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How to deal with wet tram tracks?

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by Masakali, Mar 4, 2012.

  1. I know when possible we are suppose to cross them as perpendicular as possible, but what happens when you have no choice? ie. changing lanes to avoid cars turning, tracks merging with lane etc.

    When they are dry, they seem okay, but when wet, I can feel it slip and gives my heart a good thump.

  2. quickly..

    approach at your shallow angle, then turn the front wheel so it crosses as close as you can safely get it to 90 degrees. stay off the power and keep yourself balanced and don't fight the bike. The Heart Thump is better than a DEFIB so enjoy it :D
  3. I know of one rider who'll do a turn OFF a tram-tracked road to avoid exactly this scenario, but you're going to have to do it sooner or later, and Thera's about covered it. Don't be tentative; soft hands and decisive throttle control are the ideal...
  4. Sometimes there's nothing you can do, if you go down you go down
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Hang loose and don't look directly at them.
    Also a double apex turn helps, turn in, straighten up then turn in again.
    It's not graceful but it does the job.
  6. I would love to avoid them but when all 4 parallel roads (toorak, malvern, high, wattletree) have these damn tram tracks on them your not left with much choice.

    I do avoid the superstops on Whitehorse Rd in the wet though, I have seen other riders slip and come off there as well. Maybe that's why Mick Hone is there =p
  7. I've often thought that myself, though I'm sure Mick would say it was just co-incidence :LOL:
  8. They won't bite unless you do something daft. Then they'll knock your arsk flat in a billisecond.

    You can't cross them at 90 degrees, so you have make sure that you cross them at as big of an angle that is practical. So turn into them - straighten and you cross, then turn again to straighten up. A bit like quickly changing from the left wheel track to the right wheel track through a quick countersteer.
    You do do practice that don't you? (quick steering between wheel tracks) if you don't then start to, as it is a very good tool to be good at when dodging things on the road, teaches you the importance of countersteering and bike control, AND is good for crossing team tracks, when you need to adjust your position on the road.
  9. Perhaps you need to describe the circumstances where you have no choice. They would have to be few and far between. A Raven described, even when you are running parallel to them you can still make your turn closer to perpendicular.

    But other things to do while crossing is be smooth, try to keep throttle constant do not brake and try to be upright.
  10. IME just make sure the bike is not multitasking and you'll be fine (don't brake, accelerate or turn when crossing tram tracks).

    Try and get as perpendicular to them as you can but you wont get far when your riding along at 60+ kph parallel to the lines.
  11. I'm still quite new to all this, I guess I should head back to the carpark, I just don't want to be too erratic while on the road, especially in the wet.

    The tram stops along Whitehorse Rd in Balwyn would be a good example, ie. 651 whitehorse rd, balwyn. or Bridge Rd/Church St intersections where the lane merges with the tracks.
  12. That's it, try it in the dry first.
    Just imagine the straight painted lines are the tram tracks.
    A decisive shift from one side to the other, noting the techniques others have mentioned previously. :D
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Yes I know whitehorse road quite well where you speak of.
    One thing tram tracks...the location you cross can be favourable or not, so you need to think ahead and look for the smoothest section. Be neither off nor on the gas, and do a quick simulated wheel track change (but doing it over a tram line), and you won't ever have a problem.

    Note. when it's raining and assuming the tracks and road sections aside them are full of depressions or plain disrepair, they will fill up with water if it is raining. THAT area is NOT a good place to cross. Wait for a section that has no puddle covering it.
  14. I've seen a lot of questions about dealing with tram tracks, and they are making an appearance again as new people learn to deal with them (particularly in winter). I deal with tram tracks consistently on my daily commute into Melbourne, so I thought I'd put up some of my strategies for how I deal with them. I'm happy to hear any constructive criticism from other riders, but, my hope is that this will be an easy to read instructional thread to allow new riders the chance to hear from people who are/have dealt with this issues, so please keep it concise and civil. So, here goes:

    The main “trick” to handling tram tracks (IMO) is to remain vertical while crossing. If you can, keeping the intersecting angle as close to 90 deg to the tram track will help, but isn’t always possible, and isn’t as important (IMO) as your BIKE remaining 90 deg to the road surface. (i.e. you are NOT leaning over as you are crossing).

    Basic rules:
    1. Bike is vertical while crossing
    2. SMOOTH movements
    3. No hard accelerating or braking
    4. Look where you want to go (not at the tram tracks)

    You want the bike suspension to be nicely balanced during the crossing, not bouncing around. If you are on the brakes, your front suspension will be loaded up. If you‘re on the throttle, your rear suspension will be loaded up. If you are going through a process of accelerating/braking/accelerating over and over again because you’re hesitant and nervous, your suspension will bounce like a rocking horse.

    Ideally, you want a nice balance (about 60/40 rear/front) as you would while cornering. This means, you’re on the throttle a little bit, but not gunning it.

    If one of your tyres is going to slip a little bit, I’d rather it be the rear than the front. Rear tyre slip just gives you a bit of a wiggle (you can ride that out easy enough). Front tyre slip will often result in the bike going down faster than you can react. Having a little more weight on the rear will help with this.

