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The Proper Way to Fall On A Motorcycle

31723 Views 40 Replies 29 Participants Last post by  XLonDL650
I realize that motorcycle falls often happen so quickly that there is only a limited amount that a rider can do to minimize the damage that occurs.

Still, it might be useful to have some idea in mind of what to do when those reflex actions take over in an accident. I'm looking for useful recommendations here, particularly from riders that have experienced a serious fall.

I found one article on the internet which might be useful:

How to Safely Handle a Fall From Your Motorcycle
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I realize that motorcycle falls often happen so quickly that there is only a limited amount that a rider can do to minimize the damage that occurs.

Still, it might be useful to have some idea in mind of what to do when those reflex actions take over in an accident. I'm looking for useful recommendations here, particularly from riders that have experienced a serious fall.

I found one article on the internet which might be useful:

How to Safely Handle a Fall From Your Motorcycle
well, i do not think it's a common occurance to fall ON a motorcycle. i have witnessed only on such incident when a drunken friend of mine was stumbling around where my bike was parked and happened to fall ON my motorcycle. but other than that i have not even heard of it happening.
:mrgreen:
 

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They call it "Reflex Action" for a reason. You can read about it all you want, you can think about it all you want, you can worry about it all you want. When or if it happens you will do what you do. You can't plan it nor can you practice it, what happens simply happens.

I dumped my bike several times when I was a kid. I specifically recall two instances. One of them I remember coming off and I remember sitting up when it was all over, nothing in between. The second was like everything was in slow motion and every heartbeat seemed an hour apart. In both cases I did nothing that I'm aware of, what happened just happened and I was along for the ride, so to speak.
 

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I remember being cut off by a cager on a highway in the rain about fifteen years ago on a KH400 and doing everything I could to kick the bike away from me.

When I high sided on my XT600, I hit loose gravel and was sliding sideways off the road. I'd have saved it too if I hadn't hit a rut. At that point, control of anything isn't an issue as you're now a projectile. Lucky for me it was a fairly soft landing. I get up thinking, "Wow, good thing I didn't hit my helmet." Only to take it off and find a fist sized chunk missing from the back of it.

The end result? Gouged right leg where the foot peg grabbed me to give me a little extra go over the top. Bent front rim, bent front axle, bent rear rim and my handlebars were toast.

The lesson learned was keep an eye on the road surface and don't go into the corners too hot. But then my Wee has way more feel and control than my old XT ever did.

You can probably control how you go down a fair bit in a low side or a front side wash out but in a high side situation? You just hope you come down in a way that not going hurt too much.

I'm a much older and wiser monkey now... At least that's what I tell the wife.
 

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They call it "Reflex Action" for a reason. You can read about it all you want, you can think about it all you want, you can worry about it all you want. When or if it happens you will do what you do. You can't plan it nor can you practice it, what happens simply happens.

I dumped my bike several times when I was a kid. I specifically recall two instances. One of them I remember coming off and I remember sitting up when it was all over, nothing in between. The second was like everything was in slow motion and every heartbeat seemed an hour apart. In both cases I did nothing that I'm aware of, what happened just happened and I was along for the ride, so to speak.
That is not entirely true. If you practice enough you can train your body to react in a certain way. Special Forces and law enforcement practice these techniques all the time. Some call it muscle memory or training. But hey who really wants to "practice" crashing their bikes. And if your not a racer and you get "good" at crashing then you may want to evaluate riding all together.
 

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That is not entirely true. If you practice enough you can train your body to react in a certain way. Special Forces and law enforcement practice these techniques all the time. Some call it muscle memory or training. But hey would really wants to "practice" crashing their bikes. And if your not a racer and you get "good" at crashing then you may want to evaluate riding all together.
That's my point. I've shot pistol competition for years and I understand muscle memory. But practicing falling off a bike enough times to develop muscle memory isn't my idea of a good time. Reading, listening, thinking, etc. will never do it. The only thing that will do any good is practice and this is one of the things that the majority of us don't want to practice.
 

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If I had the presence of mind to grab my sleeves instead of putting a hand out a couple of years ago, I probably wouldn't have broken anything. I was in my first year back riding after 16 years away and had the wrong reflexes. Dirt bike riding on cheap little off roader is good practice.
 

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Dirt riders are good at this

Before I got into street riding, I road nothing but dirt and competed in many motorcrosses and enderos. When your young and riding dirt, being aggressive, you fall a lot, get back up and into the competition. I learned to fall in the dirt.

Now carrying that over to street riding I have done, unfortunately. I won't get into specifics, but number one is that low siding is best in every case. If you over cook a turn and can't bring it down, don't run off the turn, keep putting it over, sometimes you make it, some times you don't. Slide don't roll and don't high side.

Also, if you have presents of mind, always look for something SOFT and inexpensive to hit.:rolleyes::D
 

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Before I got into street riding, I road nothing but dirt and competed in many motorcrosses and enderos. When your young and riding dirt, being aggressive, you fall a lot, get back up and into the competition. I learned to fall in the dirt.

Now carrying that over to street riding I have done, unfortunately. I won't get into specifics, but number one is that low siding is best in every case. If you over cook a turn and can't bring it down, don't run off the turn, keep putting it over, sometimes you make it, some times you don't. Slide don't roll and don't high side.

