The quest for a safer motorcycle
I've stopped riding my scooter to work. I was having too many accidents with it. In my most recent crash, the front wheel locked up on a slippery slick section of the road and I was thrown off backwards at 70km/h as the scooter tilted over. I was wearing full protective gear, so I only suffered a sprained wirst.
The problem with motorcycles is that they are the most dangerous form of transport. Take a look a these statistics – these are from Northern Ireland, but it's similar everywhere in the world (credit to Wesley Johnston):
So, what can be done to make for safer motorcycling?
1. Protective gear. Motorcycle gear is really good at protecting from injury. It can be the difference between a minor injury and critical injury or death. Here's what was wearing when I rode (all great gear that I would recommend):
- Shoei Qwest Helmet
- Corazzo Tempeste Jacket
- Knox Zero Gloves
- Joe Rocket Ballistic Pants
- Sidi Tour Rain Boots
(Extra bonus: everything in the list except the gloves is vegan. With the exception of gloves, today's vegan/textile motorcycle gear is just as good as leather clothing. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a model of motorcycle gloves that are vegan and also provide decent protection. There are vegan options, but they don't seem to have decent protective features. I got my gloves used, to minimise the amount of animal death involved in protecting my hands. If anyone knows of any good-quality vegan motorcycle gloves, please post in the comments.)
2. ABS. Anti-locking brakes maintain traction when braking on slippery surfaces. Most studies conclude that about 30% of motorcycle crashes could be avoided if the bike was equipped with ABS. The evidence is so clear that the European Union has mandated that all new motorcycle sold in the EU from 2016 have ABS.
ABS generally doesn't work well when a motorcycle is leaning into a corner. However, the latest ABS Pro from Bosch solves that. It works even while cornering.
If I ever resume riding, I certainly will want to do so on a scooter that will not loose traction quite so easily. So, ABS is an absolute must. I would advise anyone buying a motorcycle to definitely get one with ABS.
3. Two front wheels. It might seem a little strange recommendation, but adding an extra wheel to a motorcycle makes it so much more stable. Examples of bikes with an additional wheel are the Piaggio MP3 and Yamaha Tricity. The Piaggio claims the MP3 can brake in 20% less distance than other scooters. Also check out this awesome video of a motorcycle rider testing the Tricity and raving out it's excellent handling over obstacles that would cause any two-wheeled bike to crash.
Three wheeled motorcycle can look unfamiliar at best, and some think they are the ugliest machines ever created. Still, many people seem to like them and they sell well. So well that Yamaha has announced they are developing the MWT-9, a three-wheeled superbike thing. It looks like something to crawl out of a Japanese anime horror movie, a feature that might actually be a nice selling point. Coming to market by 2018, so beware.
So, give me a three wheeled motorcycle with ABS Pro and good protective gear, and I might consider riding again.
But for now: I'm switching to bus and bicycle for my daily commute. Wish me luck ✌