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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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To: BraveMan

I was very relieved when my sons Dad sent a picture up to us of his new bike.

It was a 4 wheeler ATV.
Perfect for the old geezer.


21 posted on 04/16/2008 5:50:00 AM PDT by Global2010
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To: Citizen Tom Paine

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

Enjoy.


Is that some kind of Man code on advice about women?


22 posted on 04/16/2008 5:53:06 AM PDT by Global2010
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To: BraveMan

Back in 1991, when my two kids hit the teenage years and wanted to ride on the back with dad, is when I sold my bike.


23 posted on 04/16/2008 5:57:56 AM PDT by moonman
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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. 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.

The headline is wrong. It doesn't say both changes are more dangerous. It says cruisers are safer in both cases. Switching to or staying with a sport bike is more dangerous than staying or switching to a cruiser.

24 posted on 04/16/2008 5:58:19 AM PDT by varyouga ("Rove is some mysterious God of politics & mind control" - DU 10-24-06)
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To: camle

I can’t believe we have gone this far in this thread without someone saying. “Wear a helmet Dude!”. Too many baby boomers trying to look like Peter Fonda and riding with only a doo rag on are a primary cause of fatalities.


25 posted on 04/16/2008 5:59:29 AM PDT by dblshot
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To: dblshot

tain’t what you wear, it’s how you wear it.

all the so-called safety gear can’t make one a safe rider, and safe rider’s never need it. Helmets are a percentage game - you’re betting that should you have an accident, it’ll be one that the helmet will help, and not the kind where a helmet can hurt - for example tumbling, where the bulk of the helmet yanks the neck more than without one.

now watch the safety nazi’s coem after me ;-)


26 posted on 04/16/2008 6:12:15 AM PDT by camle (keep an open mind and someone will fill it full of something for you)
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To: dblshot

BTW: at a charity run last season, some bike-lawyer group passed out do rags to everyone. ironic?


27 posted on 04/16/2008 6:14:17 AM PDT by camle (keep an open mind and someone will fill it full of something for you)
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To: bill1952
No they aren’t.

I have to disagree.
The basics are the same, the dynamics are different.

28 posted on 04/16/2008 6:17:54 AM PDT by Just another Joe (Warning: FReeping can be addictive and helpful to your mental health)
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To: varyouga

There’s nothing inherently more dangerous about a sportbike - in fact they’re lighter, more manoeuverable, better braked, and have better tires than cruisers, making them better able to avoid accidents. Any bike is only as safe as the rider who’s controlling it. If one insists on railing around corners with knee on the ground, eventually the laws of physics are going to catch up with you. Same for high speeds - if you’re going twice the speed limit and someone pulls out of a driveway or side street into your path, whose fault is it, really?

I ride a bike that is neither sport bike (according to my insurance company) or cruiser. I ride quite briskly at times, and yet I can’t remember the last time I even had a close call or “pucker factor” moment. A lot of it just comes down to expecting everyone else on the road to always do the stupidest thing possible. I drive my car the same way, which is probably why I haven’t been involved in an accident, my fault or not, for about 20 years (and the accidents before that were fender-benders while driving courier in the city).


29 posted on 04/16/2008 6:23:12 AM PDT by -YYZ- (Strong like bull, smart like ox.)
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To: doodad

I road bikes for years, and a harley for years... I am no 36 years old and gave up my bike a few years ago. No, not any sort of accident, but fiscal reasons at the time.

I used to shake my head when I’d see some guy in his 50s who’d never rode before showing up at the dealership to pick up his new fully loaded dresser or fat boy.. or whatever. Beautiful bikes that I knew odds were very great would wind up road kill inside of a few months. Not because the bikes were any more unsafe than any other bike, just the riders were, completely out of their leagues.

I cannot even begin to count how many close calls I had over the years, where the only thing that kept me from going down was defensive driving, experience and reaction time. On a sunny day like today, where they are calling for 70s and sun, I openly admit I miss my bike... but I also know and can tell my reaction time has slowed, from what it used to be, and I’m in my mid 30s, because of my experience I doubt highly I’ll ever buy another bike just for that reason alone. Guys in their 50s, never been on a bike before and then go buy the biggest most loaded thing they can find are flirting with disaster.


