Motorcycle Accidents. Sport Bikes Versus Cruisers

Sport bikes have the highest death rates among all types of motorcycles, according to the Highway Loss Data Institute. Drivers of these high-performance racing motorcycles are being killed nearly four times as often as people who drive standard models, a new insurance study shows. Motorcycle deaths in general have skyrocketed from 2,116 in 1997 to 4,810 in 2006, and now account for 11 percent of all traffic fatalities, U.S. Transportation Department figures show. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety blames the popular super sport motorcycles in part for the dramatic increase. Sport bikes made up less than 10 percent of registered motorcycles in 2005 but accounted for over 25 percent of rider deaths. Super sport bikes are built on racing platforms but modified for the highway and sold to consumers. They are very lightweight and have powerful engines. For example, a 2006 model Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R produces 111 horsepower and weighs 404 pounds. In contrast, the 2006 model Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic Electra Glide produces 65 horsepower and weighs 788 pounds. We know that a lot of the people who get into sport bikes are adrenaline junkies with a daredevil mentality. They’re not out to take a cruise to enjoy the countryside. They want to get a rush by pushing it to the limit.

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35 Responses to “Motorcycle Accidents. Sport Bikes Versus Cruisers”


  1. 1 hoyt Oct 10th, 2007 at 11:55 am

    My comments below do not deny there is a problem with sportbike riders (note: it is the rider, not the bike). There are many idiots on sportbikes as well as inexperienced riders on bikes well above their skill level. But, stats like the ones listed above can be wreckless & irresponsible if the whole picture is not presented clearly. The post itself comes across as having an agenda against sportbikes as opposed to the real reason – poor rider judgement & bad drivers.

    The study needs to gather data pertaining to the number of years riding experience when publicizing these fatalities. Fatalities related to helmet-less riders should also be published. How much of the spike in deaths were related to states like PA repealing the helmet law? Is that the 2nd culprit to the increase?

    There are other culprits: how many sportbike or cruiser deaths resulted from poor drivers while the rider was doing nothing wrong?

    I would support a graduated licensing program for a motorcycle endorsement. This change must be accompanied by mandatory re-testing at age 55,60 for all driver’s licensing. Furthermore, more difficult testing to obtain a drivers licensing must be implemented.

  2. 2 goldiron Oct 11th, 2007 at 9:50 am

    A large problem with these “statistics” that I have seen is the inclusion of sport touring bikes and other bikes into the classification of sport bike. The source of articles like this intends to create a divisiveness amongst motorcyclists and that purpose should be recognized. It is a method for the government or any other entity to divide and conquer motorcyclists.

    Cruisers need not be heavy nor be of low horsepower. Cruisers are misnomered as well because they are relegated into the heavy and underpowered classification. Historically, you will recognize that most modifications to motorcycles have decreased weight and increased all around performance.

    Many of the prejudices that are played upon in the motorcycling world are derived from rider position. Others are derived from fervor of nationalism and false patriotism.

  3. 3 Rogue Oct 11th, 2007 at 9:53 am

    First of all I prefer to call them Crashes or Collisions and not accidents as I believe it better describes the situation.
    Now that said the death rate of motorcycle riders has gone up for many reasons But the main reason is because registerations have gone up. The more motorcycles on the road the greater the number of injuries and deaths.
    I am sorry that is just a fact.
    Depending on the study and who is doing it the group or type of rider is different as to the highest number.
    Yes a lot of young riders are dying because of wreckless riding but also from lack of experience. There is a certain amount that can be learned from schooling But the real education come when you apply that schooling on the roadway. There is no shortcut for experience.
    There is also the studies that show the Baby Boomers have high numbers of deaths and there are numerous opinions on why. Partying and lack of experience seem to be factors but not the only cause.
    Crashes are when the riders do themselves and collisions when they have contact with someting like another vehicle.
    Yes the operators of other vehicles are most often at fault BUT the riders are not blameles either. They decided to ride knowing the dangers yet decided to do so any way. Many have taken motorcycle rider courses and gotten a certificate that allowed them to get a operators permit with out passing the test at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Some will admit they did so because they could not pass that test,many even after the schooling. It is the responsibility of the state to do the tests and make them difficult to pass that a reasonable amout of skill is involved and it is not just increasing their revenue.
    Granted the testing has to be followed by getting experience on the roadway but it is a start.
    Attention needs to be on how to prevent Crashes and Collisions and less on making it mandatory for indivuals to wear what some feel is protective clothing.Puerto Rico has recently made it mandatory for motorcycle riders to wear gloves,jackets,long pants,boots and helmets. Where will it stop?
    Educate Not Legislate.
    In the mean time older more experienced riders may want to help some of the new ones get the education they need to stay alive.

  4. 4 goldiron Oct 11th, 2007 at 11:15 am

    Rogue,

    I agree with your statement about crashes and collisions rather than accidents.

