--Motorcycle Consumer News
by Ken Codon
You're enjoying a leisurely afternoon ride on rural roadways that feature sweeping corners and gorgeous scenery. The only drawback to this particular road is that highway crews have recently dribbled crack sealer on much of the road surface. You are aware of how hazardous these slippery tar snakes are, so you are careful to avoid them, especially when cornering.
As you round a bend onto a straight you see some movement ahead in the roadside brush. You roll off the throttle just as a dog darts from bushes into the roadway. You have enough time to slow, but it will require moderately hard braking to avoid Fido. You squeeze the front brake lever and press firmly on the rear brake pedal when suddenly the bike fishtails out of control. The handlebars make three or four quick flicks left and right and the next thing you know you're on the ground with your bike sliding along the pavement.
You are a bit bruised, but otherwise okay thanks to the full coverage riding gear you are wearing, but your new bike is on its side, surrounded by shards of plastic. As you right the motorcycle you notice gooey tar smeared along the fairing sides. A quick look back up the road tells the story: the rear tire skid marks begin in a particularly dense area of sealer.
You were smart to be aware of the tar snakes and you took care to keep your wheels off the slick hazard when cornering, but you were less concerned when riding on straight sections. That's understandable, because much less traction is being used when riding in a straight line. Unfortunately, traction is needed when braking and there wasn't enough adhesive to accommodate the amount of rear brake force you introduced. While it's not possible to always place your tires exactly where traction is best, it is smart to pay attention to the traction quality beneath your tires and to judge just how much traction is available at any given time. If you were aware that you were riding on a mass of tar snakes, you could have adjusted lane position and modulated the brakes better to avoid a skid.