MMP 09: Low-side and high-side crashes and how to avoid them [Podcast]

In this session of the Motorcycle Mentor Podcast, I explain low-side and high-side crashes, what causes them, and how you can avoid them. Both types of crashes are often single vehicle accidents, meaning the rider wrecks without having another vehicle involved. A little head knowledge – and some electronics – can help you avoid these crashes.

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Listen to the podcast by clicking on the play button at the top of the page. Then watch the three videos below. Every motorcycle rider needs to understand what a low-side and high-side accident looks like.

Note: I don’t like watching gory motorcycle crash videos. I don’t think it’s respectful to the person injured or killed. For that reason, I will never post videos on the site where the rider is seriously injured. In the videos below, the rider’s motorcycle and ego were the only things seriously damaged.

More specifically, in this session you’ll find out about:

  • What is a low-side crash and what causes it.
  • What is a high-side crash and what causes it.
  • What you should do to avoid these crashes.
  • Why many motorcycle instructors believe the “overuse of your rear brake” is a major cause of single vehicle motorcycle accidents.
  • What simple piece of electronics would significantly reduce the number of low-side and high-side crashes.

Video showing low-side crash

Video showing high-side crash

Video showing near misses

Leave feedback or ask a question

You can also leave me a voice mail message. I might play your voice mail question during an upcoming podcast.

Help the Motorcycle Mentor Podcast

And lastly, if you haven’t already done so, would you take a minute to leave a quick rating and review of the podcast on iTunes by clicking on the link below. It would be extremely helpful for the show and I’m aiming for 100 5-star ratings before the end of the year. That would be awesome for a motorcycle related podcast.

To leave a review on iTunes.

  1. Click here to open the podcast page.
  2. Then select the blue “View in iTunes” button to open iTunes.
  3. Then select the “Ratings and Reviews” tab.
  4. Then select the gray “Write a Review” button.

Thank you in advance for doing this. And thank you for listening. I hope you enjoyed this episode. Please let us know what you think in the comment section below.

Stay connected…

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13 Responses to MMP 09: Low-side and high-side crashes and how to avoid them [Podcast]

  1. Jim January 3, 2014 at 1:53 am #

    I ride a BMW K1200 GT with ABS,this single upgrade on a motorcycle, has taken handling and stopping to the next level. ABS is a great addition to any street bike, and hopefully it will become a standard feature .

    • MotorcycleMentor January 3, 2014 at 2:28 am #

      @ Jim
      BMW has led the way offering ABS on more models than other manufacturers. I wish others would follow. David

  2. Chris spees January 16, 2014 at 12:46 am #

    Hi David love the podcast I had a low side crash by grabbing too much front brake in a turn causing the front wheel to lock up. This caused the bike to skid resulting in a low side crash.

    • MotorcycleMentor January 16, 2014 at 4:29 am #

      Thanks for sharing. Please tell more. Hope you were not hurt. Did you have any warning you were going down?

  3. Shane January 22, 2014 at 10:25 pm #

    I’ve heard some folks express that ABS brakes are a crutch and enable bad braking behaviors, which can be dangerous or fatal if you switch to a bike that doesn’t have ABS. Thoughts on this?

    • MotorcycleMentor January 25, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

      There’s probably some truth to that, but that wouldn’t keep me from buying a bike with ABS.

      My first motorcycle did NOT have ABS, but it had linked brakes. When I applied the front brake, it automatically applied some braking to the rear. Conversely, when I applied my rear brakes, it automatically applied some braking to the front. But there wasn’t anything electronically, like ABS, to keep me from locking up the rear tire.

      My next motorcycle had ABS. I never really tried to lock up the tire, but on several occasions I saw the ABS light come on when I braked really hard. The way I braked didn’t really change for me. I already had it committed to muscle memory.


  4. Robert January 26, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

    Thanks again for the podcasts. I rated it a 5 star in iTunes.

