This is something that happened a few weeks ago. I’ll start by saying I’m okay and the Sportster is also okay.
The shorter version is that I was riding to my girlfriend’s place in traffic. A green SUV decided to stop at a green light (texting?) and while I had more than enough room to stop, I used too much force and locked the rear brake. I couldn’t change lanes (other lanes had faster moving traffic) and so just tried to lane split.
Edit: I was using both brakes to what I thought was full power without initiating lock up...It wasn’t enough for whatever reason, be it speed, I had more brakes I could have used, or something wrong with the brakes.
I wasn’t successful and the Harley’s crash bar made contact with the edge of the SUV’s bumper. I estimate I was going about 15 mph or so. I got thrown off the Sportster (using the SUV then the ground to break my fall) and it skidded on its right side another 5 feet, dumping fuel and choking the engine out. The crappy helmet I use for the Gambler 500 yeeted itself from the passenger backrest.
I got up, confirmed I wasn’t hurt, then picked up the motorcycle before it could dump more fuel on the ground. Thankfully the other traffic was able to figure out how not to hit me. The light finally turned red.
To my amazement, the Harley was basically undamaged. I lost a turn signal lense, put a scratch on the right side of the crash bar and bent the left side of the crash bar, that’s it. Didn’t even need to use insurance.
The SUV came out worse. Ah, plastic bumpers and crash bars that don’t run the full length of the bumper. It dragged its exhaust home, too.
Admittedly I wasn’t full ATGATT on this ride. I wore a leather jacket, leather gloves, a DOT helmet (the Snell was at home), and jeans. Amusing that the helmet I wasn’t wearing was the one that took damage. The jacket and jeans had scratches, the gloves had a tear. Helmet didn’t make contact with anything. In the end, I got a few bruises.
I’m definitely going to go more “Power Ranger” now. You never know when you’ll have a bad day on two wheels.
To get home I just kicked the crash bar to bend it back a little then taped back on the turn signal lense.
I was cited for failure to reduce speed (which was dropped in a hot minute in court) while the other driver got nothing. Overall, the verdict is I’m not at fault.
I’m absolutely most amazed at how strong the Harley is. Assuming the same events, the Suzuki would have broken into a million pieces, the Buell wouldn’t have protected my legs, the Stella would have been totaled...That crash bar is way more beefy than I thought! I thought it was only really there for when you drop it in a parking lot.
I wish I hadn’t locked up the brake or maybe that I chose to do the split instead of trying to stop, but I’m happy it is a learning experience that wasn’t horrible. I’m even happier that I didn’t just decide to eat SUV tailgate as I see so many riders do. The cop was proud I got out unharmed. Said it’s the first time he’s had a rider deny an ambulance.
Ride safe and gear up, I know I am going to bulk up now.