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Motorcycle Safety/Dynamics

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Key Rings
Keep them short!

By: James R. Davis

While cleaning Elaine's bike after a recent ride I noticed that there was a serious, (deep though narrow) ding in her tank, high up front and a couple of inches to the right of the center line. I asked her if she remembered hearing a rock hit the tank during the ride but she did not.

A couple of days later I noticed that my GoldWing key was bent. Not the part of the key that is inserted into the lock, but the end that attaches to my key ring. Maybe?

I told Elaine that I thought I had figured out what happened to her tank and we went out to take a look at the bike.

Sure enough, the key ring is long (three segments) and the Magna key is on one end while the GoldWing key is on the other. When I inserted the Magna key into her ignition we noticed that my GoldWing key could touch her tank. We turned the handlebars and noticed that the tip of my key could touch the tank just where the ding is. Then we saw that the other end of my key could jamb under the handlebar and it would then force the tip into her tank.

Apparently a few days earlier when I had ridden her bike to our local dealership for some servicing I had done just that. I cannot remember the incident in any way. There is LOTS of leverage near the steering column!

Moral to the story: make sure that your motorcycle key is not mounted on a key ring that is so long that it can get trapped in any way when you turn the handlebars.

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

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