Imagine you're cruising down the road on your motorcycle. All of a sudden, the front end begins to violently shake and shimmy with such force that you nearly lose control of it. A wobble, also known as a "tank slapper," could easily lead to a crash and cause some serious injuries in the process. The following takes a look at why speed wobbles occur, how to prevent them, and how the motorcycle manufacturer could potentially be held liable
Why Does It Happen?
Wobbles often occur when uncontrolled movement causes the front wheel to oscillate, causing it to wobble from side to side in a rapid motion. Wobbles can be set off by any number of issues, including misaligned front and rear tires and poor tire balancing. A wobble can also be induced upon landing the front wheel after performing a wheelie.
Wobbles can also happen on motorcycles without steering dampers equipped. The steering damper helps counteract uncontrolled front wheel movement that could occur on uneven road surfaces and during acceleration. Without this damping, the front wheel may continue to oscillate until the rider loses complete control of the motorcycle and crashes.
What Can You Do to Prevent It?
If you encounter a wobble while riding, Rider Magazine suggests applying the rear brake gently until the wobble disappears. Keep in mind that the braking process might intensify the wobble before it settles down. If you're coming up on an obstacle or a curve and you don't have enough time to gently brake, you might have to ditch the motorcycle. As Rider Magazine points out, it'll take less time and distance for you to slide to a stop than the heavier, faster moving bike.
The best way to prevent a wobble is to make sure your motorcycle's steering damper, bearings, and forks are in good shape. You should also make sure the tires are properly aligned and have the appropriate stiffness for your bike. However, these preparations might not prevent wobbles that are caused by an inherent flaw in the motorcycle's design or manufacture.
Who's Held Liable?
Product liability law could come into play if you're involved in an accident caused by a dangerous wobble. Under this law, the manufacturer can be held responsible for designing and/or manufacturing a defective product. If your particular motorcycle model is known to be vulnerable to wobbling and weaving under normal operation, the manufacturer could be held liable for the product defect in the event of an accident.
If you're injured in a motorcycle accident involving a wobble, you'll want to consult your personal injury attorney, such as Master Weinstein Moyer PC, as soon as possible.