A Lesson In Traction Control

I finally made it happen. And it wasn’t as glorious or dramatic as I expected it to be. As a matter of fact, the whole affair left me feeling a little miffed. Left with the thought: “I so could have handled that myself!” I was on my way home from work, the roads were wet, but clean, since it had rained pretty much all day. It was still a little drizzly, but it ain’t nothing but a thing anymore. The light is green and I take the left onto the onramp that leads uphill to dump us working stiffs onto I-520W to make our merry way home at an average rate of about 70 in a 55. The S1000RR’s stock tires, which are Metzeler Racetec K3 Interact (K3 are medium-hard) are confidence inspiring in the rain. I have developed trust in their crap weather performance rather quickly. Not even the Dunlop Sportmax Q2 rear that I rolled on the Hayabusa earned my trust this easily, and I loved them puppies so much, I still have two full sets stacked in my hallway closet. (Anybody want to buy some rubber?) Anyhoo, I was making the left turn a little faster than I normally would in this kind of weather, and decided to throw an upshift in the mix, while still coming out of the lean and accelerating briskly up the ramp. Of course, I miss the shift. Doh! Blip. Click. Rip. Clunk. The rear hops and steps out and the DTC light flashes on, and the hopping and sliding stops immediately and the bike is back online and continues its accelerated journey up the ramp. This happened in a split second. As soon as I realized what was going on it was over. My muscles didn’t even have time to take their accustomed corrective action that would have been necessary on The Fat Lady. Wow. How unceremonious that whole ordeal was. And here I was kind of scared of it and dreading the moment it would come on. Yeah, I screwed up and “Arr! Arr! Matey.” said The Pirate and put things right. I was in ‘Rain’ mode. I think I’m done with ‘Rain’ mode in wet weather. I think I’m going to leave it in ‘Race’ mode from now on. I like it the best of all the modes that don’t require the coded plug, besides, the Hayabusa never saw anything but ‘A’ mode after the break-in. Given, the ‘Busa’s modes only flattened the power curve; the S1000RR’s modes change DTC and RaceABS behavior and only restrict power delivery in ‘Rain’ mode. But for some reason I find it easier to finesse the throttle in ‘Race’ mode, even though the manual says it’s more aggressive (I think they used the word “direct”) than ‘Sport’ in throttle response. *shrugs*


Rear Brake Roulette

It’s time for me and the Pirate to have a little heart to heart. What is this world coming to when a girl can’t even drag rear brake anymore when doing slow maneuvers in a parking lot or let’s say pulling up into her driveway. Here’s the thing: I abused rear brake pads to learn how to do the ‘Slow Race’ on the Hayabusa. I could almost be at a standstill with my feet up on the pegs and hold it in perfect balance. I pride myself on pulling up into the local bike night and NOT drag my damn feet while I find myself a hole to park the bike in. With the S1000RR, however, it’s like playing Russian Roulette. Sometimes you get to do it, and sometimes the bike’s electronic wizardry just tells you: “No! Absolutely NOT!” and the brake lever goes limp. I cannot describe how disconcerting that is. Not really dangerous, the brakes are linked, I could use the front brake to do the same, but damn it!!!! Who’s in control here?!? I know it’s just a matter of adjusting, but I don’t want to get used to relying on electronics to do my job for me. What if I get on another bike and ride it like it had DTC and ABS, but doesn’t. Yeah. I’ll be making payments on somebody else’s shit. I really want to continue learning as if I didn’t have all that wondrous junk hanging off my bike. I look at it as an extra safety margin (in case I screw up, it’ll give me an extra edge to save my bacon), but I don’t want it to control my riding. That’s one of the major reasons I love riding so much. Let me rephrase that: am addicted to riding; a motorcycle junkie, a two-wheeled therapy abuser, a slave to gyroscopic precession. It’s the only time I’m really in control. In control of all aspects of my life; at that precise moment, I’m the master of my destiny. The decider of my fate. When I’m on my bike. I’m the boss woman! And I don’t need that stinking Pirate to interfere with that. No ma’am. Not gonna have it. Since I am under the obligation of a promise I made to hubby that I would not turn off the DTC or ABS unless it is warranted, I need to learn how its brain works. The brake lever going limp is just a small little symptom of what is yet to come. Remember, I haven’t made neither the ABS nor the DTC intervene in any other way, and I’m riding this thing just as hard (maybe even harder) that I did the Hayabusa. That tells me one of two things: Either I’m a pussy or I’m doing something right.

On today’s menu: Experimental riding. I have the OK from hubby to turn the systems off selectively to find out if this newly discovered nuisance is by design or a malfunction. Time to go play.


Brake Check!!!

It’s raining. I’m minding my own lane space as I roll in ‘Rain’ mode down Robinson Avenue, at a sedate pace of 35 miles per hour, which coincidentally is also the speed limit. I’m on my way to work, feeling fine and listening to Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’. Traffic is pretty heavy, since it’s rush hour in the big city of Grovetown. I like the way the S1000RR minds its manners in crap weather. The ‘Busa had it together, too, but this bike screams confidence, but not overly so.

