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Featured Avoiding future crash losing/regaining traction wet road

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by Salad Cycle, Apr 29, 2015.

  1. #1 Salad Cycle, Apr 29, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2015

    Recently I lost traction on a wet road with a slight turn resulting in a crash.

    In this and many previous situations where I sense that I am losing traction I pull in the clutch and maintain my upright position. Doing so keeps me upright on the bike unless I am heading straight into an obstacle like a telegraph pole. In my crash I eased on the brakes being careful not to lock them up but it happened so quick all I could think of was my inevitable impact.

    I am wondering if I can better handle or prevent loss of traction situations and prevent death or serious injury in the future.

    One thing I think I could do is reduce my speed in wet weather but I am not sure how much of a reduction is optimal. Obviously traveling 20kph slower will reduce the likelihood of a loss of traction or the injury sustained but it might be a hassle for other angry motorists.
  2. Get yourself a small dirtbike and practice on the dirt. Slide control is at the top end of learning to ride. Other than be soft in any inputs and that includes closing the throttle if it does let go I dont know what else to advise,
    Use the best rubber you can afford and religiously check pressures.Scan the road for deeper wet bits and shinny oil tell tails.
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  3. Don't pull in your clutch. The engine helps to create traction on the rear wheel by 'driving' the wheel 'into' the ground. (might not be describing this well but you get the point). Pulling in the clutch therefore reduces traction and the control you have over the motorcycle. Potentially you could also then have problems when releasing the clutch afterwards if revs are mismatched etc. Smoothness is the key in the wet. No hard frantic braking, acceleration, tipping into corners etc.

    Only ever go as fast as you feel comfortable. Stuff the cagers behind you. They do not get hurt when you fall off now do they!
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  4. This was your problem. If you are losing grip, asking the tyres for more grip is a good way to lose it all.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. "Lost traction' is a pretty broad concept. First you've got to work out why you lost traction. There's a lot of possible reasons: aquaplaning, spinning up the rear under power, overbraking, changing down too low, leaning off the edge of the tyre, debris or oil on the road...
    The response may not be that same for each cause.
    • Agree Agree x 3
  6. 1. Don't worry about people behind you. For god sakes. They can wait or go around. What is optimal is slowing down so YOU are safe. You shouldn't have to die just because I'm in a car behind you and I want to get home 8 seconds faster just because you went round that bend at the speed limit.

    2. What tyres are you running? This could be contributing.

    3. Don't pull in the clutch. You are actually losing all the traction you have. The power of the engine forcing the tyre onto the road provides traction. Pulling the clutch in you will lose this. Your much better backing off the throttle.
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  7. Sounds to me like the op started to lose the front, panicked and cut drive under brakes dramatically worsening the situation and so crashing. If the front starts to go hold the throttle steady or wind it on a little while bringing it upright if possible. If the rear starts to go point the bike in the right direction and hold steady til it resolves itself. Maybe some professional instruction is worth looking into?
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  8. I take most corners like an absolute nanna when it's wet. No point risking it. Especially in autumn wet when there are roads covered in leaves and debris. Use common sense for corner speeds. If the road is conglomerate, there is debris, hydrants, plates, tar snakes, white lines, uneven surface or anything that isn't perfect black road, then I will take the corner at a speed I practically have no lean greater than 5 degrees.

    It took a few drops as a learner to work this out. My wet speeds have not improved much since then.
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  9. I'm really not fussed by the wet, it is in fact difficult for me to understand how worried/paranoid people get by it. I've never found it particularly difficult or perilous. I hit a white line while leaned over once, front started to go so I twisted my wrist and got on with my day. It wasn't a big deal.

    In other news I wouldn't worry about cagers in the wet, my experience is that they are either reckless and therefore easy to spot, or far more commonly completely useless(timid).
    • Agree Agree x 1
  10. What were the circumstances of the crash? How long had the road been wet? Where was it? etc
  11. Don't pull in the clutch. It really reduces your control. A bit of throttle for example keeps the weight off the front and can help save a slide, and engine braking is smoother than brakes.
    What do you mean "I sense that I am losing traction". If you're in Vic, HART do offroad courses where you can learn about a bike moving under you. In my experience, losing traction is not a subtle "sense" thing.
    Some people ride in a higher gear when traction is low so its less likely to spin up. I like a lower gear for the engine braking.
    Suggest you do a course before you hurt yourself. There's too many flaws that could have caused you to crash.
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  12. To what extent do you guys deliberately reduce lean angle in the wet? So far my tactics have mainly been smoothness (tricky with my bike's slightly snatchy throttle), anticipation, and keeping my speed down.

