Author Topic: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?  (Read 42518 times)

RadicalPersonalFinance

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Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« on: January 10, 2013, 06:15:30 AM »
I need to enlist the Mustachian Motorcyclist collective wisdom.

In the spirit of MMM's Top 10 Cars for Smart People post, what would be the most intelligent motorcycle to own for a 1-car family that needs a second form of motorized transportation several times per week?  (Here's the MMM post: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/03/19/top-10-cars-for-smart-people/ )

Obviously, there are many criteria that could be discussed, but here are mine:
1-Able to run 70 mph on the interstate two-up.  Doesn't necessarily have to be super luxurious for the passenger, though.  (I'm a big guy and do need a bike that will fit me and my passenger.)
2-Efficient on fuel.  It doesn't make sense to me to have a motorcycle that can only run at 30 mpg.  Target would be 60-ish.
3-Statistically reliable.
4-Good value for the  money.  I want to buy used and would like to get a good value.
5-Possible to work on and maintain myself.

If you have questions on other criteria, just ask.  (For example, seat height isn't a problem--I'm tall.  I'd prefer not to ride on my wrists all day, so standard is better than sport bike.  I don't care much about the brand recognition.  Almost all motorcycles are plenty fast, in my opinion.)

Paul der Krake

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2013, 07:35:30 AM »
Love this thread!

I am thinking of getting one whenever my current car dies... hopefully a couple years from now. I have been lurking on motorcycle forums but it's hard to distinguish the good from the bad from a erm... quite non-mustachian crowd?

Excellent operating costs (both fuel economy AND used purchase price) are the most important factors for me, along with ability to do repairs myself.

Sorry I don't have anything to contribute, just wanted to convey my enthusiasm to see this list created.

Nate R

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2013, 08:46:00 AM »
1988-2007 Ninja 250.

Does 100 MPH if needed, will easily do 70 MPH 2-up. Gets 55-70 MPG. Cheap. Parts were the same for a couple DECADES, so parts are cheap.

Downside: Engines tend to wear out around 40K. But used ones on ebay are a couple hundred, and you're good to go.

Nate R

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2013, 08:50:00 AM »
Let me also add: I had 3 of them, they've been great bikes.

There's a GREAT amount of info available for them on the web. Lots of info in the FAQ, walkthroughs on maintenance, etc.

AlexK

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2013, 09:28:26 AM »
I used to ride a Honda Helix 250 scooter. It got 65 mpg, went 70 mph on the highway, had a windshield and full body wind protection, and could hold a 12 pack and a large pizza in the trunk. Super easy to work on.

I sold it to buy a Geo Metro for about the same price. The Geo gets 50 mpg, holds 4 people (I admit that's pushing it), and a whole lot more cargo than any motorcycle. It also has a heater and air conditioner so I can drive it all year. People tell me it's dangerous, but compared to the motorcycle it's not.

I used to do a lot of motorcycle buying and selling, and parting them out. I've owned and worked on hundreds of them. I still have a Suzuki DRZ400 and it's a great bike which would meet your needs (only 50 mpg though). The Ninja 250 and 500 are great, as is the Vulcan 500. Parts are dirt cheap for these bikes because they don't break often. Most bikes don't get as good mpg as you would expect from something so small, usually under 50 mpg because they are designed for performance not efficiency.

BlueMR2

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2013, 09:47:53 AM »
1988-2007 Ninja 250.

That's the one at the top of my list.  Just waiting for one to come along for the right price!  Oh, and I still have to go take the motorcycle licensing course...  Registration opens on Saturday, I'll be calling them first thing in the AM (the whole year's worth of classes will probably be full by the end of the weekend from what I've heard)!

Matt K

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2013, 10:34:06 AM »
+1 on the Ninja 250.

Suzuki Tu250. Honda CBR250 once they have been around awhile so used copies can be found.

Ninja 500

Suzuki SV650. Very cheap used. Naked version isn't hard to work on. I love mine, but with a power commander I get 46mpg.

Suzuki Bandit (600/650/1200/1250). Very reliable, cheap to buy, long lived bikes. "Poor Man's BMW K"

Honda 599/750/919 - All more than fast enough, easy to work on, capable bikes. The 750 remained unchanged for a very long time.

KLR 650 and DR650. Easy to work on, sufficient power to highways, 50ish mpg. Round the world bikes.

Concours 1000 - Fast and comfortable. Engines last 160k kms (I know someone who put that much on his in 5 years). Plenty of comfort for 2 up, built in luggage. He got 50mpg. Only bother with if you plan on crossing continents

Jack

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2013, 10:46:27 AM »
I used to ride a Honda Helix 250 scooter. It got 65 mpg... I sold it to buy a Geo Metro for about the same price.

Most bikes don't get as good mpg as you would expect from something so small, usually under 50 mpg because they are designed for performance not efficiency.

I had a similar thought when reading this thread: I have a hard time believing you could find a motorcycle with lower total cost of ownership than the right economy car (e.g. a 3-cylinder Metro, Honda CRX HF, or 1st-gen Honda Insight).

Nate R

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2013, 11:12:07 AM »
Sometimes the cost of parking it makes the difference. Sometimes you can park the motorcycle in front of your car and not have to pay for another parking space depending on your situation.

Some of the small bikes like that ARE cheap to run, cheap on chains and tires. But not many.

Owl

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2013, 11:16:23 AM »
I have to agree with Jack.. I did some cost of ownership calculations and bikes just don't end up being that economical. (plus they are more dangerous, and if you want ABS the cost skyrockets, so you really are better off with an econo car)

RadicalPersonalFinance

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2013, 11:36:24 AM »
I did some cost of ownership calculations and bikes just don't end up being that economical. (plus they are more dangerous, and if you want ABS the cost skyrockets, so you really are better off with an econo car)

Here are the major reasons I'm considering it as a possibility and doing the cost benefit analysis:
1-No insurance costs.  Where I live, pure (State-required) liability insurance--even for an extra car driven only a few thousand miles per year--is going to be about $30 per month.  I don't have to insure the motorcycle.
2-I only NEED it a couple of days per week. However, when I do use it, it would be used to call on clients.  Unfortunately, perception is a necessary factor in my thinking.  I'd rather be the crazy guy who rides a motorcycle (in a shirt and tie) than the guy that drives the $2,000 Geo Metro.  My other car is fine (as regards client perception), so if I did get just a cheap car, my wife could take the cheap car on the days I use it, so there are other solutions.
3-I want to own a motorcycle and I like to ride for fun.  If I did have the bike, I would use it on trips (e.g., weekend errands) which I would otherwise have to use the 20mpg car for.

RadicalPersonalFinance

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2013, 11:38:02 AM »
1988-2007 Ninja 250.

Does the Ninja 250 sit like a sport bike or like a standard?  I don't want a bike where I'm on my wrists all day.

velocistar237

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2013, 11:53:50 AM »
Does the Ninja 250 sit like a sport bike or like a standard?  I don't want a bike where I'm on my wrists all day.

It's in-between on the pre-2007 models, though at high speeds, you might want to duck down out of the wind. You can get aftermarket windscreens, but I don't know how well they work.

Fuzz

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2013, 10:41:03 PM »
The suit and tie is a kicker. If presentation is important, you'll want a bike that doesn't make your suit smell like oil.

