Originally posted by Kyle
... Then one day at the end of a ride, going through a really tight left hander in the center of town, someone forgot to tighten their oilpan drain plug, and away went my rear. It started out as a possible low side since i was leaned over a fair amount, then I straightened her out and almost high sided myself, but luckily none of that happened and I rode away.
Don't do that in town.
Actually, there's some truth to that. Without knowing the exact circumstances, I'll make the general statement that town is a good place to just slow down for whole host of reasons. Traffic can be high, limited sight distance around buildings, parked cars, etc. Too many directions for things to come from such as intersecting roads, parking lot exits, driveways, pedestrians from between parked cars, kids playing, bicycles, police with nothing better to do,
etc. There are too many opportunities to find yourself sitting in the road saying "He came out of nowhere!" I'm a lot slower than a lot of riders in town.
More specifically, anywhere that traffic stops or travels slowly can accumulate all of the slippery stuff that cars are known to drip. At speed, they spread it out over miles but stopped or travelling slowly, it becomes concentrated and a drip every 5 seconds from those vehicles has a way of becoming a slippery coating. An extreme example of that is the center of the lane in a toll booth but it applies to a lesser degree where traffic is slow and stopped.
Another problem with extreme lean at extremely low speed is that you're likely in first gear where there's plenty of power to break the tire loose with too much gas. Don't try to acclerate hard in low except for straight line launches.
Another point. At super slow speeds slides are actually more fatal than at higher speeds. May sound crazy but it's true. A slow speed slide can land you on your head in a few feet before you know what happened. At higher speeds, it drags out longer GIVING THE BIKE AND YOU TIME TO RECOVER.
The caps are on purpose and get to another point. As hard as it is to do, you have to stay relaxed in a slide, keeping focused on the exit of the corner. In a rear slide, tightening up on the bars will make it worse. The bike will tend to correct itself in a rear slide with just some very cool inputs from the rider. Stay steady on the gas or ease up slightly if you catch it early but ready to get back on and finish the corner properly. If you tighten up, the bike's steering can't correct itself and you have a good chance of making it worse and high siding. Even if it corrects from the slide, being tight may induce the same list of other riding errors that occur anytime you ride tight and cause you to go down later in the bend, after the bike already recovered, because you tightened, froze, and didn't finish the bend properly. That panic is also going to take your focus away from looking through the corner, and onto what you might hit WHEN you go down, a foredrawn conclusion that goes with the panic. YOU GO WHERE YOU LOOK is a hard and fast rule that gets broken when you're panicked. It becomes the same as the classic "coming in too hot" where the panic hits, the brakes go on, you tighten up, and drive off the road.
A front slide, at least to me, is way more unnerving. With a rear slide there's still a sense of control but with the front, everything gets vague. Some gripping of the bars is necessary because you do have to muscle it from tucking but that still has to be done in a mentally relaxed state, not the whole package of a panic induced "tightening up". I think that may contribute to the unnerving part for me. It's about the only time other than momentary steering inputs that a tighter grip is appropriate so it takes some additional thought, isn't very well practiced, and there isn't time to sit back and review the situation.
Relaxed is still key because some quick throttle decisions have to be made and you still have to keep focused on where you want to go. Remember, YOU GO WHERE YOU LOOK! If you're riding at the extremes and sliding going in, but still with good grip, the tire may be overloaded due to the weight transfer from gas off and/or trailing the front brake in. As it slides, it's scrubbing a lot of speed so, early in the bend it may be better to ease off the brake if it's on, and otherwise, let it slide a bit until it hooks OR until you get closer to the apex. As soon as you can, especially if it's still sliding, picking up the throttle will take some of the load off the front and allow it to hook better and then complete the turn. Continuing to look through the turn helps with the timing of the throttle on as well. If it's due to slippery conditions, much the same applies. Stay cool until you're through it.
Notice that the crash option was never mentioned? That's because, if you do all of the right things and it still isn't enough, the crash will take care of itself.
This is where Plan B, selecting and wearing the right gear, comes into play.
If that sounds like too much to grasp, that's because IT IS for a newer rider.
Nobody's born knowing how to ride properly because riding technique goes completely against most natural reflexes. When you defy that reality, you crash. Most crash stories that are begun with, "I was in too hot" should include, "... for me", because the bike was probably fine with the situation. Its limits are seldom reached by most riders. Cruising for chicks, posing, speeding down straight roads, and all of the other worthwhile persuits on a bike
will not teach riding technique. That's where a LOT of studying and seat time comes into play so that most of your riding is completely reflexive. Study the books so you know WHAT to work on, then practice those techniques, not speed, until they're reflexive. Be prepared for tens of thousands of miles, practicing and focusing on smooth technique. If you want to ride faster, that's what you have to do. Also, the track is still the safest place to go when you start pushing, certainly not the middle of town.
Kyle, this became a generic answer induced by your question and isn't directed just to you. A lot of folks read these so I got off on a lecture instead of just a simple answer to your question. Take what you can from it, ignore the rest. Hope it helps somebody.