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Seat swap: New motorcycle means more risk
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ^ | April 15, 2008 | RICK BARRETT

Posted on 04/16/2008 3:49:32 AM PDT by BraveMan

Whoever coined the phrase "it's just like riding a bike" probably never switched motorcycles.

Even experienced riders can be wobbly on an unfamiliar bike, according to a recent study from the Progressive Group of Insurance Cos., a motorcycle insurer.

Progressive reviewed nearly 2 million motorcycle insurance policies over a five-year period and found that riders who switched to different types of bikes were nearly 70% more likely to crash than riders who kept the same bike.

The study also found that riders of cruiser bikes, such as Harley-Davidsons, who switched to high-performance sport bikes like Suzuki GSXRs were 3 1/2 -times more likely to crash. That's more than double the risk they would have if they had just switched to another cruiser.

Sport bikers, on the other hand, could reduce their crash risks by more than one-third just by switching to a cruiser, according to Progressive.

"We want experienced riders to know their risks so they can take extra precautions when they replace their bikes," said Rick Stern, a Progressive motorcycle insurance product manager who is also a rider.

New riders, by far, are still the most likely to crash because of their lack of riding experience.

But the study showed that riders unfamiliar with their current motorcycle, regardless of riding experience or the type of bike, were more likely to be involved in a collision.

"As a motorcycle rider, the data feels right. We certainly had enough data to feel confident that what we were looking at was real," Stern said.

The study looked at insurance policies where the policy holders had at least a year of riding experience. Age wasn't considered a factor, but many sport-bike enthusiasts are younger riders.

When a cruiser rider switches to a sport bike, the dynamics of riding are profoundly different, according to Stern.

"You can twist the throttle on a cruiser and go pretty darn fast, but your front wheel stays on the ground. If you twist the throttle that much on a sport bike, crazy things can happen," he said.

Even riders who successfully complete motorcycle safety classes are likely to crash if the bike they buy is much different than the one they learned on, said Rick Breuer, owner of Learning Curves Racing, a Milwaukee riding school.

"They take classes and do really well on a 250-cc (small) street bike and then go out and buy the biggest Harley they can possibly find. I expect them to almost fall down immediately just because of the differences in weight and because they don't have the respect for those giant bikes," Breuer said.

There's nothing inherently more dangerous about large motorcycles. It's the rider that makes the difference, said Mary Donovan-Popa, owner of Motorcycling Enterprises Inc., a Milwaukee riding school.

"Every bike has its own personality. Unless you familiarize yourself with that, you are looking for trouble," she said.

Older riders also are at a high risk of accidents, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

In 1997, for example, 19% of motorcyclists killed in the United States were ages 40 to 49. The figure had risen to 23% in 2006, the most recent year for which data was available, according to the NHTSA.

For the 50-to-59 age group, the total was 10% of motorcyclists killed in 1997 and 18% in 2006. In the 59-plus category, the figure was 4% in 1997 and 7% in 2006.

Why the changes? Much of it can be explained by a growing pool of baby-boomer motorcyclists, including those returning to riding after years out of the saddle.

In Wisconsin, there were 24 motorcyclists ages 45 to 54 killed in 2006, the most of any age group. Of the 712 people killed in motor vehicle accidents that year, 93, or 13%, were motorcycle drivers or passengers.

Anyone can benefit from practicing the basics on their bikes, Stern said, including low-speed riding, turning, shifting and higher-speed panic stopping.

Especially with a new bike: "It's a good idea for riders to take it out for a couple of shakedown cruises in a parking lot before hitting the open road," Stern said.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; US: Wisconsin
KEYWORDS: bike; biker; motorcycle; motorcyclist
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1 posted on 04/16/2008 3:49:32 AM PDT by BraveMan
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To: martin_fierro; JoeSixPack1; blackie; uglybiker

Ping (bump?). . .


