Tank slapper is not unheard of if you’ve been in the motorcycling circle for a fair amount of time. Tank slapper can cause massive accidents and often it can turn fatal. Here is a video from 10r_onsteroids that shows how a tank slapper can hit you suddenly and how scary it can become. The person riding the bike was doing well above 200 km/h when it happened.
In the video, we can see the rider doing insane speed on the empty roads. The video has been made from a helmet-mounted camera. Even though the bike is on a relatively empty road, we do not promote any such kind of activity. This video is to show how dangerous a tank slapper can become.
What is a tank slapper?
A tank slapper is a vigorous wobble that can throw you off the motorcycle. It can be caused by several reasons including a small bump on the road, a small pebble or any such thing that can cause a sudden movement. As soon the steering moves away from the alignment, it tries to come back and sometimes it overcorrects itself. It is how the wobble starts and within a fraction of a second, it can go out of control. If the tank slapper becomes too strong, it can throw you off the bike too. The video above shows that the steering damper warning light is on and the rider has ignored the warning. There are a few kinds of steering dampers available in the market. The most high-end ones sense the speed of the bike to adjust the damping settings.
A sudden shake to the handle can send it the death wobble trap. If you’re riding on a bumpy road at high speed, a small deflection on the front tyre caused by a bump or pebble can put the motorcycle on wobble mode.
It can happen even during cornering. If the corner is taken at a high speed, the motorcycle leans at an angle, if the transition during coming out of the corner to the straight road is not smooth, the slapper will hit the motorcycle.
If the rider is not being smooth while accelerating or gear changes, the jerks may also induce speed wobble to the motorcycle. Also, soft front suspension and hard rear suspension can trigger the wobble at slightest of the deflection on the road. At the same time, a big difference between the size of the front and rear tyres can cause the problem. Slippery patch on a dry road is another cause of the tank slapper.
Can you prevent them?
Most tank slappers happen at high speed, which is why most of the performance bikes now come with a steering damper. The steering damper has become an essential part of the performance bikes as it absorbs any such sudden movements and ensures that the wobble does not start. Most modern-day performance bikes offer factory-fitted steering dampers. Yes, the regular ones do make the handle feel a bit heavy at lower speeds but they keep you safe from such wobbles at high speed. There are even speed-sensitive electronic steering dampers available in the market that keep the steering light at lower speeds.
However, if there is no damper in the bike, it is best to not fight the wobble and let the steering self adjust and come back to normal. The motorcycle is trying to come in a straight line by itself. Keep the throttle at the same position and hold the handlebar lightly, the motorcycle will come back in a straight line soon. The sudden deceleration can also increase the wobble so brakes and release of the throttle suddenly are not recommended. Also, be smooth with your riding, if you have a habit of changing gears aggressively and the motorcycle shakes with every shift, be careful as the motorcycle may enter the wobble trap any time. The tank slapper has sent many legendary riders into the air, injuring them seriously. It can happen to anyone who is not being careful while riding.