Laydown #3... - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-19-2013, 07:20 AM Thread Starter
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Laydown #3...

Okay.. I'm really getting frustrated with this.

I have now laid down my bike three times. All while stopped or in the process of stopping. I'm a rookie, so I know I must be making a rookie mistake, but I have no idea what it is. I can't count how many times I've almost laid the bike down while coming to a stop.

I need your advise on what I'm doing wrong, because I can't get into an motorcycle safety class until May.

Here are my symptoms:

- When coming to a stop, and I mean I'm almost completely stopped, going less than 2mph, I feel the bike start to tip one way or the other. So far I've dropped the bike on the right side twice and left side once.

- Most times I can muscle it up because I haven't hit the point of no return when there is no way I'm going to stop it.

- I've passed that line now three times and dumped it on me.

What's causing that initial dip/tip? My feet are down or in the process of going down to the ground as I come to the stop. Am I putting them down too late or too early? Is my Seat Concepts seat just raising me up so high that my center of gravity is way too high?

Grrrrr.

I almost just turned around and put the bike away while kicking the crap out of it, but I'm pretty sure this is my fault and not the bike's. This last time really freaking hurt as it pinned me under the footpeg bruising my ankle up.

The only good thing is that my new crash bars worked perfectly. They are scraped up as well as my right mirror and the side of my Givi topcase, but there is no structural/mechanical damage.


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Last edited by Zatx; 03-19-2013 at 07:23 AM.
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post #2 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-19-2013, 07:34 AM
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Hi. I think it is you still getting used to riding a bike and since you had the first topple you have learned to topple as you had not had enough time not to. It is on your mind when you come to a halt and it is bugging your thoughts.

I think you should find somewhere quiet and practice stopping. I stop by coming to a halt and putting my foot down at the same time. My left foot is out ready to go onto the ground as soon as I have stopped. I can also balance the bike without my feet on the ground for a few seconds when stationary if it is going to a brief stop. But that took a bit of practice. I am tall and can get both feet flat on the ground which helps. But plenty of people manage bikes where they can get one foot down, with practice.

The Versys is top heavy, so will not tip as far as other bikes before it goes over. But, sorry, it is not something wrong with the bike!
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post #3 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-19-2013, 07:55 AM
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I'm no expert but I am a newer rider, just started riding last summer.

Go to an empty parking lot a practice. Get the bike doing 10 mph and then pick a line in the lot and stop at it. Do this several times. Then increase the speed 5 mph and repeat. As Throttled said, I am able to put my feet down at the same time the bike comes to a stop.

Can you get your feet flat on the ground or are you up on your toes? If you can't get solid footing you may need to consider a lowering kit.

How soon are you putting your feet down? Try to learn to time it just as the bike stops, no need to drag them.

When you are coming to a stop, don't think abut leaning the bike to one side or the other. Just like when you are riding, keep focused straight ahead until you are at a complete stop with your feet down. Then do your look left / right.

I always try to stop with both brakes, then just as the bike comes to a stop, squeeze a little harder on the hand brake as you take your foot off the foot brake to put it down.

Not trying to insult you, but you do keep the clutch pulled in while you are stopping right? I normally try to downshift as I'm coming to a stop, and once I get the speed down I just keep the clutch in, and brake to a stop. I usually to to keep downshifting as necessary to be in 1st gear before I come to a complete stop for two reasons. First, I like to always keep the bike in an appropriate gear should a situation arise where I need to GO, and because that way I don't have to do it once stopped.

I just re-read your post. As Throttled said, the Versys is a bit top heavy and if you are an inexperienced rider, that top box with stuff it makes that even worse. I wouldn't do anything to raiser the center of gravity until you get more used to riding. I'm 6'-4" tall so I doubt you personally have a higher COG than I do.

Finish filling out your profile so we know where you are at. I know they say taking riding advice from friends is dangerous, but in this case there might be someone near you that would give you a hand with some parkinglot drills. I know you are by me because it has been snowing for 2 days.

Mitch

Last edited by Slow-Steady; 03-19-2013 at 08:04 AM.
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post #4 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-19-2013, 08:04 AM
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One thing I used to mess up a lot was coming to a stop with the front wheel cocked to one side. Make sure the wheel is straight with the rest of the bike or else you'll suddenly have a lot of weight on one side to support. Also, instead of creeping to a stop, make it a little more abrupt. This way you still have a bit more balance, and you can then just stick your feet out to both sides to be ready for the actual stop.