    A major fault of the current schooling process has developed from the manufacturers funding and support of the MSF curriculum. The majority of the “classes are held on parking lots at speeds that are not relevant to the riding conditions that these fatality and injury statistics are established. However, it also must be noted that even within the confines of these curriculum schools, the death rate has gone up significantly.

    Most commonly single vehicle motorcycle crashes occur in curves. To address this commonality, we must look at several factors. The suitability of the roadway, the suitability of the motorcycle suspension and steering, and the suitability of the rider all must be addressed.

    Most state and federal agencies do not address the suitability of roadways in design nor in maintenance. Negative camber surfaces in turns, tar snakes, metal plates, ridged pavement and lack of maintenance are but a few of the problems confronting motorcyclists.

    Most motorcyclists do not know how to adjust the suspension on the bike that they are riding nor do they know or care about it when choosing a bike. This is necessary knowledge that, if utilized, would enable many riders to negotiate turns without drifting off the road or into oncoming traffic.

    Since the majority of motorcyclist training schools and training programs do not offer nor test the skill set at actual roadway speeds, it is difficult to ascertain the effectiveness of the training and more difficult to determine the skill set transfer from parking lot to roadway when providing a skills test waiver. Training could be graduated or modified to include proof of these skills.

    Many of the dealer sponsored schools spend an inordinate amount of time in the clothing and apparel departments of the respective dealerships promoting the sales of available gear within the dealership rather than addressing functionality of safety rather than suitability of fashion.

    The common motorcyclist must prevent their own crashes and collisions before moaning and whining about Other Vehicles causing them. OVs can be controlled through the strict enforcement of current laws.

    Finally, more experienced riders are reticent about group riding because of the myriad amount of mistakes the inexperienced rider brings with them. Charity rides and the like give a false confidence to the inexperienced and only raise statistics along with their greed for money.

    Preventing crashes and collisions starts in the rider’s head and must be forefront to remain uninjured and alive.

  5. 5 Rogue Oct 11th, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    Goldiron
    You are right on the money with your statement.
    Since everyone knows MSF is funded by the motorcycle manufactuers and MSF wants to make motorcycle rider training mandatory it appears that the motorcycle makers are the only company that I can think of that wants to make a product and force consumers to pay to learn hoe to use it.
    MSF is not hiding the fact they are lobbying to make rider education mandatory. They start off by getting a law passed that says everyone under 21 must attend a course. Naturally there is a fee for this course.
    Many over the age of 21 have said that is a good idea and are putting a gap between new and older riders part of the divide and conquer you mention.
    Now that MSF has their foot in the door they want to make it mandatory for everyone who does not currently have a motorcycle license to take their course. Many of those already with a license say this is a good idea.
    MSF is also planning on introducing a bill that will require all riders to take their course on a regular basis and 5 years is the number I was told.
    This sounds like I would be forced to pay MSF money every 5 years to continue to ride my motorcycle. That sounds like extortion to me.
    You have the goverment pitting those that want to wear helmets against those that do not,young against old, new against older and so on.
    Your insurance rates are not going to go down and it is not the responsibility of a motorcycle rider to decide what is right for another.
    Motorcycle Riders Need To Band Together and Let Those Who Ride Decide what is right for themselves. If a rider makes a bad decisions that will come with a price they will have to pay as with all decisions we make in life.
    Motorcycle riders also need to take responsibility for their own actions.

  6. 6 scott Oct 11th, 2007 at 5:05 pm

    It is my belief that most single vehicle motorcyle crashes are due to riding beyound ones capabilities. If you look at ATV, snowmobile, and PWC crashes you will find the same thing. Couple this with the consumption of alchahol and the results become worse. I totally agree that the answer is education. after all it is the rider who chose to make the decision to ride beyond their capabilities. The sad fact of it is the insurance industry will run with this data and cause the rates for responsible riders to go up as well.

    I do appreciate the responses on this subject. it is refreshing to see intelligent discussion based on fact.

  7. 7 A 1 CYCLES Oct 11th, 2007 at 8:56 pm

    4800 DEAD IN ONE YEAR DOSENT SEEM LIKE MUCH, VERSUS THE NUMBER OF RIDERS, YES I AGREE ONE IS TOO MANY BUT LETS CHECK 4800 VERSUS NUMBER OF REGISTERD PERCENTAGEWISE VERSUS NUMBER OF CAR DEATH VERSUS REGISTERED PERCENTAGE WISE I DONT KNOW THE NUMBERS BUT I WOULD LIKE TO SEE IF THEIR IS A CORRELATION ON RATIOS OR IF WE (MOTORCYCLIST) HAVE A HIGHER DEATH RATE? JUST PONDERING..BUT ALAS I WILL ALWAYS TAKE MY CHANCES AND YOU DO MAKE YOUR OWN LUCK. AND 23 YEARS NEVER BEEN DOWN ON THE STREET IM DOING WELL…(MANY TIMES RACING THOUGH) CLOSED COURSE OF COURSE.