2 posted on 04/16/2008 3:50:51 AM PDT by BraveMan
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To: BraveMan

Like the song says, “you need horse sense to handle horsepower.”


3 posted on 04/16/2008 3:56:01 AM PDT by doodad
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To: BraveMan

When a cruiser rider switches to a sport bike, the dynamics of riding are profoundly different, according to Stern.

No they aren’t.


4 posted on 04/16/2008 3:56:47 AM PDT by bill1952 (I will vote for McCain if he resigns his Senate seat before this election.)
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To: BraveMan
This is basically thirty year old news. Harry Hurt, a professor in a Southern California college, did a study of motorcycle accidents back in the late 1970's and found that 70% of all fatalities are from riders on "new" (they haven't ridden it before) motorcycles. The danger fell dramatically after the first 90 days. So if you're going to get killed, it will be on that new bike you bought this spring, before July. After that, ride like an idiot. :-)

He also found that 90% of fatalities were from head injuries, the same percentage as in cars (THERE, you "donor-cycle / murder-cycle" haters).

I'm quoting these numbers from memory, so if you google "Harry Hurt motorcycle fatalities" and I'm wrong, don't beat me up. I didn't have the time to check out every link this morning.

5 posted on 04/16/2008 3:57:45 AM PDT by Hardastarboard (A Zero Tolerance Policy isn’t a one way street.)
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To: BraveMan

About 40 years ago (give or take a few decades), I would give a lecture on motorcycle safety once/month. The salients facts were concerning when accidents happened - it the first 1,000 miles, on a different bike, and within the first 90 days. Intersections were death traps, and cars were at fault in an accident 85% of the time.

Be very careful on a strange bike, no matter how long you have ridden a motorcycle.

Enjoy.


6 posted on 04/16/2008 4:05:21 AM PDT by Citizen Tom Paine (Swift as the wind; Calmly majestic as a forest; Steady as the mountains.)
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To: BraveMan
The study also found that riders of cruiser bikes, such as Harley-Davidsons, who switched to high-performance sport bikes like Suzuki GSXRs were 3 1/2 -times more likely to crash.

No kidding. The familiarity of being on a bike probably insulates the rider from the sensible fear that rice rocket speed should instill.

7 posted on 04/16/2008 4:12:24 AM PDT by ovrtaxt (This election is like running in the Special Olympics. Even if McCain wins, we’re still retarded.)
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To: BraveMan

Actually the phrase is, “It’s as easy as FALLING off a bike.”


8 posted on 04/16/2008 4:24:53 AM PDT by ArtDodger (Re-read Animal Farm (with your kids))
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To: bill1952

Two things I learned as a paid motorcycle messenger (for a couple years just before fax machines killed that business):

Auto drivers often do not mentally register motorcyclists in the same way way they would another car. So it’s best to keep in mind that “all cars are out to kill me” and to drive accordingly, e.g., drive offensively (not defensively).

In an emergency panic stop, you must be mentally prepared to entirely dump and abandon the bike. You can never know what’ll happen, but it’s usually better to dis-attach yourself from 500 to 1,000 pounds of cartwheeling metal than to hang on.


9 posted on 04/16/2008 4:30:26 AM PDT by angkor
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To: Hardastarboard; All
The Hurt Report summary of findings:
http://www.clarity.net/~adam/hurt-report.html

I make it a point to practice my braking skills in an empty parking lot at the beginning of each new season. Being proficient at stopping has saved me from injury countless times.
10 posted on 04/16/2008 4:33:49 AM PDT by BraveMan
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To: angkor
You can never know what’ll happen, but it’s usually better to dis-attach yourself from 500 to 1,000 pounds of cartwheeling metal than to hang on.

For good reason.

KE = (mv2)/2

Most of the mass is in the bike ... separate yourself from the bike, and you separate yourself from most of the energy ...

Ever seen a modern racecar disintegrate in a crash ... then the driver pulls himself out of the capsule and walks away?