    I don’t use Robert for iTunes, but it was me. Back when I use to ride I wasn’t taught, no school etc. A big mistake. There was no YouTube or anything, and I was to lazy to read books. So I really appreciate hearing from someone that knows a thing or two, thanks.

    I am also taking lessons this time around. When I did ride, oh so many years ago I decided for whatever reason not to use my rear brakes much, well really not at all. I geared down and used my fronts only. I am sure that’s not the smartest thing, but that’s what I did. I also decided to never use my brakes in a corner at speeds. My thinking was to really pay attention to the posted speed limits before a corner. Adjust my speed and hope for the best. I figured if I was too fast in a corner I better lean a bit more. I rode for years, all 12 months, which being from Canada made for some interesting rides. I never had an issue, but I chalk that up to dumb luck.

    My new bike has ABS and traction control. I hope I never have to find out how well they work ( or don’t work).

    Thanks again for the podcasts.

    • MotorcycleMentor January 26, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

      Thanks for the review and rating. It sounds like you are on the right track!

  5. Hoss February 12, 2014 at 8:40 am #


    I’m so glad I found your podcast and I’m hoping that I’m catching it near the beginning and not the end. Podcasts like this are few and far between; especially one of this quality. You’ve earned a 5 star rating from me on iTunes (I think under xianspl) and honestly, I can only think of one or two times I’ve ever taken the time to rate ANYTHING on iTunes. This podcast is important, informational and very valuable. Thank you for your investment and sacrifices to take the time to put it together.

    That said, I’ll share my low side experience. I had just bought a 2003 SV650S. I took the MSF Beginning Rider Course a couple weeks prior and was so excited to get on two wheels. I had never ridden before but it seemed a great fit as I found myself riding across town to show my sister my new ride.

    On the third day I owned the bike, i was riding to the gym. I was in a left hand turn lane, waiting for the arrow to turn green. When it did, I slowly entered the intersection (after checking for cross traffic) and started my lean. That’s when I noticed a car in the oncoming lane sort of lurch forward as if he thought he had the green light to go straight. I overreacted. Plain and simple. My foot instinctively pushed on the rear brake as my fingers squeezed the front. As the rear tire locked up, the bike slid right out from under me.

    All in all, a low speed, non-injury crash. Just a little rash on my knee (jeans don’t hold up well when rubbed quickly against asphalt), a broken gear shift lever and a bruised ego. I chalk it up to lessons learned.

    This happened about 5 years ago. I rode for about a year and then had to get off two wheels due to finances. Happy to say I’m back on the road with my ’06 VTX. Learning a ton from your podcasts. Hope to hear many more.

    • MotorcycleMentor February 12, 2014 at 12:49 pm #

      @ Hoss
      I appreciate your encouragement and your recap of your low side. I’m developing more podcasts; no need to worry about that.

      And… Thank you for taking the time to rate the podcast on iTunes.


  6. Jim February 22, 2014 at 4:06 am #

    As a rider I find ABS a great tool in defensive riding, it gives me an additional advantage in controlling my bike, in traffic. I attribute my bikes ABS system, with helping me to avoid more then one careless drivers intrusion into my riding space. I have 3 bikes, two with and one without ABS, and the difference in handling is very noticeable in emergency stopping.

  7. Joe Ruggieri November 10, 2014 at 8:36 pm #

    I just experienced a low speed lowside in traffic some one cut in front of me and I had stop quickly. I applied brake pressure to rear and was not stopping applied front and more rear. rear locked up and was on the pavement so fast I couldn’t believe what happened. I have been riding since IO was 12 and never experienced this I am now 53. I have 9800 miles on a HD Road King and I needed new tires. Well new tires and 700 dollars in parts it is like new!!! I think you should cover the criticalness of tires and proper inflation pressure. Check this weekly. I learned my lesson the hard way!

    • MotorcycleMentor November 10, 2014 at 9:10 pm #

      @ Joe
      Sorry to hear about your low side. I’ve heard from others that you go from ok to on the ground amazingly fast.

      I’ll cover tires in an upcoming podcast.


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