Become a Member: Get Ad-Free Access to 3,000+ Reviews, Guides, & More

Motorcycle crash in slimy clay roadworks

Mark Taylor crashes in roadworks clay
Mark Taylor crashes in roadworks clay

Shoddy roadworks continue to trap motorcycle riders with one Queensland rider coming to grief in a detour through clay that had just been hosed.

Luckily Yamaha Super Tenere rider Mark Taylor of Brisbane received only minor knee injuries thanks to quality gear, but his bike was substantially damaged and one pannier ripped off.

Other riders have not been so lucky. One NSW rider died last year after hitting a pothole near Canberra.

Mark says his crash occurred in roadworks on the mainly dirt Winton-Jundah Road in outback Queensland.

“They had a side track set up with a 40km/h limit on it,” he says.

“I came along on my way back to Winton (having ridden out that way a couple of hours earlier) and was aware of the road works.

“The ride around track was clay based and they had hosed it.

“Luckily I was only doing around 25km/h and as soon as I hit the clay down I went. Like riding on an ice skating rink. Back wheel tried to overtake the front as you can see by the tyre marks on the road.”Mark Taylor crashes in roadworks clay

Mark says there were no warning signs about the condition of the sidetrack.

“And as the place is in drought, you don’t expect to come across this,” he says.

Mark says he rang the shire engineer three times (he didn’t return his initial two calls) and advised him of the incident.

“I told him the road crew, who had gone home on a Friday afternoon, should have had the ‘Slippery’ signs up,” he says.

“He said he would advise them.”

Civil engineer Simon Miller says he crashed last year in roadworks on the Great Alpine Road which, in his professional opinion, were not legal because the contractors had left loose gravel on the road without an alternative route or appropriate traffic control.

Victorian motorcycle advocate Rodney Brown has long campaigned for fast and appropriate road maintenance to ensure the safety of all road users and for proper warning signs to be posted of hazards.

“Road repairs, maintenance and reinstatement works should be carried out in a timely and effective manner to avoid creating significant hazards for motorcyclists,” he says.

“Adequate warning of hazards should be provided if repairs cannot be made immediately.”

Rodney Brown bike lanes
Rodney Brown

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers principal Malcolm Cummings, who works in their motor vehicle accident injuries department in Melbourne, says roadworks contractors have an obligation to provide a safe alternate route for all road users.

He has represented several riders who have come to grief in substandard roadworks.


Meanwhile, Mark says Alt Rider crash bars saved his bike from a lot more damage and quality riding gear saved his head and hide.

“I ended up sliding along the road for a couple of metres on my back with my right foot caught under the crash bars,” he says.

“My foot was turned 90 degrees to the left and I still don’t know how I didn’t break any bones, but I do have one sad and sorry twisted knee.

“The Nolan 104 modular helmet appears to have superficial damage which almost looks like it will polish out.

“The top vent broke off and the black trim that holds the built-in bluetooth device in came off, too.

“So the helmet did distort a lot and the internal foam lining fractured.

“Obviously the helmet is now a piece of junk, but the damage appears superficial.”

He says his Biker’s Gear kevlar jeans saved him from gravel rash.

“My jeans, although very dirty with ground-in mud after the incident, are no worse for the experience. Not even the top layer worn through. A wash in the machine and apparently good as new,” he says.

He says Shannons insurance is sorting out his damaged bike, jacket, helmet, Bluetooth, helmet cam and boots.

  1. Common problem when you ride in the softest part of the detour. Observing the photograph of the tyre marks, makes me ask why did he not ride in the wheel tracks of the cars or trucks that preceded before him? My experience from riding in the mud and soft surfaces just like those is to stay in the sections that obviously more packed and have less slime on top. Having covered many miles in that sort of terrain and seeing guys come greif in my own group doing such things, is you need to be more observant of the terrain your on and the choices of where you put your wheels.
    Open your eyes

    1. Well I was actually looking out for the workers (which is why I was doing around 25 in a posted 40 zone) and believe it or not, I didn’t even realise it was wet. Had ridden over it some 2 hours before and it was as dry as a bone. Was not expecting that in drought conditions. Only the second time down on the road since 1968.