In my view, that limits your options to bikes made since at least the mid 90s. It can be a lot of fun to rock a classic cafe bike, and think you would make a good impression with a honda scramble 350 for example.

I had a 2007 Suzuki C50, an 800CC twin cruiser with a shaft drive. I paid $2500 and sold it for $3000, which made my mustache grow. :) It certainly wouldn't be as zippy as your Ninja 250, but it would be very comfortable. And it didn't make my suit smell. The other thing I like about the Ninjas is that they're an "acknowledged beginner bike," because they're less than 600 CCs or whatever. That means lots of people want to buy them to learn and lots of people want to sell them as they "out grow" them. So you have an active market.

My sense though is that you're going to put 1000-2000 miles a year on your bike. A larger bike that holds its value (although a ninja would too), isn't going to be that much more expensive, if it only gets 40mpg instead of 50mpg. That's an extra 5 gallons/$20 every 1000 miles/year.

Oh, and my thought was that the shaft drive won't make your clothes smell as much. When I rode a Honda CL 175 (a much older bike than a ninja), my jeans got a little oily/smelly around the ankles. Maybe you won't have that problem on a ninja, but it's something to consider for your purpose.

Wendyimhome

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2013, 10:51:13 PM »
Honda Rebel is a 250cc that advertises 84mpg.  Yamaha and Suzuki also offer 250cc size bikes with slightly less efficient mileage.  These bikes can do highway speeds fine, but you'd probably be pushing it with a passenger.

The problem you'll find is that bike makers have abandoned the true mid-size category.  Honda used to offer a 450 Nighthawk, and Kawasaki had the 500 Vulcan.  Those days are gone now.  But you can probably find a used Vulcan 500 that might meet your needs.

One other thing to consider: gas mileage aside, motorcycles are not the money savers they are cranked up to be.  You have to replace things on them much faster.  My experience was tires and brakes have to be replaced every 8-10K miles; batteries suck; and annoying things happen like clutch cables breaking after 15K miles.  They're also not as fun as they are made out to be.  Yes, on a perfect day they can be nice, but they suck in the heat, in the rain, and in the cold.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2013, 10:54:57 PM by Wendyimhome »

Ozstache

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #15 on: January 11, 2013, 01:09:14 AM »
V-Strom 650. Excellent seating position, economical (45-50 mpg), long range (200 miles +), plenty of power for two up riding, sweet little engine, easy to maintain yourself, massive support base on the internet, ABS models available, great bang for buck, off road capable (just).

bcg150

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #16 on: January 11, 2013, 03:13:18 AM »

Suzuki SV650. Very cheap used. Naked version isn't hard to work on. I love mine, but with a power commander I get 46mpg.

Suzuki Bandit (600/650/1200/1250). Very reliable, cheap to buy, long lived bikes. "Poor Man's BMW K"

Given the SV650 and Bandit are both of the sport bike pedigree(but way more comfortable) what is your opinion on tires for these two.   I have an FZ1(not mustacian) and tires for that ran pretty high for me.

bcg

RadicalPersonalFinance

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #17 on: January 11, 2013, 06:03:19 AM »
I appreciate all the feedback.  It's valuable and exactly what I was looking for.

Matt K

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2013, 06:25:22 AM »

Suzuki SV650. Very cheap used. Naked version isn't hard to work on. I love mine, but with a power commander I get 46mpg.

Suzuki Bandit (600/650/1200/1250). Very reliable, cheap to buy, long lived bikes. "Poor Man's BMW K"

Given the SV650 and Bandit are both of the sport bike pedigree(but way more comfortable) what is your opinion on tires for these two.   I have an FZ1(not mustacian) and tires for that ran pretty high for me.

bcg

I am running BT-21s (I think) on my SV650. they cost about $280 pair and have 10k kms showing no sign of wear (I'm not an aggressive rider). Because the SV650, Ninja650 (should also have been included in the above list) and Bandit are all essentially 'entry level big' bikes, they get by with reasonably inexpensive parts. And of course, the more 'touring' and less 'sport' you buy, the cheaper the tire will be.

I had a ZZR-250 (essentially a Ninja 250 with Ninja 500 suspension), and a set of tires on it cost $200 front and back. So, more expensive, but not by a huge amount. It isn't like I'm running true sport bike tires at $500/pair.

Bakari

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #19 on: January 11, 2013, 06:22:31 PM »
1988-2007 Ninja 250.

Does the Ninja 250 sit like a sport bike or like a standard?  I don't want a bike where I'm on my wrists all day.

Somewhere in between, but there is a pretty big aftermarket.  Because this is THE bike in this category, there are a lot of enthusiasts who mod it.  Some mod it for racing, others for touring.
Check out http://forums.ninja250.org/  for as much info as you could possibly want.

Its been +1'd several times already, but I'm going to +1 it again.  It is almost impossible to get less than 50mpg if you try, and over 100mpg is possible.  I've gone through 2 back tires and 1 front in over 10 years (including a year of a 100 mile daily commute!! and several years of shorter ones), and had one tune up done (which, if it was today, I'd do myself).  Changed the chain twice (did it myself both times).  I don't know what people ride who say that bikes require more maintenance, but my motorbike costs have never remotely approached my car / truck maintenance costs. 
Even when I blew up the engine driving around at 100mph with low oil and a broken engine mount (yeah, I know, I was stupid when I was younger), the entire replacement engine was only $500. 
All this for a vehicle you can pick up used in great condition (because people use them as "starter bikes" and then either give up riding or buy a bigger one) for between $1000 and $2000.

Just my opinion, but this question has a correct answer, and the Kawasaki Ninja FX250R is it.

offroad

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #20 on: January 15, 2013, 06:48:20 AM »
V-Strom 650. Excellent seating position, economical (45-50 mpg), long range (200 miles +), plenty of power for two up riding, sweet little engine, easy to maintain yourself, massive support base on the internet, ABS models available, great bang for buck, off road capable (just).

have a Honda VTX1300. but recommend the v-strom. heard lots of good things. you should also look at the BERGSTROM bike, which is a bike-scooter that gets 65mpg.

Ben Johnson

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #21 on: February 11, 2013, 09:41:54 AM »
Generally speaking, on a dollar-per-mile basis motorcycles cannot beat small cars.

Put pencil to paper.  Calculate the cost to drive a motorcycle 100,000 miles versus a small car.  I've gone years at a time with no car and kept detailed records.  Bikes are more expensive. 

Consider:

- Motorcycle tires are expensive and need to be changed about every 8-12,000 miles. (order online, buy your own tools)
- Service intervals for oil, filters, shocks, chains/driveshafts, and valve adjustments are much shorter.
- Motorcycle depreciation is fast and severe.
- Add in several hundred dollars for helmets, body armor, gloves, boots, rain suits, etc. which must be periodically replaced.

Be aware that most Japanese motorcycle dealers refuse to work on bikes older than 15 years, as parts for old Japanese brands are difficult to purchase.  A few BMW and Harley dealers will.  Most will not.  Visit your local independent mechanic before purchase and see if you like him.

Another variable is the gamble that you won't suffer life-crippling injuries that destroy your ability to earn income in the future and saddle you with enormous medical bills.  I personally know several people this happened to.  Accountants call this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contingent_liability  Estimate the dollar value and post it as a cost.

