SPEED WOBBLE! HOLD ON TIGHT!
The first car I ever owned, several decades ago .... oh alright ... it was back in 1978 ... had a very funny feature. Well I suppose if I’m completely honest it had several funny features! Should I start with the sticky-slidy overlapping windows? How about the way you could see the road going by through rust holes in the floor (quickly soundproofed and covered up by a fine layer of good strong carpet!) ? My version didn’t have the wooden sides that a similar version of the same car sported, as it was the sister of the panelled countryman edition, the “estate” version! It was an Austin Mini Clubman. I have only one old black and white photo of that car left in my possession, but unfortunately I can't find it to scan as I type this.
It was painted a dark brown shade called peat, like as in the colour of wet peat from a bog. But we called it a certain more vulgar shade of brown. Hey! We were young and having fun! And that first car of mine took us fishing every week for two years until it moved on to a new owner.
It cost #350 to buy, and doing the brakes up between my Dad and myself was free, (for me, he provided the parts and the beginner lessons in motor maintenance gratis, but his customers had to pay more for his services than I did) and educational, and fun. And the insurance hurt at my tender age .... it cost about the same as my brand new (nine year old) car.
I want to share with you a certain thing that old Mini used to do, something I had first experienced to my horror on bikes, but it was somehow a little less terrifying on four wheels than two. Now when this occurs on two wheels it scares the living wits of you, and all bikers know what I’m talking about. At 55mph that Mini of mine would develop a speed wobble.
Now not everyone who reads this will know what a speed wobble is, or have experienced one, so I should clarify the subject before proceeding. They occur with cars, tractor-trailers, a high pitch vibrating-breaking crystal glass is a kind of non moving example too. But in particular, motorcyclists fear them.
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From Harley Davison forums: (http://www.hdforums.com/forum/7963398-post25.html)
High speed wobble
Speed wobbles can occur whenever something starts a vibration that matches a resonant frequency of the wheels. A resonant frequency is one at which your motorcycle will vibrate very easily; a particular motorcycle may have multiple resonant frequencies. The starting point may be a bump in the road, a rough patch in the road, or some combination of these factors. Other potential contributing factors include the small torques resulting from wheel rotation and the tiny lateral oscillations that spinning wheels make if they're not aligned with absolute perfection.
Your motorcycle will go through various "zones" of oscillatory stability and instability as it accelerates up to its highest speed. you might even compare this to musical notes or octaves of relative vibrational resonance.
Steering dampers are made to help with this problem as the main damper ( you ) cannot always handle the correction of the vibrations.
As this can be a fatal but also unavoidable occurrence, the best advice is to slow down. Even though the problem may go away with more speed, the best way to take the bike out of that particular resonance range is to back off.
The tread of your tires could also be a contributing factor.....
In addition to above, get both wheels statically and dynamically balanced. It reduces wobble, increases road holding ..... too much side play in the swing arm are sources of vibration. Check panier box lids are fitting properly and are locked. Lid 'chatter' in the wind can be one of those resonances mentioned above that sets wobble off.
Wobbling occurs when the front wheel and handlebars suddenly start shaking from side to side. This malfunction can occur at any speed. If your bike starts to wobble, remember the following instructions.
Don't try to accelerate out of a wobble, it will only make the cycle more unstable. Instead, firmly grip the handlebars; don't attempt to fight the wobble.
Gradually close the throttle to slow the motorcycle. Don't use your brakes; braking could make the wobble worse.
Adjust your weight as far forward and as low as possible.
Pull off the road as soon as it's safely possible, and try to correct the problem.
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It’s fitting in a way that I quoted from that source (Harley Davidson forum), because my grandfather was a motor cycle racer who raced with Jim Davidson 40 years before the time we are talking about here.
So now you know what a speed wobble is, in theory. But do you appreciate what one is like in reality? I seriously doubt it.
Here is the result on a longboard during a fast downhill run:
Just check the first bit of the clip. It’s kind of hard to see.
Let’s take another look, this time with more power, more weight, and a lot more speed involved:
Yes. That’s exactly what it is. And that’s how they usually end . Nothing gentle, one moment you're going at speed, in balance, the next a chaotic feedback loop of vibrational oscillation appears, increases fast, and an instant later either you survived it or you are eating dirt while your equipment, body and limbs get sanded away by the roadway surface as you slow down from the speed and bounce painfully on your ass.
Can they be survived, sometimes .... (click the play in youtube link - the embedded one won't work)
... but it takes incredible skill, with some luck. Those guys in the above video are uncanny.
So when my little car got to 55 it started to shake, by 60 it felt like it was going to fly apart into pieces (yeah I was mad enough to do it repeatedly until I could control it .. on four wheels) , and at 66 the car suddenly went all beautiful and silky smooth again, but somewhere deep inside the feeling lurked that maybe the wheels were no longer touching the road! I never dared to touch the brake pedal until below 55 again!
Recommendations for surviving the feedback loop of a speed wobble, once it has started, differ. Some say add more power and accelerate through it, and then back off very gently down again after stability is found. Others say ease off right away, the power is causing it, try to decelerate out of it. So there is conflict on the right thing to do. You can see a wheelie exit from one wobble in the YT video just above, but backing off is probably safer.
The reality of it is that most victims end up in pain in seconds, and because they “erupt” so suddenly, time to react is infinitismally short.
“Your bike don't give you any warnings. That's the scary part. It comes on out of nowhere at high speed, ....... and the bars literally feel like they want to slap the sides of your tank!
I'm not sure I've ever been that scared before, and I twice jumped out of a perfectly good airplane.”
So at this point I’d like to get back to the economy, the Fed and the price of gold. I won’t take long to connect the dots.
When we have a bull market, number of participants rises, the number of stocks sold is increased, and IPOd, optioned, new issued, margined, and leveraged to death. You might say the power and speed increases dramatically, if you choose to look at it in a certain way.
Up goes the price:
So the power or momentum reaches a certain threshold and if you hit a little bump and things are not perfectly in balance this happens:
or (please put on mental 3D glasses now!) it can look like this:
Now either you're a pro rider AND lucky, with split second reflexes or you aren't and you're in for a painful hard fall.
Which is it?
Now consider this: when the stock market and economy hit the wall in 2000, leverage was at highs. When the next arc of the speed wobble arrived in 2008-2009, the western /Japanese Central Banks leveraged up printing trillions more, and creating ever more debt. They opened the throttle to power through into the clear above. Decelleration never occurred. We are not out of the wobble loop, though tricking about near it's top. So how good are the CB colleague group at hanging onto a bucking bronco global economy after it gets shaking and until it damps (settles down)? Much remains to be seen on that.
Exercise for the day:
Take the gold price since about 2010 and trial fit the speed wobble corkscrew structure onto the weekly price to see if it fits. I think you'll be surprised.
The challenge is to somehow hang on to gold through the potential "splat phase"! shown in red above in terms of the Dow, and ride it out into the following catapult phase (not shown but I'm sure you can picture it!)
Stay cool folks. The next few weeks are going to be exciting!