  8. 8 charlie 616 Oct 13th, 2007 at 6:48 pm

    The flaw with the article starts with the title. Perhaps it should be changed to ‘sport bike riders vs. cruiser riders’. I will restate what others already have: The responsibility is in the hands of the rider, NOT the machine. My father has owned two cruisers and a sport bike in his life. Each cruiser has met the pavement, yet his ZX-10 (considerably more powerful than the ZX-6 mentioned in the article and either cruiser) has never touched the ground.
    I understand that one specific case cannot and will not derail an article such as this one. There are way too many variables and factors to make assertions as confidently as the author does. I will not re-list them all because other comments have pretty much covered it.
    I find it very interesting that Rogue said people take classes to avoid the test proctored by the state. I do not doubt or argue that fact. Personally, I took the TEST to avoid the CLASS.
    Over 75% of motorcycle accidents occur within the rider’s first six months. Mine did. People who start riding start when they are younger. It is undeniable that people generally ride cruisers later in their lifes. Many of these people started riding a sport bike or a standard (mix between the two) bike. The majority of new riders start on sport bikes, have their accident(s) and then graduate to a cruiser with experience under their belt. This point only backs up the fact that riders are responsible for their mistakes, not the machines.

  9. 9 brent Oct 13th, 2007 at 8:15 pm

    i love this blog because most of the comments are quite intelligent.

  10. 10 dragon Oct 17th, 2007 at 9:34 pm

    to charlie which did ur dad ride the most cruiser or sports bike also it goes back to the the bike and the rider and the cage’s

  11. 11 goldiron Oct 18th, 2007 at 11:37 am

    Dragon,

    Certainly the issue that you brought up about vehicle miles traveled needs to be brought up. However, you are making the argument prejudicial by defining it as a cruiser versus sportbike topic. This topic has to be addressed with more than that in mind.

    Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) is a topic that the government has not addressed in their statistical analysis of crash injuries and deaths. For this reason, then are skewed to mean anything that the presenter needs them to say.

    Years ago, motorcycles were modified by the owner in many different ways. Sometimes they were stripped down to lose weight, sometimes to remove dented and twisted parts, other times parts were added or chromed. Much of the personalization of motorcycles led to different types of manufacturer models. Some, like over zealous politicians, were adorned with all the comforts of any easy chair or a recliner. Others were refined with different ergonomics. Many times, better performance of that particular motorcycle were addressed by the individual for braking, acceleration or cornering. To other riders, these performance enhancements were not necessary and other modifications or personalizations were made. The individualization of some bikes was based upon aesthetics and beauty. Occasionally so many of these enhancements were made in one area or another that the bike became a trailer queen.

    Owners of all the aforementioned types of bikes still exist and have a headstart with the different makes and models available. Riders of all these different types of bikes rely upon manufacturers to give them the headstart with the type(s) of riding that they enjoy. Some riders will ride the bike stock and others will modify it to their needs and tastes. Some will modify it to improve the bike in one or more areas and others will have a bike that is purpose built or custom built.

    To assign any data figures about crashing to a particular type of bike is ludicrous. To assign any of that incomplete data to any level of rider education is also ludicrous. These assignments of blame are created for divisiveness within the motorcycling community.

    Other factors causing death and injury often not considered are suitability of road surfaces for motorcycling. These factors may or may not influence an outcome on a particular style of riding or a particular style of bike. These are areas that the government refuses to quantify or qualify.

    Let me ask all the readers the following questions:

    When was the last time that you improved your own riding or someone else’s riding?

    Have the improvements that you made saved your self or someone else?

    We all have a common goal of enjoying motorcycles on some level. Under this commonality we are all brothers and sisters within this community. Yes, you are your brothers’ keepers.

    goldiron

  12. 12 Skidmark Oct 18th, 2007 at 4:20 pm

    Bikes designed for racing should not be licensed for the public highways.
    There are many, many, many more sport bike riders being scraped off the pavement every weekend vs. the cruisers.
    It is such a shame that these annoying little kids have to die while idiots like those commenting here argue & try to change the entire meaning of the original article.
    Anyone out on the twisties, on any weekend, can see who’s going down. That’s THE fact. There is no arguing about it. The racers on the public highways are giving the entire motorcycle community a bad name. Most of us just want to enjoy the ride.

  13. 13 Nicker Oct 21st, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    Given the above, obviously……….There is no simple answer.

    The problems are many and vary with each individual rider, their skill, and the particular situation that caused them to crash.

    Trying to find “a” solution to is a waste of time, effort, and $$s.

    In one voice (with $$s to match), the MC community and industry should to tell politicians (and other snivelers) to go fix something they are capable of handling and leave the rest of us alone.

