Welcome to Netrider ... Connecting Riders!

Interested in talking motorbikes with a terrific community of riders?
Signup (it's quick and free) to join the discussions and access the full suite of tools and information that Netrider has to offer.

My first stack - damn gravel!

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by crembz, Jun 8, 2015.

  1. Hi All,

    Hit just over 600kms on my bike today and came off the bike for the first time ... and contrary to everything everyone around me has been saying ... I survived!!

    Ok so jokes aside I really want to learn from the experience so I'm hoping for some words of wisdom for where I went wrong.

    I came off as I turned off a relatively fast paved road and left into my driveway, sounds simple right? Catch is cars behind me I'm trying to stay clear of travelling at 80km/h and a gravel strip between the paved road and paved driveway.

    I indicate well in advance, position towards the center of the road, apply front brake and begin downshifting all the way to about 20km/h, turn in left, front wheel hits gravel ... game over. Bike kept sliding into the gravel (which was surprisingly soft and comfy)

    Only damage I did besides my ego was the gear shift pedal, which I pulled back out and started her up again, took a few tries, and rode back up my driveway.

    In hindsight, what could I have done differently to navigate the gravel? I'm thinking I may have been coming in too quick, had front brake only applied and may have been leaning slightly. Or perhaps I should be on the left hand side of the lane and come to an almost complete stop before turning, allowing cars past on the right?
  2. Gravel sucks, glad your ok. If I see gravel I try to keep bike as upright as possible and coast through with no brakes on.
    • Agree Agree x 3
  3. The exact same thing happened to me a couple of months ago, I think the best thing to do when you know you're turning onto gravel is to brake well in advance and make sure the bike is upright and you're off the brakes
    Glad to hear you're okay :)
    • Like Like x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. I followed a mate of mine down a dirt road yesterday ... that was slippery enough. Loose gavel ... well I just found out how bad that is. I need to hit the council up for a proper crossover. Or I'll just continue my driveway all the way to the road.

    So no brakes at all and bike upright is the trick, means I need to hit the gravel at under 10km/h? I was wondering whether if I'd used my rear brake as well as the front whether that would have made any difference to the slide?
    • Like Like x 1
  5. #5 Nicholai_Chev, Jun 8, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2015
    The 'good ole gravel lowside trick' ...glad you and the bike live to see another day.

    Gravel can be treated and feels almost like tramtracks or ice and is quite the seat clenching experience when you hit it unexpendently. If your leant over and come across gravel, by the time you realize whats happened your bike is departing between your legs and your sliding down the road on your bum.

    Driveways are often the worst (turning into them, or around a bend with one on it). Looking ahead and keeping within a single tyre track is often the best way approach it.

    If you're turning into a driveway, try to do it as a slow right angle turn or if you can't come to a near stop turn diagonally onto it to get off the road without leaning, then turn yourself fully into the driveway...unless you have nobbly dirt tyres on and you want to do some wicked drift instead. As hard as it is often is, try to avoid getting pressured to make hot exits off the road. If you're nervous about slowing down with traffic behind you, pull over a few hundred metres earlier to let them past.
    • Agree Agree x 3
    • Like Like x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  6. Come to a complete standstill, get off the bike and push it up
    • Like Like x 1
  7. By the time you're in the slide, you're royally screwed.
    What brake you use will be of no matter as you simply have 0 traction. At best you might be able to throw yourself over the bars to one side to stand the bike up for just long enough to regain traction, however thats a longshot and certainly not something you would call a tactic.

    Consider the following videos as to how fast it occurs and how little time you have to react.

    • Informative Informative x 1
  8. Glad you are ok....:)
    • Agree Agree x 1
  9. Excellent advice mate, I'll get some nobby tires ;-). Jokes aside I think I'll just have to come to a near stop, at best idling in 1st. Diagonal isn't really an option I'll just end up going through more gravel. Have to rely on the cagers behind me not running up my arse =D
  10. BTW I can't for the life of me see what they slipped on, especially in the 2nd clip ... kinda concerning really, how randomly something like that can happen.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Most of us can pull off the road into the gravel and stop or ride along in the gravel without any drama if we do it slowly enough. So maybe go onto the gravel a bit before your driveway, cross it at a shallow angle then onto your drive way? If you go on the driveway in the corner should have enough room to turn it.
    • Agree Agree x 4
  12. Glad you found it useful, gravel/bark/leaves is something that catches most of us out at some time or another. It happens and its nothing to beat yourself up over. My scare was from sawdust when the council/ses cleared a fallen tree.

