Motorcycle Safety & Driveability/Death Wobble


What are the do's and don'ts of recovering from a death wobble? Thanks!


Thank you for the question. First and absolutely the most important part of my response is to get training and practice to do everything you can to avoid getting into the position of causing the motorcycle to develop a death wobble, tank slapper, or head shake.

Second have the motorcycle inspected by a competent motorcycle technician to determine whether any mechanical conditions exist that would contribute to the shake.

Everything I have read advises the rider to avoid abruptly rolling off the throttle or immediately applying the brakes if a headshake develops. There are many other techniques suggested for dealing with this situation. However, please let me caution you that I cannot offer advise on something so potentially dangerous via an internet board. If you are riding a sportbike or doing track days with it, I highly suggest that you solicit the advice of knowledgeable individuals who have experience on issues such as this with your particular make and model motorcycle. At times, the installation of a steering damper device may be necessary but that should only be determined in person by a competent and knowledgeable person.

I applaud your decision to seek advice on such a potential dangerous issue. And I can't emphasize enough how important it is for you to seek the expertise in person that I am suggesting.

Please write back and keep me posted on how you are doing and what actions were determined to correct the issue.

Please be safe,

Tom Wright  

Motorcycle Safety & Driveability

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Tom Wright


Motorcycle Safety, Motorcycle Rider Training, Motorcycle Driver Licensing and Inspections, Motorcycle Touring


Retired in 2008 from the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission where I held various positions, most notably as Director of Inspections and Licensing and the State Administrator for the Motorcycle Safety Education Program. During that time I served with the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA)as Region 1 Chair and Vice-Chair of the Engineering and Vehicle Inspection committee and member of the Task Force on Altered Height Vehicles and various other committees for 20 plus years. Currently, President of Central Jersey Rider Training, Inc. an MSF and NJMVC approved training provider. I starting riding at an early age and have been riding motorcycles for over 40 years.

State Motorcycle Safety Administrators (SMSA) Federal Bureau Of Investigation (FBI) Citizens Academy Alumni Association

Motorcycle Consumer News - March and April, 2009 Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Technical Paper on The Effect of Tire Rolling Radius on Pedal Force Gain and Rollover Propensity of a Light-Duty Truck

Currently hold a MSF RiderCoach certification. Certified Public Manager certification from Rutgers University.

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