    We’re big boys and girls.
    Riding isn’t safe and we all know that (at least we should).

    -nicker-

  14. 14 goldiron Oct 22nd, 2007 at 11:45 am

    Skidmark,

    Most states do not license or register racing bikes. Generally, the lack of lighting, the open exhausts, number plates and the lack of a kickstand are a few of the clues to the DMV.

    Your facts seem to directly conflict with those of the record keepers.

    There are no simple explanations for why the motorcycle death toll has continued to increase, but in a 2006 analysis of the accident data, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said two trends are evident: Today’s motorcyclists are older than in the past, and they are driving bigger, more powerful bikes.

    In 1990, motorcyclists 50 and older accounted for 10 percent of all bike owners. By 2003, the 50-and-older crowd represented 25 percent of motorcycle owners. During the same time, the average age of motorcycle owners rose from 33 to just older than 40.

    Most of the bikes in the showrooms today are equipped with larger engines than earlier-generation models. During the past two years, Harley-Davidson increased the engine size on most of its models from 1,450 cubic centimeters to 1,584 cc.

    And it is not just Harleys that have gotten burlier. According to data compiled by Motorcycle Industry Council, bikes with engines of at least 750 cc made up 40 percent of the U.S. market in 1990 but now account for more than three-quarters of the motorcycles on U.S. roads.

    Veteran riders say they doubt that the size of the engines or the graying of the riders can fully explain the rising motorcycle death toll.

    It’s the boomers that are fueling this. They’re not new to driving a vehicle, but they are new to riding a motorcycle. People get into motorcycling and don’t really understand the risks that go along with the rewards.

    There are about three motorcycle fatalities in rural areas for every one in an urban setting. The No. 1 cause is excessive speed going into corners.

    First and foremost, it is riders killing themselves.

    Twenty states and the District of Columbia have mandatory helmet laws for all motorcycle riders. Most other states require helmets for riders younger than 18 or 21. Three states — Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire — do not have helmet laws.

    But even a tough helmet law doesn’t necessarily add safety. According to federal government statistics, between 2001 and 2004 the fatality rate, measured by deaths per 10,000 registered motorcycles, was lower in Iowa and New Hampshire than it was in Oregon for example.

  15. 15 Skidmark Oct 22nd, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    Goldiron,

    Geez. A ton of worthless stats. How confusing can you be?
    I have a feeling you favor the brightly colored, Japanese race bikes & I would bet you love to race around the country roads in a full leather, brightly colored suit, just in case you should go down. Speak plainly my friend.

  16. 16 goldiron Oct 22nd, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    Skidmark,
    Plain and simple for you. The old guys on the cruisers are dying faster than the young guys on the sportbikes.

    Check your feelings about what I favor.

    I favor riders operating within their limits of their skills and the limits of the motorcycle they are riding. Knowing the limitations of both should be a guide for every rider. Choosing whatever clothing that you ride in does not matter unless you slide along the pavement. If that is a possibility because of your riding style or because of the vehicle operators around you, dress accordingly.

    One of my most effective pieces of clothing is a t-shirt. On the back, in tall letters, it says “CAN YOU SEE ME NOW, A**H**E?

    Look, old guys are killing themselves as well as young dudes. I am not going to blame a particular age group or type of bike. That crap is put out there to divide us as motorcyclists. One of the bikes I learned how to ride best on was an old flat tracker. No brakes and one gear. I had to know what would happen a long time before I ever got there and how I would deal with the situation. I still try to look at situations in that manner. Many of the returning riders or older guys are not accustomed to that and they make deadly mistakes. A lot of the younger riders are going for the adrenaline bump. I agree with them about the exhilaration of riding at speed. I learned in the past and am still learning today about new and present dangers to riding.

    I just can not see why some of the motorcyclists prefer to divide our minority presence upon the roads even further based upon costume, plastic, or paint. Rather, we could pull it all together and demand that road surfaces be suitable for motorcycling for all of us. We could all pull together and demand tougher sentencing when folks run us down. We could band together and say hell no when the government ties to tax us for not wearing the right hat.

  17. 17 Skidmark Oct 22nd, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    Son,

    Let me repeat myself. I guess you missed it the first time.

    Anyone out on the twisties, on any weekend, can see who’s going down. That’s THE fact. There is no arguing about it.

    Stop trying to confuse the issue. When you come up on an accident, don’t you take a look at what type of bike went down? Do you expect me to believe you don’t notice? If not, start paying attention. And if you are really so concerned about banding together, let’s set some priorities. Road surfacing is way behind getting the race crowd to put their weekend pastime where it belongs, which is on the track.

    You seem to take pride in your racing ability. They don’t have deer on race tracks, or driveways for that matter. If you want to race, no problem, do it at the track.