30 posted on 04/16/2008 6:26:24 AM PDT by HamiltonJay
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To: -YYZ-
If one insists on railing around corners with knee on the ground, eventually the laws of physics an oil patch, some sand or gravel are going to catch up with you.
31 posted on 04/16/2008 6:28:32 AM PDT by HamiltonJay
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To: BraveMan

This is a GREAT way to mitigate our generations effect on Social Security and Medicare.....


32 posted on 04/16/2008 6:29:19 AM PDT by Kozak (Anti Shahada: There is no god named Allah, and Muhammed is a false prophet)
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To: Citizen Tom Paine
cars were at fault in an accident 85% of the time

If you wind up dead, doesn't really matter who's at fault.. you are still dead... if you ever get on a bike and ride without this thought going on in your head the entire time "Every Vehicle I see is going to try to be where I am." you probably should not be on a bike in the first place.

33 posted on 04/16/2008 6:35:13 AM PDT by HamiltonJay
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To: BraveMan

I own a motorcycle dealership, been riding for thirty years. My son is in college and wants to run the family business some day. Of course, being able to walk the walk, almost requires him to start riding bikes. Let me tell you, this scares the hell out of me! God-forbid, if anything ever happened to him because of this business, I don’t know what I’d do.


34 posted on 04/16/2008 6:35:34 AM PDT by hdbc
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To: BraveMan

A fool and his bike, are soon parted.


35 posted on 04/16/2008 6:46:23 AM PDT by papasmurf (Unless I post a link to resource, what I post is opinion, regardless of how I spin it.)
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To: 230FMJ; 68 grunt; absolootezer0; AdamSelene235; AJMaXx; angry elephant; arbooz; archy; ...

Visit the FMH Swag Store & support FR!
Send FReepmail if you want on/off FMH list
The List of Ping Lists

36 posted on 04/16/2008 6:47:23 AM PDT by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: HamiltonJay

A new rider really should start out on something small. Unfortunately the only small Harley is the sportster, and that seems to have a certain stigma in Harley circles. So most guys buy a 900lb monster.

Personally, I won’t ride anything I can’t pick up by myself. Bikes can and do fall over.


37 posted on 04/16/2008 6:49:37 AM PDT by ScottyinTN (Stuck on dialup)
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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. "

A lot of it has to do with the rider, as well. More than once I have been cruising (in my car) down the expressway at about 70 mph when - seemingly out of nowhere - a group of 6 or more "crotch rocket" biker zoom by me like I was standing still, and going out of sight in seconds...they're probably doing over 100 mph at the time. Not only does it startle the hell out of me when they zoom by, but they are generallly racing each other.

I used to ride dirt bikes (the motorcycle kind) and learned way back in the 70's that automobile drivers show no concern to motorcyclists and tend to see them more as "bicycles" that can stop on a dime. That's why I bought a trailer back then, just to get me to the woods where I could ride in relative safety.

To paraphrase an old adage, "God made crotch rockets to keep idiots off of Harleys".
38 posted on 04/16/2008 6:51:17 AM PDT by FrankR (OBAMA is the VAST WRIGHT-WING CONSPIRACY...)
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To: ScottyinTN

Germany (I believe) has the right idea when it comes to motorcycles. The size of the bike you are allowed to own is directly proportional to how many years experience you have... If you have never ridden a bike before in your life you can’t go walk into a dealership and walk out with a 750lb bruiser.

Now I know this will never fly in the states, but their stages system is a far far wiser approach. You got to work your way up to the big boys.


39 posted on 04/16/2008 6:53:35 AM PDT by HamiltonJay
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To: camle

“now watch the safety nazi’s coem after me ;-)”

It’s either the safety nazis, or the organ donor folks.

Take your pick.


