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There are lots of entry level bikes; it's just that "real men" don't buy them.



Fashion dictates that the motorcycle is a statement, not a device for transportation. People don't seem to understand that the fun of a motorcycle has little to do with how fast it gets you from here to there. A 250 is the most anyone sane really needs; a 40 bhp 400 cc bike is reasonable overkill; a 110 bhp 600 is over the top.



Guess which one I like?
 

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Good point. When I learned to ride, in the 60s, I didn't understand or conciously use counter steering. The bike performance levels of the day kept that from being lethal, just terrifying sometimes.



The Hurt Report of 1990 reported a huge number of single vehicle accidents due to "under turning" and "off the road on corners".



With todays performance standards a rider who doesn't countersteer intuitively and, in an emergency, agressively is dead. Without training or at least instruction, and lots of practice, lack of this critical skill makes new riders way more vulnerable than they used to be.
 

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Disturbingly misleading? I dont get it. They used an 11 year sample. Seems pretty straight forward to me. If they would have gone back further, it would have shown the same trend. M/C fatalities decreasing every year until 1998, and then rising. Seems pretty significant to me.



And why not use vehicle miles? Need to use some sort of comparison that takes into account more drivers/cars/riders/motorcycles on the road than 10-20 years ago. It aint perfect, but I dont hear you coming up with a better way. Frankly, I agree somewhat. I would like to see the M/C fatality rates based on motorcycle miles driven. That should take into account the explosion of new motorcyles coming onto the roads in the last few years. I find it interesting why they didnt use that method, but maybe they dont have an accurate guess as to that number. Or they are trying to skew the results. Who knows. Thats why it would be good to have a new complete study done.



Where do you get your info on the rest of your assertions. All traffic deaths or even car or motorcyle deaths looked at individually have been going down every year since they started keeping statistics. So I find that fairly large increases in the fatality rate for 4 straight years is very significant, and not statistically right where we should be. That is a reversal of a 50+ year trend! In fact, according to the report, the increase in M/C fatality rate has skewed the overall fatality rate (including cars) to edge higher also.
 

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Or point to more total miles driven by motorcycles each year.



Everything I have read in recent memory states that motorcycle sales have been increasing dramatically for several years now. I will have to re-read the report, but I dont think I saw anything that actually takes this important factor into account.



I mean, if total miles driven by motorcyles has increased significantly since 97, that would correlate to increases in fatalities, without necessarily increasing the fatality rate. Hmmm. Still, how do you even semi-accurately calculate total miles driven by motorcycles? Anyone out there have any idea?
 

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Reports like this can lead to knee-jerk legislative action. If we can better identify the types of bikes and riders causing the increase in fatalities, then the new laws can target these bikes and riders and leave the rest of us alone. The alternative is blanket laws, like horsepower limits, that affect everyone. BTW - I am not advocating ANY new laws regarding motorcycles.
 

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All of the above

There's probably no one single factor, and all the above are together likely causes for the increase, including the hard-to-quantify stuff (which Sarnali mentions above) like cell phones and SUV's.

The older riders who begin riding or return to riding after long absence (myself included) seem reluctant to buy entry-level bikes.

It's an ego thing: they're grown men, not kids, so they want to jump up immediately to the liter-plus bikes of whatever style they choose. When I was taking the MSF course, a 35 year-old newbie rider in the course told me he just bought a 929 Fireblade for his first bike; and I suspect he's not atypical.

At another (unnamed here) motorcycle site, I've seen many posts by newbies who invariably ask the same question: is a Hayabusa/RC51/ZX-12R too big a bike for a newbie.

These people simply do not understand what that kind of power is like. They think it's like a new driver buying an Audi; they don't understand that it's more like a new pilot buying an F16.
 

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What would tiered licensing accomplish?

The difference between how quickly you can get over your head on a 30hp motorcycle versus a 130hp motorcycle is seconds at best, and frequently fractions of seconds. In many circumstances it makes no difference at all, and in a few less horsepower is actually a disadvantage. The only people who benefit is insurance companies, who get an excuse for exhorbitant rates. Just take a look at Japan and Europe, where it doesn't work.
 

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The problem with sportbikes is that the riding position makes you give away visibility vs. the straightup Cruiser or Naked streetbike riding position. Also the increase leverage of the wider cruiser handlebars over the sportbike's clipons give a steering advantage.



At least in my experience. Before the sprtbike mafia starts the flaming.
 

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The motorcycle industry, particularly HD but the Japanese makers as well, is enjoying fantastic growth the last few years.



Lotsa mid life crisises happening and splatting. Guys who may have ridden a 1974 Honda SL100 as their last bike are buying Harleys and other big bikes and "rediscovering riding".



