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View Full Version : Motorcyclist Dies On Autoroad...



JimS
08-09-2009, 08:17 PM
Just noticed the link...tragic news on the mountain this morning...

http://www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Motorcyclist+dies+on+Mount+W ashington&articleId=af27a636-75a0-4bb4-b9cc-773a8fa2cf2f

Breeze
08-09-2009, 09:34 PM
Yep. No getting around it.

Thanks for all your good thoughts for his family and for ours. I count you as personal OBS family, you'll never be out of our thoughts and we miss your presence on the rockpile.

Breeze

Charlie
08-09-2009, 09:59 PM
wow..........

Brad
08-10-2009, 05:27 AM
wow..........
Charlie, don't let Nancy see this or she will never drive up there again. I have always been uncomfortable with motorcycles going up the Auto Road. You need to be experienced and in some cases, strong. Very sad.

Bill O
08-10-2009, 11:06 AM
Charlie, don't let Nancy see this or she will never drive up there again. I have always been uncomfortable with motorcycles going up the Auto Road. You need to be experienced and in some cases, strong. Very sad.

Are there any other details yet? Helmet? Speed? I saw something about brakes, but you shouldn't really need your brakes. Gears control most of your speed and the brakes just fine adjustments.

BlueDog
08-10-2009, 01:06 PM
So sad to hear. As a motorcycle rider myself, reading about an accident/death on one always gives me chills and a reminder about the potential of what can happen.

I'll be interested in hearing the details. But, having driven the autoroad in my Audi station wagon, I can see how brakes CAN be an issue on a motorcycle. Yes, you can use the gear alot on the bike, however, making a HUGE assumption here.... give the rider was 65, I'm guessing he was on a Harley or large cruiser like a Gold Wing. Those bikes can weigh 700+ lbs. (I ride a Ninja that weighs in around 380lbs for comparison and the brake setup is very similar.)

Snow Miser
08-10-2009, 03:28 PM
Very sad indeed. My condolences to his family.

Is this only the second fatality to occur since the Auto Road opened? I seem to have read somewhere that the only other one was back a number of years involving a horse drawn coach.

Charlie
08-10-2009, 08:09 PM
Charlie, don't let Nancy see this or she will never drive up there again. I have always been uncomfortable with motorcycles going up the Auto Road. You need to be experienced and in some cases, strong. Very sad.

your right brad she cant find out about this :eek:

Breeze
08-10-2009, 09:29 PM
Very sad indeed. My condolences to his family.

Is this only the second fatality to occur since the Auto Road opened? I seem to have read somewhere that the only other one was back a number of years involving a horse drawn coach.

Actually the third. 1880, 1984, 2009.

Breeze

Judy
08-11-2009, 08:09 PM
Very sad! My sincerest condolences to the family.

jonom
08-16-2009, 12:01 PM
So sad to hear. As a motorcycle rider myself, reading about an accident/death on one always gives me chills and a reminder about the potential of what can happen.

I'll be interested in hearing the details. But, having driven the autoroad in my Audi station wagon, I can see how brakes CAN be an issue on a motorcycle. Yes, you can use the gear alot on the bike, however, making a HUGE assumption here.... give the rider was 65, I'm guessing he was on a Harley or large cruiser like a Gold Wing. Those bikes can weigh 700+ lbs. (I ride a Ninja that weighs in around 380lbs for comparison and the brake setup is very similar.)

According to news reports, Mr. West was riding a 1975 Harley Davidson FX motorcycle which I find a little surprising. In the photo in the Conway Daily Sun the bike looks like an FLH - a larger and heavier model than the FX. It appeared that the bike he was riding had drum brakes though the FX had front disc brakes. Also according to news reports - this was Mr. West's first ride up the Auto Road and he was riding solo - so he wouldn't have had any previous experience, or friends to guide or advise him.

Having ridden the Mount Washington Auto Road on my (twin cylinder) motorcycle just a week before the accident I can say one can transit the descent using primarily the motor's compression for braking, assuming one can allow the bike to travel at a speed where the compression is rather high - about 20mph for my current bike. If the road, conditions or traffic require slower speeds then brakes will be required.

We may never hear the definitive reason for the accident, but if brakes were a factor - the big difference between drum brakes and disc brakes is that when brakes overheat, the two technologies fail quite differently. When over-heated, drum brakes will glaze and braking capacity will be greatly diminished. Disc brake pads will also glaze, but at much higher temperatures. Typically the heat will cause disc brake rotor warpage which will cause vibration but minimal loss of braking capacity. The good thing about motorcycles is having independent brakes for the front and rear wheels. Alternating between front and rear (though most braking is available with the front), or using them together will keep them cooler.

Unfortunately, if Mr. West's bike was a 1975 model - the brakes of that era, drum or disc, were not particularly effective especially considering the weight of the bike. Very careful maintenance would be required to keep the brakes in top condition and braking distances would have to be carefully considered given their effectiveness. My secondary bike is a 1975 model and one has to "plan" severe braking incidents rather than count on their performance. My recollection of the last two miles of the Auto Road is that the curves are relatively gradual (with one or two exceptions) and the incline quite manageable. Assuming he had a single front disc and rear drum - if the previous six miles had required heavy braking, the rear drum brake might already have been glazed by the time he had reached the lower part of the road and the front disc brake capacity, already somewhat limited, might have been diminished as well.

I will say I had a few scary moments on my trip - on the ride up, in the section of the road that is sandy, there was a car followed by several motorcycles which was braking (and stopping) whenever a descending vehicle approached - which in this section was every few feet. This required me to stop and start every few feet in the sand without stalling or falling over. I must have stopped and started more than 20 times. Even as a >30 year rider with more than 100K miles under my belt, this was unnerving. My wife, who was behind me on her own bike, pulled over at the first pullout after the sand and refused to go further up the mountain. I perhaps should have remained on the summit until my nerves settled - but I was on edge for much of the descent as a result of the experience. I count myself as fortunate. If I ever decide to ride the Auto Road again on my motorcycle - it will be early in the day when traffic is less of a factor and definitely pull over if faced with congestion again.

My deepest sympathies go out to Mr. West's family and friends.

Regards,
Jono