Ride bikes if you like them, but not to save money.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2013, 09:43:40 AM by Ben Johnson »

grantmeaname

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #22 on: February 11, 2013, 10:36:07 AM »
- Motorcycle depreciation is fast and severe.
That's a good thing for used motorcycle buyers -- like everyone on this site with a motorcycle, for example. And once it's plummeted, it's got no lower to go -- a dirt-cheap bike can't really depreciate much further.

Ben Johnson

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #23 on: February 11, 2013, 10:41:15 AM »
That's a good thing for used motorcycle buyers

Not true.  Dirt-cheap bikes do depreciate.

If you buy a clapped-out 1987 KLR for $800 it will depreciate 20% in two years just like a Range Rover or anything else.

Matt K

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #24 on: February 11, 2013, 12:44:43 PM »
A bicycle will also depreciate. Losing 20% of $800 is nothing to fear.

I'm one of the first guys to say that motorcycles are rarely a true money saving choice (especially around here where cheap insurance is $500/year). But saying a 20% depreciation on $800 is the same as on a Land Rover (which unless you mean an $800 land rover) is misdirection. The opportunity cost of losing $160 on an '87 KLR is smaller than losing 20% on a (still frugal) $5000 car ($1000). Yes, it is still 20%, but you can buy another KLR for the difference in depreciation.

As Grant says, if you're going to ride a bike anyways, depreciation is your friend. Some great bikes suffer brutal inital depreciation, which makes them fantastic purchases when slightly used.

grantmeaname

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #25 on: February 11, 2013, 04:33:38 PM »
If you buy a clapped-out 1987 KLR for $800 it will depreciate 20% in two years just like a Range Rover or anything else.

Nope, depreciation is not an automagical formula where you multiply the value of something by a percentage to get the new value a year later. The economic value of an '87 KLR is almost exactly the same as that of an '86 or '88, and any tiny change is the year's depreciation -- it's not like Money God dictated that all purchase prices should decrease by 20% annually as a law of nature.

Ben Johnson

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #26 on: February 11, 2013, 04:44:36 PM »
Ah, I see.

An 1988 KLR with 50,000 miles on it will have the same market value as a 1985 KLR with 65,000 miles on it.

Thanks.

grantmeaname

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #27 on: February 11, 2013, 04:54:55 PM »

Bakari

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #28 on: February 11, 2013, 09:12:27 PM »
Generally speaking, on a dollar-per-mile basis motorcycles cannot beat small cars.

Put pencil to paper.  Calculate the cost to drive a motorcycle 100,000 miles versus a small car.  I've gone years at a time with no car and kept detailed records.  Bikes are more expensive. 

Consider:

- Motorcycle tires are expensive and need to be changed about every 8-12,000 miles. (order online, buy your own tools)
- Service intervals for oil, filters, shocks, chains/driveshafts, and valve adjustments are much shorter.
- Motorcycle depreciation is fast and severe.
- Add in several hundred dollars for helmets, body armor, gloves, boots, rain suits, etc. which must be periodically replaced.

Be aware that most Japanese motorcycle dealers refuse to work on bikes older than 15 years, as parts for old Japanese brands are difficult to purchase.  A few BMW and Harley dealers will.  Most will not.  Visit your local independent mechanic before purchase and see if you like him.

Maybe I just don't care of my bike well enough, but I don't think the recommended service intervals are remotely near necessary.
Perhaps more likely, people often ride bikes really fast, accelerate a lot, brake hard, and all that wears out components much faster.
I haven't had to do enough maintenance to be sure, but it seems that stuff wore out faster when I was young and drove fast than they do now.

In 34k miles, I've replaced the chain once ($50), and replaced the crappy stock tires with premium racing tires for better traction (Dunlap GT105 and a Perilli Sport Demon - roughly $200 combined, plus don't remember how much for the shop to mount them).
I haven't done oil changes any more often than in my 4-wheelers, but it uses 1/5th the oil each time, and a cheaper filter. 

34,000 miles, at my bikes 65mpg used up 523 gallons of fuel, or $1569 at $3/gal
In a 35mpg car it would have been 971 gallons, or $2913 at $3/gal.
$1,344 is a whole heck of a lot more than the total I've spent on safety gear (much of it used, shopped for best internet price for what wasn't, and I don't see why I would need to replace any of it under normal circumstances (I've made some upgrades after learning more about my options, but the gear I first bought back in 2001 is still in service).

As Grant pointed out, depreciation on an inexpensive asset is pretty much irrelevant - 20% on a new Land Rover is around $26,000; 20% on a used EX250 is $200.  $200 is fairly negligible compared to $26,000.

Then there is $75 a year insurance, compared to $476 for my 4-wheeler, and the fact that I never have to pay for parking or bridge toll on the motorcycle.


Quote
Another variable is the gamble that you won't suffer life-crippling injuries that destroy your ability to earn income in the future and saddle you with enormous medical bills.  I personally know several people this happened to.  Accountants call this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contingent_liability  Estimate the dollar value and post it as a cost.

"In addition to being the leading cause of death among U.S. residents aged 5--34 years, motor vehicle--occupant injuries account for approximately 15% of all nonfatal injuries treated in U.S. emergency departments (1). In 2005, the lifetime costs of fatal and nonfatal motor vehicle--occupant injuries were estimated at approximately $70 billion, including costs for medical care, treatment, rehabilitation, and lost productivity"
http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5951a3.htm
You take that gamble every time you get in a car too.  Just because its so common that we don't think about it doesn't mean that the risk is not there, and fairly large.

Contrary to popular belief, there actually isn't any evidence that motorcycle riders are at higher risk of accident than car drivers.  There is lots and lots of concrete evidence that the average motorcycle driver takes more risks than the average car driver.  Bikers have significantly higher rates of speeding, drunk driving, driving without a license, reckless driving, etc. and the higher rate of unsafe driving alone accounts for the majority of the difference in statistical accident rates.  The one study I am aware of which actually controlled for driver behavior (by looking at a single subset of all drivers - police officers - in Kent County England) found the motorcyclists to have a lower accident rate than their car driving equivalents.  The single biggest reason for motorcycle accidents is the choices of the rider (which we can choose to change for the better), the second is visibility, which can be improved with additional lighting (and modulators), reflective tape, and bright colored gear and helmets.
Now, it is possible that even taking all that into account, motorcycles still carry a slightly higher risk, but you can only compare any increase in risk that you specifically have over your risk when driving a car, not just the risk for the average motorcyclists compared to sitting at home.

DoubleDown

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #29 on: February 12, 2013, 07:54:37 AM »
I think we all know that the significantly higher danger in riding a motorcycle isn't the rate/frequency of accident occurrence, it's the severity of injuries when an accident does occur. A 15-20 mph accident in a car, assuming occupants are wearing seat belts, is likely to result in only very minor or even no injuries, while it could prove fatal for a motorcyclist. I haven't researched the statistics to back it up, but I would imagine the risks of death or severe injuries go up exponentially as speed increases, and far higher than for occupants of a car.