Well, bikes of all kinds are bigger and/or more powerful than ever. It is funny. I ride my 1977 BMW R100/7 and it feels like a spindly toy compared to my '97 TL1000S. Of course the Suzuki has actual brakes that can bounce my eyeballs off the inside of my face shield with their raw power. The BMW? Scary. Sometimes I wonder how they could sell that thing with a small single disc and funky under the tank cable operated master cylinder.



Bikes and safety gear are better than ever. There are just more people riding, many of them on bikes that are over their ability levels. Given the mid life crisis making up for lost time mode, lacking perhaps some judgement. The rest of the coffins are filled with dumb kids trying to emulate the Biker Boyz. Still, the sheer mass of riders are 40 and over and on cruisers.



Me? I am 40 and never stopped riding since I began at age 12. No need for a midlife crisis when one never stopped riding :)
 

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Re: Point taken

Carter's entire 55MPH fiasco was a joke from beginning to end. Most eastern highways had 55mph speed limits all along, right?

The actual effect was to reduce speeds on our open western highways to ridiculously low levels. These lower speed limits caused people to drive longer hours on trips trips resulting in increased fatigue and more accidents. My drives from Salt Lake to L.A. changed form 10-11 hours to nearly 14 hours.

When Reagan rescinded these speed limits the accident rates on these highways dropped considerably, in spite of the dire predictions of all the "experts".

This leads to another question. Why are we constantly bombarded in the media with "experts" who are nearly always wrong? I think it's because most journalists have inferior educations and are actually quite ignorant, so they defer to anyone who has "credentials". These credentials are usually conferred by some Universtiy or the government. Two of the best examples of kicked-in-the-head thinking that there ever were. Thus we are constantly bombarded with data that is simply wrong.

Remember the "scientific study" that showed that sexual abuse of children had no long lasting harmful effects? As you said "figures lie and liars figure".

This "55 saves lives" was an example of an "everybody knows" fact that was completely false. But it was promoted as true because it was "logical" and "everybody knows" that "speed kills". (Tell that to someone who is being life-flighted to the hospital).
 

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I agree with your statement about 'real men' don't buy entry level bikes. As a novice, I bought a 250 a year ago, have logged about 6000 miles on it-- have appreciated the bike and what it has taught me so far-- but somehow feel like I gotta have bigger, faster, quicker--and have it now. I need to keep telling myself that "real men don't need big motorcycles" -- at least not right away.

 

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If I'm not mistaken, Jefferson was responding to, among other newspaper reports, that he had fathered a child with one of his slaves. I believe he may also have said, "I never had sexual relations with that woman." Oh, wait, never mind.
 

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Re: What would tiered licensing accomplish?

I haven't seen studies on Euro and Japanese laws, but New Zealand analyzed the impact of their tiered licensing law and found a 22% drop in fatalities among 15- to 19-year-old riders, which was the group they were targeting.

Of course this won't immediately help the 45-year-old RUB who never learned about countersteering, but you have to start somewhere.

For a whole crapload more info check out this report from the Traffic Injury Research Foundation in Ottawa.

Also, don't forget that we already have graduated (or tiered) licensing in many states -- new riders can't carry passengers, can't ride after dark, etc. The effectiveness of these kind of restrictions when applied to automobiles is well documented. The controversial thing here is limiting displacement (and of course we should probably be limiting power or power-to-weight instead, but that's another discussion).

Anyway, what's the basis for your claim that it doesn't work?
 

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Police reports are not very detailed

Once, in response to yet another "motorcycle accident kills somebody, they sure are dangerous" article in a local paper I wrote to the reporter and asked why there was never any information about experience level or safety gear, except for the presence or absence of a helmet (the type of which -- beanie, half, full-face, astronaut -- is never identified either).

The reply I got was that most of the time all they have to go on is the police reports, which only record the bare minimum.

Cops have plenty to do, and I wouldn't advocate turning them into data collectors, but as somebody pointed out above, if the data is bad the laws will be bad.

I wonder if the insurance industry (boo, hiss) has anything more detailed.
 

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Ok, so harleys are a different ride to sportsbikes, but I really doubt that is the reason for increased deaths. Ever harley I see is always going about 30mph slower than the other bikes on the road, myself included.



Helmet laws seem an easy target. I already knew that deaths had jumped in all the states where the helmet laws had been dropped.



On the other hand, as a foreigner living in the states, the level of training required for a bike license here, and the difficulty of the test is a complete joke. I have motorcycle licenses in Britain (I'm scottish), holland, greece, china, indonesia and california. And here in California the test consisted of someone saying.. "See that circle there? Ride round it.." Not even a gear change.



