Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Over she goes!

The first big motorcycle ride of the year, and what do I do? Drop the motorcycle. First off, there were no injuries (well, not to a physical person, the bike did have some damage).

I was riding on Snickersville Turnpike, which is a nice country road in the rural western part of Northern Viriginia. The only part of the road that is tricky is an uphill, 180 degree hairpin turn (also known as a switchback) at one end. If you plan out your line, and keep the bike moving, it's possible to do. But I never enjoy doing it.

This time, I was behind another motorcycle. Just before we started up an incline, a pickup truck pulled out in front of us and took the lead. As we approached the hairpin turn, the truck slowed, then stopped, even though there was no one coming in the opposite direction. This completely threw off my line, and in trying to readjust my path, I wound up going too slow, and the bike didn't have enough momentum to continue. She started going over.

I ride a Kawasaki Concours. (affectionately called a Connie by its owners) It's a great bike. One reason why a lot of riders like it is because it has a 7.5 gallon fuel tank, which is pretty large for a stock tank. However, unlike some bikes like the Honday Goldwing, or ST1300, the tank is right up there, between my knees, and that means the full weight of the gas (which I had topped off that morning) was leaning over to the right. That's over 40 pounds. Most Connie owners know that if the bike starts going over, it's very very hard to keep it up. And down she went.

Another thing that many Concours owners know is that if the bike goes over, you might as well expect that the footpeg bracket will be broken, even before you take a look underneath. The other rider was off the road in the gravel, but was able to get his bike back on the road, then came over to help me right the bike. Yep, there's the footpeg laying down there on the asphalt. Groan

The other rider helped me to clean up some of the other stuff that was on the road (pieces of the bracket, and some screws that popped off an air deflector I had on the bike). After it was cleaned up, I mounted up and rode the bike straight home. No sense taking a risk by riding more without a footpeg to secure my foot. Most of the way I kept my foot on the passenger peg, until my leg started cramping up. I'm just glad it was the right side footpeg that broke (if either of them were to break). The brakes are on the right side of the bike. If the left side peg had broken, it would be really tricky to shift the bike on the ride back.

Anyway, a new bracket has already been ordered, as well as a replacement deflector. The bike should be fine for the Ride to Remember coming up soon. Once the adrenaline wore off, my arms and leg were sore from when I tried (unsucessfully) to hold the bike up, but that'll go away.

The one "silver cloud" here? When I described what happened to my wife, she asked about how the experience would be different if I were on a Goldwing (the bike I'm looking into getting someday). I told her that the fuel was stored down low (beneath the seat actually), so there was a lower center of gravity. Also the seat height was lower, so my feet would be more firmly planted on the asphalt. Also, there are bars on the bike that help prevent pieces from breaking off in the event that the bike goes down. After reviewing this, she said maybe I should look into getting a Wing now, rather than waiting a few years as we originally thought.


Mordechai Y. Scher said...

Well, I'm sure glad that *you* are okay. Bikes can be fixed, as you already know.

I'm not looking for a different bike, but *if* I do, I think I'll try a different tactic to convince my wife! ;-)

(Why did I think you were participating in something in NY?)

Mordechai Y. Scher said...

BTW, why do you want to switch. The 'Wing is a fine bike, but the few Connies that I've seen look quite nice.

Jewish Deaf Motorcycling Dad said...

I've had my Concours for just about 10 years (new in Nov '97). It's a great bike, and has served me well. But it's just a tad tall. I've managed to adapt, but there have been a few instances where I've been very uncomfortable with my footing. I don't know if it would have saved me in this situation or not, but it certainly didn't help. I've sat on a few Wings, and can flat foot them easily.

Also, I really find the new design (GL1800 vs. GL1500) to be appealing. Just looking at it makes me want to jump on and ride.

I've seen the new Concours that is coming out soon, but it looks to be even taller, which will pretty much make it impossible for me.

The NY thing is the first weekend in May. http://www.ride2remember.com/ Hope I don't drop it then, as my wife will be with me!

Mordechai Y. Scher said...

I definately understand about the height thing. My wife dropped my Yamaha about three times (all at stops!). She's 5'4", and that was just a bit too tall for her, even though it fits me fine (5'7"). She finally gave it up in disgust, in favor of a Shadow 600. The height was a decisive factor (though not the only one). With my Honda 750Four I put on shorter rear shocks and a cut down seat, and I still only flat foot it when I'm wearing my thicker soled work boots. When that 500 pounds starts to tilt, I pay attention!

What about the Honda ST1100? Looks nice, performs pretty well. How does it compare to the Goldwing on seat height?

Jewish Deaf Motorcycling Dad said...

It's about an inch or two taller than the wing. Same with the ST1300 (the replacement for the ST1100). I've sat on a bunch of the bikes (nice thing about the Cycle Word motorcycle shows, you can sit on just about any bike in production) and most of the sport touring bikes (ST1100/1300, FJR1300, the new Connie, etc.) are taller. After "adjusting" for the tallness for 10 years, I'd rather get a bike that I don't have to adjust for. I haven't decided anything yet. I'll probably start looking at ads and options seriously after Shavuot. Maybe I'll wait until the fall. Most used bikes tend to sell in the spring or fall. (Spring because people decide they want a new bike, so sell the old one; fall because they realized they never rode their bike and want to get rid of it)

Mordechai Y. Scher said...

BTW, since you're interested in the Gold Wing- Motorcycle Classics in the recent issue had a short article on the introduction of the Gold Wing in the seventies.