I love riding motorcycles, but I recognize it is extremely dangerous. Anecdotal Evidence Alert: I've had several friends in the last few years who have gotten in various accidents in cars and motorcycles. All the ones in the cars are still living or were only slightly injured -- it was mostly an exercise in inconvenience in getting their car repaired and dealing with insurance. The three who were on motorcycles are dead or literally lost body parts. Not trying to be a buzzkill, just trying to keep clarity on the meaning of those statistics about accident frequency.

Russ

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #30 on: February 12, 2013, 08:38:16 AM »
I think we all know that the significantly higher danger in riding a motorcycle isn't the rate/frequency of accident occurrence, it's the severity of injuries when an accident does occur. A 15-20 mph accident in a car, assuming occupants are wearing seat belts, is likely to result in only very minor or even no injuries, while it could prove fatal for a motorcyclist. I haven't researched the statistics to back it up, but I would imagine the risks of death or severe injuries go up exponentially as speed increases, and far higher than for occupants of a car.

I love riding motorcycles, but I recognize it is extremely dangerous. Anecdotal Evidence Alert: I've had several friends in the last few years who have gotten in various accidents in cars and motorcycles. All the ones in the cars are still living or were only slightly injured -- it was mostly an exercise in inconvenience in getting their car repaired and dealing with insurance. The three who were on motorcycles are dead or literally lost body parts. Not trying to be a buzzkill, just trying to keep clarity on the meaning of those statistics about accident frequency.

It goes both ways... what actually breaks a person isn't the impact between vehicles, it's the impact between a person and his or her surroundings (or, more directly, the impact between the person's internal organs and skeleton). In a car you have the disadvantage of being stuck in a metal cage. Your seatbelt and airbag are there to minimize the damage that would be caused by smashing headfirst into this cage. On a motorcycle (or bicycle, where I have my experience) you have the benefit of no cage. That is, when you get hit, unless you run right into something, you have the benefit of being thrown and skipping across the pavement, slowing your impact.

Anecdotal evidence again, but I've crashed my bike more times than I can count, usually around 25-30 mph. The worst I've ever been injured was the one time I broke my arm at the shoulder, high-siding at about 25 and landing shoulder-first directly over a protruding tree root which served to localize the force of the impact all at my shoulder. Everything else has been no more than road rash or maybe the rare concussion, and that's wearing significantly less protection than a properly-equipped motorcycle rider.

I don't mean to downplay the danger of riding a motorcycle; it's dangerous, just like riding a bicycle or driving a car. But I don't think it's as dangerous as it's said to be. It just has a different set of advantages/disadvantages compared to cars.

Edit: sp
« Last Edit: February 12, 2013, 12:42:52 PM by Russ »

Bakari

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #31 on: February 12, 2013, 11:06:37 AM »

It goes both ways... what actually breaks a person isn't the impact between vehicles, it's the impact between a person and his or her surroundings (or, more directly, the impact between the person's internal organs and skeleton). In a car you have the disadvantage of being stuck in a metal cage. Your seatbelt and airbag are there to minimize the damage that would be caused by smashing headfirst into this cage. On a motorcycle (or bicycle, where I have my experience) you have the benefit of no cage. That is, when you get hit, unless you run right into something, you have the benefit of being thrown and skipping across the pavement, slowing your impact.
Exactly right.
Take a look at professional motorcycle racing, where crashes occur at 100+ MPH fairly regularly, and the rider almost always gets up on their own power the moment they stop sliding.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5x32firNOI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Fekfb4phAE
Unfortunately most of the cut out after the dramatic part is over, but in the majority you can see the rider sitting up or kneeling, clearly one moment away from standing up.  True, the streets don't have crash barriers, and often there isn't as large an area to slide, but then again, these riders travel up to 200MPH, and the energy that needs to be absorbed increases with the square of the speed (2 times faster = 4 times more energy)

A 15-20MPH accident on a motorcycle is not any worse than a 15-20MPH accident on a bicycle - except that you are (should be) wearing armor, so its actually much less.  I have crashed at that speed in both vehicles, and the worst that will happen is some lost skin, maybe a sprained wrist.

The risk of injury or death does go up exponentially with speed - regardless of method of travel.  The risk of injury or death in a car goes up exponentially with speed.  I have researched the statistics to back it up (http://tinyurl.com/FIslowdown). 
Crash tests are conducted at 35 or 40MPH.  The reason it is such a low speed, when speed limits are often as high as 75, is because thats roughly the limit of what airbags and seatbelts can protect against.  Yes, the cage can offer some degree of energy absorption, in some specific crash scenarios, compared to being able to slide across the pavement and come to a stop that way, however it also provides a falsely inflated sense of comfort and confidence.  Car accidents are the number 1 non-age related cause of death.  Driving cars is dangerous.  We need to recognize that driving is extremely dangerous.  Just like that awareness can make you be more careful on a motorcycle (which makes it less dangerous), that same awareness while driving will make it less dangerous as well.

As for your anecdotal evidence, it only works if you know that the people involved were going the same speed, on a the same sort of road, in the same weather conditions, in the same mental state, etc.  If one person gets into a crash in a parking lot in their car, and someone else takes a corner too fast on a backwoods highway and hits a sign on a motorcycle, that doesn't prove motorcycles are more dangerous, it confirms that motorcyclists drive too fast. 
In 35 percent of all fatal motorcycle accidents, the motorcycle rider was speeding (compared to 23% of car drivers).  This just means going above the posted limit, and doesn't necessarily include going too fast for conditions/ability.
In nearly 30 percent of all fatal motorcycle accidents, the motorcycle rider had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher.
25 percent of motorcycle riders involved in fatal accidents were riding without the proper license (compared to 12% of car drivers)
Fatal motorcycle accidents are more likely to involve collision with a fixed object than another vehicle.  A collision with a fixed object is 100% the fault of the rider, and 100% preventable.  Among single vehicle fatalities, 48% were speeding, and 42% had blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher.  Most crashes with another vehicle are head-on, and the motorcyclists were more often speeding or not in the proper lane. http://www.ghsa.org/html/issues/motorcyclesafety.html and http://www.iihs.org/research/qanda/motorcycles.aspx

My anecdotal evidence includes a family friend who was killed in a 4-wheeler, and a family member who spent about 2 years in physical therapy after a crash in a 4-wheeler, both crashes were 100% the fault of the other driver and were unavoidable for the one who got hit, and both were on city streets.  Other anecdotal evidence includes a teacher who crashed a motorcycle on a twisty road, and cracked the gas tank of the bike with his knee, but walked away injury free, and my own several accidents at various speeds, including one on the freeway in the rain, none of which have required as much as an ace bandage or a band-aid.

