My Motorcycle Crash Video Reaches 100,000 Viewers

I’m not sure if this is something to be proud of… I cringe whenever I watch this video. The video is a direct window into a former self. A younger self, a naive self…a stupid self. It’s a reminder that we all have to start somewhere.

I receive mostly negative comments about this video on YouTube. Everyone hates the music, and I find this hilarious. 😆 The music is meant to be ironic. Of course it doesn’t fit, but I don’t expect the average YouTuber to see that.

So what happened?

There’s many things that I’m doing wrong in this video. So I want to point out everything in the hopes that it serves to educate other newbies. Let me first explain the series of events that happened:

  1. I thought I was approaching the corner too fast to negotiate it.
  2. I freaked out.
  3. I pressed the rear break too hard.
  4. My rear wheel locked up in the middle of the corner.
  5. I panicked.
  6. My eyes locked onto the side of the road.
  7. Continued to brake but stopped bothering to turn.
  8. Hit the grass at around 10mph and then the bike slipped out from under me.

So what contributed to this series of events?

The bike could have negotiated the corner at the speed I was traveling at, but the speed was faster than I was used to. My mind was not acclimated to those speeds in those circumstances. I was riding beyond my skill level, and so, I freaked out.

Freaking out caused me to stab the rear brake, which in turn locked up the rear wheel and spiraled into panic.

My panic diverted my eyes from the road to what I was about to hit. You really to do go where you look. Once I looked off to the side of the road I had a classic case of target fixation, and then it was all downhill (literally!) from there.

Luckily I and the bike rode away with only minor scratches.

What should I have done?

I shouldn’t have been riding that fast even though the corner could have been negotiated at that speed. My tires could have handled double the speed, but without the skill to push your motorcycle to that level then relatively slow speed can cause panic in a rider’s mind.

We all push thigns too far sometimes, so what should I have done once I got myself into the situation? I should have committed to one of two things: 1) Aggressively braking, or 2) aggressive cornering.

1) Stand the bike up, then brake aggressively, then lean the bike back over and complete the corner. This will make for an ugly “zip-zagged” line, but at least you’ll stay on the road.

2) Continue negotiating the corner even if you think you are going too fast, and apply light braking. Unless you are going at insane speeds, then chances are that your tires can handle the turn. People rarely reach the limits of their tire’s grip. Trust your tires even if it doesn’t feel right. You want to apply light amounts of braking because you can’t afford to use your tires grip for a maximum amount of braking AND cornering. It is a balance between the two.

After an accident, I recommend playing it over in your head to figure out what you did wrong. I have the luxury of video which everyone doesn’t. Suck up your stupid pride and learn from your mistake.

Are there any mistakes I missed? Any solutions that you think would have been better? Any stories of your own to share?

UPDATE 03-24-09: A couple people pointed out in the comments that the rear brake should not be used at all. I completely agree with this and I should have emphasized this. When scrubbing off speed the front brake is far more efficient at doing this. Using the rear brake will do little in a corner and more often distract you (like what happened to me!). There are times when the rear brake should be used, but not while negotiating a corner.

  • James NomadRip

    You’ll get plenty of arguments on both sides of this, but I never touch the rear brake on a sportbike (or any bike when going fast through the twisties). It’s too easy to lock up the rear when leaning, which generally results in nasty highsides. The rear stops rolling, and starts sliding laterally (kicks out).

    You were standing it up when you were locking up the rear, which was good for not having said highside, but it was only good fortune beyond your control that there was no oncoming bike or car to kill you and/or them at that point.

    It’s tough to overcome the fear factor of leaning so extremely. Your body feels it is “normal” when either upright or laying down, but leaning tells your brain “FALLING! THIS IS BAD!!”. It’s one of few natural human instincts. It is what gives the leaning the “rush”.

    Even if you do become more comfortable at higher speeds, there are still a vast number of things beyond your control, and you may still just plain screw up sometimes, but you’ll learn as you go, and if your fear doesn’t stop your progress altogether, and you survive your mistakes, you’ll have plenty more fun.

  • lpotter86

    At least it wasn’t to bad, could of been worse. I haven’t cashed yet. I know I will eventually.

  • Darek

    heh, never saw this video of yours. I was expecting something crazy, and I’m glad what could have been much, much worse ended up in a relatively minor crash.

    I sort of agree with James on the rear brake in turns. It’s very easy to lock you’re rear which can lead to a bad situation. I’ve locked my rear a few times when doing straightened up emergency stops, all of which happened when riding sans passenger. Each time I locked the rear was soon after a long trip with my g/f on the back, so the lack of her weight keeping pressure on the rear made the rear tire light before I was ready for it.

    Nothing to make excuses about, but since these lock ups I’ve been very conscious of the pressure I apply to both front and rear brake and the situation I’m in. I try to randomly practice emergency braking in the road if there’s no one around to keep me familiar with the feeling and the bikes response.

    Trail braking is a delicate art in my mind, and while I know I’ve had some oh shit moments that could have gone much worse, being able to apply some braking pressure while coming into a turn has saved me more than once. This might how much of a newb I am, but it’s something to think about.

    Have you done any track days with the 650r?

  • wdeutsch

    At the level you are riding there is no reason to ever touch the rear brake. I’m not being sarcastic.

    In any breaking situation your front break does almost all of the potential work – on road, off road, track – it doesn’t really matter. Learn to use your front brake. These days almost all sport bikes (actually almost all bikes) have enough front brake and front traction to lift the rear wheel off the ground rendering the rear brake useless. Another way to say it is now you can get almost 100% weight transfer to the front wheel so there is little use for the rear brake. (NOTE: there are advanced techniques that apply to the rear brake but judging by this video they don’t apply.)

    The single most important thing to learn on a motorcycle is how to use your front brake to maximize stopping power.

  • Atlas

    @James @Darek and @wdeutsch

    Thanks for your comments. I completely agree with your assessment of my rear brake usage. I shouldn’t have been using it! I updated to post to reflect some of your thoughts.

  • Tristan Phillips

    One thing I noticed you’re not doing is the delayed apex technique. Another way to look at it is “flattening the curve”. That might have helped in not freaking out.

    If you haven’t bought/read the book already, pick up a copy of “Proficient Motorcycling” by David Hough.

  • Atlas


    Yea back then my lines were so stupid. I’ve learned a lot from reading Total Control by Lee Parks, A Twist of the Wrist II by Keith Code and Sport Riding Techniques by Nick Ienatsch

  • Chuck Reynolds

    I think I’ve touched my rear brake… maybe 4 times ever… lol… one was to come down from a crazy wheelie… and the others were at a stop light on a hill to keep me from rolling backwards :)

    speed = drop that knee and snap the bars to lay it over quicker :)

  • John

    Really neat of Atlas to share the video of his experience and read the feed back he received. I’m trying to learn quickly. At 57, I’m shortly taking my motorcycle test and shortly thereafter will buy a BMW R800 ST. would be glad to receive any advice.

  • Edcrfvwsxtgb

    It’s interesting to me that you continue to ride, even after many, many crashes like this. Have you considered that you do not possess the right skillset to ride a motorbike consistently safe?

  • AtlasRider

    @Edcrfvwsxtgb Yes, I have considered it

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