  2. I followed a water truck on a motorbike on a clay road on my way to the Gympie music muster. It was crazy. At one point I was stationary in the middle of the road and the bike slid sideways down the camber of the road and into the gutter. I ended up having to dismount and walk beside the bike.

  3. As a country we have a pretty small population for the size of the road
    system, so its not all going to be that great everywhere, I think a lot of city living
    drivers just expect rural roads to be as good as those in the city.They are not
    i would put this down as just another hazard along with roos, straying stock
    and fallen trees. And really, is there always a need to pull out the camera
    and look around for someone to blame or sue?
    All in all its just a minor ‘step off’ dust yourself off ,pick up the bike ,tie on the broken bits
    and get back on the road ,with a few battle scars.Thats why they call them “adventure bikes”

  4. Nearly had an off due to the roadworks been done next to the Gabba. Road surface had been ripped up and scattered gravel was everywhere.

    There was no signage to indicate the road had been ripped up. It was just perfect road then bam gravel. I saw it just in time and managed to slow down before my tyres hit the gravel. Rear wheel was still sliding around despite going a very slow speed – very glad I didn’t drop my brand new Ninja 1000.

    In my experience motorcycles aren’t even considered. It’s basically – can a Hilux drive through this ok ? yep? Jobs done boys.

    Another example is when massive metal plates they place around when they dig big holes in the road. Slippery as fark when it’s wet and they’re never signed.

  5. Anyone can come a cropper at anytime anywhere!
    I did a brass monkey’s ride where we camped near a stream at the bottom of a steep grassy hill. I was one of few who made it down the hill on a street bike with no issues only to step on some ice after getting off and pull the bike down on me. I was also one of the few to get to the top of the hill again dispite the wet slippery icy grass without pushing. Of all the times I’ve stacked the only one that took me by surprise was after I managed to keep the bike up after sliding through an oil spill only to loose it on a clean bit due to the oil on my tires.

  6. Is the nanny state mentality creeping into the motorcycling community? In the past if someone crashed an adventure bike on a dirt road, wet or dry, we would have said that it was because of a lack of riding skill, which is probably the cause of Mark Taylor’s crash. After all, an adventure bike is supposed to be able to cope with such conditions. These days people like to blame someone else for their problems and seek compensation.

    It is reasonable to expect road works crews to grade, water and roll a smooth bypass on whatever the soil type is at that location. It is unreasonable to expect them to truck in many loads of gravel, possibly from hundreds of kilometres away, and built a proper road just for short term road works. No doubt if the bypass hadn’t been watered Mark would have complained about the dust or that the bypass hadn’t been properly compacted. In the photos the road looks like it is hardly wet at all.

    Maybe the bike is too big and heavy for Mark. Smart adventure riders choose lightweight singles because those bikes can handle almost any situation. The Super Tenere has a ridiculous combined braking system which prevents the brakes from being used independently. If the traction control was switched on the rider would have been unable to power through the muddy section and would not have been able to use the throttle for rear wheel steering. In fact, traction control could have been the main cause of the accident. When the bike hits mud the front wheel slows down because it skids a little, and the back wheel speeds up because it spins a little. The computer detects a big difference in wheel speeds and cuts the power, like closing the throttle, just when you need to keep the power on. Cutting the power throws the weight forward destabilising the front end, and causes the rear wheel to skid. Typically, in those conditions the road is only slippery on top and a spinning rear wheel can dig through the top layer and find traction underneath.

    What annoys me most is that blaming others for this type of crash is very degrading for motorcycling. It suggests that motorcycles are not capable of handling this terrain, instead of this rider accepting that he doesn’t have the skills for it. No doubt somebody in a crappy old Commodore would have driven through that bypass with little difficulty, which makes riders of big heavy adventure bikes look rather stupid.

    1. Hi MotoRain,
      Maybe you should go back and read the story more carefully.
      Seems to me Mark was not complaining but trying to ensure others didn’t also get caught out.
      That’s what’s become of the motorcycling community … caring for other riders.

Comments are closed.