    What is truly sad for the motorcycling community, is that the huge majority of fatalities (which ARE the sport bikes ridden by speeders)is unfairly changing the statistics. The safer cruisers are being mis-represented and lumped in with the unsafe race enthusiasts like yourself.

    Good luck out there. Slow down & you’ll live to be one of those old guys.

  18. 18 goldiron Oct 22nd, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    Skidmark,
    I really don’t give a damn what they were riding because usually I am too busy making sure I can keep them alive or get help.

    Let’s see, tar snakes, metal bridge expansion joints, overusage of lane paint, road grooving, uneven pavement heights, gravel on asphalt or concrete roads, metal plates, sewer covers and manhole covers that are not level with the roadway, drop off shoulders, wire rope crash barriers and yes the type of asphalt or concrete used are contributory to the deaths on the roads I travel.

    You are right, some day I will be old and riding. Right now, I have 48 years of riding experience that tells me that you are prejudiced against sport bikes and a hot head in making your point.

    Just to give you a clue about the folks dying out there, it is the guys that can not ride that atre on the top of the list. The experienced sport bikers call them squids and dont like these jerks either. The charity riders that have all their chrome and pipes without baffles on their poker runs from bar to bar have their weekenders that die, too. So, I guess we agree that no bike is safe in the hands of an idiot.

    You are beating the drum real loud for the safety of cruisers, however, you have not addressed the inherent problems of high speed wobble nor low speed wobble. Cruisers have a great deal more of this engineering problem rear its ugly head than sport bikes. Many if not most riders could not tell you what it is until they get a tank slapper happening and then usually are dead before they can tell the tale.

    The onus that you are trying to put upon one type of rider versus another is based upon the style of bike that they purchase. I think that we both should strongly address the personal responsibility of each individual rider or their lack of it. Whether you have 65 horsepower and a 900 pound bike or you have 200 horsepower and a 400 pound bike does not make a bit of difference if you do not operate the bike prudently and within your limits of riding ability and skill.

  19. 19 Skidmark Oct 22nd, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    Goldiron,

    Sport bikes have the highest death rates among all types of motorcycles, according to the Highway Loss Data Institute. Drivers of these high-performance racing motorcycles are being killed nearly four times as often as people who drive standard models, a new insurance study shows.

    Motorcycle deaths in general have skyrocketed from 2,116 in 1997 to 4,810 in 2006, and now account for 11 percent of all traffic fatalities, U.S. Transportation Department figures show.

    The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety blames the popular super sport motorcycles in part for the dramatic increase. Sport bikes made up less than 10 percent of registered motorcycles in 2005 but accounted for over 25 percent of rider deaths. Super sport bikes are built on racing platforms but modified for the highway and sold to consumers. They are very lightweight and have powerful engines. For example, a 2006 model Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R produces 111 horsepower and weighs 404 pounds. In contrast, the 2006 model Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic Electra Glide produces 65 horsepower and weighs 788 pounds.

    We know that a lot of the people who get into sport bikes are adrenaline junkies with a daredevil mentality. They’re not out to take a cruise to enjoy the countryside. They want to get a rush by pushing it to the limit.

    Since you’re just repeating yourself & I am as well, I guess we just agree to disagree. What a shame.

  20. 20 goldiron Oct 22nd, 2007 at 7:42 pm

    Findings from FARS data provide insight into possible reasons for motorcyclist fatalities in single vehicle motorcycle crashes and could aid in the design of crash prevention programs:
    More riders age 40 and over are getting killed;
    More motorcyclist fatalities are occurring on rural roads;
    High BAC levels are a major problem among motorcycle operators;
    Half of the fatalities are related to negotiating a curve prior to the crash;
    Over 80 percent of the fatalities occur off roadway;
    Undivided roadways account for a majority of the fatalities;
    Almost two thirds of the fatalities were associated with speeding as an operator contributing factor in the crash;
    Almost 60 percent of motorcyclist fatalities occur at night;
    Collision with a fixed object is a significant factor in over half of the fatalities;
    Braking and steering maneuvers possibly contribute for almost 25 percent of the fatalities;
    Helmet use among fatally injured motorcyclists below 50 percent; and,
    Almost one third of the fatally injured operators did not have a proper license.

  21. 21 Z-man Oct 23rd, 2007 at 1:15 pm

    I must concur with Skidmark, however, there is a positive side to all this; The same clowns that ride their crotchrockets like they’ll live forever are more than likely driving their 4-wheel vehicles in the same reckless manor, thus endangering not only themselves, but the innocent public at large. So, when they add to the asphalt coating or test trees and concrete abutments for sturdiness, it at least keeps them from breeding and polluting our gene-pool with the stupid chromosome. Like grandpa used to say, “You can die doing something you love, or they can find you hanging by a bedsheet in your jailcell.” JMHO.

    Best,

    Z-man

  22. 22 Nicker Oct 24th, 2007 at 1:28 am

    Chops or Cafe-racers… It doesn’t mater.

