What is the best runoff: grass, pea gravel or asphalt?

Discussion in 'General' started by Shyster d'Oil, Jun 11, 2003.

  1. Shyster d'Oil

    Shyster d'Oil Gerard Frommage

    Many debates have occurred over some of the more obvious issues of motorcycle racing safety, such as the mere existence of runoff as opposed to cement walls or guardrails. Assuming that we can all agree that racing with the significant risk of impacting an uncushioned cement retaining wall or guardrail is virtual insanity, what kind of runoff is safest for motorcycle racers?

    GRASS: PRO: I learned to race at Nelson Ledges back in the ‘70s and I have sampled the grass (and clover) at the entrance and/or exit (and occasional apex as well) of every corner at Nelson. I never had an injury resulting from running off the track due to the grass and the relatively vast amount of distance between the outer edge of the track and the tire wall surrounding the entire track. (And I never made it to the tire retaining wall either.)

    GRASS: CON: Grass is slippery (like ice when wet or damp with morning dew) and causes many crashes for those racers having the misfortune of out of road.

    PEA GRAVEL: PRO: No personal experience with this stuff, but it looks like gravel does a good job of slowing riders down from fast get-offs w/o causing serious injury.

    PEA GRAVEL: CON: I’ve seen crashes in gravel that look as though the rider could have ridden it out had it been a non-rutted grass surface. Also, gravel may slow a rider down too fast, the result being an injury that may not have occurred on grass. (Just my guess.) It also looks impossible to ride out of many gravel pits, but this appears to be a bigger problem for cars. Question: do bikes and riders tumble more in gravel, on grass or on asphalt runoff?

    Question about gravel: does the gravel trap at your racetrack have round pea gravel or the sharp stuff? I remember reading somewhere that pea gravel does less damage and is more forgiving that the sharp gravel.

    ASPHALT: PRO: Paved runoff will probably save many riders from crashing, at least those who exit the racing surface on two wheels. (I seem to recall a few leisurely visits to the “runoff” of the Daytona and Pocono chicanes that would have been much more eventful if the were grass or gravel.)

    ASPHALT: CON: After sliding and tumbling 100+ feet on the racing surface, another 40 feet of pavement might cause you and your bike serious damage. And where do you put paved runoff? At the outside of the entrance to a corner for those who over brake? At the outside of the exit for those who gas it too much? (Probably not much use here, given that exit runoff is used mostly by riders who have already crashed.)

    Cost: Unless the track is in the desert, grass is probably the cheapest option. Availability of local materials will impact the cost of pea gravel and asphalt, but asphalt must be the priciest stuff especially when labor is considered.

    Probably a combination of asphalt and grass is best for motorcycle racers, but I may be stating the obvious.

    Any thoughts?

  2. MotoMadman

    MotoMadman Mr. Moto Riding

    From observation only, I will add this to your pro's and con's. Yes, it does happen in grass also, but it seems more prevalent that a lowside crashed bike goes in orbit as soon as it hits gravel. IMO, the best runoff is nothing more than a smooth expanse of earth, preferably green.
  3. Robert

    Robert Flies all green 'n buzzin

    I've never been on pea gravel but have read complaints it messes up the bike. However if there isn't adequate room, that should be the least of anyone's worries. It seems like the next best thing to air fence .

    At the tracks I ride on, the grass is always rutted.. many riders lose the front just trying to ride it out.
  4. Jim Swartout

    Jim Swartout Well-Known Member

    I vote 'no' to pea gravel because I have slid into it twice now
    and both times caused me and the bike to tumble resulting
    in more damage. Grass is good, but no traction if you are
    trying to stop an upright bike. I believe the asphalt would
    be the best because you could control and stop an
    upright bike and would not cause additional tumbling
    like pea gravel.

  5. BC61

    BC61 Well-Known Member

    What is the best runoff: grass, pea gravel or asphalt?

    Depends on how you want to look at it. Safety of the rider should they go down or area to save a mis-hap. Another thing to consider is the distance of the run off area and speed.