If we go back to the old Hurt report.. the clearest safety device was training. 3 to 1 improvement on deaths with trained riders over untrained riders. So now we have bloody fast bikes and untrained guys who often ride them once a week, fortnight or even a month. Ewwwwww.......
 

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Re: Point taken

I see it all the time in SoCal. Typical accident - up the canyon, not been on he bike in weeks, fast in/slow out riding styles, Mr 1000 miles a year goes to deep into the corner, panics, tried to break and SPLAT.

If you're gonna own an R1 or similar.. don't buy it before you've done at least 20,000 miles on a bike. Unfortunately, the amount a lot of people ride, that's their whole riding lifetime. That;s rather the problem really.

(I know 3 guys now in the last 4 years who wanted to buy R1's as a first bike... Oh..... my.... god....)
 

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The main statistic in the article is based on miles driven, finding that the number of fatalities per 100 million miles driven has risen 50% since 1997. Assuming that the methodology for guestimating miles ridden has remained constant, and that the overall patterns of ridership have remained relatively constant, this would seem significant. However, without some kind of test of statistical significance it is impossible to tell for sure. The article doesn't say whether or how such tests were applied. Without such tests, as well as some kind of ongoing monitoring to tell whether and how riding patterns change (miles ridden per year per rider, etc.) these statistics cannot be strictly reliable because they are not based on a consistent methodology.



To my mind, though, whether there has or hasn't been a 50 percent increase in the rate of motorcycle fatalities since 1997 is almost (but not quite) beside the point. What's really stunning about these figures is that no matter how you push and pull them, they still show that motorcyclists are somewhere in the range of 15 to 25 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than car passengers. Whether that rate is increasing, decreasing or stable, it's way to high. It is by itself reason enough to look more closely at the causes of fatalities and do what can reasonably be done to reduce risks.



Of course, as individuals there is a lot we can do to protect ourselves based on what we already know from previous studies and just plain common sense -- get training, practice emergency maneuvers, stay alert in traffic, wear protective equipment, keep our bikes in good repair, DON'T DRINK AND RIDE. A new study along the lines of the Hurt report -- which I personally have found very helpful in alerting me to what kind of traffic situations are most dangerous -- could only help those of us who want to protect ourselves.



On a public policy level, it might also result in new licensure and training requirements. While this is anathema to many freedom-loving Americans, I'm not sure it would be a bad idea. It stands to reason that better training would reduce the number and severity of accidents. I don't know if any studies ahve been done to demonstrate this, but I am literally willing to bet my life that it is true.



Enhanced training might also extend to regular driver education. Think of how much more aware of cyclists motorists would be if they were required to learn the rudiments of cycle handling -- even if only on a scooter -- as part of high school driver education. And an item on the drivers exam along the lines of "Q: Is the excuse 'I didn't see it' an acceptable legal defense for hitting a motorcycle in traffic? A: No. It is your responsibility as a driver to observe that the roadway is clear of all pedestrians and vehicles, including motorcycles, before changing lanes, making turns, or entering an intersection. Failure to do so could result in loss of license, liability for injuries and damages you cause, and possibly civil or criminal prosecution."



Would stricter training and licensure requirements make it harder to get a motorcycle license. Certainly. And the problem would undoubtably be compounded by sate governments failing to provide enough training classes and understaffing licensig facilities. Perhaps this would spur the "private sector" to offer more training courses. In my opinion, that would be a good thing. As it stands right now in the Chicago area, it's almost impossible to reserve a spot in a state-sponsored MSF course unless you register within a day or two of the publication of the schedule in March, and if there are any private schools in the area, I haven't been able to find them.



Would stricter standards reduce the number of riders? Hard to say. It doesn't seem to have dampened enthusiasm for riding in Europe. In fact, I think it could even increase the number of riders over time. I know several people who have taken up riding only to quit after some kind of minor mishap or near-mishap. With better training and/or restriction to a bike small enough for a novice to easily handle, they might have an opportunity to develop the skill and confidence they need to to become life-long riders. In any case, it would likely reduce the number of inadequately trained riders, as well as the motorcycle fatality rate.



OK, I admit it. Call me a Pinko, but I think the government has not only the right, but the responsibility to enact and enforce reasonable training and licensure standards. I also think that the government should fund a new study along the lines of the Hurt report and implement a robust monitoring survey to produce some reliable statistics that can be used to further develop training programs to identify and eliminate unecessary cycling risks.



Feel free to flame away.









 

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It's a real shame that a whole boatload of really good 250-400cc motorcycles never make it to the states. The funny thing is, these bikes are frequently much better canyon carvers and will drop a 1000 bike for dead up a canyon.... seriously.
 
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