Here's a bit of non-anecdotal evidence:
"Motorcycle racing injuries compared favourably with motor car racing injuries and had a lower incidence of serious head injury."
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1478319/

I don't mean to downplay the danger of riding a motorcycle; it's dangerous, just like riding a bicycle or driving a car. But I don't think it's as dangerous as it's said to be. It just has a different set of advantages/disadvantages compared to cars.*

*I stole those words from Russ :)

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #32 on: February 12, 2013, 11:20:38 AM »
Okay, you made me go and look it up. First paragraph from Wikipedia which provides NHTSA statistics:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorcycle_safety

According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2006, 13.10 cars out of 100,000 ended up in fatal crashes. The rate for motorcycles is 72.34 per 100,000 registered motorcycles.[1] Motorcycles also have a higher fatality rate per unit of distance travelled when compared with automobiles. Per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists' risk of a fatal crash is 35 times greater than a passenger car.[1] In 2004, figures from the UK Department for Transport indicated that motorcycles have 16 times the rate of serious injuries per 100 million vehicle kilometers compared to cars, and double the rate of bicycles.[2]

A national study by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATS) found that:

    Motorcycle rider death rates increased among all rider age groups between 1998 and 2000
    Motorcycle rider deaths were nearly 30 times more than drivers of other vehicles
    Motorcycle riders aged below 40 are 36 times more likely to be killed than other vehicle operators of the same age.
    Motorcycle riders aged 40 years and over are around 20 times more likely to be killed than other drivers of that same age.[3]

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #33 on: February 12, 2013, 11:37:35 AM »
Okay, you made me go and look it up. First paragraph from Wikipedia which provides NHTSA statistics:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorcycle_safety

According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2006, 13.10 cars out of 100,000 ended up in fatal crashes. The rate for motorcycles is 72.34 per 100,000 registered motorcycles.[1] Motorcycles also have a higher fatality rate per unit of distance travelled when compared with automobiles. Per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists' risk of a fatal crash is 35 times greater than a passenger car.[1] In 2004, figures from the UK Department for Transport indicated that motorcycles have 16 times the rate of serious injuries per 100 million vehicle kilometers compared to cars, and double the rate of bicycles.[2]

A national study by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATS) found that:

    Motorcycle rider death rates increased among all rider age groups between 1998 and 2000
    Motorcycle rider deaths were nearly 30 times more than drivers of other vehicles
    Motorcycle riders aged below 40 are 36 times more likely to be killed than other vehicle operators of the same age.
    Motorcycle riders aged 40 years and over are around 20 times more likely to be killed than other drivers of that same age.[3]


This ignores the fact that you control your own accident rates, as stated by Bakari several posts ago. Of course for the entire population of motorcycle riders the average fatality rate is higher; a higher proportion of motorcycle riders are risk-seeking knuckleheads compared to a population of average car drivers. Looking at individual accidents, the occurence rates of which you can significantly reduce buy not popping wheelies at 100 mph while splitting lanes in stopped traffic, Bakari's data shows that crashing a motorcycle is similarly safe, if not more safe, than crashing a car at the same speed. That's what we're talking about now.

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #34 on: February 12, 2013, 11:46:44 AM »
I never said the rate of fatal crashes wasn't higher for motorcyclists.
I said two separate things:
1 driving/riding in a car is a high risk activity.
and
2  the higher rate of motorcycle fatalities in almost entirely explained by the voluntary behavior of the average motorcycle rider.

What the statistics say for the general population is totally irrelevant to you and me figuring out what is OUR relative risk in driving a car vs riding a motorcycle.  Just because "motorcycle riders" drive drunk, doesn't mean that YOU have to drive drunk whenever you get on a bike.  Just because a majority of bikers speed on a regular basis doesn't mean that I have to speed when I ride.

This isn't just theory, and I'm not just making it up.  Like I said, half of motorcycle crashes are single vehicle, which means the rider was 100% at fault.  Of those that involve cars, half of the bike riders were speeding at the time of the crash, and nearly half were drunk.

Further, I propose that those two facts above, taken together, imply that if a person driving a car were to drive as recklessly as the average motorcycle driver, the fatality risk ratios would be convergent.  Does that mean the two are equally safe?  No.  The only way to determine that is to take one single consistent subgroup demographic, one which is likely to drive similarly and take a similar level of risk.  I've provided two examples: police driving cars vs motorcycles, and car vs motorcycle racers.  In both cases the motorcycle riders have the same or lower crash and injury rates.  If you know of any other data that compares a single consistent demographic, NOT the entire population, I'd be interested to read it.

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #35 on: February 12, 2013, 12:58:07 PM »
But don't these two statistics control for driver behavior, and still point to motorcycle riding as being far more dangerous than driving a passenger car?

- Motorcycle riders aged below 40 are 36 times more likely to be killed than other vehicle operators of the same age

- Motorcycle riders aged 40 years and over are around 20 times more likely to be killed than other drivers of that same age.

(We can make a very reasonable conclusion that the difference in death statistics for the two age groups can be attributed to rider experience and risky/stupid behavior). The statistics show that even for the older riders with more experience and much less inclined to drive in irresponsible ways, they still have a risk of death 20 times higher than their same-aged peers driving cars.

As safe as we might drive our own motorcycles, a stupid or inattentive or drunk driver hitting us on a bike is just way more dangerous than someone hitting us in a car. As much as I'd like to wish away the reality that motorcycle driving is vastly more dangerous than driving a car, I don't think we can ignore what the data say, and what common sense tells us about what happens when you crash a bike vs. a car with seat belts, airbags, and tons of metal protecting you.

I'm all for riding motorcycles, I think they're awesome. I do think, though, that there is no way to reasonably discount that the data objectively show it is a much more dangerous way to get from place to place than driving a car.

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #36 on: February 13, 2013, 02:27:56 AM »
If you are a motorcycle, and haven't read the hurt report, you need to.  This study was done in 1981 by a professor at USC and some buddies, all motorcyclists.  The facts gathered in the report are still very valid.  http://isddc.dot.gov/OLPFiles/NHTSA/013695.pdf

For a list of the findings for those of you who don't feel like reading the whole thing here is the wikipedia link. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_findings_in_the_Hurt_Report

It's noteworthy that 92% of the riders had no formal training.  Even taking the BRC severely reduces your chance of being in a motorcycle accident.  Also, more than half of all accidents were with a rider on a bike that he is unfamiliar with.  The report says less than 5 months experience on the bike that was crashed.  I'm not going to list them all because the points are numerous, but a significant number of points list behaviors that are generally associated with people who are irresponsible and/or reckless.  I also take pride with the point of riders with dirt experience are under-represented.

As far as bikes go, I will steer you away from the 250cc models if you intend to use them for limited access highway use.  Yes, they can reach and maintain 65 mph+, but you will be maxed out on power.  That means you won't have proper power to accelerate to avoid situations.  Some engines also tend to burn significantly more oil at these high RPMs.  You will also probably get bored and want to upgrade pretty quickly. Getting a good two up bike is going to be difficult unless you start going up in ccs, but it's still possible on lower powered engines.  A 250 is gonna struggle to do highway speeds two up.  Now, this may not be true for all of them, and may just be a matter of preference, but this is how I felt when I rode a 250.

I'm a bit biased, but the KLR 650 is a fine bike.  It is relatively cheap, even brand new.  There is a huge community for upgrading and maintaining your bike.  It's relatively easy to maintain with some moderate mechanic skills.  It gets about 55 mpg highway on the newer models (not sure about the older ones).  It's reliable, though a lot of KLR riders recommend replacing the doohickey early in life, as this is a noted engineering flaw that Kawasaki refuses to admit.  The stock bike isn't bad if you aren't doing any off-road riding or long distance riding.  It also has a standard riding position.

I have to ask, how often would you be riding 2 up and where?  If you are riding 2 up on backroads, where max speed is 55 or so, you can probably get away with just a 250.  Good luck with your choice, and don't decide too quickly.  Get exactly what is right for you, even if you have to wait for the right bike.

