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Are crashes just a normal thing with sports bikes?

Yogi

Maximum Pace
May 17, 2023
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Sitting on the sofa this Tuesday morning nursing what I am now guessing to be cracked or broken ribs from a crash near Yotsuya station early Saturday evening. I was dutifully riding in the designated bike lane but seeing it blocked ahead by a bottle truck I attempted to get up on the wide pedestrian sidewalk at a driveway break in the curb as I had already successfully done at least a dozen times on this day alone. Apparently my speed (19kph according to the sensor) and approach angle to the driveway's roughly 5cm high difference from street level was off this time and down I went! IMG_0239.jpg

Fortunately, other than a bruised hip and very sore left rib cage I seemed to have no other visible injuries. I also wacked my head on the pavement but the helmet took the brunt of that and lucky for my wallet Specialized offers a generous crash replacement policy.

But this is my second crash in the 8mos since my wife and I bought our cross bikes. My first one occurred last April in Kasai Rinkai while coasting along at only 9kph but since I went over the handlebars resulted in a lot more road rash, bruising, and another busted helmet. My wife also embarrassingly tipped over on her bike at an intersection in Feb causing some ligament injury to her hand that she used to break her fall that still bothers her.

So now am wondering if perhaps sports bikes are somehow inherently more dangerous to ride in an urban setting like Tokyo than the mamacharis which we both rode here for 30+ years without incident. Or have we just been unlucky?
 
Two-wheeled vehicles are inherently instable. Sports bikes more so than city bikes. Riding them requires a certain level of skill.
But its cars that makes riding in the road in an urban setting dangerous.

You should have gone around the truck instead of trying to go onto the walkway.
 
Apples and oranges - can't compare the two as completely different riding styles and machines.

5cms isn't much - did you hit the pavement at an angle or straight on?
 
Hope you recover soon Yogi.

I have ridden too aggressively and attempted to go onto the sidewalk in the exact same scenario over the exact same style of curb which embarrassingly resulted in me luckily doing more sliding and rolling than bouncing. Before hitting the curb at an angle I shifted focus to a mamachari that just appeared from behind a bush so I didn't lift the front wheel to get over the curb. The damage to my pride was the worst, doing it in front of a Momma with her kid on a mamachari was embarrassing, but the timing of that crash was perfect to teach me that riding fast in town is fine but planning my path a lot further in advance is a necessity. I ain't Wile E. Coyote who simply walks away from the accident looking like an accordion only to show up a few seconds later with a new Acme product. As kids we weren't really fast enough to get into serious danger on a Huffy in a parking lot. That is not the case now as adults with a lot more power and weight.
 
Just a guess on the 5cm based on my experience and looking at the Streetview pic. Usually try hit these at >45deg. Obviously miscalculated. Merging on to the sidewalk was a safer choice IMO than merging with heavy faster moving traffic to go around the offending bottle truck. I find it hard to turn my head far enough to get a good look behind me at speed without turning my shoulders and inadvertently steering in the direction I'm looking. Maybe there is a technique for this?
 
. . . perhaps sports bikes are somehow inherently more dangerous to ride in an urban setting like Tokyo than the mamacharis which we both rode here for 30+ years without incident. Or have we just been unlucky?
Possibly they are, if only because mamacharis' many kinds of horribleness are likely to combine to reduce your speed; and the slower you go, the slower you advance into disasters great or small.

Perhaps also there's a semi-conscious awareness among drivers that people riding sportier alternatives to mamachari know what they're doing whereas it's beneath the dignity of a mamachari rider to look for and avoid cars and other potential dangers. (Cf the results from driving simulators, showing "drivers" giving a wider berth to those cyclists who aren't wearing helmets.)

But I think it's likelier to be bad luck.

Perhaps it's been eight years since I came off my bike very dramatically (bike and me were hit from behind by someone who either had been riding too close to me or had slow reaction times; my bike and I rolled down a grassy embankment until stopped by a fence), and, later the same day, as the result of my own botched emergency stop (when a takkyuubin man suddenly ran across the street from his truck). The first incident looked a lot worse than it felt, but the second left me somewhat bloodied (and wondering why the universe was out to get me).

I haven't had an accident since -- which I attribute to luck, not skill.
 
Thanks Casualguy. Happy several nice folks stopped on their mamacharis and came out of their shops to check on me. Perhaps the crash looked worse than I felt it was because they wanted to call the ambulance! I did hang around for 20min or so to take stock of the situation. Bike suffered no damage other than the chain coming off the chain ring. Very grateful I could get up and ride away from both my crashes.
 
Good that you got away relatively unscathed. The smaller tyres on cross bikes make it easier to get up to speed, but while at speed are also worse at dealing with these transitions between road and pavement than mamachari tyres. Like casualguy mentioned, it's a good idea to get into the habit of lifting the front wheel when riding over low kerbs at any angle.
 
I know my first crash which I can still recall in vivid slow motion detail was the result of hitting the hydraulic brake too hard in a moment of panic. Even though it was only the rear brake and speed was only 9kph the sudden stop was enough for my momentum to carry me over the top. Tuck and roll was my only though! This second crash happened so quickly that I don't know if I even applied brakes. Only thought was mother f….ker!
 
