So, I get a call a few days ago from the bike shop: They’re getting together for a morning run. Since it’s so hot here (35C [93F] and 60% humidity) we usually leave early (around 5:00) and try to get back home by noon. That’s easier for those of us with families as well.
I didn’t know who was going, or our destination, just to meet at a local gas station at 5. There were 5 bikes when I pulled up and it turns out we were headed for an island called Hirado – a 6 hour round trip going the long way.
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On the ride were:
2013 Ninja 250
2011 Ninja 250R (My bike)
We met up with another guy who usually rides with us on a Ninja 1000 about 40 minutes later.
Right after we met up with the liter Ninja the roads got twisty and the KLX and Ducati took the lead. Both these guys are in their late 50’s/early 60’s and I’d never ridden with them before, but they took off! They obviously knew the roads and their bikes extremely well. That KLX especially was ripping it up. 3rd position was the liter ninja (He’s raced a bit locally and he’s just a solid rider – I always try to ride behind him so I can learn from his line.) 4th was the 2013 250 and I was next. The last 2 were the Z800 and the youngest in the group riding the brand new Z1300. (The Z800 is the shop owner, and he usually sticks with the newbies so they don’t get lost or push themselves too hard.)
The roads are really good but the leaders were flying and I know my limits so after about 20 minutes, I started to drop back. I tensed up on a hard right hander at a narrow part in the road and decided I’d rather slow down than eat the ditch. I was still way ahead of the last two bikes anyway. About 5 minutes later the leaders stopped at a junction and waited for everybody.
We started the next leg and pretty soon the 2 leaders again stopped at a junction and waved the 3 of us on. With the liter ninja in the lead, we were on a clean 2-lane road with lots of twists and turns. I was about 50 meters behind the 2 leaders when they went into a sharp left hander and had just started braking and setting up for the curve when I saw the 2013 250 Ninja’s front go out from under him.
Since I was was recording our trip with Motosport TT I saw that I was doing 68kph right before he went down and since they were taking the corners faster than me I assume they were doing a bit over 70. The Liter Ninja later said that since he came into the corner a bit too hot, he double dipped it. (That’s what I call it when you stand your bike up, brake, then lay back into it mid corner. – I’m not sure what the actual term is.)
In retrospect, I think that the 250 grabbed his front brake when he saw the Liter’s brake lights. His front slid a bit then gripped again and looked to go for a high side but somehow laid back down. I went by him on the inside as he was laid down and sliding into the oncoming lane. (Drive on the left here in Japan.)
True to ToTW, watching the accident pulled me wide of my line and I was aiming for between the accident and the Liter when he suddenly veered right and I lightly side swiped him. Popped off my left blinker and lightly scratched my fairing and his exhaust – no big deal, the blinker was easily put back on and the scratches can be taken care of with a bit of compound.
Results of the accident weren’t nearly as bad as they could have been. First of all, since he was wearing gear, he got by with just a scrape above his left knee from his mesh pants. The bike was pretty scraped up. The left fairing had popped a couple of those damn plastic rivets on impact but I salvaged one of them so we at least got the fairing to pop together. The shift lever was bent in so we had to re-bend that. The left handlebar was also bent a little and put a small dent in the gas tank. Finally, the fairing behind the seat got about a 2 inch crack in it.
He was able to ride on, but since we got held up due to the accident and the last 2 guys in the pack taking a wrong turn we decided to just stop for breakfast then take a different route back.
It took me a couple days to get the accident out of my head. I’ve had guys miss corners in front of me at the track, but it was the first time I’ve had anyone go down in front of me. It was a learning experience though. I think I’ll be able to hold my line better next time. I also think I still turn in too early and need to work on my line a bit when setting up for corners. But even after everything, I thought it was a good ride.