    Gravel is hard to see, especially the small grainy types. A good habit when planning a corner is to look directly down the line you plan to take and look specifically for gravel or debris. Ideally you should always be traveling in a tyre track as this normally is the cleanest part of the road. Avoid crossing over the middle of the lane to the adjacent tyre track to maintain a race line while your leant over, this is where the debris tends to accumulate which is what may have contributed to the second rider low-siding.

    As to going diagonally, going "straight" off the road on an angle onto a gravel driveway will only affect your braking and won't put you into a slide. If you break it into two distinctive turns: 1) Get off the road no lean, 2) Turn and align yourself onto the gravel at a slow speed you can still exit off at a good speed (~25km/.h)

    Attached is a picture of how I would get off a sealed road. Blue = Ideal 90' turn onto gravel, Red = Turn broken into two parts.
  13. Too true, I think I've come in too quick, front brake on and leaning. I've pulled off and stopped straight on gravel before but never realised how little traction you actually have if you're turning. I'm guessing the same holds true for crossing train/tram tracks?
  14. Glad you survived your "First slide". You had the right idea but may have still come in a bit hot. It was using your front brake (even lightly) on the gravel that sent you belly up. Your "lean" which changes the bikes centre of gravity from straight down to an angle away from the ground reduces the bikes "grip"and some gravel can be like ball bearings. Best to stay as vertical as possible when turning on gravel (set your speed so you can turn by steering not leaning - 10kph or less) and NEVER use the front brake whilst turning on gravel. The front end will slide out every time and with the weight of a road bike + round smooth tyres you're going down. If you do need to slow on gravel try rear brake only (gently) as you can counter steer out of a slow rear end slide. Do your turn in prep. on the road so you cross the gravel in a straight line. If cars are worrying you then pull into the kerb 1st and then manouevre the bike into the driveway at walk speed.

    A word of warning, don't ride across grassy slopes (even gentle slopes) the front wheel will slip out without even touching the brakes - and that's at walk speed..... road bike = bitumen rule No.1
    • Like Like x 3
  15. Front brake while turning? If we were told once we were told 100 times never to use the front brake while turning. Once your front washes out it's all over.

    I agree with twistngotwistngo. 80km/h in front of your house is a bummer though. Indicate, bring your speed down, go onto the gravel for a few meters continuing to drop your speed and once you are slow enough at your driveway turn in. You should be slow enough to not need to brake during the turn.

    Can you get out there with a yard broom and tidy up the gravel? Is it gravel on top of bitumen or gravel on top of dirt?

    If you get it tidied up you could always hang the rear out and flat track into the driveway! lol ;)
  16. Nah it's a major road leading into a country town, gravel on top of dirt. My driveway is bitumen, I was actually thinking the other day that I should just continue the bitumen over the gravel and up to the road. Might just have the incentive to do it now :)
  17. Sweet. Might make it that bit safer for you :) Glad you you didn't pay too high a price in gravel rash, etc :)
    • Like Like x 1
  18. Glad to hear you're OK crembzcrembz ..
    • Like Like x 1
  19. Glad you are ok. 80k zone in front of your turn is a pain. You did the right thing by indicating and braking early but then let the following cars psychologically pressure you in to the turn before you were ready. With the important proviso that you watch them in your mirrors and see that they are stopping they can wait until you are slow enough to make the turn safely.
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  20. Glad to hear you're ok crembzcrembz . Lots of good advice here!

    I sympathie because my turn home is a 100 kmph country road right hander covered with gravel thanks to the school bus that stops at that intersection. It gets interesting when you have a line of cars behind you all flat stick.

    I also have to watch for the odd passer from behind that could seriously make it a bad day for me.