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Gah... Dropped Bike While Braking in the Wet

Discussion in 'General Motorcycling Discussion' started by nathanh, Mar 20, 2007.

  1. I had a superb ride today through NSW and Victoria. I blatted down the Hume highway to Albury, cruised along Talgarno Road which becomes Murray River Road, across the Snowy Mountains between Tumbarumba and Kiandra, then quickly down to Cooma before heading back up the Monaro highway. About half of the trip was through spitting rain. The pass through the Snowy Mountains was spectacular; I highly recommend it.

    I'm 2 blocks from home and it's still raining but I'm feeling relaxed. I'm heading downhill into a roundabout and there's a car already there so I gently apply the rear brake, my thought process being that applying the front brake in the wet might cause the front wheel to slide out. Then everything goes wrong. The rear wheel fishtails left then swings back to the right and the bike goes down with me underneath it. The whole incident took less than a second.

    Luckily my bike (an XVS650) suffered zero damage because the front brake lever landed on my right leg, holding the rest of the bike off the road. I've got an awesome technicolor bruise where the lever pushed against my leg. A passing motorist had to lift the bike off me because I was pinned. I'm happy that I came out of it so lightly; if I'd been going any faster I reckon I would have hit the car in front of me.

    Was my mistake using the rear brake in the wet? With hindsight I think the weight shifted forwards and because the rear was suddenly light the rear wheel lost traction with the road and the lightly applied rear brake caused the wheel to lock. Should I be using the front brake in the wet and ignoring the rear? And how should I react the next time the rear wheel swings out?
  2. Didn't think it was possible to drop the xvs650, In the wet from what i can remember i gently use the front and use the rear and engine braking for the most as i don't mind the rear sliding around.
  3. Not a mistake to use rear brake in the wet, I tend to brake the same in the wet as dry except more gently, dont want to shock the contact patch. I use front and rear brakes.

    The weight won't shift forward using the rear brake alone, I'd say you just applied too much or too quickly and simply locked it up. Or possibly hit some oil or something on the road.

    Hope this helps.
  4. Ride in the wet at 2/3 of how you would in the dry is usually safe.

    So lean a bit less in the corners, go easy on the throttle and use your brakes a bit lighter and allow yourself more time to stop.

    You definately should have been using your front brake, some people will say don't use rear at all but if you can use it without locking up it will slow you down quicker using both. In most instances if you feel your rear wheel lockup you should get off the brake and let it regain traction.
  5. There's nothing wrong with using rear brake in the wet. You wouldn't get enough braking force off it to put in a big forward weight transfer anyway. Did you drop down gears too quick? There might have been some shit on the road. Anyway, I'd take a nice big bruise over bike damage any day!
  6. There is definitely something wrong with ONLY using the rear-brake in the wet.

    A stop on a straight should involve standard braking procedure: throttle off, front-brake - squeeze gently, rear-brake - gently, clutch in, gear down.

    In the wet you just need to do this more gently than in the dry.

    Unless your bars are turned, your front brake is the best brake - the rear brake is certainly appropriate for washing off small amounts of speed [mid corner if you have to brake, use the rear one - but your speed should be set beforehand], or maintaining low speed while maneuvering.

    The advice above that the rear-brake is OK to use on it's own when coming to a stop is simply wrong.
  7. It was downhill too, which already takes more weight off the rear. I'd say use both brakes, with care, giving yourself time. Still, lesson learned, no on-going injury and no financial cost: score!
  8. you definately needed to still use the front brake. you needed to find that balance so that you apply the brakes evenly. by jsut using the rear brake you slowed with momentum moving forward and the rear loosing weight and traction so it locked up.

    front brake is the most important brake, its the % that varies.
  9. If you were on a downslope, your weight is already at the front of the bike.
    Using rear brakes dont make the back any lighter. Thats the effect application
    of the front brakes has on the bike. Rear brakes dont lock up for no reason
    causing the bike to fish-tail. Its locked up due to too much force used with the
    right foot.

    Should use both front & back brakes whether roads is wet or dry. What changes
    depending on road conditions is the force you apply them. This is taught to you
    when you did your Learners.

    Whatever force is being used that causes rear to go out (whether it be acceleration
    or braking) is the force that needs to be reduced, not removed altogether.

    If you back is sliding out under acceleration & you remove all acceleration (which
    is what normal reaction would be),instead of reducing it, you can easily be thrown
    off. Same goes for braking.

    The normal reaction will be to apply more brakes (which will not help).

    Downgearing too early can cause the same thing. Only other reason I can think of
    is you may have hit some oil or white lines.
  10. In general, any time you are slowing down you will have weight transfer towards the front of the bike and away from the rear, doesn't matter that you might only be using the rear brake.
    Think about a front wheel drive car, when it accelerates the weight transfers towards the rear resulting in the front end going light. That's why they can't accelerate off the line as fast as a rear wheel drive car can. Nothing to do with which end is doing the driving or braking.
    It's pretty simple really, your going down a slope so more weight than usual is already transfered to the front end. You start using the rear brake transferring even more weight to the front, rear locks, you start fishtailing and your gone. You were probably also using more rear brake than usual to compensate for the fact you decided not to use the front.
    Also remember that with the added weight transfer towards the front end the contact patch of the front tyre increases, further increasing the braking force that you can potentially use. That's the main reason why rider courses always instruct you to progressively squeeze the brakes.
  11. i brake some rear brake lock ups with no front brake in the dry and it fish tail'n

    i guess its more harsh in the wet :(

    bad luck, i guess you can always learn from that and go forward :)
  12. Everyone else has really summed it up so i think all i can say is just go easy in the wet. In another post i said i always setup and use both brakes but release the front under 20-25km and just use the rear from there on.
    Another thing id highly recomend is riding dirt bikes if you know anyone that has one. They slide around all the time so it gives you good practice on controlling the road bike if it steps out.
  13. yeah, i use engine braking alot, and im trying to use the front brake more. even with my limited experience on motorbikes, ive found sending the back wheel out, quite similar to drifting on my bicycle. last year i had no license for 3 months so rode to work and got lots of practise (and replacement tyres) drifting like that.

    practise is all you can do, everyone stuffs up occasionally, just make sure you adjust your style for the future so you learn from the error.
  14. happened to me today. in my case was the tire had stone particles in a wet road... skid about 45 degrees.. past the red light... lucky the camera didnt goes off. had the awful skidding tire noise. before that i skid while lane splitting on the paint strip. so yeah, i think rear brake needs extra caution on wet condition