How’s your Rubber?

This is a good warning for those springing back onto their bikes after little to no riding throughout the winter. If crash reports make you weak at the knees take a seat now.
After a few months of rebuilding the Triumph Street Triple, I took it out for a twisty road shakedown last Saturday night. Over the preceding months, it had scored LED headlights, Street triple R suspension front and back, Street Triple R radial calipers, R1 master cylinder with new lines, the ever pesky crank position sensor was changed along with the alternator and a few cosmetics like bar end mirrors, tail tidy, titanium bolts here and there. Oh, and the Zard mufflers were back on. It

WAS a sweet package.

From here on, the black witch will be called ‘the striple’.

The striple had gotten a highway shakedown on the previous Wednesday through the snow out and back to the HMS rider training and performed flawlessly.

This time, we took the route I’ve done a thousand times down the coast with a local mate who’s also a bike mechanic and who’d done the lion’s share of the rebuild. The bike was performing well and the conditions were nice. Nothing odd or strange other than an occasional front end twitch.
On the second leg of twisties heading south out of Yugawara toward Atami, in a tightening left corner which I didn’t quite see well enough(see below for details), the front tyre suddenly washed out sending us sailing across the corner.

Thankfully no cars were coming in the opposite direction and it was a low speed spill. It was quick enough though, in combination with the short distance to a nasty curb on the outside of the corner, to pretty much destroy the delicate triumph’s peripherals.

Headlight stay broken, both wheels bent, rear subframe broken, seat torn up, tank dented and scratched, front rotors bent and various cosmetics decimated by that nasty non-slip red grip paint that sliding bikes just seem to skate across. Great for gripping weighted rubber, not sliding plastics and metals 😦

I fell on my left shoulder which jammed the elbow into the ribs while my helmet lightly kissed the tarmac with its visor, rolled onto my back then onto my left side and then slid to a halt on my belly but not before I collided with something or hyper-extended my ankle. But, once the sliding stopped and I had checked all limbs and digits were operational, I got to my feet and dusted myself off. Didn’t feel bad at the time and was soon helping my mate get the bike off the road.

The two bent rims made that a haul. That’s when I noticed the growing pain in my ankle. But the BMW Streetguard suit had done it’s job saving me from any open contact with the road. Not a scratch on me despite sliding across what amounts to a vast swathe of sandpaper!

A wrecker was called to haul the striple away and I hobbled off to get myself looked at.

Getting dropped off after the haul back.

Went for a few X-rays to be sure and my steel girder like superstructure had survived unscathed again. Hurt to walk though… Doc said it was probably just a severe impact strain and that all the bones were still intact and where they were supposed to be. Good, good, good!

Something he didn’t diagnose was my bruised pride and confusion at what exactly had happened.

In hindsight, there are a few things that combined to cause it, I think.

1. A big one, older unused tyres. I didn’t replace them despite recommendations.

2. Forks, although rebuilt, they weren’t pristine to start with and I’d had some concern over their slight stiction.

3. The corner was striped with balding sandgritt paint. Tyres don’t like that. Not to mention the tectonic rift in the middle of the lane.
4. My eyesight is not what it used to be.
5. The new LED headlights had a narrow horizontal beam pattern and are very bright white at 6500k. Bright white destroys night vision which is essential when a narrow horizontal beam banks into a corner leaving voids.
I’m leaning towards 1+3 following 4+5 reducing my preparedness.

And in the light of day, the striple was found to be an absolute mess! It’s no longer for this world.


Thank you to:
Sanekatasan for his invaluable assistance. Pre and post crash.

BMW Streetguard for saving my skin and bones, again.

Modern medicine for limiting my pain.

Important note:
After a crash, GO SEE a DOCTOR and be very descriptive about what happened, what hurts and the damage to your riding gear. It’s always better to err on the side of caution by getting your sorry bag of bones checked out. Such a sudden stop can cause damage that doesn’t strike until later. Also, get there asap! Best stay ahead of injuries and get it over and done with before the aches and pains reduce you to a whining sofa surfer.

* I hope that my crash will encourage you to check your equipment and prepare adequately before hitting the road.

Be prepared and ride safe!

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  1. Sorry u had the crash,glad u are basically ok.
    Great wrap up to make the rest of us more aware of dangers.
    I’ve always been stressed out by old tyres,combine that with another problem & you’ve got trouble.
    Rip Striple!


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