There are many seasoned motorcyclists out there that'll tell you that laying down your motorcycle is the best way to avoid an accident. But with so many old wives' tales and other misinformation out there, you might be wondering if this piece of "common wisdom" is actually true. The following goes in-depth about laying down motorcycles, where this advice came from and whether or not it's a good idea to practice it.
It's a Bad Idea in Most Cases
In most cases where a collision with another vehicle or object is imminent, laying down your motorcycle could do more harm:
- Laying down your motorcycle at high speed often means exposing yourself to "road rash," a common injury involving serious abrasions caused by contact with the pavement and other hard surfaces during a laydown. Wearing the proper riding gear can help mitigate this risk to a significant degree, but it's not guaranteed to keep you unscathed.
- Bone fractures, neck injuries and head injuries can also occur as you slide and possibly even tumble at high speed during a laydown.
- There's no guarantee that laying down your motorcycle will keep you clear of an imminent crash. For instance, your continued momentum could carry you forward along with your bike and cause you to collide with the vehicle and object anyways.
- Ditching your motorcycle at the first sign of trouble also leaves you a wrecked or at least significantly damaged bike. On top of the injuries you've sustained, you may also have to pay for the repairs out of your own pocket.
However, there is one instance where laying down your motorcycle may be the right decision. If you're about to crash through a guardrail and go over a steep cliff or embankment, then you're likely better off abandoning the motorcycle than wrestling it under control.
The Reasoning Behind Laying Down
To understand why so many seasoned motorcycling enthusiasts stand by obviously flawed wisdom, it's important to understand why the practice came about in the first place. For that, it helps to take a close look at the early history of the motorcycle and what riders had to deal with during that time.
Compared to today's motorcycles, the machines of the era more or less resembled motorized bicycles. Many of the early motorcycles lacked effective suspensions and quite a few didn't even have brakes! Although motorcycle manufacturers eventually introduced shoe brakes on the front wheel, this still didn't leave much in the way of effective stopping power, especially for sudden braking maneuvers.
Given the lack of good handling and braking, it's no wonder that many motorcyclists of the era thought that throwing themselves off their bikes was a better alternative to crashing while attempting evasive maneuvers.
What to Do Instead
Instead of leaving your motorcycle to the sweet mercies of uncontrollable physics, you'll want to keep as much control of your motorcycle as possible. For instance, you could try to swerve out of the vehicle's or obstacle's path if you can spot a clear and safe opening. You'll also want to avoid becoming fixated on the obstacle you're trying to avoid -- otherwise you could inadvertently run into it.
If you can't avoid the obstacle, try bringing your motorcycle to a quick yet controlled stop. You'll need to apply both the front and rear brakes when bringing your motorcycle to an emergency stop. Many of today's motorcycles are equipped with anti-lock brake systems, letting you apply the brakes as hard as possible without locking them up.
If your bike doesn't come with ABS, apply as much of the rear brake as possible without locking it up while gradually applying the front brake. If the front brakes lock up, release both brakes and reapply the rear brake only. If the rear brake locks up, then you'll want to keep it locked up while gradually applying the front brake.
If you are unable to avoid ditching your motorcycle, however, and wreck it in an accident, check out a bike shop like Carl's Cycle Sales to get a new one.