Also, if you have presents of mind, always look for something SOFT and inexpensive to hit.:rolleyes::D
Good point you can get great experience in the dirt and the falls are not nearly expensive. In the dirt you can practice many of these things. I have always said my best experience has come for riding in the dirt.
 

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I've only laid one down once but it actually ended up happening exactly as I had envisioned dealing with the situation should it ever occur. A car pulled out in front of me (then promptly stopped!) and I laid it down and rode the high side into the car. I realize now that at higher speeds the momentum of the bike could have crushed me against the side of the vehicle I hit but I ended up walking away with only a tear in my jeans.

I realize this isn't a battle scar thread, my only point is that this was one situation I had thought about and ended up following through. In the moment there was no thought or plan, more of an observer perspective.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Never Useful ?

That's my point. I've shot pistol competition for years and I understand muscle memory. But practicing falling off a bike enough times to develop muscle memory isn't my idea of a good time. Reading, listening, thinking, etc. will never do it. The only thing that will do any good is practice and this is one of the things that the majority of us don't want to practice.
Personally, I don't think this kind of education is worthless just because someone may not be as readily able to practice such procedures.

The driver's manuals in numerous states describe what actions to take in fast-happening emergency situations(e.g., The proper way to react in a blowout, The proper way to get back on the road when two wheels have ran off the roadway, etc.) in the hopes that those ideas will come back to someone in an emergency situation, despite the fact that many of those procedures are not readily able to be practiced.

Certainly that information may not always be of benefit, but never ?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
If I had the presence of mind to grab my sleeves instead of putting a hand out a couple of years ago, I probably wouldn't have broken anything.
I've seen stuntment do this in the slow-motion reply of certain movies. I think you mentioned this is a earlier thread, but appreciate the reminder.

Although I may not have the presence of mind to remember this in a future accident, there is a chance that I will.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Before I got into street riding, I road nothing but dirt and competed in many motorcrosses and enderos. When your young and riding dirt, being aggressive, you fall a lot, get back up and into the competition. I learned to fall in the dirt.

Now carrying that over to street riding I have done, unfortunately. I won't get into specifics, but number one is that low siding is best in every case. If you over cook a turn and can't bring it down, don't run off the turn, keep putting it over, sometimes you make it, some times you don't. Slide don't roll and don't high side.

Also, if you have presents of mind, always look for something SOFT and inexpensive to hit.:rolleyes::D
Laying it down low side is how my early dirt riding experience has taught me to react, given enough time.

This is easier to do when you use the rear brake, of course. I used to stop rear brake and gears alot when I was younger, but now I use the front brake more because I can stop so much more quickly.

Still, when I brake into a skid, which I have rarely done in many years, I tend to let the bike go sideways and approach laying it down as I near the point of impact.
 

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Personally, I don't think this kind of education is worthless just because someone may not be as readily able to practice such procedures.

The driver's manuals in numerous states describe what actions to take in fast-happening emergency situations(e.g., The proper way to react in a blowout, The proper way to get back on the road when two wheels have ran off the roadway, etc.) in the hopes that those ideas will come back to someone in an emergency situation, despite the fact that many of those procedures are not readily able to be practiced.

Certainly that information may not always be of benefit, but never ?
The types of emergencies you mention happen at a much more sedate pace than falling off a bike. Normally you have time, in a car, to think about those types of situations and take proper action. When you come unglued from a bike it happens right now and there isn't much time for thought about anything.

But, I take your point. Reading, studying, and learning from other's mistakes is never worthless, you are right. I have several books here and they all cover the proper thing to do in certain situations, and they all emphasize that the only way to learn to do that is practice, practice, practice.
 

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If I had the presence of mind to grab my sleeves instead of putting a hand out a couple of years ago, I probably wouldn't have broken anything. I was in my first year back riding after 16 years away and had the wrong reflexes. Dirt bike riding on cheap little off roader is good practice.
Would you mind elaborating on "grabbing your sleeves"? Thanks much. Merry Christmas to all.
 

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The left hand grabs the right sleeve between the shoulder and elbow while the right hand grabs the left sleeve in a similar manner. Keep the elbows tight against the body. Let the elbow and shoulder pads do their job. Tuck the legs in too. It's limbs flying around unrestrained that get broken.
 

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Don't

The only reason I can think of to 'lay down' a bike is if some low-hanging obstacle threatens to separate your head from your shoulders. In any imminent vehicle accident, you are able to slow far more effectively when the rubber side is down, meaning you'll hit whatever you're going to hit much more slowly, and most of your critical bits are less likely to get run over in the process. Yeah, a low-side is much less likely to break your parts than a high side, and you will be chasing the bike, rather than vice-versa. My one significant experience in a high-speed low-side (too fast for the corner, lousy rear tire), since I wasn't ATGATT at the time, was to roll, slowly, as the contact patch heated up. Fortunately a heavy winter coat took most of the damage. Realize that any crash, on the street, is a crap-shoot, so there's no 'right' way, except not to crash. Even if you get on the ground with no damage, there's a chance some oblivious cager will run you over. Considering my age and accumulated damage, I suspect any future crash will be my last. So I ride cautiously and carefully.
 
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