I see him sitting there, in his black sedan with his chromed-out rims. He is stopped, and not antsy, like some of the drivers trying to make a left turn onto Robinson Avenue from Katherine Street. There is a line of cars behind him, also waiting to merge into Grovetown’s main artery. I’m closing the distance to the T-intersection, when suddenly he guns it and pulls out in front of me. I don’t have time to think, all I can do is react. I quickly bring my fingers up, curl them around the front brake lever as I roll the throttle closed in the same swift, desperate movement and grab the biggest handful to date in Miss Busa’s colorful 18-month riding career. Gone is the thought of “but… but it’s wet”, all I can think of is that I need to stop this rocket before my front tire kisses this joker’s rear bumper and high-sides me into oncoming traffic. Not that I have any other options. Oncoming traffic to the left, curb to the right. I couldn’t jump that anyway, the angle of approach wouldn’t be steep enough, and I’ve really had enough of curb jumping against all odds for the time being. I’ve done killed one Peregrine Falcon with that stunt, don’t need to add a Pirate Matey to the list of things wrecked due to impossible angles. The S1000RR does its thing (or I do), because I haul myself down in time to escape calamity. Straight, well behaved, controlled, without lockups. I don’t even put my foot down, but bang it down a gear into first, then ease out the clutch, which I had pulled in at some point during this fiasco, but can’t recall doing so. Holy hell! I glance down and see no telltale lights that speak of the Beemer’s intervention. Damn! Still couldn’t make neither the ABS nor the DTC come on and help a chica out. I’m beginning to worry… if anything this should have done it! Never mind that now… I show the jerk that he rates No. 1 in my book, but the single-digit salute doesn’t really do it for me. I want to make sure the asshat gets a good look at the face of the person he just put into a do or die situation. The face of the girl who could have had herself one pisser of a bad day courtesy of his stupid ass. And this is definitely NOT how I like to start my day, no sir! When the traffic clears I speed up, cross over into the oncoming lane. I buzz him really close and stare into his window as I pace him. He looks at me like I’m some sort of wacko. Ah, I hate that look. The look of non-comprehension. So he gunned it to cut off oncoming traffic, but never looked back to his right to see the girl on a motorcycle and the giant SUV behind her. Fuck me! It would have done my psyche better if he had just been a complete jackass and had done it on purpose… I don’t know why that matters… probably because that would take one shitty variable out of this messy equation. *sigh* I shake my fist at him anyway, then leave him to sniff my fumes and make sure I’m back to speed limit by the time I do my almost daily pass and review in front of the cop shop.

Damned if you do & damned if you don’t!
What really grinds my gears is this: If there is no contact between vehicles it is not ruled an accident. Think about this for a moment. Think about how that silly, asinine law affects motorcyclists. I would have hit his ass had I been in hubby’s truck; making double-sure of there being contact, had I not been able to stop in time. It would have been ruled his fault. I was traveling at speed limit, he cut off not just me, but oncoming traffic as well. Plenty of witnesses. On a motorcycle? Physical contact between their parts and yours needs to be avoided at all costs or you’ll really be in for a world of hurt. In my case, I had no outs, but to stop and hope for the best. Couldn’t swerve left due to oncoming traffic. Couldn’t swerve right due to the curb. Either of which would have resulted in a highside… to the left into a moving object. To the right into a stationary one. Hitting the offending car would have also resulted in my soft parts being lobbed into the air. Only way out? Lay it down, separate and hope you’ll stay in your lane as you slide to a stop on your ass and further hope the driver in the car behind you is paying attention. Not really all that comfortable with these odds. This is pissing me off all over again…. ARGH! To the point: Had I avoided impact but laid down my bike in the process, it would have been ruled my fault and I would have been turned into an unwilling pedestrian, since I can’t afford another freaking $1000 insurance deductible. Not to mention my rates would be so far down the crapper… enough said.

They need to change that stupid law (at least for motorcyclists)! If someone causes you to lose control of your vehicle because they violate your right of way, it should be deemed their fault, vehicle contact or not! We only have two wheels, after we screech to a halt, we still have to remain in balance to avoid damage to our vehicle.

Lesson learned:
I’m mounting a video camera to the bike permanently, and I will run it every time I ride. I had too many close calls now. Then I will use that footage, along with witness accounts and sue the pants off your driving-skill lacking ass or have my surviving hubby do it for me. LEARN TO DRIVE!

I’m still not calmed down. And this happened over seven hours ago. 😦 And something else just occurred to me: Had I been on my Hayabusa, this day would have been one hell of a bummer, indeed. There’s no way I could have stopped The Fat Lady in time to avoid a highside. Now I’m double-bummed… or maybe things happen for a reason?!?