    If you don’t understand the basics (ie. what makes an MC turn, etc.) then sooner or later (unless you’re very, VERY lucky) you’re going to crash.

    The fact is, if you crash your scooter it isn’t the dealer’s fault, it isn’t DOT’s fault, and it isn’t the Mfg.’s fault.

    It’s your fault. Not knowing what your doing isn’t any one’s fault but your own.

    No amount of legislation or do-gooder hand wringing will alter that reality. Deal with it.

    -nicker-

  23. 23 T the Pirate Jan 16th, 2008 at 12:23 am

    there was a very detailed rebuttled published in a magazine when i find it i will post it

  24. 24 burnout Jan 21st, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    the old saying “Speed doesn’t kill…. it’s that sudden stop!” It is very sad that so many people die doing something as “simple” as riding a bike. I am saddened everytime I hear of a bike going down, I always hear the same thing as to how the crash happened, THERE WAS NOWHERE TO GO! I am not alone when I say that ALL CRASHES ARE PREVENTABLE. When all is said and done we still have to ride as if we are invisible. I ride every day for work and pleasure and I encounter close calls EVERY time I ride. A good ride is the one we survive. We all know the safe, right things to do, but how often do we really pay attention to our surroundings? peace

  25. 25 Rider 34 Jan 21st, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    I am a self taught rider. I have driven cars both standard and automatic, Semi-Trucks, motorcycles. I literally have thousands of miles of road under my belt. These safety classes on a controlled course does not give real world experience and gives a false sense of security to someone that is going from driving a car to riding a motorcycle. Biggest problem I see out there is the ability to look at the big picture and make a split second judgment that will save your life. Other problem is riding according to road and traffic conditions. Why in hell would you take a curve in access speeds on a mountain road or any road when rocks, sand and what not be in your path. Speed does kill and there are reasons to support that statement. I could list a few thousand of them. Other problem is the ability to notice and evade troubled situations.

    For example
    when riding in a neighborhood did you notice the kid playing with a ball in the yard. The ball gets away and ends up in the road and the kid darts after it. If you noticed you would have prepared yourself and adjusted your speed before the kid runs out in front of you. This happened to me and the mom had that terror look in her eyes. I stopped my motorcycle got off and escorted the kid back to the yard and the mom gave me a big hug and thanked me.

    Lesson
    Pay attention to things on and off the road. It can save you and someone else’s life.

    Just pay attention to every little detail around you and keep track of where everything is at.

  26. 26 Nicker Jan 22nd, 2008 at 1:58 am

    RE:

    “…Biggest problem I see out there is the ability to look at the big picture…”
    “… pay attention to every little detail around you …”

    Yes, Good advice.
    However, that should include the Very-Big-Picture

    I don’t know where you live, but if you intend to ride in the Socialist Republic of California, you probably shouldn’t attempt to “…escorted the kid [who's family you are not very familiar with] back to the yard….”

    That would be taking on more of a liability than over extending your riding capabilities.

    -nicker-

  27. 27 John Feb 23rd, 2008 at 2:45 am

    Whole problem with driving is that people are not taught how to really look and know what they are looking at and then make a calculated decision based off of what they observed. I drove Semi Trucks for many year’s and you have to be able to take everything into consideration and based on all the information that you are processing you have to make an educated guess for every situation. If you take this theory and apply it towards driving a car or riding a motorcycle death rates will decrease. Knowing how to see and knowing what you are seeing plays a big factor for staying alive on the roads. There is no excuse for not seeing motorcycles. Yes, they are small and yes they can be fast but the real problem is with the driver because they were not taught how to really see things or taught how to drive in tricky situations. Another problem is the commuter who is running late and making a million phone calls or getting ready for work while driving or just plain not paying attention is the real killer. People need to FUC*&* WAKE UP. Last weekend I was pushed into oncoming traffic because the cager was on his cell phone and came into my lane forcing me to play chicken with a car coming at me. Yeah everyone needs to learn how to drive and have more patience and respect for others.

  28. 28 joyrider Mar 3rd, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    I’m not going to try to argue for or against the fact that sport bikes and cruisers are going to be inevitably pitted against each other, and their riders along with them. That’s something that’s not going to change, simply because the type of people who enjoy the ride of a cruiser and the type of people that enjoy the ride of a sport bike are usually simply inherently different.

