Brakes your best friend Or worst enemy In light of James Brown s mishap this...


Brakes.....your best friend? Or worst enemy? In light of James Brown's mishap this week, I'll tell a few of my self-inflicted "ups" and "downs" and why they went the way they went. Feel free to chime in with your own examples.

The reason I point this out - and this is NOT a pick on James at all - recognizing the actions you took are IMPERATIVE to becoming better riders so we don't have these things happen going forward, wherever possible. I love that James is resolved to get right back on the horse! This is important! But, it is also equally important to absolutely DISSECT every aspect of our own actions when stuff like this happens. That's why I jumped in on the other thread. The mere existence of the stop sign may have been the instigating factor, but the reason WHY he went down is what we need to look at for future preventive reasons and learning process. Our lives depend on this. Every single time we ride.

1. gravel road / Geico Rabbit. Yep, even though I told myself I would just hit it if it came out into the the last minute, he did, and I put on the front brakes, and lowsided myself. Gravel + front brakes, generally not a great combination, must use extreme caution when doing any braking while on gravel. Slow speed of course, no damage to the bike. Now I live where there are vast amounts of Geico Squirrels - I am now WELL PRACTICED in just running em' over and staying off the brakes. Lesson: If you must brake on gravel, braking with the rear is much better than a handful of front brake, even going straight. Lesson two: practice running over squirrels, rabbits, and small animals. This is very HARD to do for some of us, but in the end, it is much safer generally for YOU than braking and/or swerving for something small.

2. 25 mph, accelerating as I had just come around the corner making a left hand turn: Truck came in on me from three lanes away and tagged my highway bar and mirror. My response in order to avoid him hitting me: dove the bike left (he was on the right) as far as I could without crashing into the raised rock median to my left, and emergency braked front and rear and KEPT THE BRAKES ON UNTIL I WAS STOPPED. And yes, they were locked up. This is the ONLY reason I did NOT go down - and the fact he stopped coming over once he tagged me, plus not having built up a lot of speed yet. Had I released the brakes prior to stopping, I would have gone down without question. The truck realized he hit *something* and moved back into the lane next to me. Once stopped, I then took off and made the truck driver pull over and chewed some ASS. Boy was he sorry.

3. 25 mph, very slight left bend in the road. CHOKE still on, so powering the rear wheel. Enter yellow jacket inside helmet who decided to sting the crap out of me. Both brakes on, locked up, stinging still happening, and despite not letting off, my bike was getting VERY mixed signals - brakes on, but gas still on also via the choke, so powering the rear at the same time. Not full throttle of course, but enough to end up lowsiding me, and removing any possibility of keeping the bike upright. No damage to me or the bike, except a nasty nasty sting on the temple. Note to self: do not ride even one block with the choke still on. Period. This occurred a whole 1.5 blocks from my house. I used to wait til I got to the traffic light (about 50 yards away) to shut off my choke.

4. Highway 44, in the middle of the NIGHT, through Lassen National forest. Ok, all of this could have been avoided had I not made the STUPID decision to ride during the night through a heavily deer infested national forest. Not just *any* deer either - mule deer, which generally speaking, get pretty BIG. That was the stupid decision. The smart decision (once I made the stupid decision to be on that road at all, after dark) was that in spite of a 65 mph limit, I was doing 40-45 mph, just in case of deer. Because of THAT decision, when the huge doe came out slightly ahead - I could only see "movement" to the side of the road....I emergency braked and hauled down hard. Kept the bike up and *just* as I came to a stop, Miss Doe was dead center crossing in front of me, about 8-12 INCHES from my front fender. Had I been going any faster, I'm pretty sure I would have bled slowly to death on that road at 1:00 a.m. in the morning. No cell service, no nothing. Lesson: no more night riding through National Forests if at all possible. Even closer in, I try and avoid it where deer are numerous, so I can live another day. Risk Reduction!

Anyway - those are my ups and downs. I didn't include the times when my leg was too short when parking (once), or forgot to put my kickstand down in the garage (once). For moving self-inflicted violations - even if there were mitigating factors that started the process (deer, truck, rabbit, yellow jacket), I have two ups and two downs in 11 years of riding. Hopefully you can all learn from these examples, especially the newer riders. Cheers!!!

%d comments
  • I am happy that you all share your ideas and experiences with me. Lots of info for me to get to know. Yeah soon has my wife gets her new helmet I'm going to practice random fast stops. Going to empty parking lot. She will stand to the side and randomly tell me to stop on headset. I will try to stop fast as I can. So I can get better at it. When I crashed I used both breaks. I will still use both breaks just try not to use all the front break at one time.

  • Almost everyone at my work rides a bike. They all told me stories of the times they have fell. They tell me everyone falls. Only difference is how bad you fall. They are glad I'm OK and joke around about the accident. That made me feel better. They said I lost my biker virginity lol

  • Bruce Stewart, that is amazing? I can't imagine not ever using the front brake. That's where 70% of the stopping power comes from. He certainly ruined his chances of stopping in time.

  • Tami, that's what I told him. He left one long straight skid mark and flat spotted his rear tire. I'm pretty sure he could've stopped had he used the front brake. He wears out the rears and the front brakes still look new.

  • James Brown, I'm glad you have a good attitude but at the same time, didn't want you to be *too* cavalier about what happened....the reality is, yep, we will go down at some point....the choice is how to minimize your chances. Even a slow speed crash can have devastating results. My friend was off her bike for months, multiple surgeries and now has a permanent limp due to a lower speed crash than yours. Glad to see you will be parking lot will help!

  • yeah i know im lucky but im going to practice so when my luck runs out i will at least have some better skills by then

  • i try to take everyone advice

  • also i do not have a flat spot on my tires. they are just the same has before. i got my father in law to look at them i moved back in forth really slow so he can see the tires. i took my bike to work and i felt no bumping from the tires. if it had a flat spot i think i would feel it.

  • I've rode sport bikes for years living in Tennessee and im here to tell ya that front brake is your best friend ..when you know your bikes brakes ,or feel at the lever and foot pedal you would be amazed in the situations you can get your self out of straight lines or curves ...and learn to countersteer if you haven't already learned

  • It's true, we all go down sooner or later. We have to work at minimizing the frequency and intensity. I've still have a lump of scar from when I ate it in Malibu Canyon, that was 1983. Practice is a damn good idea, as is a riders course, if you can afford it. It's bad enough, all the cars trying to kill us. We don't need to pile on more, by wrecking ourselves.

    I'm glad you're back in the he saddle James, as your father in law said, now you are a biker. As you've seen in the postings by your brothers and sisters, your experience is widely shared.