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I want to Ride a Motorbike

Motorcycling is DANGEROUS!
Will I REALLY kill myself?

OK, this is an old Chestnut, and forever debated. Will you kill yourself? I don't know. What I DO know is that LIFE is dangerous! They say; the only two certainties in Life, are Death & Taxes! There is 'Risk' associated with so much of modern life, and we can die as easily falling off a step-ladder changing a light-bulb or being knocked down by a ballast truck crossing a road.

When it comes to motorbikes though, the 'Gut' reaction is that it is a 'dangerous' thing to do. We look at a motorbike, the rider perched on top, no metal or brick around them to offer protection, and the bare minimum beneath them, that can propel them at high speeds. All looks very precarious and scary, and to far too many 'exiting'. Very mention of the word 'Motorbike' engenders ideas of fear, danger and tales of people mutilated or killed, and people worry about these ideas.

None MORE so than non-riders and newbie's who without any real experience, have nothing but a run-away imagination, creating doom and gloom scenarios of their demise.

The REAL risks of biking

There are over 60 Million People in the UK. In 2010:
642 People were Murdered. There were 185,000, hospital admissions for 'assault' & 200,000 hospital admissions for an 'alcohol' related injury.
403 Died in Motorcycle Accidents, & there were approximately 20,000 injuries.
In the greater scheme of things, getting hurt on a motorbike, is NOT one of the 'Most' likely things to happen!

I ride Motorbikes. I am very comfortable doing that. I do NOT go down-town on a Friday night...

REAL Risk, faced 'having a night out', from falling off a kerb, being a 'bit squiffy' to suffering de-hydration, alcohol poisoning; being hit by a taxi, getting 'glassed' by a drug thug, having a drink 'spiked' to any of the other possibilities? THOSE are ALL as, or more LIKELY than having an accident on a motorbike.

I once had a conversation with a Nurse, who was adamant, motorbikes were the spawn of Satan.

"I see them!" She said. "YOU don't see all the Mangled Bikers I have to patch up when they fall off!"
"Ever seen me in your waiting room?" I asked
"No!" She said, "What's that got to do with it?"
"We don't ALL fall off, dear," I offered, "You ONLY see the ones that do!"
We were in a pub, and she had no qualms at all about having a 'good-night-out' knocking back Gin & Bitter-Lemon like it was going out of fashion.
"Glad I'm not working, tonight!" She quipped at one point
"Why?" I asked
She pulled a face "All the DRUNKS! Be chaos in there (Casualty!). All the people needing stomachs pumped; stitching up after fights, over-doses; you name it! EVERY week-end!" She said, matter-of factly! I suppose, since Hypocrites was the father of modern medicine, we ought to expect a little hypocrisy!

But, THIS is a very important FACT to recognise. There is 'Risk' and there is 'Perceived Risk'. Risk, is the chance of an outcome actually happening. Perceived Risk is what you THINK the chances are. They are very rarely the same thing. Ask Ladbrooks or Fred Betterman! That is how they stay in business! Every 'Punter' places their 'bets' thinking that the horse or dog or whatever they have backed stands a better chance of winning than the bookie!

We MODIFY the amount of 'risk' we 'perceive' according to how NICE the outcome. When we place a bet, we hope to win. We desire the outcome, so we will happily stake a pound, hoping to win thousands. Because we WANT that outcome, we WANT those thousands of pounds of prize money, we rate our chances 'better' than the bookies do, and 'diminish' the actual risk of loosing. Turning that on its head, when it comes to motorbikes, we FEAR being mangled in an accident; potential outcome is obviously VERY undesirable, and so we do the same thing. Many will diminish the risk, 'It will never happen to me' or they inflate the risk, "You will KILL yourself!"

The ODDS, the real RISK of being killed or seriously hurt in a motorcycle accident, are NOT that high.

There are loads of statistics these days, and people use them to paint all manner of pictures. I am a statistician, and yes, there are lies, damn lies, and then there are statistics! They can be used to build very convincing arguments, but at the end of the day, they have to be kept 'in context'. The usual one is that "Motorcycling is TWENTY TIMES more dangerous than driving a car!" Give or take, depending on whose stats you are using, this is probably not far off, BUT, driving a car is ACTUALLY a rather 'Safe' thing to do! You are more 'likely' to be hurt putting up shelves doing DIY around your own home!

From UK Government Published Data (2010):-

5,183 motorcyclists were KSI'd, in approximately 4 million miles (1200 per million miles)
2,771 cyclists were KSI'd in approximately 3 million miles (1000 per million miles)
9,749 car occupants were KSI'd in approximately 250 million miles (39 per million miles)
5,605 pedestrians were KSI'd, in maybe 10,000 million miles (0.5 per million miles)

185,000, hospital casualty admissions were recorded in the same period for 'assault'. 352,000 were recorded for 'sporting Injury'.

More than 10X as many people are 'Beaten-Up' each year than hurt on the roads. And Twice as many again hurt themselves playing 'Sport'!

