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Road King vs Tractor Trailer

This article courtesy of the Naval Safety Center Smart Ride 2011 Magazine. Please also check out their website, the Naval Safety Center.


This is the story of how I about got taken out by a tractor trailer one morning last December on my way to work. I was on Highway 17 right in front of the back gate of Marine Corps Air Station New River.

I had just turned onto the highway, heading for Camp Lejeune at 0600, and I saw a row of reflective lights in the left turn lane. Then they disappeared as a set of headlights went across my field of vision headed into the back gate of the Air Station. Then all I saw was a white wall of tractor trailer.

I was still accelerating, but I quickly grabbed some brakes, slid on the front tire for about 20 to 30 feet, searched for an exit, then hit the brakes again as the cab of the truck had already passed through the traffic islands. The trailer must have been the longest allowed, as it was still in the median. All I could see was the bottom of the trailer (at chest level), trailer landing gear, and the spare tire cage hanging down under the trailer.

With nowhere else to go I had to lay it down. The left side of the bike and I slid on the crash bars and up under the truck. All I saw were sparks.

I hit the ground on my cell phone (which is still working fine but deeply scratched). As I slid and rolled, the right handlebar and mirror hit the bottom of the trailer and flipped the bike back over to the right side and continued to slide hitting the curb of the outbound lane of the base, and then it slid across the road into the median.

I jumped up and screamed toward the truck that amazingly, continued on toward the gate! A passer by stopped to make sure I was alright and helped me put my bike up on the kickstand. Then I took off running to the gate guards to get the MPs and stop the truck.

Lucky for me (note the sarcasm) it was 1 December and there were all new guards on the gates and no one knew what to do. As the sentry was calling the MPs, the truck was being inspected at the inspection station that is parallel to the street where the gate is. It felt like five minutes went by as I was pacing back and forth outside the guard shack (adrenaline pumping) but the sentry finally came out. I asked him if someone was coming and he said “I’m not sure.”

Just then I was looking through the guard shack and saw the truck pulling out of the parking lot. So I took off running through the ditch and wood line to the inspection lot to try to stop the truck. There were three Marines sitting there as I told them what happened and they said “We need to call someone.”

Just then an MP car pulled into the lot. I jumped in the car with him and we went out to the crash scene. As we were going out the gate he realized they had to call the county and/or state to coordinate the off base wreck.

Forty minutes later, the state trooper arrives, gets my story and then asks the MP if he had details on the truck. He had to get it from the log book at the inspection lot, but the info was bogus – a bad phone number and a license plate to the trailer, but not the cab.

At least the MP noticed that the truck driver was heading to the commissary, so he went to see if he was still there. He wasn’t, as over an hour had passed by now. He checked the log book again and found this truck driver was a regular and he was able to get the driver’s cell number and an 800 number for his company. The cell phone went straight to voice mail, but the 800 number was a good one.

They couldn’t reach him but had GPS on the truck and traced him in Warsaw, N.C. The state trooper caught up with him the next day and showed him the black mark under his trailer and said the guy about peed when he saw it. Claimed he didn’t see anything.

I ended up with two broken ribs and where my cell phone dug into my hip I had a deep bruise. On my right side I shredded my pants and ripped a hole in my leather jacket elbow and the palms of my gloves were blown out too. It was cold out that morning so I had Gortex gloves on. I have a raspberry about the size of a softball on the side of my thigh. And he didn’t see anything!?!

Nonetheless, due to my cat-like reflexes, advanced motorcycle training, AMOS (Advanced Motorcycle Operators School put on by Keith Code’s California Superbike School), and 22 years in the Marine Corps (where I learned how to fall), I walked away.

I’ve seen this stunt done on TV and in movies, and now I know it’s not that hard since I managed to do it in the dark, on my first try. I just didn’t come out the other side on my wheels.

The PPE I had on saved me from any road rash and the training and experience that I have prevented me from panicking. It could have been much worse.

Smart Ride 2011 – Safer Sport Bikes Have Arrived!

This article courtesy of the Naval Safety Center Smart Ride 2011 Magazine. Please also check out their website, the Naval Safety Center.

