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Safety TipsHandling in a Curve   Tip045   Print article Print

What If You Drag A Peg?
If you react instinctively you probably won't recover

By: James R. Davis

Most of us do not need to test limits, but it still happens that you might someday find yourself leaning too far into a curve and hearing/feeling your peg start to drag. What should you do about it?

Well, let me start by telling you what most people, I believe, instinctively try and what is dead wrong! They immediately roll off the accelerator and lean away from the dragging peg. These are BOTH wrong things to do because each action either lowers the bike (rolling off the accelerator) or increases the lean angle and as a result the peg will no longer be gently scraping the asphalt but will try to gouge a trough into it.

There are three things that can be done as soon as you hear/feel a peg scrape:

  • Increase throttle - (but note that you are already close to sliding and ANY increase in speed can be all she wrote). This is a VERY DANGEROUS solution and it relies on the fact that acceleration raises the middle of the bike while at the same time INCREASES its lean angle. At best, a momentary and trivial net gain in peg height.

  • Counter-steer away from the dragging peg - (widen the turn)

  • Shift body weight towards the dragging peg - (that is not a misprint)

Each of these actions tends to straighten the bike up. Any one of them will 'cure' the problem and is sufficient by itself. You can, of course, do two or all three of these things at the same time.

(The use of throttle to increase clearance is a VERY SHORT TERM GAIN and is quickly followed by the dragging part digging harder as the lean angle overwhelms the modest new height clearance.

Use of the throttle makes most sense, of course, at very slow speeds. At higher speeds it is by far the hardest technique to master in reacting to a dragging component and though I indicated it could 'cure' the problem all by itself, it actually REQUIRES that you simultaneously counter-steer a wider path.)

Note, however, that doing the wrong things, it seems to me, is instinctive and that you need to mentally prepare to do the right things in advance. But that is exactly why you are reading this tip - to determine what experience has shown others is the right thing to do without having to 'discover' by trial and potentially fatal error for yourself.
Let's see if this makes that third alternative clearer as it is your best choice. Here is a diagram that on the left shows a motorcycle that is about to drag a peg in a turn and on the right it shows what happens if the motorcyclist leans INTO the turn. (It lifts the peg off the ground.)

Copyright © 1992 - 2021 by The Master Strategy Group, all rights reserved.

(James R. Davis is a recognized expert witness in the fields of Motorcycle Safety/Dynamics.)

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