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Old 27th December 2018, 15:10   #1
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Default Does experience with a bigger bike make you overoptimistic / unsafe on an Activa?

Hello dear BHPians,

On Monday morning after almost 1.2 L km and 18 years of riding, I finally fell. On an Activa in Havelock island of the Andamans. This was on a down sloping right handed curve. Since we were not ATGATT, I and my son got abrasion wounds that wiped out our beach holiday. My issue is that I don't really know how I fell. And that's disconcerting.

What I do recall is that I had reduced speed to under 30 before the right hander, and then I (think) I was shifting weight right for the curve, when the Activa slid out from under us - going sideways (both wheels pointing right but losing traction while the Activa moved in a straight line from inertia), before finally tipping over on its left side. Initial would be a bit like this video: (its drifting left, we went right)

My thesis is that experienced motorcyclists who are used to riding a competent higher end motorcycle are instinctively used to pushing their vehicles harder than an Activa can take it. What can we do about it?

Of course, I can blame the Activa for being much worse than my CBR250 - small wheels, low gyroscopic precession, terrible tires, lousy geometry and suspension, limited ability to shift weight (thanks GR!). But that's not the solution. I seek to find a way to moderate my riding style to avoid such washouts.

This is very scary for me since many of us rent Activas on vacation - carrying full gear for the family is impractical and sometimes rental cars aren't available at all hours. Renting an Activa is a practical way to get around a vacation spot - think of going to the dive center a couple of km away in the morning etc. I thought I was slow, but clearly I pushed the bike inadvertently harder than I should have.

I wanted to know what are the learnings / experiences that others have had - so that we can evolve a common understanding of how to ride lower powered two wheelers which aren't as stable. There has to be a better way than "Ride at 10 kph!"

This is my first accident / near miss where I don't even know what I did wrong and what I should have improved. I have seen people ride Activas faster than this on similar roads, so I would take this as a learning opportunity and instead work out a style of riding that's conscious of its limitations.

Mind you, this Activa was under a year old, had just 3760km on the odo, and had been rented from a good hotel, so that you can rule out bald / hardened tyres. They had enough tread as well.

Last edited by phamilyman : 27th December 2018 at 15:12.
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Old 27th December 2018, 15:30   #2
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Default re: Does experience with a bigger bike make you overoptimistic / unsafe on an Activa?

I get what you mean. I feel very unsafe on an Activa every time I rent one on holiday in Goa. As a result, I ride very carefully and much slower than I would on either of my bikes (a Pulsar and a Bullet). To me the wheels seem too small, the Activa feels too unstable and the brakes seem very poor. They're quick though and that's a bad combo. I guess it's just a matter of getting used to the machine, I've seen a lot of people ride very well on those things. Not for me though!
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Old 27th December 2018, 16:35   #3
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Default re: Does experience with a bigger bike make you overoptimistic / unsafe on an Activa?

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Originally Posted by phamilyman View Post
and then I (think) I was shifting weight right for the curve, when the Activa slid out from under us
Could this be a reason? Although it would have been muscle memory for you, perhaps wasn't needed on activa.

Whenever I try to shift weight for a curve while riding Jupiter, I get reminded by wife that I am not riding a bike. Although Jupiter handles better than activa, it's still a scooter.

Quote:
They had enough tread as well.
Tyres might have good tread depth, however surface level cracks can also be a cause for skid. And lastly, incorrect tyre pressure, high pressure would mean less contact patch.
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Old 27th December 2018, 16:43   #4
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Default re: Does experience with a bigger bike make you overoptimistic / unsafe on an Activa?

Sorry to hear about your fall. The most probable cause for the scooter to slide could be over inflated tyres. Many people over inflate the tyres which reduces the grip. For scooters like Activa and Access, the recommended tyre pressure is around 20 PSI for the front tyre and 28 PSI (solo) / 36 PSI (with pillion) for the rear tyre. I have seen most petrol station attendants inflate tyres to 35 PSI front and 40 PSI rear irrespective of the type of 2 wheeler.

Hence when renting 2 wheelers, a safe option would be to check the tyre pressure at the nearest fuel station.
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Old 27th December 2018, 17:20   #5
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Default re: Does experience with a bigger bike make you overoptimistic / unsafe on an Activa?

Quote:
Originally Posted by phamilyman View Post
This is my first accident / near miss where I don't even know what I did wrong and what I should have improved. I have seen people ride Activas faster than this on similar roads, so I would take this as a learning opportunity and instead work out a style of riding that's conscious of its limitations.
OTOH, I'm glad you got up safe. The first few accidents are scary, once you're done with few, you only see how to get less injured in every accident & its called accident for a purpose because it happens beyond your control, otherwise it's called incident

Even Rossi & Marquez falls on track, compared to that you've fallen only once in 18 years

Practically speaking, just don't think too much analyzing things too much; it could be one of an incident unless you keep falling over & over again. Shrug off & keep riding, you're all good
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Old 27th December 2018, 17:40   #6
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Default re: Does experience with a bigger bike make you overoptimistic / unsafe on an Activa?