    Recently though I was riding a road with very deep and loose gravel, and found myself keeping my lean angle very shallow on corners (through shifting body weight). The feeling of lack of traction was so visceral that this was pretty much automatic.

    Should I do the same on wet roads?
  13. You can go quicker than you think in the wet. Depends on your tyres and feel for the traction. Compared with a dry 25 degree day, I do what you do. Fairly gentle lines, slow down a bit, and keep away from painted lines, tar snakes and leaf litter (wheee).
  14. It was pretty wet as it had been raining and was lightly raining at the time.
    By sensing losing traction I felt the wheels move to the side and the bike falling to one side. The wheels spinning faster than the road and drifting like a dirt bike or jet ski.
    I had lost traction at least two other times that trip but managed to regain control before falling (because I was not pointed towards an obstacle).

    I'll try using the suggestions in this thread once I am back on the road (still got some repairs to do).
  15. On a well "washed" wet bitumen based road with good unpolished top pavement, without free standing water and/or loose grit, dirt, oil etc., traction drops by as much as 15% - 20% according to some stuff I've read. Depending on the hotmix used, this drop could be less.

    The type of tyres also have a big part to play too. Any of the current state of the art "road" tyres (Pilot roads, Strada's etc) have wet road features and compounds so should be confidence inspiring - especially if not old and worn. Older models and old tyres though can't be as relied on.

    Even so, I definitely blouse up in the wet and slow down some.
  16. I suspect you had plenty of traction available despite the rain and your problem may have been you asked too much of the front brake while you were leaned over possibly due to a moment of panic. Unless you have particularly bad tyres or your tyres are inflated to a grossly wrong pressure or there is loads and loads of crud on the road, then you have much much more grip in the wet than you think.

    You may, though not often, feel one of the tyres squirm and the bike slip a few inches when leaned over and turning in the wet but this is not really losing traction and the bike will become stable again without you doing anything and you can continue on as if nothing has happened.

    If your bike has a reasonable amount of power, you may sometimes spin up the rear tyre while accelerating. This is also not a big problem although it can feel bothering, you just ease off the throttle (but don't snap it shut) and the rear will regain traction.

    Avoid riding over painted road markings with the bike leaned over. Look at the road and if there is fresh oil or diesel spilled on it, then you will be able to see it.

    Avoid braking on turns. Get your speed right before you enter the turn so that you do not need to brake. Power through the turn with the bike in gear and without using the clutch (unless it is a really tight turn, where you can slip the clutch but still leave it partially engaged). The bike is more stable when under power. If you mess it up and enter a turn too fast then ease off on the throttle and use the rear brake.
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  17. 1) Buy decent tyres, even if they still have tread on them. As tyres age past a couple of years they harden up resulting in them becoming less sticky and don't warm up. Important if the bike is second hand. You should be able to pick at the tread and get your finger nail to dig into it and after a long ride feel them get warm.

    2) Check your tyre pressures and top up if needed.
    3) Watch your white lines and arrows. Think twice about lane splitting or gunning it off the lights when its wet.
    4) Look at the road surface as your braking, if the texture or road compound changes so will your available braking force...
    5) If its the first time its rained in a little while, oil and crude from the last few weeks comes to the surface.
    6) New or resurfaced roads leech kerosene for the first couple of days when its wet.

    Your bike should be able to maintain or get close to the posted speed limit and advisory signs around most corners without any dramas. Certainly slow down to virtually a stop around round-abouts and the first couple of corners out from a petrol station.

    As you and many of us have found out, once you loose traction in the wet, especially if your braking...you will be sliding down the road before you have time to realise your mistake let alone correct it.
  18. Great tips guys.

    I finally got the bike legal to ride last night and went for a quick ride at night. I started a trip today but after getting to the petrol station to inflate my tires it started riding. I think I'll hold off on wet riding while terrified.
  19. Don't let the boogieman of wet weather riding build up as a psychological block. We are coming in to winter so unless you stop riding you won't be able to avoid wet roads. I know your confidence is shot at the moment but ease back in to it and you will start to get more confident in rain. (y)
    • Agree Agree x 4