    I will say however, that I am a cruiser rider. I have some miles on sport bikes, but not anything like I do on cruisers. You can ride any motorcycle like a stereotypical crotch rocket rider. You can drive any bike too fast and without enough attention to detail. One of the hardest parts for me about riding a motorcycle has nothing to do with actually riding it. It’s trying to enjoy the ride while still paying attention to everything. You can’t write things off like you can in a car. If there’s someone behind you while you’re driving a car, you can pretty much write it off and check on them every once in a while. When you’re on a bike everything is different. You have to keep them in mind, where they are, where they’ll be, and where they’re going. You have to always have a plan on what you will do when the worst happens. Even if you’re all alone on a nice road with no visible hazards, it’s important to still know what you plan on doing if something comes up. It’s something that a lot of inexperienced riders don’t do and it causes unnecessary crashes. Too many new riders learn how to ride the bike, but don’t learn the technique of constant attention to detail. They think that as long as they learn how to physically ride the bike, they can couple that with their “road experience” from driving cars and that counts for experience. You just simply can’t ride a bike like you drive a car.

    I apologize to preaching to the choir, and it’s been said on this thread over and over again that it’s not the bike it’s the rider.

    When I first started riding I started on a small cruiser, but I rode it just like every other teenage kid on their sport bikes were. It took a good scare to make me realize the magnitude of the responsibility that came with a motorcycle, and I wish that here was an easy way to pass on the lesson but it’s not.

    You can’t tell any new rider how different the road is when you’re on a motorcycle compared to driving a car. They think, especially the older new riders, that they’ve been on the road for years and they already know what to expect, as long as they learn the mechanics of riding.

    In my opinion:

    Classes help with the mechanics of riding, but do not address the real issue – paying complete and total attention 100% of the time.

    Riders know that it is dangerous when they buy the bike, and laws such as helmet laws just punish experienced riders for the all-too-common mistakes of new riders. They made the choice to buy the bike, let them ride it as they will.

    Road experience is the only way to learn the true danger of riding, and how to enjoy safe riding.

    And finally, I don’t think that helmet laws as according to age or experience are a bad idea, but I think that should be expanded on. Make new riders start on starter bikes. Limit the displacement by years of having a motorcycle license, with an addition to the maximum for every year of experience. This maximum should be different for the different classes, as a 650cc cruiser is a completely different animal than a 650cc sport bike. This would limit the ability of new riders to hurt themselves. It wouldn’t solve the problem, but it might force new riders to gain their experience through a more controlled means.

  29. 29 goldiron Mar 3rd, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    Joyrider,
    Your years as a rider haven’t removed something deeper and darker within your psyche. Why do you feel compelled to protect people from themselves? It is ideas such as yours that make freedom and liberty such an arduous endeavor.
    Mike

  30. 30 Nicker Mar 4th, 2008 at 12:55 am

    John & Joyr,
    You-all have have a firm grasp of the obvious:

    RE:
    “…They think, ….ride a bike like you drive a car…”
    “…not paying attention is the real killer…”
    “…because they were not taught how to really see things or taught how to drive …”

    RE:
    “…older new riders…” [ a major crash demographic]

    Truth is, most “old riders” are new riders. If every 50-60 year old who claims to have “ridden MCs in High School actually” did so, there wouldn’t have been any cars in student parking. In my HS (in sunny CA) there were never more than 10 regular riders.

    RE:
    “… Classes help …” “… Limit the displacement [HP] by years of having a motorcycle license…”

    So why isn’t such stuff mandatory…?
    Because the industry wants to expedite sales, not restrain them.

    RE:
    “…wish that here was an easy way to pass on the lesson but it’s not….”
    “… force new riders to gain their experience…”

    It simply ain’t gonna happen.
    The fragmentation of the MC demographic in particular, like the fragmentation of American society in general, has eclipsed the ability of either to understand the conditions and requirements of the real world. And so, expecting that we w

    We got a hunder different kind-a hyphenated Americans voting on ballots printed in a hundred different languages. We got a governor in CA who told me (in front of 4 TV cameras) that’s not a problem because “it’s only a liddle mowa ink and paypa.” And we had a former VP (Algore) who tried to convince us that -E Pluribus Unam- actually meant “out of the one many” (the moron).

    Being a American used to be like being a Biker. Ya had to Walk-the-walk, not just Talk-the-talk.
    Today some people are trying to engineer a nanny state, in which one doesn’t have to know Jack-squat, but is still entitled to a trouble-free wonderful life. And so in the MC-wold some people are trying to engineer a crash less-existence.

    We’re participating in a dangerous activity, one that gets more dangerous as the driving public around us becomes less and less qualified to walk about in public unsupervised, let alone to operate the average car.

    So what, you say?

    Well, in this pluralistic, non-judgmental, politically correct society, trying to figure out how to keep various types of “bikers” from falling off their various type of scooters is sort-a like a resident of New Orleans asking why sink is backing up in the middle of Hurricane Katrina.

    Time to get back to reality:
    You are born, life is hard and unfair, then you die.
    And if you can sweeten the deal up with a nice scoot…. cool!

    IMHO anyway.