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #37 on: February 13, 2013, 07:18:47 AM »
Having ridden both, I will say that a Ninja250 is just as fast on the highway as a KLR.

250 dual sports and cruisers (Rebel) are not in the same class, but I have hit the ton on a Ninja 250 (ZZR250 technically). The ZZR actually made the same horsepower as a KLR (36hp), which at speeds in excess of 65mph is what matters (the fact the KLR has twice the torque is meaningless in a high speed situation).

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #38 on: February 13, 2013, 09:53:08 AM »
But don't these two statistics control for driver behavior, and still point to motorcycle riding as being far more dangerous than driving a passenger car?
No, absolutely not!  You are saying that every individual of a particular age drives exactly the same?!  The point is that, in general, the type of person - at any age - who decides to buy a motorcycle is more likely to be a thrill seeking risk taker.  Ironically, the reason for this is because motorcycles have a reputation for being dangerous.  So it becomes a self fulfilling prophesy.

Consider that most of the vehicles with the highest statistical rate of fatalities are sports cars:
http://www.preferredconsumer.com/automotive/articles/dangerous_cars.html
http://www.statisticbrain.com/driver-fatality-stats-by-auto-make/
http://www.bta.lt/eng/company/news/?18753
These are vehicles with better handling, better brakes, and usually more safety systems than average.  They should be safer than the average car.   "There is no doubt that frequency of accidents is related with the driver's personality rather than with technical characteristics of a car."
"Beginning in 1984 the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) started tracking car occupant death rate and found that the rate for sports cars is nearly twice as high as for average cars."

The demographic that is most likely to buy a sports car is the same demographic most likely to buy a motorcycle.


Quote
(We can make a very reasonable conclusion that the difference in death statistics for the two age groups can be attributed to rider experience and risky/stupid behavior). The statistics show that even for the older riders with more experience and much less inclined to drive in irresponsible ways, they still have a risk of death 20 times higher than their same-aged peers driving cars.
There are a large number of older riders who just starting riding (mid-life crises?), which is the reason accident rates have been increasing specifically among older riders in recent years.  Being older does not automatically mean they have more experience, nor does in mean they are unlikely to be reckless.
"Nearly half of the alcohol-impaired motorcyclists killed each year are age 40 or older, and motorcyclists ages 40-44 have the highest percentage of deaths with BACs of 0.08% or greater (44%)." http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html


Quote
... seat belts, airbags, and tons of metal protecting you.
  The tons of metal does not protect you.  As Russ said earlier, the seatbelts and airbags are there to protect you FROM the tons of metal and glass.  The data does not show objectively that it is more dangerous, it shows the more motorcyclists die per mile than car drivers, but also very strong and consistent evidence that this is because of driver behavior.  Common sense tells you its safer to be in a cage, but common sense is frequently wrong.

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #39 on: February 13, 2013, 09:58:38 AM »

As far as bikes go, I will steer you away from the 250cc models if you intend to use them for limited access highway use.  Yes, they can reach and maintain 65 mph+, but you will be maxed out on power.  That means you won't have proper power to accelerate to avoid situations.  Some engines also tend to burn significantly more oil at these high RPMs.  You will also probably get bored and want to upgrade pretty quickly. Getting a good two up bike is going to be difficult unless you start going up in ccs, but it's still possible on lower powered engines.  A 250 is gonna struggle to do highway speeds two up.  Now, this may not be true for all of them, and may just be a matter of preference, but this is how I felt when I rode a 250.
This may be true in general, but the Kawasaki Ninja EX250R can reach and maintain over 100MPH (don't ask how I know that... ok, ok, I was once the exact kind of reckless motorcyclists that gives motorcycles a bad impression...)
Getting bored and wanting to upgrade is another reason so many people die on motorcycles (there is a direct relationship between the power of the bike and the fatality rate).  It is also anti-mustachian.
2-up is as easy as solo riding (unless maybe both driver and passenger are significantly overweight?) - at the most, you might have to slow down to 65 or 70mph going up steep highway mountain passes while riding with a passenger, but for most of us, that isn't often enough to justify getting a larger, more expensive, less efficient, bike

« Last Edit: February 15, 2013, 09:45:25 AM by Bakari »

DoubleDown

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #40 on: February 13, 2013, 01:04:49 PM »
<tl;dr> The statistics are valid, they prove that motorcycle riding is more dangerous than driving a car, period. The other factors like rider experience and behavior are largely irrelevant, don't ride one unless you accept the inherent risk involved.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
It would not be valid to attribute the vastly higher death/injury statistics solely to driver behavior. I understand your point about driver behavior, and I agree that a responsible and experienced rider can certainly reduce their risk of injury/death from the "average (irresponsible) rider." But while behavior and safety are certainly factors, they are definitely not the only factors, and they cannot eliminate the other inherent dangers (like lack of airbags, seat belts, car frame to absorb impact, and visibility of the rider, propensity to have your body impact another immovable or heavy object since there's nothing stopping its momentum, and so on).

You are correct it would be false to assume that the general statistics apply to any one person, but the statistics do show that motorcycle riding, overall, is way more likely to result in death to a rider than driving a car. Large samples like this do control for differences that would otherwise skew results. Just like when statistics show that smokers are 20 times more likely to die from lung cancer than non-smokers, it would be incorrect to say "well that's because they are risky people" or "all smokers are probably fat too and don't exercise, and that causes them to be unhealthy." Those factors are already weeded out in the results by virtue of having such a large population to compare.

In the case of riding motorcycles, if you took a group of people who had extremely similar demographics (say, all of the same age, race, gender, income, occupation, etc.) and driving behaviors, accident histories, number of traffic citations, and everything else, you would still find that the likelihood of dying on a motorcycle is far higher -- and that's because of the inherent danger of riding the motorcycle itself, since all the other factors have been controlled by choosing a similar population. For every irresponsible, risky rider in those statistics, you can be sure there is an irresponsible, risky car driver to match. The motorcycle riders still come out losers though.

Anyhow, we'll probably have to agree to disagree, and I probably should not have piled on in derailing this thread. But thanks for the spirited yet civil debate!

I'm not trying to rain on anyone's parade, just hoping that anyone considering taking on this activity consider the risks. Just last year I had this similar debate with a buddy since he was thinking about getting a new bike. He did buy it, and sadly had a near-fatal accident that caused him permanent, life-altering disabilities. On the plus side, his insurance at least paid him for his lost body parts, but certainly not a trade he would make if given the chance again. And had he been driving a car, the accident would not have happened at all (slid into a guard rail), or he would likely have only suffered minor to moderate injuries upon hitting the guard rail.

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #41 on: February 13, 2013, 02:22:36 PM »
Quote
"if you took a group of people who had extremely similar ... driving behaviors, accident histories, number of traffic citations..."

This study does not exist.
If I am mistaken, and it does exist please, PLEASE find it, and share it.  I have been looking for it for years.
If you can find that data, and it still shows a large difference in accident rates on bike vs in car, I will concede your point.

Quote
For every irresponsible, risky rider in those statistics, you can be sure there is an irresponsible, risky car driver to match
No, because the fact of choosing a motorcycle places a person in the "risk taker" category, while basically everyone drives cars.  There are soccer moms and grandparents and librarians and everyone else in cars.  Car drivers are the entire general population.  Bike drivers are the subset of the population who, believing that motorcycles are more dangerous, buy one anyway.