11 posted on 04/16/2008 4:42:49 AM PDT by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilization is Aborting, Buggering, and Contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: BraveMan
Performance bikes need performance riders. The more responsive, the less forgiving.
12 posted on 04/16/2008 4:47:58 AM PDT by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly.)
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To: ovrtaxt
The familiarity of being on a bike probably insulates the rider from the sensible fear that rice rocket speed should instill.

I see it a little differently - the cruiser will typically warn the rider much earlier that he is nearing the limits of the performance envelope. The sport bike rider can be at the (much faster) limit in a fraction of the time, and stable (confident) right up until the SHTF.

13 posted on 04/16/2008 5:06:39 AM PDT by NY.SS-Bar9 (DR #1692)
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To: BraveMan

That. Gtraph is very misleading due to changing time periods.


14 posted on 04/16/2008 5:12:24 AM PDT by Triple (Socialism denies people the right to the fruits of their labor, and is as abhorrent as slavery)
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To: BraveMan
been riding since '73, have to say when your ticket is up, it's up. Car, truck, merry-go-round.

ride like ya stole it...

:)

15 posted on 04/16/2008 5:14:45 AM PDT by strange1 ("Show the enemy harm so he shall not advance" Sun Tzu The Art of War)
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To: bill1952
When a cruiser rider switches to a sport bike, the dynamics of riding are profoundly different, according to Stern.

No they aren’t.

Sorry, I have to disagree with you here... The key word is "dynamics." Sure, for the most part, things work the same. However, the power and torque curves, as well as braking power are completely different. "Dynamics." Even moving from one sport bike to another can be quite eye opening. For instance, the last time I did Kieth Code's California Superbike School, I decided to rent one of his Kaw 600s. But moving from my Ducati 900 to that Kaw was quite eye opening. Part of it, I'm sure were the tires, but the power curve was completely different, and the feel of the bike took a while to get comfortable with. Again, it came down to the dynamics. While the stopping wasn't that different, the acceleration was completely different.

By moving from a cruiser to a sport bike, every aspect of the bike's design will be different, and those design differences effect the handling of the bike. The weight, power to weight ratio, strength of the brakes, steering geometry, and probably even steering lock are all different, and these all add up to a different "personality" for the bike.

Mark

16 posted on 04/16/2008 5:15:35 AM PDT by MarkL
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To: BraveMan

“I make it a point to practice my braking skills in an empty parking lot at the beginning of each new season. Being proficient at stopping has saved me from injury countless times”

Ditto and those tight turns to get the feel of thing back.


17 posted on 04/16/2008 5:31:32 AM PDT by School of Rational Thought (Truthism Watch)
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To: BraveMan
"They take classes and do really well on a 250-cc (small) street bike and then go out and buy the biggest Harley they can possibly find.

I doubt that most of them bother taking the MSF class. Kind of reminds me of some YouTube videos of these idiots wrecking their brand new 1800cc Hogs in the dealer's parking lot.

Frankly, I'll take my 400cc Burgman any day.

18 posted on 04/16/2008 5:31:32 AM PDT by rock_lobsta (Not Your Ordinary Crustacean.)
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To: bill1952

yes, the riding characteristics are different on a cafe racer than a cruiser. in a cruiser you sit like you do on a chair, on a cafe racer (Ninja type you lean very far forward, sticking your butt up like Richard Gere awaiting a gerbil...

their handling comes from an inherent instability that those unfamiliar have trouble adapting to.


19 posted on 04/16/2008 5:38:02 AM PDT by camle (keep an open mind and someone will fill it full of something for you)
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To: School of Rational Thought; BraveMan

I like to sneak onto a range somewhere when it’s deserted, take out my old range cards, and run through the MSF exercises for a while before doing any serious riding for the season.

kept me alive since 1975


20 posted on 04/16/2008 5:41:26 AM PDT by camle (keep an open mind and someone will fill it full of something for you)
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