If you're seat is too high, that definitely could be an issue. Even on a bicycle, raising a seat too high makes stopping pretty uncomfortable when you can just barely reach the ground with your feet. The same idea with a 500 pound motorcycle doesn't make things easier.

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post #5 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-19-2013, 08:13 AM
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Tension. Do you have a death grip on the handlebars? Relax, let the bar find centre. Many years ago I had a steering damper tightened down, I came to a stop and the bike toppled over. You may be causing that effect unknowingly because you are tense and expect to have a difficult time stopping.

Are you using the front brake when nearly stopped? That can be a problem too, combined with death grip. I use the front for most of my braking and then switch to the rear brake only when I'm nearly at a stop> I would guess the last 10-15 feet or so.

Practice until you are relaxed and smooth, confidence will come.
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post #6 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-19-2013, 08:31 AM
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If you are dumping to the right more often, could be the location you are stopping at is part of the problem. Being that you ride on the R side of the road, the crown of the road slopes down to the right. Therefore, with your bike in an upright and vertical position, there may be a slightly longer reach to the ground for your right foot than for your left foot.

Try keeping your right foot on your rear brake, and just use your left foot to stop and support the bike. Be sure you are on the left side track of your lane. And - as stated above a few times - make sure your steering is neutral with your front wheel forward. Turning that wheel as you stop can really unbalance you.

Always trust your cape.

Last edited by ATYC; 03-19-2013 at 09:01 AM.
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post #7 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-19-2013, 08:59 AM
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This may help illustrate what I mean:

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post #8 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-19-2013, 09:30 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input so far guys.

Here is some follow-up.

I'm 6'02" and reach the ground flat footed just fine.

After reading your responses I think I'm zeroing in on the culprit. I mainly use the front brake and I seem to recall also that my wheel has been slightly turned in each of these incidents. I know for a fact it was this morning.

ATYC- My first dump was at a stop sign where the road sloped away to the right from me very sharply.. more so than the normal road crown. It was dark and I didn't see the severe slope.


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post #9 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-19-2013, 09:38 AM
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[QUOTE=Sykes;253473]One thing I used to mess up a lot was coming to a stop with the front wheel cocked to one side. Make sure the wheel is straight with the rest of the bike or else you'll suddenly have a lot of weight on one side to support.

+1

It sounds like this is your problem! With the V if you turn the wheel even a little the bike can slip away from you! And I mean in a hurry! If the wheel is turned even a little bit and you have an inch or two back roll your bike is gone and on the ground before you know it!

As a kid my bike slammed to the ground like this many time and I always thought holy sh#$ that happed fast.

Starting out make sure your wheel is straight ahead and do not move it. With the wheel straight ahead your bike has to tip all the way over. You should be able to handle it with feet on the ground.

As you shift to one side or the other make sure you keep that wheel straight.!!! &





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post #10 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-19-2013, 09:41 AM
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I have a Versys now... But a few years ago, after a long break in riding, I picked up a Honda ST1100. It was a 675 pound bike and I had never owned a heavy bike before. One of the first things I did was the parking lot thing. I must have done three or four hour-long sessions of nothing but starts and stops. In addition, I spent a good time just driving around in my local neighborhood focusing on the streets that have the most stop signs... practicing my starts and stops.

Once I thought I'd mastered the art of stopping without dumping it... I was good to go... Although I did dump the ST a total of three times out on the road... All of them in the last few inches of a full, controlled stop. All the time I rode the ST I made it a point of diverting nearly ALL of my concentration into making the stop. I do mean ALL of my attention! I let nothing at all distract me from making a good stop and once that was accomplished, only then did I change my attention to other things. NOTHING entered my mind between the point of deciding I was going to stop and actually coming to rest - fully upright and under control.

Now... Since moving "up" to the V and it weighing 200+ pounds less... I've had good luck with my stops. I've dumped her only once and that was on a very steep incline where I stalled her leaving a full stop and was so damn surprised that she just gently folded over to the right side and with me recognizing she was going over and using all I had to prevent it... it took a full 4 to 5 seconds for the drop to progress all the way down. It snapped off the end of my right foot peg and I didn't even notice that for a couple of months.