    -nicker-

  31. 31 robert May 20th, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    people take sides too much and then try to anticipate or calculate how new legislation or rules can reduce crashes and fatalities.

    young people do crazy stuff – i know i was young once, and have the titanium screws and missing ligaments to remind me of my youth (83 yamaha maxim)

    sportbikes invite riders to go as fast as they possibly can (had a 93 vfr750f – not quite a sportbike, but i sure rode it like one – as fast as i bloody well could! :) I could not control myself, and this is why I no longer own that bike)

    given the truth of the above statements, and irregardless of the inaccuracies of motorcycling accident statistics, it makes much sense to me that young riders on sportbikes are vastly more likely to crash their rides.

    The value of this information to me personally is twofold:

    #1 I’m glad i’m pushing 40 and now ride a 92 cb750
    #2 I can repeat these ‘stats’ to add weight to my words when i speak to my 29 year-old friend who just bought a 200 triumph daytona 955 – maybe if he understands his increased risk, he’ll be going 15 miles an hour slower when he crashes one day and it’ll save his life, or maybe that 15 miles an hour will allow him to completely avoid the crash in the first place.

    i’m not so sure how much age comes in to play though – i mean on the one hand i was smart enough to sell my VFR, but one the other if i still had it i know damned well i’d still be riding it as fast as i bloody well could! :)

    stay safe youngbloods!

  32. 32 Trav9 Jun 1st, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    Well i’ve spent the past hour and a half reading all of these comments and opinions and I find them all incredibly interesting.
    Ok…I’m 16 and i’ve been riding since I was 6 years old. I’m seriously consederring purchasing myself a bike for my 18th birthday but I just wanted to get some facts before I make my decision. Death rate, laws etc. Now i’m having real trouble deciding on a model because I don’t want to get anything beyond my skill level so I was wonderring if you guys could help me? I’d really like to hear your expierences and what not.

    I’m alot more fond of Sport Bikes than I am of Cruisers though. It’s just a personal prefference I suppose. Now let me just make this perfectly clear because I don’t want to give the wrong impression to anyone after reading some of these comments earlier.
    I’m NOT an adrenaline junie and I don’t want to have anyone peel me off of the pavement for making a stupid mistake. I do NOT want to be another statistic…I’ve had my fair share of accidents and injuries already for misjudging speeds etc. Thank goodness nothing serious though.

    Anyway I would like to hear all of your opinions on good models for an inexperienced rider like myself.

    Thanks

    Travis

  33. 33 MakoMan Dec 9th, 2008 at 9:43 pm

    I have a cruiser – a Yamaha Roadliner – love it. I am shopping for a sportbike – keeping both. I have a WR450 dirt bike in the garage, and I am 48 years old. OK, somebody try to put me int one of your boxes.

    I also have a boat. Motorcycling is like boating – too many people doing it too little. They don’t know how to drive their boat or ride their motorcycle. Sport bikes are much safer than cruisers – they stop and turn much better. It’s not the bikes. Classes won’t help. You can learn to study the road surface by taking a class. You have to ride.

    If I read the above, it comes down to this: If you go too fast, or ride drunk, you will almost certainly die. I think that is largely true in life, not just motorcycling.

  34. 34 Frank Apr 8th, 2009 at 10:16 am

    I don’t know what state you guys are from, but here in New York We cannot take the course so we dont have to take the state test. It dosen’t work like that.
    These are the facts;
    Some NY motorcycle schools like mine, (Tramas)issue a 3 day course, and at the end of that time period they are authorized by the the state of New York to issue a motorcycle road test, the same as you would have to pass if you took it at a state facility.
    Theres no getting over.
    Some of you guys make the course sound like a bad thing, its not. Whats wrong with knowledge?? The more you know the safer you ride.
    How many young people have jumped on motorcycles with no instruction and have died.
    This is the bottom line;
    We have two types of riders, educated and uneducated. I am glad to be an educated rider, which are you???

  35. 35 Chad Scriver Jun 30th, 2009 at 10:41 am

    I just want to add in my 2 cents worth. Ive crashed a cruiser, and a sportbike. The sportbike almost took my life when it died! Both cases, car pulled out in front. My take on the issue…

    It is rider, rider and rider! HOWEVER, if one wants a sportbike, they want it for a specified reason. (Again, Rider) What, other then insane performance could you want in a sport bike? EXACTLY…. I want to go fast… I want that acceleration rush…. I wanted all of that. This is why we ride them. Come on, they are the most un-comfortable machine to ride on the road. Back kills you after an hour, wrists hurt from leaning on them. If it was about the “look”, then they would be putting little 150’s in a 600 frame.

    In the end, I was pretty banged up. Spent some real time in the hospital, and in re-hab. 8 years later, and I am still hurting. But…. still, Motorcycling gets into your blood, and that is it. I just bought a 2009 Harley Nightster. Lets see how I make out with that. I have the pain, memory, and experience of just how lethal it is out there.

    Keeping my eyes moving….

    Chad

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