BY DYLAN CODE California Superbike School


Believe it or not, a safer motorcycle has arrived. Plus, it’s fun to ride and plenty powerful; actually, right now it’s the most powerful sport bike in the world. The bike is the BMW S1000RR. While the Navy and Marine Corps aren’t endorsing any brand, I did want to tell you about these advances, and let you know that other manufacturers are following suit. The more you learn about the safer technology, the smarter you’ll be when you’re choosing the must-have features for your next bike.

At the California Superbike School, we travel to tracks around the USA to train riders in a true racetrack environment. This year we switched from a Japanese 600cc sport bike to the new BMW 1000cc sport bike. When news of our switch to the 1000’s got out, many speculated that far more of our students would be crashing on track due to all that power.

Guess what actually happened? We compared last year’s safety statistics to the same period for this year with the new bikes and found we have less than half the crashes with the same number of riders. Why so few crashes on a more powerful bike? Simple: it’s safer. Why? Because it’s smart.

Bear with me for a quick history lesson. These major leaps in performance came from a more innocent time in the 1970’s. Back then you had street bikes and then you had race bikes. Race bikes were made in small quantities at the factory for one purpose – going fast on a closed circuit. They did not have lights, mirrors or even a speedometer – and they were expensive. In the mid-70s a small class was introduced at the national races that fielded modified street bikes. They called it “Superbike.” The Superbike class was more or less a sideshow at the national races, but it gained popularity quickly, partly because spectators liked the idea that they could buy and ride the same models they saw raced at the track. This boosted sales and soon the motorcycle manufacturers were building street bikes that resembled and performed like race bikes. They wanted their bike to win, so spectators would buy it. Soon the saying became “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday.”

FAST FORWARD TO PRESENT DAY and anyone can walk into a dealer and buy, in essence, a race bike. Because they are street legal, they are called sport bikes. The competition between manufacturers to build the ultimate street legal race bike has been hot and heavy for years. The losers in this competition have been the untrained riders and others who have been treating the public roads like a racetrack.

Manufacturers have shown what remorse they can, but what are they supposed to do, make a slower bike and sell none? The solution was to make a safer motorcycle, and this has been accomplished by BMW at the beginning of 2010 when they released the S1000RR. Admittedly, with 183 horsepower at the rear wheel it doesn’t sound safe.

Actually the safe part is in its electronics.
The available electronics package on this bike is comprised of two key elements:
1) Dynamic Traction Control.
2) Race-spec Antilock Braking System.

Dynamic Traction Control set for “rain.” Photo courtesy of California Superbike School.

The Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) is basically every rider’s dream come true. There are many different aspects to DTC, but in a nutshell it keeps the rear wheel from losing traction from over-acceleration or slippery conditions. The system has front and rear wheel speed sensors. If it detects the rear wheel rotating faster than the front, the ignition system will soften the power output to restore traction. Should the slide persist it will then alter the fuel delivery to further soften power output. Information is sampled from the sensors thousands of times per second. Additionally, you can adjust from the hand controls how sensitive the traction control is. For example, there is a setting called “Rain” which will soften the power delivery if the slightest hint of a slip is detected by the sensors. I put this to the test and rode the S1000RR across a grass-covered area in first gear and suddenly twisted the throttle wide open. I was amazed to find that the rear wheel did not lose grip or spin at all. I then went to a paved area and the bike accelerated promptly, but only when it sensed there was traction available.

Another key part of the DTC is a pair of electronic gyros that monitor lean angle within two degrees of accuracy. Power delivery is coordinated with lean angle. This means the further the bike is leaned, the gentler the power output. As the bike is brought from leaned to straight up and down, power becomes more and more available. A rider grabbing a handful of throttle at a steep lean will not receive full power until the sensors find the traction available.
It also has adjustable “wheelie control” that will set the front end down if it gets too high to keep the bike from accidentally flipping over backwards.

There are five different modes of sensitivity:
“Rain” for wet or low traction conditions.
“Sport” for dry street conditions.
“Race” for racetrack with supersport-type tires.
“Slick” for racetrack with non-grooved “slick” race tires.
“DTC off” disables traction control completely.

Photo courtesy of California Superbike School.

