brake to recall a lever going back that far.
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greywolf
Male Moderator
1492 Posts
[Mentor]


Evanston, IL
USA

Suzuki

DL650AL2

Posted - 08/24/2015 :  4:16 PM
Nope. The DL650 has a long travel lever to accommodate braking forces appropriate to on or off road. The lever is also adjustable for reach. A properly working lever can get within a gloved finger's width of the grip, especially if a aftermarket grip or grip cover is used instead of the skinny bare stock grip.

Edited by - greywolf on 08/24/2015 4:59 PM
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bachman1961
Male Advanced Member
2263 Posts
[Mentor]


colorado springs, co
USA

Honda

CB750 NightHawk

Posted - 08/24/2015 :  6:07 PM
quote:
Originally posted by greywolf

Nope. The DL650 has a long travel lever to accommodate braking forces appropriate to on or off road. The lever is also adjustable for reach. A properly working lever can get within a gloved finger's width of the grip, especially if a aftermarket grip or grip cover is used instead of the skinny bare stock grip.



I'm not sure rk or baggsy are referring to the DL but I get the point.... in fact, it answers a question for me specific to ABS on adventure sport bikes. Your mention of the F800ST for ultra sensitive or light-touch ABS activation would leave me quite nary of off-roading although I think I've read about some bikes that have an off road mode for various riding dynamics.

Over the years here on the forums, I recall a few of us discussing the advantages of newer technology related to the 're-training' some of us would undoubtedly have to endure as the 'systems' decide things for us at threshold or certain limits.

I remember the introduction of ABS, traction control and front wheel drive as it demanded different actions or behaviors in some cases on snow and ice. That was no small footnote for drivers who had developed and intuitive technique or knee-jerk reaction to icy conditions over 15 or more years of driving experience. That might have been my first recognition of the term counter intuitive.
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Baggsy
Male Advanced Member
720 Posts
[Mentor]


Ottawa, Ontario
Canada

Suzuki

09 Wee

Posted - 08/24/2015 :  8:58 PM
Yes, mine is a DL650. Lever is 8" long.
A normal squeeze gets the lever to within 1" of the bar.
But, I can then squeeze harder until it's to within 3/8 - 1/4" of the bar.

Someone had also demonstrated something similar on one of the training bikes though. I'll take a closer look next week if I can.

Back to the bulk of the topic.

The standard spiel, seems to be that you want to straighten the bike up, before applying front brake, when in low speed turns.
Tip 269 talks a little about braking in higher speed turns.



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rkfire
Advanced Member
1689 Posts


Stratford, CT
USA

Suzuki

Bandit

Posted - 08/25/2015 :  5:46 AM   Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
I didn't think that sounded right about V-stoms. Checking the stromtooper forum, it looks to me as though many have normal travel and don't reach that far. Some simply bled their brakes to improve the travel, and some simply adjusted the lever.

If I had a lever that would pull back to the bar, I'd fix it. I would not leave it be, AND put a bigger sleeve over the grip to make it worse.

I don't think anyone needs a couple inches of brake engagement for "feel" on any surface.
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greywolf
Male Moderator
1492 Posts
[Mentor]


Evanston, IL
USA

Suzuki

DL650AL2

Posted - 08/25/2015 :  8:54 AM
The master cylinder bore on the DL650 got smaller in 2007. That made for a longer throw. People with small hands who have the lever adjusted to bite closer to the grip can pinch a finger. I'm a moderator and top poster at Stromtrooper and have had a 2005, a 2007 and a 2012 DL650. I'm very sure some years with some adjustments and/or grip modifications can pinch a finger. My 2007 and 2012 with the lever adjustment at 3 out of 5 and larger diameter HotGrips did.
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Baggsy
Male Advanced Member
720 Posts
[Mentor]


Ottawa, Ontario
Canada

Suzuki

09 Wee

Posted - 08/26/2015 :  12:52 PM
Any bike that's "loaned" out to multiple people over a period of time,
has the potential to have gone down multiple times, which could bend the levers.

I've found that four finger braking works for me. If I wanted to switch, I'd definitely be looking for some high quality and reliable "shorty" levers.
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