Inflation can be a good thing, especially when it comes to tyres. Best not screw it up
I was involved in a really nasty collision as a result of my tyre blowing out. My tyre, I knew, was running at low pressure. It is a street-fightered GSX-R and I run the rear tyre pressure low(about 25 psi) because it makes wheelieing a bit easier. Not an excuse I want to give the police, but there you go.
Anyway, I had been out on the bike and I been involved in a few stand-up wheelies and generally hooning around. On my journey home I used the motorway for about 18 miles, travelling at between 90 and 100mph, when my back tyre just disintegrated. I was lucky not lose my right leg as I bounced off the central reservation. A car behind me, trying to avoid me, skidded and crashed into a car in lane two.
The police are taking me to court for dangerous driving based on my tyre blowout alone. They don’t seem worried about the speed, even though the police examiner puts it at between 80 and 100mph when the tyre blew out.
The drivers who crashed into each other are both suing me, and I can’t blame them, but should I be suing the tyre manufacturer and pleading not guilty to the dangerous driving because the pressures weren’t that low?
Oh dear. You are in a lot of trouble. The police forensic report (and the well known tyre expert’s report) all say the same thing. Your tyre had been consistently run well below the operating pressure. The tyre was throughout its life run at less than 30psi.
This has structurally weakened the tyre so that on this prolonged use at speed it has heated up and ‘delaminated’ and the shredded tyre has told the police a great deal. You had also stressed the structure of the tyre by the hard acceleration needed to wheelie.
Most of the tyre has been retrieved from the motorway and a ‘foreign object piercing’ has been ruled out. The reason the police are not pressing on the speed is because they can’t say exactly where you parted company with your bike.
The calculation is based on pedestrian throw, where if the police know where you were launched from, and where you stopped they can be pretty accurate with your speed. They don’t know for sure where you were ejected in the 20 metres or so of central reservation you remodelled with your bike. You are really lucky to have both your legs. You can expect a big bill from the Highways Agency for repair of the central reservation for your insurers to pick up.
The tyre expert is known to be absolutely straight and independent of the police – he will be believed. Taking any vehicle on the road with seriously under pressure tyres, which then leads to a blow out, is dangerous driving. The police are not daft. You have a tricked up, street-fightered Gixxer running on under pressure tyres.
The vehicle examiner points out your bike is beautifully maintained by a skilled engineer and apart from the tyres the bike is in pristine condition. He points out the aftermarket adaptations and points out some of the adaptations are typically seen in stunt bikes. I suspect the Police may have had their eye on you for a little while because they have really gone to town on investigating your collision.
No one was hurt apart from you and, all things considered, you have got off quite lightly with your injuries. Usually the police only go to this level if someone is in a body bag. However, their evidence is that you knowingly ran your bike on under pressure tyres. I suspect the dangerous driving charge will stick, and you’ll be catching the bus for at least a year and then taking your bike and car test again. But it will be the new bike test, but with a longer examination.
Probably best to check your tyres in future. And I hope your insurers know about all the mods on your bike otherwise they’ll be after you for their outlay. And as to suing the tyre manufacturer, forget it. Any tyre consistently run significantly under pressure will do this – it’s a surprise it didn’t happen sooner.
Fast Bikes March 2013
Andrew Dalton has been writing articles for Fast Bikes Magazine for a considerable period and have condensed what we believe are the most useful articles to you. White Dalton Motorcycle Solicitors deal with personal injury claims and our sister company, Motor Defence Solicitors, deal with any road traffic offences.