    If I were to low-side and had plenty of run off I'll take the grass. If short run off area with same low side give me some gravel.
    High side landing zone, give me the gravel.

    Save a mis-hap, asphalt would be great. Brake failure, then I'd prefer some gravel.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2003
  6. HFD1Motorsports

    HFD1Motorsports BIKE TUNA

    large fields:) the car guys are moving to more asphalt in areas where spins turn to long slides It seems to work better that running into a bunch of gravel....look at some of the f1 tracks going to more tar less rock. Nascar is doing it to. I would like to see more tar too as long as there is room for you to slow down before you hit something.. The real problem is the tracks not having enough run off to start with you can have walls and still make it safe. Any questions go look at Barber it is full of armco. All the money spent installing new sections with chichaines air fence lobbying congress for more this and that could be spent for track fixxing....Of course that is the simple answer and will never fly.
  7. sportbikepete

    sportbikepete Well-Known Member

    How about a big pool of foam. :D
  8. dave333

    dave333 traveler

    Miller or Budweiser?
  9. Fabri-Tech Designs

    Fabri-Tech Designs Well-Known Member

    Michelob :beer:
  10. Don_728

    Don_728 The dog made me do it!

    I'm a big fan of a smooth transition from the track surface to the runoff area. Those raised curbs seem to get everything a tumbling!

    I think pea gravel would be more consistent. It won't turn into a swamp like some grass areas tend to do and it doesn't get slicker when it gets wet.

    Don Kinsey
  11. 50Joe

    50Joe Registered User

    I'm actually a fan of moderately packed sand. Not deep loose sand mind you, but sort of packed down. Grass is really slippery when it rains and sand gives you some traction where grass does not. Also, it's not too bad for riding across. Then again, I am an old motocrosser and we did race at a few sand tracks when I was growing up.
  12. SR211

    SR211 Well-Known Member

    The sand at CMP did seem to work pretty well when I went off the track upright (twice :rolleyes: )
    It slowed me down quick and I was able to keep the bike upright even while in a tank slapper when I went into it.
    I don't know about sliding into it though, I haven't tried that yet.
  13. RandyD

    RandyD Zoinks!!!

    If I had my preference in the dry, I would pick grass, since its softer, and I've always tumbled when I've hit gravel. I hate tumbling. The bad part about grass is when its wet, its slippery and muddy. If you're muddy, you won't be able to reenter a race.

    At Summit Point, they used the cheap stuff, sharp gravel. Not pea gravel. It hurts when you land on it, and its just as hard to walk around in as pea gravel. MARRC cornerworkers typically don't like the gravel much because you can't run in it well, and you need 2 or 3 people to move a bike in it.

    In the end, I'd pick dirt, sand, or grass. Then asphalt. Then gravel. Barring accidents when people hit walls, most injuries come before you hit the runoff, when you fall off the bike. So I'm going with the stuff that lets you slide the best and not tumble.

    (Last weekend at Summit, John Sine lowsided in Turn 10, and dislocated his shoulder when the the gravel trap caused him to tumbe. A gravel trap should be preventing those types of injuries).
  14. mad brad

    mad brad Guest

    i think the bodies of dead lawyers would slow bikes quickly and safely. :D
  15. Shyster d'Oil

    Shyster d'Oil Gerard Frommage

    Depends on the degree of rigor mortis.

  16. mad brad

    mad brad Guest

    actually, bodies rigor, then turn back flacid again. ;)
  17. Mongo

    Mongo Administrator

    And eventually they rot away all the flesh leaving hard sticky bits. Of course if you wait even longer you're back to dust which wouldn't be too bad assuming you could keep it deep enough in the area where it's needed.
  18. Shyster d'Oil

    Shyster d'Oil Gerard Frommage

    Aren't you talking about your patients?


    :D :D :Poke:
  19. mad brad

    mad brad Guest

    no, all the dead attorneys in my basement. ;)
  20. Shyster d'Oil

    Shyster d'Oil Gerard Frommage

    That explains all the pot pourri in your dining room.

    But what kind of basement does your trailer have?



Share This Page