If 9/10th of motorcycle riders are irresponsible and risky (and the stats suggests it is near there), and only 1/20th of car drivers are, you should expect motorcycle injuries to be 20 times as high. 

Your example supports my argument, not yours.  Nothing inherent to a motorcycle makes it inevitable to sliding into a guard rail.  Unless he was chasing some sort of spy who sprayed an oil slick on the road on a sharp turn, then riding too fast for conditions / ability is the ONLY cause of riding into guard rails.  I don't mean any disrespect to your friend, but seriously, if he had chosen to take that corner slower, he would have avoided that injury.

Now, if what you mean is that GIVEN a person will drive recklessly no matter what, then, yes, it is probably safer to drive recklessly in a car.  Then again, its safer for the person you run into if you are on a bike.  Better yet, slow the F*%$ down, no matter what type of vehicle you are in, and it all becomes moot.

Stay safe out there everyone.  Killing yourself or someone else is not worth saving a couple minutes http://tinyurl.com/FIslowdown

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #42 on: February 13, 2013, 07:41:24 PM »
You are correct it would be false to assume that the general statistics apply to any one person, but the statistics do show that motorcycle riding, overall, is way more likely to result in death to a rider than driving a car. Large samples like this do control for differences that would otherwise skew results. Just like when statistics show that smokers are 20 times more likely to die from lung cancer than non-smokers, it would be incorrect to say "well that's because they are risky people" or "all smokers are probably fat too and don't exercise, and that causes them to be unhealthy." Those factors are already weeded out in the results by virtue of having such a large population to compare.
I'm going to leave the specifics of this as it applies to motorcyclists and motorists alone, because that equine has given up the ghost. I do want to correct a misconception about statistics, though: having a large sample does not on its own correct for differences between the sample. There is no law of large samples that says "as your sample size increases, the only differences that remain significant between your test populations are those you are interested in conducting statistical inquiry on"; hopefully, worded that way, you can see why.

Or we could look at an example: let's look at hypertension in black and white Americans. Hypertension is significantly more prevalent in blacks than whites. If your statistical testing is sufficiently powerful to discern this difference among samples of 60 individuals, it can certainly do so among samples of 500. On average, blacks are poorer than whites in the U.S.; largely or entirely as a result of that, they are more likely to smoke and more likely to be obese. If you were interested in seeing whether additional factors differed between the two populations (I'll omit the anthropologist tirade about race not being a viable biological construct), you couldn't just get an even larger sample and handwave away the fact that more of your black population was obese than your white population. Instead, you would use known values like the rate at which an increase in BMI manifests as hypertension to control away the difference, by eliminating the proportion of your second sample's hypertension that was statistically attributable to obesity; you could repeat for smoking, as well as any other differences between your two samples that you thought could result in a statistically significant change to hypertension. Having done all that, you would have corrected for covariates, likely using ANCOVA and sister techniques. Then, you could observe whether any variance remained; if so, it could only be attributed to the difference of interest between your populations, race.

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #43 on: February 15, 2013, 01:09:50 AM »
Really, if you read the hurt report that I linked a couple posts ago, you would see that a study HAS been done.  It doesn't really require speculation.  All of the leg work has been done already!  But ultimately, driving a motorcycle is much different from a cage.  Sometimes you have to do something that appears unsafe to a cage that in reality could save your butt.  You have to be proactive, not reactive, and if you do run into a reactive situation, you do whatever it takes to stay up and alive, because screw the laws at that point.

Also, I'll have to try out a ninja 250.  Never rode one.   I will admit my 250 experience is the little rebels that they use for training courses.  650cc isn't all that much to handle for most bikes, but it is definitely plenty for sport bikes.  I took my BRC after riding for three years on a permit.  Guys riding for less than a week showed up on GSX 1000s and I wanted to ask them if they were stupid or just adventurous.   I was also a natural though, so I'm a bit biased.  I rode ATVs a handful of times and tooled around on a buddy's bike for about 4 hours in a parking lot.  Driving stick definitely helped me understand feathering the clutch on a bike.

 Bikes in general are somewhat anti-mustachian, but the one article said anti-mustachians can't have nice stuff!  If we were all 100% frugal, we would be rather dull people.  Everyone stay safe out there and ATGATT.

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #44 on: February 15, 2013, 06:54:57 AM »
Really, if you read the hurt report that I linked a couple posts ago, you would see that a study HAS been done.  It doesn't really require speculation.  All of the leg work has been done already!

Not really. For one thing, the Hurt report is more than 30 years old. A lot has changed in vehicle safety in the past 30 years. Secondly, the selection bias exists in the Hurt report. As Grant says, Motorcyclists are a subset of the population. Someone who choses to ride a motorcycle has a higher probability of being a risk taker, and thus a higher probability of doing stupid things on the road than the risk adverse.

If you want to know whether a motorcycle is in fact more dangerous, you need to compare the similar drivers on both vehicles. I think the motorcycle racers vs auto racers is useful, but the police study is the best. The Hurt report simply doesn't have this variabel control in it.

I'm not saying the Hurt report isn't useful information. Just the fact that 92% of all motorcycle crashes (in the study) were from untrained riders says alot. By getting rider training you reduce your risk by an order of magnitude. That's useful information.

DoubleDown

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #45 on: February 15, 2013, 03:22:14 PM »
Grant, I completely agree with what you have stated about population sizes, their meaning in statistics, etc. When I said that using such a large population size in the studies tends to control for differences in rider behaviors, I am saying that we have already reduced or removed the propensity for selection bias in our sample (that is, the likelihood of only selecting risky people). Both risky motorcycle riders and risky car drivers appeared in the accident statistics, by virtue of the large population reviewed.

In your example, the simple conclusion I would draw from studying hypertension rates in the U.S. population would be, "Hypertension rates are x% higher in Black Americans than White Americans." The statistics would not necessarily tell us why that is the case, but the numbers themselves are undeniable. Blacks are more likely to have hypertension.

In the case of motorcycle riding, the statistics tell us riders are 20-40 times more likely to die in an accident than their counterparts in cars. They do not tell us why, but they cannot be ignored either with a wave of the "they must all be inexperienced and/or irresponsible riders" wand.

Tying your example together with cause and effect, if we correlated occurrence of hypertension and cigarette smoking, and found that cigarette smokers are 40 times more likely than non-smokers to be hypertensive, that would be a hugely significant result, and we could logically conclude that cigarette smoking just might cause hypertension (particularly if we looked at a gigantic sample from the world population that included all kinds of demographics, as the accident studies have done). Even if we can't prove cause, we cannot discount that the two are correlated. We cannot discount that motorcycle riding is hugely correlated with death relative to driving a car, and the difference cannot (reasonably) be attributed solely to rider behavior.

Bakari

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #46 on: February 15, 2013, 08:08:00 PM »
You're still missing a critical part of all the stats I showed earlier:
(Almost) ALL motorcycle riders are "risky" riders.  This is not selection bias on the part of the people doing the survey.  It is not even selection bias due to looking only at accident victims.  Well over 9 out of 10 motorcycle drivers have one or more risk factors.  Even among riders who are never in a serious crash, the rates of reckless driving, speeding, drunk driving, driving without a license, driving without training, driving without safety gear, etc. are STILL anywhere from 2-10 times higher among all motorcycle riders compared to all car drivers.
The "selection bias" only comes in because people who make those choices are more likely to choose to ride a motorcycle.

