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Slipped on diesel, what to do differently?


Goethite
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I've been riding my Honda CBF125 for 8 months, c.1800 miles, in city, country and dual carriageway roads (on a CBT). Had a couple of moments early on with wet ironworks in the road where I've felt the bike slide, but I've been careful since then. I know it's a light bike with narrow tyres, and its a bit skittish. I'm not a crazy rider - I'm in this for the longhaul and I'm 35. Last week had a new back tyre (a Pirelli, don't know specifics) fitted as the old one was almost at the legal limit and I thought I'd get prepared for the poor weather, particularly as I'm starting to commute up the A27 25miles or so once or twice a week.


This morning, coming down a 20mph road, filtering alongside traffic, I hit some diesel splashes on a wet road and the bike went immediately onto its side. I've been trying to work out what I did wrong/how to do better next time. Partly I guess I should have just taken a completely different route to work when I realised there was diesel splash on the road. But in a city like mine, with all its one-way streets, there isn't always another route. I was trying to stay in the road-position in line with the wheels of the cars ahead of me had gone, out of the line of any potential splash.


What do you do in this situation? I don't know anyone else who bikes so I don't have anyone to learn off or chat to face-to-face. I'm trying to work out why I went immediately onto the side (honestly, I felt nothing before I was skidding on my side) but I've come up with nothing. Is it just a thing that you can just slip so suddenly?

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Don’t know is the honest answer but if you crossed the spill completely upright and balanced in a straight line you probably would have been fine so I’m guessing some sort of angle was involved.

Also I’m sure you know this but you have to be extra careful for the first 100 miles or so until the shiny coating comes off a new tyre as they don’t grip well.

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Yes new tyre not scrubbed in, wet road and diesel is a recipe for disaster. The best you could have done would be to scrub tyres in and ride over affected area slowly without putting any inputs into bike, i.e. no braking, acceleration or steering adjustments.


PS: I hope you were ok.

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The only thing I think you could have done differently, and this is a presumption as there was nothing in your description to suggest you were riding close to anything in front, but leave a 4 second gap in the wet as opposed to the usual 2 second gap. It may have given you enough time to recognise the rainbow sheen on the road and taken appropriate action, whether that be pulling over altogether or having the extra couple of seconds to identify a safe path around it, even if that meant crossing on to the other side of the road. You don't say whether you were riding on the car tracks to the near or off-side; off-side would give you a slightly better view ahead and around the car infront - it may have just been enough for you to spot the diesel.


I totally agree with folk above though, new tyres in the wet plus diesel is a nightmare and most people would have gone down in that situation. Even if you were upright, having an new tyre and hitting diesel on a wet day could force the rear wheel out from under you on contact with the diesel. Just totally unlucky.


With the new tyres, I tend to try and right upright or go reeeaaally slowly and gently into corners for the first 10 miles or so and after that gradually tilt the bike a little farther each time until the areas are scrubbed in. Imagine the line of contact on the tyre when riding upright; once that's been roughed up a bit lean a bit more to either side so that you'd be scrubbing a new section of tyre but also sitting half on/half off the section you've just scrubbed in. Gradually lean further and further until you've covered 100 miles or so and can sit at an angle you're comfortable with.

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Don't need to replace front when you replace rear. Should use two rears to one front.

 

You're absolutely correct - if we assume that this was the first time a rear was changed. The OP has only done 1800 miles on the bike, so I'm guessing he didn't buy it new. Maybe this was the second rear to be worn out ? Or the fourth ? .....


The reason the front came to my mind is that the fall was described as going immediately on to it's side. That could be a rear tyre slide but, in my experience, that perfectly describes a front tyre letting go (especially from fairly upright). Maybe the OP could let us know whether he thinks the front or rear tyre was the one to let go (or maybe he felt they both went at the same time ?).

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Thanks for all the replies folk, it's nice to have people to talk it out with. I'm fine - right knee a bit bruised is all. Bike however less happy - cracked the mount for the front left fairing, and the gears felt funny, so got it recovered to the garage. Was hoping they'd ring today but guess I'll chase them Monday for the damage. They mentioned claiming on the insurance but I can't see that as economical - surely any money they pay me now I'm going to end up paying on higher insurance premiums for the next few years!


I've thought about it and I think I was turning to the left, not sharply I don't think, but yeah, not completely neutral. Probably 10mph, down a steep hill, not braking just in a low gear. Then next thing I'm on my right side and a moment later I'm trying to yank my right foot out from under the bike as we sprawl in the middle of the lane. I felt nothing off the bike at all - other times I have felt the back slide and brought it back, this was nothing like that.


Second-hand bike, I'm the fourth owner, previous two didn't do much on it but first owner put a good few miles down. Last owner had a pair of new tyres put on at the same time; his back tyre is the one I replaced.


On reflection I shouldn't have filtered considered I knew there was diesel splash on the road, I was just on autopilot. We were all slow moving and tucked in together but I would have been safer staying in lane and leaving a bigger distance to spot the splashes. I didn't realise how dangerous it was as it was all over the road for previous half a mile and I must have crossed it multiple times (and I surely must have been giving some inputs there as well). Not quite sure why I didn't come off much earlier, I think that's part of why I'm so puzzled.


Didn't know about the back tyre needing riding in to that extent - like I said, on my own and don't know any other riders, and garage didn't mention anything though they know I'm pretty new to this, so had no idea. We haven't done fifty miles together on that tyre yet so will be really careful when I get the bike back, thanks for mentioning it.

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Diesel is lethal - I had a big off coming up Shaftsbury Avenue caused by a big slick in the middle of the road. I was off before I had realised what had happened. Glad you're relatively OK but a good learning experience for you. NEVER underestimate how dangerous diesel spills can be. If you notice diesel in the road again, slow down by rolling off the throttle - don't brake or steer if you can help it.

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I used to ride in and out of Liverpool several times a day on a route used by buses and taxis, the roads were usually awash with diesel most of the time. As said above, I reckon most of the issue was the new tyre but you live and learn. Riding with diesel soaked tyres is a pain but so long as you’re gentle with the inputs it’s not unmanageable, the bike tends to squirm and slither rather than spit you off. It’s when you steer sharply or hit the brakes hard that it all gets interesting rather too quickly.

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My first off was on a diesel spill.......I was banked over when I spotted it, tried to stand the bike up but not enough room to avoid the spill......fortunately it was at fairly low speed, so no damage to me and minimal damage to the bike. There's not a great deal you can do, apart from minimal inputs to the bike until you're past it..... :shock:

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I am pretty pissed off the bike is damaged, got to say! Not a good month to be landed with an unexpected bill :cry:

Thanks for the suport. Will respect the diesel more from now on! Though the little 125 is skittery enough, and I am already longing for something a bit bigger.

At least I learnt without breaking myself I guess. Gotta say these bruises are coming up good though. :lol:

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I agree with [mention]gogs01[/mention] - if the bike goes down without any warning, it's very likely the front that went.

There's not much to be done about diesel except stay out of it if you can, or if not stay upright and stay smooth. But diesel on a wet road is as slippery as a wet fish :(

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  • 1 month later...

Glad you are ok. Seeing the rainbow spots of diesel or oil on the road on a wet day in particular shits me up something rotten.

And I seem to see it an awful lot.

Does anybody know *why* there's so much diesel on the road given the price of the bloody stuff? Do lorries not have filler caps or something?

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