The rider can choose the relevant setting for the current riding conditions and environment. The other key aspect to the safety package is the Race ABS. The “Race” part of the name comes from the fact that most racers do not prefer to use ABS due to the lack of feel and control during hard braking. BMW’s racing research and development created a very refined version of antilock braking that allows for excellent feel and maximum stopping power in critical conditions.

Aside from this ABS feature, the gyros on the BMW can detect a front end flip from heavy use of the front brake. Most people call this an “endo” which is short for end-over-end. If the bike detects the rear wheel coming off the ground, it will modulate brake pressure just enough to set it back down while braking is continued. What’s more is the front and rear brakes are linked: when only the front brake is applied, a small amount of rear braking is automatically applied for you. The sensitivity of the ABS is adjusted depending on which mode the traction control is set at. Additionally, if desired, the ABS can even be switched off just like the Dynamic Traction Control.

Advances in braking systems can help avoid “endos.” Photo courtesy of California Superbike School.

What does this all add up to? As I stated earlier, it adds up to a safer motorcycle. Decades ago, aviation experts employed electronic systems to override pilot inputs that are detected as unsafe. This type of technology being integrated into motorcycles has been long overdue, but now that it is here, it’s already saving riders. Regular ABS is not new to street bikes, but Dynamic Traction Control that coordinates braking, power delivery, roll and pitch all in one package – that’s the best risk management news for motorcyclists in a long time.

What about limits and confidence? Many people have voiced concern that riders would become lazy and rely on the electronics to save them and get soft with their skills. I feel that to be the opposite and I’ll tell you why. So many riders wonder where the limits of traction are. How much can you lean it? How hard can you brake? How much throttle can the bike handle? This bike tells you. When the traction control has to intervene, it notifies the rider by means of a white LED on the dash. That’s the bike telling you: “Hey buddy, that was too much throttle – I had to step in and save you.” Right there the rider feels the limit without overstepping it. The same is true with the Race ABS. When it intervenes, you feel a very light pulse in the lever. Again, in this instance the rider feels when maximum braking is taking place. These are excellent learning tools.

Of course the bike is not crash proof. Too much lean or too fast for a corner and the tires simply can’t cope. Nothing will ever take the place of solid training, sharp skills, and smart riders. But technological advances like these are good tools. We’ve now had dozens of days at the track where not one rider went down on this bike, even when the riders were challenging the limits. That’s good news for everyone – except those who make a living repairing crashed bikes, selling replacement parts and trying to put the riders back together. This is a giant leap forward in motorcycle technology and already other manufacturers are following suit.

STAR Motorcycle School – Coming to Colorado Aug 15-16

Motorcycle School coming to High Plains at Byers, CO. More details here

As part of their expanding program with the U.S. military, Jason Pridmore’s STAR Motorcycle School is proud to offer free tuition to all current National Guard members to attend one of the seven STAR School National Guard Rider Training days in 2011. National Guard members simply register for the school of their choice and show up with their motorcycle and gear, ready to learn from Jason and his staff of professional instructors. The tuition is paid for as an incentive for National Guard members to take advantage of this exclusive program that’s just for them. National Guard members can contact STAR School for more bike and gear rental information.

National Guard Training – Looks like the free training for National Guard members will not be hitting Colorado this go around, but it will in Topeka, Kansas and Willows, California. The paid courses at High Plains seem reasonable though.

STAR Motorcycle School

Share the Road

Share the road, look twice for motorcyclists.

Mick Doohan – No Place to Race

Public Safety Ad to encourage motorcyclists to think about the obstacles they face on the road. Very effective!

ATGATT – All the gear, all the time. This PSA shows the dangers of wearing everyday clothes while riding. With Mick Doohan
Mick wants to help motorcycle riders be the best they can be and believes riders education and training are the keys to avoiding crashes.
Mick’s site

Top 10 Tips for Street Riders by Can Akkaya

Tips for riders from Motorcycle Insights

1. Focus- I see many people riding on the street without being fully focused. They ride through a canyon the same way, as they do their city ride from traffic light to traffic light. Change that! Especially on long rides make sure to stop every hour for at least 10 minutes, as it helps you refresh and maintain your focus.

and 9 other great tips! Check em out!

