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iPhone 4 vs Ducati Superbike at 100 mph

My friend Michael rides motorcycles, and races them on the weekends. He’s a Ducati guy. He’s also a big techie, one of the earliest adapters I know (he had an Archos player WAY before anyone else – and used it regularly). Still, I was pretty surprised by the photo he showed me of his iPhone after a recent mishap at the track. The chat transcript has the details.

What bike were you on?
Ducati Superbike Xerox replica – track bike.

Racetrack? Which one?
Infineon Raceway at Sears Point, Sonoma, CA.

How fast were you going at that point?
~100mph at the beginning of the straight were it was picked up.

Your pocket wasn’t closed?
It was stuffed in my racing boot.

When did you realize it fell?
When one of the track Marshall approached me with it asking if I owned an iPhone 4.

Did it skid and collide with something?
Did not see feel it come out of my boot. At ~100mph I’m concentrating on what’s ahead not what’s happened behind :).

Were you able to retrieve any data/pics?
All was recovered thru iTunes “Restore backup.” Hence it is very important to do a complete sync once awhile in an event that this may occur.

Michael's Ducati and his non-iPhone-compatible riding boots
Accelerating through the turn, doing 100mph as he straightens up, and BAM – iPhone goes flying
Snapped this photo of Michael on his Ducati Hypermotard, passing me on the 101 somewhere in the middle of California, on his way back to SF from Phoenix


Although I suspect a case wouldn’t have mattered much at 100 mph, a recent and pretty intense accident that I dealt with was nicely handled by my bumper-and-bestskinsever-wearing iPhone. I replaced the skin after the accident; the phone was flawless underneath.

My phone, after a substantial car wreck. Underneath the scratched up bumper and wrapper, a perfect iPhone.

What could protect a phone dropped onto the pavement at 100mph? One funny thought is something similar to a build I did on Rock and Roll Acid Test: each of the hosts had to build a guitar case that would be able to protect the axe from a series of catastrophic accidents. Mine used partially deflated kickballs as air-ride suspension, a frame that flexed and bent at specific points similar to a car’s crumple-zones, and automotive airbags mounted on the exterior with a triggering system that set them off when a strong jolt occurred. Maybe a bit much for an iPhone, but guitar-wise, it functioned flawlessly. I suppose it depends on how important your phone is…

You can catch part of that segment on my RRAT highlight clips.