Yes, everyone has already acknowledged that riders are 20-40 times more likely to die in an accident - and as you said that statistic alone does not tell us why.
No one just waved a magic wand and said they "must be" all inexperienced: we went deeper into the statistics and found that they actually are all inexperienced or irresponsible.

According to HURT, 100% did not know how to preform basic evasive manuerving
92% did not have formal training
50% were inexperienced with the bike they were on
25% were not even licensed
35% were speeding
50% were drunk
52% collided with a fixed object (IE 100% the riders fault)
73% had no eye protection
60% weren't wearing helmets
90% were uninsured.

That adds up to 627% of all motorcyclists involved in accidents being either inexperienced or irresponsible.
Obviously, there is a lot of overlap between those categories, and the data we have access to doesn't distinguish between them adequately to say how many of those accidents wouldn't have happened were the motorcyclists more prudent, however, if even a few of those who took formal training were among those speeding or drinking, then easily well over 95% of all serious motorcycle accidents are attributable to rider choices.
That doesn't prove motorcycles are "safe", but it does indicate that if you do everything right, your statistical risk drops down to be at least as low as the rate of the average typical car driver.


NumberJohnny5

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #47 on: February 15, 2013, 09:54:42 PM »
For the original topic of the thread, I'd look at a scooter.  Say around 250-500cc.  I had a 2005 Aprilia Scarabeo 500, just about perfect (except some parts could be expensive, not a very common bike). Two hard saddle bags, big trunk, only downside was virtually no underseat storage (but a nice big fuel tank). Plenty of power too, took it up the Dalton Highway and it had no problems with any of the steep inclines.

Another thing, the scooter has lots of plastic faring. May make it more aerodynamic, but it also keeps water and gunk off of you. Can be a decent rain and you won't get drenched (long as you have a windshield); legs may be a little wet but not too bad. Haven't had any problems with oil getting on me either (or mud for that matter). Yeah, some of the smaller 50-150cc ones may look like little toys that would have clients laughing at you (right or wrong, that's for another discussion), but the bigger ones look just as impressive as any touring motorcycle, at least from a distance (i.e., I don't get snubbed that much when I'm on one).

On the whole "motorcycles are more dangerous than cars" debate...well it's true, sorry, even for the safest rider. BUT, I don't think it's necessarily as bad as it's made out to be.

Step #1, take a motorcycle rider course (this may be all you need to get your motorcycle license, plus you may get a discount on your insurance which is very mustachian). Full disclosure, I have not taken one (I do have a motorcycle license though, and my wife HAS taken the rider course and also has her license).

Step #2, buy a helmet and safety gear (I would make this #1, but it MIGHT be a decent idea to see if the motorcycle rider course provides their own, then you can see what the experts recommend as far as gear). You should have a good helmet, gloves, jacket, pants, basically armour yourself up. Full disclosure again...I do often go out in just a t-shirt and shorts, but I ALWAYS wear a helmet. No exceptions to the helmet, NONE!

Step #3, don't get a big huge honkin' 1500cc Harley and drive it off the lot without ever being on a bike before. Heck, even the 400-500cc may be too big to learn on, though if you pass the rider course (which often uses 250cc bikes) I think you'd be ok. Seriously, don't go over 500cc until you're confident, and I might lower that to 250cc. Nothing wrong with getting a "toy" 50cc, work up to a 150cc, then a 250cc, then a 500cc (at which point there's no real need to go further; a good 500cc will take you wherever you need to go at a decent speed).

Step #4, assume everyone's out to get you. Be hyper-aware at all times. Now, do this well and the likelihood of being in an accident may well be LOWER than if you're in a car/truck (though if you ARE in an accident, you'll probably be more seriously hurt than if you were in that car/truck). Assume that the car next to you on the interstate is going to want to zip right into your lane without even noticing you; maybe speed up a bit to get in front, or slow down a bit, at the very least have an exit strategy. Assume that around every parked car is someone about to run out (or a dog about to take a bite out of your tire). Etc.

I've had two bad wrecks on 2-wheeled vehicles in my life; first one was on a 50cc scooter when I was in fourth grade (took a bump too fast...it was on purpose, cause it was fun all the other times I did it and didn't wreck), second time was around 9th or 10th grade, took a curve way too fast. Since then I've been more careful, don't go too fast, don't do stupid stuff, and haven't gotten hurt since (another full disclosure...most of the time I take a car).

sol

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #48 on: February 16, 2013, 12:44:46 AM »
When I started riding I was in Bakari's camp, which basically says motorcycles are unsafe because motorcycle riders are unsafe.  I read all the books, knew all the stats, took all the classes, wore all the gear.  I rode like a grandma, I rode defensively, I told myself I was being safe.

Hahaha very funny, I broke both of my arms in an otherwise minor accident, and had to move into a nursing home (not covered by insurance).  Think about all of the things you use your hands for, and now imagine your life if you couldn't do any of those things for three months.  It sucked.

And I consider myself fortunate.  I met a guy in physical therapy who had essentially the same accident I had, only he slid into a guard rail and severed an arm.  I came to rest in the middle of the lane of oncoming traffic, mangled but alive.  Could have been run over, could have slid into a tree, or a curb, or over a cliff.  I lucked out.

People don't realize that motorcycles don't have airbags, or crumple zones, or seat belts.  They're not even crash tested, because there's nothing to test.  Any accident at all is just your body colliding with the world at traffic speeds, and our bodies are not well designed for that.

Meeting healthy old motorcycle riders is kind of like meeting wealthy old gamblers.  Whenever you meet one, you take notice because they are so rare.  There are real costs associated with bikes that people tend to overlook.

« Last Edit: February 16, 2013, 12:46:19 AM by sol »

Bakari

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Re: Top 10 Motorcycles for Smart People?
« Reply #49 on: February 17, 2013, 09:35:37 PM »
When I started riding I was in Bakari's camp, which basically says motorcycles are unsafe because motorcycle riders are unsafe.  I read all the books, knew all the stats, took all the classes, wore all the gear.  I rode like a grandma, I rode defensively, I told myself I was being safe.

I never said they were safe.  All I'm trying to point out with the stats is that the reason motorcyclists have such a high fatality rate compared to car drivers is because of higher recklessness on their part.
But that is comparing to an already very dangerous activity! 

If nothing else, realize that driving a car is NOT safe (either)!!
Car accidents kill more Americans than any other non-age-related cause of death!
There has been all this stuff in the news about gun deaths lately, but not a single word about the fact that cars kill more people than guns every year.
As I said, I personally know several people who have died or been seriously injured in car crashes - cars with steel cages and seatbelts and airbags, which were not even being driven recklessly,  but its really not about the personal stories - neither motorcycling nor driving is safe.

Quote
They're not even crash tested, because there's nothing to test.

Crash tests are done at 40mph.  If the crumple zones and airbags were effective at higher speeds, the tests would be done at higher speeds.  They aren't.  That's why so many people still die, even in modern cars.

If you really want to be safe, walk, take the bus, or... drive your car - but never faster than 40mph.