Can Akkaya is a German former professional motorcycle racer. Throughout his racing career he raced the German IDM, the Spanish and the Dutch Open and the European Championship; winning his last international race in 1995, retiring from professional racing shortly after. In 2004 he wrote his life story and was offered a publishing contract by Mohland Verlaign Germany. His book Racers-Story is a top 10 best seller. He became and is a world class motorcycle instructor, having trained thousands of riders from around the globe.

Can’s Coaching Site

Quote of the Day – #ATGATT

“I don’t wear a helmet because there’s a law, I wear a helmet because I understand physics.”

Yahoo news user

Found by!/ottawagoodtime

Marisa Miller takes a Harley Rider’s Edge course

As seen on Ultimate Motorcycling

Rider’s Course information
More info on their Learn to Ride program
Current contest to win a Harley

Advanced Motorcycle Safety Training – Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii

Advanced Training provided at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

Maintenance and other rider tips


Maintenance is not only an essential part of motorcycle ownership, it can make the difference between safe riding and getting stranded– or worse, taking a spill. Learn how to change your oil, check and lubricate your bike’s chain, ensure that your tires are inflated properly, and check your fluid levels, and you’ll ride with the confidence of knowing that your bike will run reliably.

Car drivers

Most car drivers say they never saw the motorcycle. Car drivers don’t want to hit you, honest. Some of them need extra help to know you’re there. Do all you can to make it easier for them to see you. Use your high beam during the day. High beam is more conspicuous than low beam. Trading that cool-looking black leather jacket for something bright wouldn’t hurt, either.


When you enter a corner, your eyes follow the line you want to ride. Prior to the corner, ensure you have braked or slowed down, you are in the right gear, and your throttle is constant. Enter the corner by pressing and leaning in, follow your line, and look far ahead, staying at the outside of the corner as long as possible. Always give throttle while in a corner and accelerate out of the corner.

Decreasing radius

What do you do when you are surprised, mid-corner, by a decreasing radius? Push your motorcycle to the inside, with your outside knee. Leaning in extra by pressing on the inside handgrip to get more lean. Use the rear brake gently. You will not only decrease your speed, but the motorcycle will turn a bit around its rear wheel, so you will turn more into the corner.

Courtesy of Motorcycle Training Academy of Colorado Springs

Motorcycle Training Academy Facebook page

Motorcycle Safety – Gear up, and be careful

Here are some safety videos I’ve found on the Air Force’s Safety Center. The US Air Force has a very heavy emphasis on rider safety, all the gear all the time (ATGATT), and driver awareness of motorcycles.

Air Force Safety Center motorcycle videos

Life on Two Wheels – new rider training @getontweets

Follow along as several new riders get familiar with motorbike riding in the UK with “Get On”. Love the accent, and nice video. ‘Get On’ want to support anyone in getting on two wheels by actively promoting the many positives of motorcycling, and by introducing as many people as possible who have never ridden to a free riding experience, and by encouraging those who have left motorcycling to start again.

Learn To Ride A Motorcycle - How To Ride A Motorbike - Get On from getonvideos on Vimeo.

Kid’s Day at Fay Myers Motorcycle World

Took my boys to Fay Myers Motorcycle World in Denver, since they were having a Kid’s Day. My oldest wanted to ride the Honda 50 mini-bike, so I filled out the form, and we waited in line. My little guy, 5 years old, got a little anxious and wanted to ride the bouncy slide, but not the mini-bike. While the eldest was getting fitted with gear, Fay Myers provided helmet, shirt/pants, gloves and goggles, I took the little guy for a break on the slide. Finally, eldest gets a mini-bike ride, and little guy changes his mind, he wants a ride too. Back in line we go. Had a great time, and Fay Myers did a fantastic job, well-done!

More photos on Flickr

Motorcycle Safety Foundation – Basic Ridercourse Handbook

Here’s a link to the MSF’s Basic Ridercourse Handbook

And a link to the rest of their online library–great motorcycle safety resources to review

Topics cover risk awareness and management, personal protective gear (always gear up), controls, positioning, being visible, and mental processing. Common riding situations are discussed, along with maximum braking and swerving. There are lots of good illustrations to go with the discussion. At the end, there is a glossary, with study questions and some tear out tips you can take with you or post up on the fridge.

Great Roads Great Rides safety campaign