40 posted on 04/16/2008 6:58:01 AM PDT by RFEngineer
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To: RFEngineer

GEEZ THANX!;-)


41 posted on 04/16/2008 6:59:30 AM PDT by camle (keep an open mind and someone will fill it full of something for you)
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To: HamiltonJay

“oil patch, some sand or gravel”

Oh, I just assumed that’s going to happen eventually. Then the laws of physics come into play. You’re going around a corner at 85 mph and go down. At this point you go straight, which means you leave the road at something close to 85 mph. If there’s anything solid (rock, tree, armco barrier, car in other lane, etc) in the way, you’re going to hit it at that speed. Could really ruin your day.

Unfortunately, even riding sensibly that patch of oil, sand or gravel may take you down someday, although at a more reaonable pace you might be able to ride it out or avoid it. If not, that’s where good gear comes into play, so as to avoid road rash and such. I think a good helmet is a good idea, too, but I’ll leave riding gear choices up to the person who has to live with the consequences. Of course, even at a more reasonable pace, if you slide into something solid, or get run over by a car in the other lane, even wearing the best gear, chances are you’re going to be seriously injured or dead. Motorcycling IS an inherently risky activity. I choose to accept those risks, for myself. And I’m willing to let others make the same choices and decide what kind of gear, including a helmet, that they want to wear.


42 posted on 04/16/2008 7:00:38 AM PDT by -YYZ- (Strong like bull, smart like ox.)
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To: FrankR

“God made crotch rockets to keep idiots off of Harleys”.

It’s not working.


43 posted on 04/16/2008 7:02:19 AM PDT by -YYZ- (Strong like bull, smart like ox.)
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To: HamiltonJay
If you wind up dead, doesn't really matter who's at fault.. you are still dead...

It might matter in the impending lawsuit
Motorcyclist killed by inattentive driver of car
Spouse and children left without supports...

Who caused the wreck, from a legal standpoint
can make all the difference to your dependents

You, however, are still dead....
Others who depend on you, may care a great deal

44 posted on 04/16/2008 7:06:29 AM PDT by HangnJudge
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To: HamiltonJay
“Every Vehicle I see is going to try to be where I am.”

Take home message
Assume you are invisible

Virtually every time I go out,
this truth is reinforced by
someone/something who does something like...

Turn left in front of you
Cross the road in front of you
Change lanes into you
Pedestrian walking between parked cars and stops in your path
Wild animal (deer) jumps into road

The list goes on
Assume you are invisible

45 posted on 04/16/2008 7:15:19 AM PDT by HangnJudge
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To: HamiltonJay
If you wind up dead, doesn't really matter who's at fault.. you are still dead...

I tell my teenagers that a hospital (or morgue) are terrible places to celebrate moral victories...

46 posted on 04/16/2008 7:16:29 AM PDT by LearnsFromMistakes
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To: HamiltonJay

I agree. I think the “graduated licensing” here should involve displacement limits, perhaps restricting novices to < 500cc.


47 posted on 04/16/2008 7:18:52 AM PDT by Squawk 8888 (TSA and DHS are jobs programs for people who are not smart enough to flip burgers)
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To: -YYZ-

+1
sport bikes are only more dangerous when the rider makes them so. its kinda like saying going from a family station wagon to a rodded out sport compact is more dangerous based on the fact that sport compacts crash more. they’re not more dangerous unless you drive like a loon.


48 posted on 04/16/2008 7:22:16 AM PDT by absolootezer0 ( Detroit: we're so bad, even our mayor is a criminal)
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To: absolootezer0

Of course, it’s a fact that (most) people buy sportbikes so they can ride in a sporting fashion, meaning fast. That certainly does increase the risks involved, both of collisions (due to reduced reaction time available, and increased risk of other drivers misjudging your speed and distance) and of losing it in a corner. And higher impact speeds when things do go bad.


49 posted on 04/16/2008 7:28:07 AM PDT by -YYZ- (Strong like bull, smart like ox.)
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To: -YYZ-

How do you recognize happy motorcycle riders?

By the bugs in their teeth.


50 posted on 04/16/2008 7:51:19 AM PDT by Know et al (Everything I know I read in the newspaper and that's the reason for my ignorance. Will Rogers)
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