Fair warning: This is a pretty scary wreck. Thankfully, the biker survived and his inevitable gnarly road rash is not shown, but if you have ever slid across pavement, you can practically feel what this man is going through.
To understand what the hell just happened, you need to know a few things.
The phenomenon that bucked this rider is commonly called a speed wobble, tank slapper, or death wobble. Usually made worse by bad maintenance, the wobble can start from something as small as a pebble. It starts a vibration in the handlebars that can quickly grow out of control if any suspension components are out of spec. Or, you know, if you can't be bothered to put two hands on the bars.
These wobbles can seemingly come out of nowhere and are harder to correct the faster the motorcycle is going, hence "Speed" wobble. But in this case, there were plenty of warning signs.
The family that filmed the incident described it like this:
"This guy merged onto the I-80E (Sacramento, CA) on his motorcycle as we were driving in the fast lane. As he merged, his bike would shake and wobble. He sometimes would only have one hand on the handle bars while it was shaking!! We couldn't figure out why it was shaking, but we noticed it would only do it once he hit high speeds. We paced him for 5-10 miles after watching him "almost" loose control (about 5 or 6 times), so I got my phone out, thinking "its only a matter of time before he crashes" and I wanted the video as evidence in case anyone else got hurt. Sure enough the very moment I get my phone out, happens to be the time he loses control. We pulled over immediately.....called 911, and help the man (and his bike) off to the side of the road as quickly as possible. He did walk over to the right shoulder by himself. His face was really mashed up (his nose looked broken) and arms covered in blood. Crazy road rash!!! I still wonder how he's doing ?
Oh, and the sirens you hear in the background aren't because he's being chased by the cops....my kids were watching peppa pig.....it was just a coincidence"
The rider had nearly lost control "about five or six times" before the big one hit. Somehow losing control at highway speed a handful of times wasn't enough of a warning for this guy to either slow down or at least keep both hands on the bars.
Another important point to bring up about this crash is an acronym: ATGATT. It stands for "All the gear, all the time." It wouldn't have helped this man stay rubber side down, but a jacket and a full face helmet would have surely made the aftermath a little more tolerable.
He is lucky to have been able to walk away from this crash and hopefully he learned his lesson and will be screaming "ATGATT!" at all of his friends on the forums from now on. Because we all know the forums needed more of those guys.
This post was originally published on July 3, 2017.