Just a guess on the 5cm based on my experience and looking at the Streetview pic. Usually try hit these at >45deg. Obviously miscalculated. Merging on to the sidewalk was a safer choice IMO than merging with heavy faster moving traffic to go around the offending bottle truck. I find it hard to turn my head far enough to get a good look behind me at speed without turning my shoulders and inadvertently steering in the direction I'm looking. Maybe there is a technique for this?
"Cross" bikes are (typically) really just road bikes. They belong on the road. Ride them like you would ride a scooter, because the speeds are similar. Would you have taken a scooter onto the sidewalk to avoid a stopped car?

(I would make an exception when you're going uphill, in which I would suggest getting out of the road and staying there).

Looking backwards without swerving is a skill that needs to be practiced (a lot). You might want to get some mirrors.

You are crashing way more than normal.
 
I've seen road racers appear to see behind by almost looking down from their bent over positions but I am not able to ride that way. As for merging with the traffic, Shinjuku Dori is an 8 lane divided avenue with the outer lanes designated for cycles. With weekend traffic moving at a min 40kph I don't think it would have been prudent given my 19kph speed. Maybe you had to be there!😥IMG_0240.png
 
Blue stripe = free parking. I have a growing collection of commute videos of Aoyama-dōri between Omote-sandō and Gaien-mae and want to sit Gov. Koike down to watch them all, Clockwork Orange style. (As I pass each one I scream the Australian word for 'good friend' (@Kangaeroo knows the one I mean))

I feel for you with the crash. I cracked my elbow doing the same maneuver on Yamate-dōri some years ago. (Ahh it's probably just a bruise.... then two weeks later it still hurts.)

When I look behind, I tense my core and let go with my right hand so that the bike's trajectory doesn't wander. But looking around/behind before changing vector doesn't seem to be popular here. Some folk use (or recommend) mirrors, but I think training oneself to do a shoulder check every ten seconds or so is a better defence. (What if you find yourself riding a different bike one day that doesn't have the mirrors you're used to? etc.)
 
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what I am now guessing to be cracked or broken ribs
Guessing? Please get checked-out by a doctor (seikei-geka 整形外科). Then you'll know for sure. If nothing else you'll get shippu pain-relief compresses at a better price than over-the-counter, and if there are complications later you have a history with that clinic so they might prioritize you over the centenarians who go there every day for lack of anything better to do.
 
Thanks for the advise Half Fast! I will try your shoulder check technique when I feel ready to get back on the bike though tensing the jelly that passes for my core tempers my expectations!😂 Lucky we are stocked up on prescription strength shippu, paracetamol, and ibuprofen pain relief leftover from past misfortunes that can hold me over until our orthopedic clinic reopens from its Obon holidays for an X-ray.
 
There's a chance a doc might get you a corset-like 'wrap', but for broken/cracked ribs there's not much a doc will do. "Take it easy", but with pain you'll be doing that anyway.
 
Mamachari are incredibly slow, stable and slow. Your sports bike is a compromise between stability and speed.
Crashing is part of the learning process but many of us do it in out late teens and early twenties when bodies rebound quicker. I haven't ( feck, I'm gonna regret typing this) had a painful off {slipping on ice excepted} in over a decade and I still ride semi fast more days than not.
Depending on your speed it's often better to hold the extreme left of the car lane when the bike lane is blocked. It's how we have always done it before someone thought a blue strip of paint was a safety feature. Being out where cars have see you is your safest position IMO. On bike lanes I hold to the extreme right of the lane still ready to take the car lane when needed. Cars may toot but for mine that means they have seen me and I respond with a cheery salute. Not cheery salute for taxi drivers that suddenly swing left for some rando waving at them🖕

Footpaths/sidewalks are for stopping for something, hopefully not injury assessment.

@Half-Fast Mike advice on the shoulder check is good for staying straight.

Wider more volumous tires will help with stability so maybe ask the Spesh dealer about something fatter?

hope you cure quickly. Has your wife tried heat and icing treatment on the strained ligaments (medical diagnosis?)?

good luck.
 
Thanks kiwisimon. Been running on 700x38C Gravel King Semi Slicks at 58psi already for a few months in my quest for comfort. But having finally paid my tuition for this known road hazard, I think the lesson learned is to just reduce speed.
Keeping fingers crossed I will be good to go by September to take advantage of the weekend BB base cycle train last month of operation.
 
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Try to avoid riding on the sidewalk at all costs.

Pedestrians, mamachari riders, for the most part are more dangerous than cars, not to mention unpredictable. Also if you hit a pedestrian, the liability is on you, the rider.
 
Try to avoid riding on the sidewalk at all costs.

Pedestrians, mamachari riders, for the most part are more dangerous than cars, not to mention unpredictable.
Have you ever been hit by a car? My money is on NO. Sorry, not ready to surrender my fate 100% on that driver behind me being focused on the road ahead.
 
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