Well, let me share my experience of a closely averted accident in Goa on a rented Activa. I probably would not have shared this anecdote, had I not seen this thread to realise I ain't the only one uncomfortable at riding scooterettes. Mind you, I do not ride as extensively as you, nor have I ridden anything above 400cc.

I could immediately sense the inability to shed speed beyond a certain briskness, especially if you had to make direction changes using steering simultaneously. To elaborate tyres were not locking up exactly, but it felt the steering might not be able to cope up with fast reduction in speed and direction change, simultaneously. As a matter of fact, at one point in time, on a gradient, I chose to shed speed from 60 odd to come to halt barely on the road (the road was taking a turn to the right) as I was not confident of steering to the right simultaneously with brakes applied. I was riding two up, and my pillion was quite surprised at us just shedding speed at a straight line and not taking the corner. We were lucky there was no vehicle behind us.

Also, I felt that the Activa (most scooterettes) do not have neutral balance. I really was on tenterhooks mentally that the thin tyres could give way at the slightest lean angles. The suspension too, gives very litlle feedback, just sharp thuds, nothing progressive at all. It was a 3k run Activa by the way. Maybe mine was a mental roadbloack drawn up from a combination of observations stated above, but riding the Activa was tiring, mentally and physically.

Which brings me to the takeaway of all this. Let's just say, that a vehicle with so many limitations isn't a 'hop on and ride' sort of a bike on a holiday just because it is gearless (which is considered a boon by many, but in reality another limitation at shedding speeds). It requires a certain level of familiarization with its limits.

Last edited by octane1002 : 27th December 2018 at 18:07.
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Old 27th December 2018, 18:07   #7
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Default re: Does experience with a bigger bike make you overoptimistic / unsafe on an Activa?

I have bumped into a kerb once on a Dio because I steered too hard after riding heavy bikes for some time. It was careless of me.

But I don't think its a big issue. What might catch someone out is the rear sliding away. Because your feet are as far forward as your hands, a sliding rear wheel gets noticed too late.
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Old 27th December 2018, 19:16   #8
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Default re: Does experience with a bigger bike make you overoptimistic / unsafe on an Activa?

Glad that your son and you are safe with no major injuries.

After riding the Unicorn and Karizma R for a collective period of 8.5 years & 58,000 kms, it was mentally and physically hard for me in the initial days to adjust to the Activa 125. Be it in terms of riding comfort and getting used to the scooter - the way it rides and handles etc. It was a whole new experience just like the feeling when downgrading to a scooter from such great bikes. I always kept telling myself while riding the Activa is to control the urge to ride fast and take corners harder than normal (read like how one would take a corner on a bike, I mean that confidence one gets on a bike). The Activa is mainly built to ferry people from Point A to Point B without any drama in a relaxed manner with an added bonus of load carrying capability which one can't on a bike.

Small wheels, mediocre brakes and low-travel suspension are all meant for city riding purpose. Any fun may cost the rider some flesh and ego bruising.

Don't think too much into it and ride safe!
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Old 27th December 2018, 19:36   #9
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Default re: Does experience with a bigger bike make you overoptimistic / unsafe on an Activa?

I ride a 250cc bike and even i hired a Suzuki Access during my trip to Andaman few years back. So i can relate to what you say.

I have migrated to bikes from a Bajaj Sunny followed by a Kinetic Marvel. So i know what surprise these scooters can throw. I have more than 9 years of experience in riding gear-less scooters.

The most common difficulties we face in the beginning-

Disc brake to drum brake = Poor braking

Bigger wheels to smaller wheels = Lack of confidence in turns and more harsh ride quality.

250cc to 100/125cc = You will lack the desired pickup which you are used to in your high powered bike.

Gear-less scooters = When you need sudden pickup you do not have a gear to down shift and in case of an emergency braking you lack the engine braking too! All you have to rely upon, is on the accelerator and brake!

The good part -

Easy to ride.
Less turning radius.
Ample of storage under the seat.
No headache of using the gear and clutch in congested roads.

What i generally do is : While renting a two wheeler in places like Goa or Andaman, i try to get a 150cc bike instead of a gear-less scooter. In case its not available, i go for gear-less scooters. Last time in Goa i rented a Harley Davidson Iron 883 for a day.

Last edited by moralfibre : 28th December 2018 at 09:39. Reason: TVS = Suzuki
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Old 27th December 2018, 19:54   #10
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Default re: Does experience with a bigger bike make you overoptimistic / unsafe on an Activa?

Quote:
Originally Posted by phamilyman View Post
when the Activa slid out from under us
You've said:

- You have riding experience
- You were going < 30 km/h
- You shifted weight correctly
- The Activa slipped out from under you
- You really don't know what happened

All of this sounds to me like there was probably oil on the road...

In some cases it can be a fluid leaking from a passing car which is slippery when wet, but evaporates quickly leaving no trace.
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Old 27th December 2018, 20:22   #11
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Default re: Does experience with a bigger bike make you overoptimistic / unsafe on an Activa?