I'd offer up my method of focusing EVERYTHING on the actual stop while its being accomplished. Forget about deciding if you can go ahead and turn right without actually stopping because there isn't any cross traffic. Forget about what's happening behind you (yes... I know about being rear ended, but the actual percentages of that happening are actually small and once you've got the stopping down to an art form - and you will - you can move that action back up in your intersection priorities.) Forget everything but making a good controlled stop each and every time... really concentrate on doing it, while it's actually happening... and you'll soon have it down to a science that will become second nature to you and you can then move beyond this annoyance.

And kudos for having the balls to ask for help here. Some guys would rather just park her and go back to caging before admitting they might need a little help.

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post #11 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-19-2013, 09:42 AM
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I am thinking that you are making "jerking" stops rather than gradual stops.

I.e. You are slamming on the front brake so hard that the fork compresses and thus your bars may get out of alignment with the rest of your bike due to the force of your arms/body because of the sudden motion. This then causes an imbalance of weight to 1 side (similar to what others have said).

Try to come to a more calm stop, you really should have little difficulty by yourself.

Also - using your back break with your front break may help. The best tip I have learned is how much stability a bike gains by apply back break force when your moving really really slowly. Twist of the Wrist taught me that and now I can move at 1-3mph and have the bike be steady as ever while apply just a little back break force to the rear wheel.

I know that sometimes when I am riding 2 up it is much more difficult to balance a stop because of the weight distribution and the additional pressure I am putting on the front brake right at the last moment.

Thats my theory at least. Goodluck!

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post #12 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-19-2013, 09:48 AM
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I bet it is simpler than everyone else is making it. Try looking strait ahead as you come to a stop, focusing on an imobile object in the distance. You will be much much less likely to tip over!

When you are looking down at your spedometer, the handlebats, the ground in front of you, or moving objects around you that your balance will be compromised.

Last edited by nprecup; 03-19-2013 at 09:52 AM.
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post #13 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-19-2013, 10:04 AM
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Your putting your feet down too soon. Check out some of the youtube posts on "slow riding" skills. I had a similar problems with the front brake and the diving feeling because I rode somewhat like it was a dirt bike. I found out you can't use you feet to stop like the Flintstone's. Now, I always come to a complete stop before taking my feet off the pegs. I was surprized at how much more in control I felt just by keeping my feet in place once I learned the proper technic. Once you do it right you will see the difference immediately.
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post #14 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-19-2013, 10:19 AM
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Nprecup is giving a great advice, looking far away

For myself, I always land my left foor first, keeping the other on the brake pedal

Another thing I do is, at the very last second, while still rolling, but barely, I slightly turn my handle bar toward turning right (pushing foward, not down, the left side of the handlebar), this in turn brings the bike in an unbalance way on the left side, leaning the bike on the proper side, the left side. At that point, my left foot is out to catch everything. It's call countersteer, usefull for all sort of good thing while riding.
Pushing the left side of the handle bar foward lean the bike on the left side and pushing on the right leans on the right

This was tought when doing an emergy braking in a curve, to prevent laying the bike down while turning and braking hard when almost to a halt. Of course, in an emegency braking in a turn, you have to select the right side to turn the handlebar depending of the leaning side ...


My2 cents

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post #15 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-19-2013, 10:45 AM
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Some good advise in these replies. Bottom line is that the laws of physics don't recognize motorcycles as being exempt from the laws. If the mass of the machine is leaning to one side or the other, it's more likely to fall than if it's perpendicular to the surface of the earth (like an inverted T).

If the front wheel is cocked to one side, the mass of the bike will shift toward that side making it more likely to fall - to that side. On a crowned road (see ATYC's picture in an earlier post) it's still necessary to keep the bike perpendicular to the surface of the earth, not perpendicular to the road's crown. Can't recall anyone I know ever falling to the upward side (left, for those of us who ride on the right side or the road) of a crowned road, but I have witnessed several "downside" topples. Fortunately, except for exhausting the rider's cursing vocabulary, little damage was done to either rider or machine.

Hey, maybe college physics wasn't entirely over my head after all!