    I will describe 3 of the scenarios I encounter on my daily commute: (these are not ALL of the possible examples)

    *Note: Orange lines are lane markers on each side of the tram tracks. Tram tracks are Grey. Other road markings are white.
    Also, these are ROUGH diagrams aimed at demonstrating a point. They are not works of art, and the positions/angles may be not entirely perfect, but it's the best I could do for now.

    Right turn across perpendicular tracks

    Turn from Left lane:

    It would be nice to cross the tracks at 90 deg, however, this would leave a very sharp turn once you get over the tracks. I tend to ride in a diagonal line (bike is vertical to the road surface) until I’m over, then turn the bike (lean) to continue around into the left lane.

    If you are concerned about the angle (particularly in the wet), you may accept a sharper turn after the track, but an angle across the track closer to 90 deg:


    Turn from Right lane:

    In this case, I have a little more room to my right, and I often take a sharper diagonal line across the tracks. This lessens my turn angle once I’m over the tracks. Once again, the rules apply, smooth and vertical.

    You may again choose to reduce the diagonal angle if you are concerned about that. This could be due to wet conditions, or another issue to consider is that some times I'm carrying a little more speed into the intersection that I'd necessarily like. This is not ideal, and I try not to do this, but, sometimes circumstances (or my bad choices) put me in this position (trying to catch lights before they change, or a car up my rear and I'm concerned about pulling up for the lights etc...). I SERIOUSLY try to not be in this position, but, if I am, I will carry less angle across the track, and a sharper turn on the other side:


    Right turn across parallel tracks


    These ones can be the hardest to deal with as you have much less room available to turn, making it harder to remain vertical. The trick here is to make it 2 turns instead of only 1. So, the process is:
    1. Start with the bike on an angle if possible. This achieves part of the turn for you already
    2. Turn toward the track as you are taking off
    3. Before you get to the track, straighten the bike up and cross the track in an upright (vertical) position
    4. Once you’re over the track, perform a second turn allowing you to turn into the street you’re dealing with

    Riding alongside parallel tracks

    Where you ride in this instance is very much down to personal preference.
    Some advantages for different positions:


    • No need to actually cross over the tram line at all
    • Filtering is easier (jumping between this position and the lane on your left)
    • Road surface is often shitty in here
    • May encourage cars to attempt to “share” your lane
    • Smaller buffer zone to vehicles (or parked cars) on your left


    • Own your lane, cars not likely to try and share the lane with you
    • Bigger buffer zone to the vehicles (or parked cars) on your left
    • Need to cross the tram track to get in here.
    • Any movement out of this lane (turning or filtering) requires you to cross the tracks again.

    The following comment was added by Robsalvv and is worth noting in here to:

    Right turn when riding inside parallel tracks

    I was asked to consider this type of turn as well, so I've added this in too.

    These are similar to the Right hand turn across parallel tracks already mentioned, however, this time you start from inside the parallel tacks. In this case, you want to treat it as the same 3 step turn, but, your initial turn may need to be shorter.

    If traveling along and I'm able to turn right without stopping, I tend to do it like this:

    I will start my turn JUST before I get to the side street location. This is done to get me on a better angle to cross the track.
    The idea is to get your bike turned such that a straight line across the tracks will get you close to the correct line for the side street.
    Once again, before I ride over the track, I ensure the bike is vertical while crossing. Once crossed over, I complete my turn into the side street.


    If traveling along and I need to stop before turning right (i.e. traffic lights), I tend to do it like this:

    (you should recognise the familiar pattern with this one.)
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  15. Don't suddenly stop in parallel whilst on the track....

  16. wow.... that would hurt... :eek:hno:

    Not entirely a result of the tram tracks in that case, but, does highlight another excellent point.... be aware of your surroundings and watch out for dick head pedestrians! :furious:

    This also demonstrates why practising e-braking is so important.

    EDIT: hmmm.. that looks like a BMW s1000rr. Must've had the ABS switched off.... (Rob in 3...2...1..... :D)
    • Like Like x 1
  17. he ****ing ran off!!!

    Thanks Matt for the detailed post.
    • Like Like x 1
  18. Matt, good post mate!

    IMO, if you change 'upright' to 'vertical' or similar word, then it'd be (IMHO) a golden post. I think what you're trying to convey is don't carry any lean when the rubber touches the metal.

    Example: The main “trick” to handling tram tracks (IMO) is to remain UPRIGHT while crossing. -> The main "trick" to handling tram tracks (IMO) is to approach and keep the bike as vertical as possible while crossing.

    Another thing that gets riders attention is when they do ride parallel to tram tracks and then cross at a very shallow angle (not 90, more like 10degrees), the tram lines might cause some wheel outtracking which feels horrible. It shouldn't be fatal though - just go with it and the bike will sort it out. Just don't remain on the tram line for longer than you need to. :)

    Very topical :)
    • Like Like x 1
  19. Thanks Rob, alterations made. I've added your comment in at the end too.
  20. This should be made a sticky