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How I Crashed my Beloved BMW R1100GS

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BMW R1100GS, with Ernst on it, holding a camera; mountains in the background
Ernst on the R1100GS, before the crash, in the Tatra

On November 21, 1997, at 1 in the morning, I crashed my beloved BMW R1100GS. Here a report and an analysis.

The crash: what happened

I was riding on the highway, going from the A12 (den Haag-Utrecht) onto the A2 (Utrecht-Amsterdam). This happens to be a marvellous (rightward) turn, long, sharp, clear. Advisory speed in the turn is 50 km/hour.

My bike had new tyres for a couple of days, Continental TKC80. This was the first time that I had nobbies on my GS.

I started the turn at a safe speed, 80 km/hour, and increased it during the turn. In the end, almost at the point where I could get onto the A2, I was riding at the outside of the turn (somewhere between 100 and 120 km/hour).

I could not keep the bike inside the white lines, and remember that I thought "well, than we have to cross the white lines a bit, or even the grass inside; should not be a problem with my new nobbies".

Next thing is: we (the bike and me) are sliding across the highway.


The crash: what I thought and felt

I have this total confidence in my bike. So, when we slid, I just thought "In a few seconds, the BMW will straighten itself again, so don't worry". Though I have to admit that things did feel very strange.

Then I feel my head bumping onto something at the right side, then at the left side, and I find myself lying down. When I try to get up, I bang my head against the guard-rail, where I appear to lie under. So I move from under the guard rail, turn off the ignition, take out the key of the BMW, and cross the highway onto the hard shoulder.

What actually happened: the cause of the crash

I think that this crash could have be avoided: I simply took the wrong decision.

Instead of letting the bike go towards the white stripes, I should have laid it flatter. It surprizes me that I did take the wrong decision, because I have had the centerstand and the steps on the ground a couple of times, so I know that the bike behaves itself perfectly in such a position.

I suppose that the new and unknown tires, the fact that it was wet and dark, and that I was doing a right turn, made me take this wrong decision. So, in the future, I should remember always to try to push the bike more into the turn first!

And of course, I rode too fast for the condition of the road, the tires, and especially myself.


What actually happened: the crash itself

I kept sitting on the bike when it slid on its right side, across the -thank God then empty- A2.

Then the BMW hit the guard-rail, and I fell off, on the right side. Ihit the ground with my right side, turned onto my back and hit the ground again on the left side (this was the hardest hit). Then I rolled on, and slid with my face turned towards the ground, and my arms pointed down. In that position, I slid under the guard-rail and stopped.

Unfortunately, my gloves were not tightened, and I lost them during the slide. So my hands are rather grazed. Also, because I don't have a full-face helmet, I have some grazes in my face as well. On the other hand, I might have broken my neck with a full-face helmet. All of the grazes will go away: I don't have anything broken, and there seems to be no permanent damage done (though right now, everything hurts, and I cannot use my left hand properly :-(

Of course, I have been very very lucky: no cars, no bike over or onto me, no crash of myself against the guard rail, the cylinder saved my right leg, etc etc etc.

The bike

All parts on the right side that stick out, wore off a couple of centimeters. There are holes in the right cylinder head. The tank is only slightly damaged; only the BMW-logo is teared to pieces ;-)

What is worse, is that the whole front seems to be loose: the forks are not lined up, and are pointing far more forward then they used to (I seem to have the first chopper-GS).

According to my dealer, the bike will probably be declared total-loss.

And now...

The BB is in fact declared total loss, but has got a new life! Ernst has turned him into the first Rat Bumble Bee Bike (the R3B). The R3B sounds terrific with the new exhaust. All heavy and/or unnecessary parts (ABS, bill, cockpit) have been removed, or replaced (exhaust).

When I look back at how the accident was caused, I have changed my mind slightly. I now think that I just steered out of the corner (which is very very long) too early, and suddenly found myself on the white slick patch. When I would have laid down the bike more and would have been able to steer it into the corner again, it would have been a nasty high-sider.


I stopped thinking about the details, because, strange as it may sound, I will never be certain about what happened exactly. The main thing I learned, is that I should pay more attention to signs that I feel tired, especially when the circumstances desire more of you!!!


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How I Crashed my Beloved BMW R1100GS

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© Copyright Sylvia Stuurman (text) and Ernst Anepool (photo's).
Copyright 1990-now.
e-mail adress: sylviastuurman@gmail.com
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