Rookie on a Motorbike Ends Well, More or Less

‘Oh you fucking retard’ I thought as the tourist on a motorbike made a U-turn in front of me. It wasn’t his timing, he had plenty of room and time for a U-turn. What he didn’t have was any discernible experience on a motorbike.

I’d never seen such a wobble. Part of it was classic wobble: a zig zag steering pattern of increasing size and higher frequency caused by a rider who’s reactions were too slow and thus too large augmented by holding on for dear life which meant he was accelerating. That rarely ends well.

Two elements made this wobble special. First was the 180 degree turn, so the oscillation was asymmetric. A symmetric wobble usually ends with G forces throwing the rider to the outside, a crash known as a ‘high side’. Never seen an asymmetric one so had no idea which way he was going to be tossed. Second, and the best part was him trying to put a foot down, as if that would help. But he was using the wrong foot, the one on the outside of the turn. Each oscillation threw the foot higher than the last.

This happened at little over walking speed so somehow he was able to straighten out his path before the G forces ejected him. And by straight I mean the wobbles were now symmetric so if one took the average of his compass headings, he was running straight down the street – close by the line of parked motorbikes.

Those bikes saved him from a worse accident. His bike, like most small motorbikes, had a fairing that diverts the wind from the rider’s legs. The fairing, and possibly his leg made contact with the flexible plastic rear fender of three bikes in succession. That damped out his oscillation and slowed him. The combined effects unseized his brain, giving him back the sense to roll off the throttle and stop.

I passed by, pulled over and looked back. The U-turn had happened immediately after leaving a bike rental shop. Their employee was not happy. But he was optimistic, yelling at the guy to come back which he did without further incident. Didn’t hang around to see the next phase.

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One Response to Rookie on a Motorbike Ends Well, More or Less

  1. pastframe says:

    Thailand. Ah yes, they rent out bikes to anyone. I’ve been a tourist there and rented bikes before, but its not a good idea to rent one if one doesn’t know how to ride a motorcycle. I also noticed that tourists, often Caucasians, do not bother to wear helmets. We always ask for helmets when we rent bikes there. The road surfaces are equally hard in Thailand and back home, so I don’t see why we should monkey see monkey do in this point. 🙂

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