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post #16 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-19-2013, 10:47 AM
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I do it like LOP; right foot on the brake, left foot coming off the peg to catch the bike as I make it fall to that side. I'm a shorty, so I have to pick a side. With road-camber the left side is the easier one anyway.
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post #17 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-19-2013, 10:56 AM
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I use to always practice coming to a full stop without having to put my feet down and seeing how long it took before i had to take off or put a foot down. Really helps your balance now at stop signs i have to make myself tap a foot down before i take off or out here they will give you a ticket quick.

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post #18 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-19-2013, 11:08 AM
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I definitely agree with what's said above with keeping your head up and eyes out in front (whether mobile, stopping, or stopped). Aside from the obvious awareness factor, I find it also imparts better balance and keeps you appropriately at the ready when coming to a stop. Most of the time at stop signs, I come to a complete stop without touching down before I throttle off again. I don't recommend you do this, but in time it should become easy. And I do this not only on the Versys, but also my Bandit, which is about 100lbs heavier and feels MUCH more top heavy at low speeds if you can imagine that.

Also, since I suspect approaching a stop is putting you on edge due to the drops you mentioned, the simplest thing to do before that gradual slow down? Remember to breathe. I know it sounds corny, but before you even begin downshifting, take a few nice and easy but deliberate breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. The calm is quick and effective, and calm is precisely what's needed in a routine stop. Heck, even in a panic stop so as not to slam the controls and lock your wheels.

Finally, head to a large empty parking lot and practice moving very slow in a straight line using clutch and throttle control. Again, this sounds silly, but it will make subtle clutch and throttle inputs second nature so that your balance when coming to a stop really just takes care of itself. It's almost like a race of the slowest, where the winner is the rider who is last to the finish line due to maintaining balance and forward momentum in the slowest way possible. You basically want to master moving as slow and stable as you feel comfortable with, without the feeling of "I'm about to drop this bike".

After some of the slow speed stuff, take a shift up with a little speed, then a shift back down as you come to a complete stop using light brake modulation. You want to really feel the brakes doing their job from the range of only slightly engaging toward the gradual engagement of actually bringing the bike to a halt. Once you feel abundantly comfortable with all of that, you can eventually take on practicing your panic stops in a large parking lot, an underrated and often overlooked exercise. Don't tackle all of that at once though, first just get comfy with moving slow as you feel comfortable with and bringing the bike to a picture perfect stop every time.

No dangling feet either, it's an awful habit to develop on hard surfaces. Feet should be on the pegs until that last moment when the bike is coming to a stop, and they should be back on the pegs as soon as you begin moving forward. This is another habit to nail down when working on the stuff above.
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post #19 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-19-2013, 11:22 AM
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Oh before I forget...double post here but I didn't want to go back and edit the previous one. In the event you do have a drop (which you won't ) but if you did , learn to right the bike properly.

Don't just bend over the bike and muscle it up, that's the hard way of doing things, and you're probably freaked already from having dropped it which can make things even more precarious. First, shut the bike off as soon as you drop it, perfect time for a kill switch. If the bike fell on its right side, do yourself a favor and put the kickstand down before righting the bike again.

The way to do it easily is to bend down facing away from the bike with your butt right around the seat area. Grab a grip in one hand and a firm handhold (on something that's not hot) with the other hand, then just start walking yourself backward into the bike while standing up. It vastly reduces the amount of lift you need to exert with your arms. This is way easier than just trying to lift a 450+ pound machine up in what might seem the most obvious way, and is even more essential when dealing with a much heavier bike in my opinion. It's also great for getting a bike up out of the deep sand when offroad, though I don't recommend you get your Versys in that sort of terrain.
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post #20 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-19-2013, 12:49 PM
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Just to add my experiences to the pile, the two things that I think helped me most to balance my stops were 1) shifting more of the braking to the rear and 2) stopping somewhat quickly. The rear braking I feel helps the most since it mitigates the front brake dive, which both stabilizes the bike and helps keeps more of your weight off the bars, which reduces the chances that you'll tweak them as you're coming to a stop. Of course, strategy 2 goes and throws weight forward, so it's a bit of a balancing act that I haven't quite mastered. Not a terribly experienced rider, so the peanut gallery should feel free to poke holes in my theory.

Edit: Didn't mean to throw the "balancing act" in there; that's getting dangerously close to pun territory.

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