When you mentioned you reduced the speed, did you apply the brakes?
By any means, Considering Activa to have rear drum bakes, there could be a possible lockup that happened.
https://www.doityourself.com/stry/wh...kes-to-lock-up

Last edited by GTO : 28th December 2018 at 11:29. Reason: Poorly typed post
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Old 28th December 2018, 06:03   #12
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Default re: Does experience with a bigger bike make you overoptimistic / unsafe on an Activa?

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Originally Posted by phamilyman View Post
My thesis is that experienced motorcyclists who are used to riding a competent higher end motorcycle are instinctively used to pushing their vehicles harder than an Activa can take it. What can we do about it?
What can we do about it?

First, change your thesis to the exact opposite:

"My thesis is that inexperienced motorcyclists who are used to riding a competent higher end motorcycle are instinctively used to pushing their vehicles harder than an Activa can take it."

Second, curb your instincts. That's a dangerous one that reeks of inexperience.

Even if you were riding an Activa earlier (instead of a superbike) and you switched to another Activa first understand the peculiarities of the second Activa before you push it - the brakes would be different, it may have had an accident which would have bent the steering fork, the tyres may have a weak spot on one side or may have a part that does not have a proper contact patch with the road - whatever - there would be several reasons. On top of it all this is a rented vehicle so repairs would be done in a jugaad manner - you had an accident which may have also bent the fork - they wouldn't bother to repair it.

And if you tried your superbike tricks on an Activa before understanding it's specific limits you were asking for trouble.

The thesis (as revised above) is a universal rule that applies when you move to any other vehicle you haven't driven before - 2 wheel or 4 wheel.

Last edited by AMG Power : 28th December 2018 at 06:27.
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Old 28th December 2018, 08:40   #13
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Default re: Does experience with a bigger bike make you overoptimistic / unsafe on an Activa?

What is the point of this thread Hitanshu?
Don't we all know how bad a scooter can be, particularly Activa, when compared to a motorcycle?
I have (had to) hire Activas in the past and on every such instance, was driving that thing expecting to fall the very next moment. Such is the confidence these vehicles inspire!

I do think, you may have been relying on your motorcycling genes a bit too much, and paid the price on a stupid scooter. It could have been oil on the road, or sand, or a mild rut. I'm glad that both you and your son walked away with mild bruises and abrasions, and are able to continue with your vacation. Next time, get something better, and as 'AMG Power' suggested, first take it easy to familiarise yourself with the vehicle and not drive instinctively.

Cheers.
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Old 28th December 2018, 09:19   #14
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Default re: Does experience with a bigger bike make you overoptimistic / unsafe on an Activa?

Quote:
Originally Posted by phamilyman View Post
Hello dear BHPians,

On Monday morning after almost 1.2 L km and 18 years of riding, I finally fell. On an Activa in Havelock island of the Andamans. This was on a down sloping right handed curve. Since we were not ATGATT, I and my son got abrasion wounds that wiped out our beach holiday. My issue is that I don't really know how I fell. And that's disconcerting.

What I do recall is that I had reduced speed to under 30 before the right hander, and then I (think) I was shifting weight right for the curve, when the Activa slid out from under us - going sideways (both wheels pointing right but losing traction while the Activa moved in a straight line from inertia), before finally tipping over on its left side.
Hi Phamilyman,
Sorry to hear about your fall. I would blame the leading swing arm front suspension to have caused the fall. We had a Kinetic Honda for about 4 years. As long as you take a turn on a proper road or cemented surface things go fine. The flip side of this suspension is that if the tyre rides over a pebble (even as big as a 1 Re coin) while taking a turn, instead of the tyre compressing the spring the tyre simply tries to slide outwards rolling over the pebble. This could have caused the fall in your case.
My recommendation would be a scooter with a telescopic front suspension.

Regards,
Ilango P
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Old 28th December 2018, 09:26   #15
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Default re: Does experience with a bigger bike make you overoptimistic / unsafe on an Activa?

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Originally Posted by roy_libran View Post
What is the point of this thread Hitanshu?
Don't we all know how bad a scooter can be, particularly Activa, when compared to a motorcycle?
I have (had to) hire Activas in the past and on every such instance, was driving that thing expecting to fall the very next moment. Such is the confidence these vehicles inspire!

I do think, you may have been relying on your motorcycling genes a bit too much, and paid the price on a stupid scooter. It could have been oil on the road, or sand, or a mild rut. I'm glad that both you and your son walked away with mild bruises and abrasions, and are able to continue with your vacation. Next time, get something better, and as 'AMG Power' suggested, first take it easy to familiarise yourself with the vehicle and not drive instinctively.

Cheers.

Bhai you missed my point. I had driven the Activa already 35-40km before my accident. I would wager that was familiarization enough. There was nothing on the road except very mild dew.



I was consciously at a slow enough speed and not trying to do anything aggressive. I'm frankly clueless as to what else i can do now besides riding at 15 kph next time and strictly not shifting my weight. I want a better recipe than that. That's not really a learning. That's just plain fear.



I'm not blindly optimistic that I will just shrug it off as bad luck. I want to control it better.
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