John Del Santo mcbwaycool at yahoo.com
Mon Apr 25 18:22:53 PDT 2011

by John Del Santo
What a day !  In the wind !  the sun is shining and you’re rolling down the highway without a care in the world…..and then an evil force grabs hold of your front wheel and starts shaking it like a dog with a bone !!  You’re in a treacherous “High Speed Wobble” !
There are a number of things that can contribute to the creation of this attack, including an uneven lane drop;   worn steering head bearings, worn front wheel bearings, or worn swingarm bearings or bushings;   front or rear shocks that are uneven, under-inflated, or which have leaked;  narrow front tires on ruts in the road or on freeway rain grooves;   improperly balanced tires;  Riding a tire which has been under-inflated and which has caused the tire to ‘cup’;   handlebars which are not balanced because of a previous fall;   or a sudden loss of air in the tire. 
Rear wheel wobbles can happen, too, when a tire goes flat, but they’re usually easier to handle, as long as we don’t hit the rear brake.
When the front wheel is affected,  it can at first feel like the wind is starting to push you around, and then it becomes apparent that something bad is happening….and the front wheel starts to be yanked hard right and left and right, trying to rip the grips out of your hands.   At this point there is still a chance that you might salvage the day.  Get a good hold,  and roll off the throttle gently…  Don’t ‘chop’ it off suddenly  or weight will transfer to the front wheel where you’d rather not have it.  Lean back,  Don’t touch the front brakes !    Start applying the rear brakes gently but firmly, but don’t lock them.  This can be a real touchy situation if your bike has an integrated or linked brake system.  If so, you may need to decelerate and let your engine slow you down.  If you downshift,  you’ll need to let the clutch out smoothly, which is easier to say than do with the handlebars whacking back and forth. 
 That’s an awful lot of decisions to make in a very short period of time,  and the evil spirits may decide now to push you through the final gate…..
If the front end starts slamming back and forth all the way to the stops, you are in the dread  “Tankslapper”.   At this point it would be a good thing if you are wearing clothing that allows you to slide on the roadway rather than clothing which will cause you to tumble,  because there is an excellent chance that you and your bike will now part company.  Being relaxed and ready to slide instead of tensing up will allegedly lessen your injuries when you land….that sounds good in print, but I don’t think most riders remember that last couple of seconds anyway.  I guess we could lessen the chances of being hurt if we stayed home on the couch,  but most Riders feel that it’s better to wear out than it is to rust.    So…be prepared,  and do your best to handle whatever comes along.   Enjoy yourself,  Ride Sober,  and  Ride Safe !

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