Beginner motorcycle riders with “less than average maturity” need to take the time to understand the key points in this article.
OK. We admit it right up front: in this article, we may come across as your personal nanny or parent. Too bad. Some things need to be discussed before you even think about riding much less buying, a beginner motorcycle if you are someone that your friends or family would describe as say – “maturity challenged.” Too many beginner motorcycle riders have essentially made “life dooming choices” when it comes to choosing their starter motorcycle. What we’re getting at here and why we chose to address this somewhat awkward topic is that the various authors that have contributed to the writing of this article, all have known more than one beginner rider that suffered a severe injury or death primarily because they simply were an immature individual who should never have gotten on a motorcycle in the first place.
For example, two of the authors spent time in the service and both of those authors knew multiple young servicemembers who bought a bike and later had serious or catastrophic accidents. In all cases, the riders were young and on the wilder side and the results were unsurprising. In nearly all cases these risk-takers bought sport bikes (one bought a tricked-out cruiser bike) and not long after joined up with other, young and immature riders who not long after began bragging about how fast they were going on this trip or how they were “dragging knees” on another trip (i.e., “dragging knees” is a term used to brag about going through the turns so aggressively the rider can be “dragging knees” on the pavement like sportbike racers going through turns on a racetrack do ).
Talk about a recipe for disaster: young, inexperienced, typically males bubbling over with testosterone, riding crazy-fast motorcycles, with a group that nearly always is brimming with peer pressure to do things on a motorcycle no sane and MATURE person would do. So, thinking back to why these tragedies happened, we are left with the unavoidable conclusion that it had to do with both the immaturity of the beginner rider AND those types of motorcycles that tend to engender aggressive and wild driving which by far is the sportbike type of motorcycle.
I personally have owned three different sport bikes and I loved each and every one of them and I’m not bashing sportbikes or sportbike riders just relaying some relevant and poignant experiences.
Note: there is a sub-category of the Sportbike motorcycle type known as “supersport” motorcycles. Essentially supersport (click to see a list of specific superbikes) bikes are generally in between the 600 cc and 1,000 cc engine size and are based on manufacturers making racing motorcycles and then sticking on some minimum additions (e.g., turn signals, license plate holders, etc.) to make these motorcycles street legal.
It is both the sportbike category and its supersport subcategory that leap out when it comes to understanding which type of motorcycles are involved in the most rider fatalities and the IIHS makes this point very clearly when it states: “The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) goes to great lengths to point out how dangerous (based on rider death rate statistics) this specific subcategory of motorcycles and defines these motorcycles as – “consumer versions of racing motorcycles with reduced weight and increased power allow for quick acceleration, nimble handling and high speeds.” Certain motorcycle designs, particularly supersport motorcycles, are associated with increases in risky driving behaviours and higher driver death rates. ”
According to a ConsumerReports.org article referencing a 2005 study, supersport bikes are only 10% of registered motorcycle types yet account for 25% of all rider deaths. Lastly, the below chart is designed to illustrate why we so strongly emphasize that increased risks (particularly for) new/beginner riders who are considering choosing a sportbike or supersport bike for their beginner bike.
I’m sure there are plenty of immature riders who ride different types of motorcycles and also did stupid things and so it can and does happen to riders of all types of bikes. And so, acknowledging that no specific type of bike is a “death sentence” for a new rider, we just want to make sure that it is clear that the more fundamental factors here are the fact that:
1) an immature person (risk-taker, wild person, etc.) is
2) operating a motorcycle with its inherently higher risks (than that of a typical automobile)
We’ve already covered why we highlight the maturity of the rider factor so let’s take a moment to explicitly highlight the inherent risks that go along with riding on a motorcycle. The reasons are obvious, but we’ll take a moment to ensure this point is understood. First, in both automobile and motorcycle accidents, the human body is vulnerable to forces that can cause minor to catastrophic injuries. In a motorcycle accident, typically the only protections for the rider/passenger’s bodies from varying degrees of blunt force trauma are a helmet, some protective clothing (say a good jacket, gloves, and boots), and maybe some “body armor” (note: if you really want to add some extra “layers” of protection, please take the time to look into incorporating body armor into your repertoire of personal protective equipment (PPE).
And, although forms of PPE are clearly helpful, they are no comparison to the protections provided to the occupant(s) of an automobile. Note: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends six different forms of PPE – helmet, protective jacket & pants (with “armor” would be best), boots, gloves, and a reflective/bright-coloured vest (or jacket) as shown in the motorcycle PPE infographic below.
The above infographic illustrates the 6 recommended forms of PPE for motorcycle riders: helmet, protective jacket & pants, boots, gloves, and reflective or brightly colored vest/clothing.
In the case of an automobile, that human body(s) is wrapped in a metal cage, typically belted into a seat that’s connected to the frame of the car, and nowadays often surrounded by deploying protective airbags, etc. So simply put, the occupant(s) in automobile accidents are generally and dramatically more protected than a rider(s) during a motorcycle accident. Now having spent three or four sentences and perhaps dragging you through some obvious observations, the point is that we all know of those immature people that riding a motorcycle is a choice, and for riders who are prone to take risks and do things that many others would not, the dangers are elevated from an already high level.
So, if you or someone you know has some growing up to do, then think twice, thrice, or more about getting into motorcycling until you believe you have the mental maturity to drive responsibly. But understand if you’re going to do it anyway, then the more things you can do to keep the risk from skyrocketing the better … like staying away from riding with other immature hellions. And, since this articles focus is all about choosing the best motorcycle for a beginner of your maturity level, we recommend you stay far away from the types of motorcycles that invite even more danger (e.g., sportbike, supersport bikes, radical custom choppers, etc.).
This article was designed to focus on one particular factor involved in choosing the best beginner motorcycle. For a complete guide covering all the decision points in finding a great beginner motorcycle, visit our Ultimate Guide to the Best Motorcycle for Beginners click on the image below.