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October 03, 2022

Ask Biker Ed 06

By Ed Moyer

This via an e-mail request from someone called Warrior.

"We had a recent fatality in the area involving a motorcycle. A biker in the neighborhood theorized it probably happened because the rider leaned too hard on the front tire and said something about how too much weight in the front can make the bike flip, especially at speeds in excess of 65 mph (the motorcyclist had been doing about 80 when he flipped) and/or when braking.

How does that work? How do you have to ride to counteract that?"

This at first glance sounds like a classic case of showing off on a bike that you aren't overly familiar. Much like a old man seeing a child's BMX bicycle, grabbing it and instantly attempting to reclaim some of the glory of his misspent youth -- thereby doing various tricks and such, getting a head of steam up and attempting to jump said bike up the curb in a residential area and landing completely wrong and spraining his wrist severely. (Looks around innocently.)

What was the question again?

Ah yes, I am going to hypothesize that this was a 'crotch rocket' styled bike. Mainly because it is far easier to lean over on those or motocross bikes than the typical cruiser styled bike. That being said, just like on a car with front wheel drive, when you hit your brakes harder than you expected to the car will lean drastically forward, since the majority of the weight is there it slows the car down without having too adverse an effect on handling.

Just like, on the BMX bike it is possible to do a 'reverse wheelie' on some motorcycles. This can basically be achieved through getting a good head of speed up and leaning hard towards the front of the bike while applying the front brakes in an extreme manner. All momentum is shifted to the front of the bike. Thereby lifting the rear end of the bike into the air for what some think is a spectacular display of showmanship. The danger lies in having too much speed built up and applying too much brake. There is a very thin margin of error here.

How does one counteract this? Don't be an asshat for one. Stay centered on the bike -- leaning left and right is one thing, leaning forwards or back is a completely different thing. Leaning towards the front or back of the back at times is detrimental to the over all handling of the bike. Too much weight on the front end when going over rough roads and you can lose control. Too much weight towards the rear when trying to take off could cause you to 'pop a wheelie' not always advisable when you have a rider with you.

Article © Ed Moyer. All rights reserved.
Published on 2005-10-10
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