Tuesday, April 10, 2012

throttle control

The slow motion replay on this should be required viewing for anyone wanting to avoid lowsiding in the twisties.  Keep an eye on his right (throttle) wrist from about 0:13 onwards, and then repeat to yourself "I will be smooth on the throttle" a few hundred times.

It's worth watching this in a larger window or full screen.


  1. Hmmm... so what exactly was he trying to do there? It wasn't just a case of slightly unsteady throttle (which I'm certainly guilty of) - was he trying to back off mid corner and wash off some speed? That little back-off, then put it back on routine (what maybe 3 times?) seemed really odd.

    My guess now is that if he did manage to wash off some speed then his lean was suddenly too great? Or there may have been some rear brake as well?

    Everything I've read so far says if you are running wide then look farther and lean more.

    I so don't want to be that rider :)

    1. My read is that he accelerated a little too hard while at full lean, and the back end started to slide out. Problem #1.

      Then he "chopped" the throttle - came off abruptly. Easy, easy to do, but nevertheless, Problem #2. The back wheel has regained traction, which is good, but weight has transferred off the back wheel onto the front wheel, which is applying more pressure on the front forks (which lessens their ability to cope with changes in the road surface) and unsettles the rear suspension (which reduces the bikes ability to hold the rear wheel on the road, and apply smooth power to the road).

      At this point, the rider is in big trouble. The only thing he could have done as far as I can tell is to apply countersteering force to pick the bike back upright, brake heavily as the bike heads towards the dirt, and hope that he's managed to slow down enough to control the bike when the front wheel hits dirt. The bike will probably still fall over, but hopefully at a slower speed, doing less damage.

      I should be clear though that I think if I got myself in the position that he got himself in, the outcome would be exactly the same - I expect I'd chop the throttle and unsettle the bike, and from that point it would be exceptional luck rather than good management or skill if my bike stayed rubber side down.

      Anyway the rider is in a real pickle now. He is slowing down a little, which is picking the bike up a touch, and I expect now he's worrying about running wide (if he's thinking at all!)... his front end is loaded up, the bike is unbalanced, and he's probably just had a little lurch in his seat (and the pit of his stomach) as he chopped the throttle. He then rolled on again - whether to try to correct or because he had lost his balance, I'm not sure - but it looks to me like at the same time as applying more throttle he has fallen slightly forward and to the left and pulled on the right handlebar - which is the same as pushing on the left, making the bike want to turn left harder and lean further into the turn.

      Well the poor little gixxer didn't have any hope of fighting off gravity at this point, and down they both went.

      Fundamentally this accident was caused by pushing too hard. When you're leaning the bike over a long long way, you have less margin for error - considerably less. The more upright the bike is, the better chance you have of coping with something unexpected. Of course bikes have to lean to turn, and hell that's part of the fun, but only push it to the edge if you are ok about maybe falling over.

  2. Ah, cool, that does make sense... Going in too hard is probably not something I'm likely to do unless I really screw up big time. :|

    At which point I'd resemble this guy pretty much I suspect... or maybe just not getting down so much and running wide, braking and hitting the dirt...

    But hey. :)