I seem to recall some-one reviewing 'industrial' accident reports, making the quip that statistically the most 'Dangerous' piece of industrial equipment was the humble office-chair! More recorded industrial injuries were associated with office chairs than anything else; people claiming 'back-ache' or circulation problems, trapping fingers adjusting the height, or falling off them! Than, things we 'associate' with danger, like... ladders, cranes, ten-ton presses, stuff like that!

It is the SAME scenario as motorbikes. We have to put the 'risks' in context. And we have to recognise this 'emotive' inflation of the risk, based on our pre-conceptions, and our FEAR of potential outcomes.

We walk into a factory and see a big industrial guillotine chopping sheet steel, and we think, "That looks Dangerous!" we look at the big yellow warnings, guard rails and other 'safety' features and this confirms to us, it MUST be dangerous.... but we walk into an office, swing a chair around and don't think TWICE about the 'dangers'.

Motorbikes are the same. We see the bike, it LOOKS scary. We see people in crash-helmets and protective leathers and this confirms it MUST be dangerous, we think of the potential carnage of having an accident, and we inflate the risk we associate with it.

So, I am going to talk statistics. there are an awful lot of reports and surveys and stats knocking about the web these days, some more reliable than others, some more relevant than others. Numerous academic studies for example have used accident data from the USA or Australia. Others European statistics. Its all rather patchy, and you have to dig into the detail to get anything meaningful from it, and even then, its often not that useful! So these are entirely unsubstantiated

RISK is a variable, its the specific probability of an outcome at a specific moment in time, in a specific situation. It changes moment to moment as we ride, but it has a number of underlying components.

Base-Risk: This is the underlying probability of ANY motorcyclist having an accident. Comparatively, a motorcyclist is APPROXIMATELY three to five times more likely to have an accident than a car driver. Different studies give different figures, usually in this order, depending on how they work them out. Which CAN be important. Some studies give the probability per million miles travelled, others by the number of road hours.

These calculation 'rates' can effect and distort the numbers, quite dramatically, especially when they start chopping up 'motorcycles' on the whole, into different groups, like lightweight riders, middle-weight riders, and 'big-bike riders', which leads us into the base risk modifiers, where we have two basic factors.

External Risk Modifiers; Obviously factors outside of our control, or not specific to an individual person. If you are riding in a city, you generally have a lot of people, a lot of traffic, lots of streets, junctions, and consequently a lot of 'hazards', all in a very small number of road miles. If you are driving down a motorway, you can travel for very many miles, without any 'real' hazards to deal with. So, WHERE we ride, is a risk-modifier. And if we look at how many accidents there are in a city, obviously per mile travelled, it will be a pretty high 'rate'. If we look at motorways, and how many accidents happen per hour, we can get a very low rate. Thing is we need to recognise that different places have different 'risks' and these can, as a city, raise the base risk, or as a motorway, lower it.

We then have such factors as the time of day. Obviously, in rush-hour, more traffic around means more hazards, hence more 'risk'. We have Day-Time or night-time. In the dark, we cant see things as easily, so that can increase risk. And we have the weather. Nice sunny day, we have lots of light, clean dry roads and lots of grip so less risk of 'skidding'. When its wet, we have less grip from water on the road, we have overcast skies or road-spray that can make it harder to see, and things that will generally increase risk.

So, situation & circumstance, all influence the risk ANY rider is facing in those conditions.

Internal Risk Modifiers; OK, so if the external modifiers were 'circumstantial' and outside our control, that would effect ANY rider, these are the PERSONAL risks, the ones that MAY be somewhat in our control to do something about. When you apply for an insurance policy, THESE are the questions the insurance company ask you, because, THEY are the ones that REALLY want to know how likely you are to crash!

Are you Male or Female? How Old Are you? Do you have a Full Licence? How long have you been riding? What BIKE do you want to ride? How valuable is it? Do you have any accidents, claims or convictions?

People under the age of 25 are something like FIVE times more likely to have an accident than older riders or drivers, and MEN are about three times more likely to crash than women.

Not good if you are a teen-age boy, aged 17. Before you start you are ten times more likely to crash a motorbike than a 30 year old woman, thirty times more likely to crash than a a 30 year old woman car driver! BUT gets worse for you!

Riders or Drivers with less than three years road experience, are approximately five times more likely to crash than a more 'experienced' rider or driver.

So IF you are 17, and only 'just' eligible to hold ANY kind of UK Driving licence, your stuffed! No way can you have more than three years driving experience, so you automatically get that loading against you. Your PERSONAL risk, day one, is going to be twenty five times that of the 'average' rider, with more than 3years experience and over the age of 25, and we STILL aren't finished!

LEARNER Riders, are reckoned to be about five times more likely to crash than qualified, full-licence holders.

Not looking good for you, son, is it? 17, bright-eyed and eager, wanting your first powered wheels, hoping to get a 125 on L-Plates, you are 3 times more likely to crash than a car driver, then five times more likely to crash JUST because you haven't passed the tests for a full licence, five times more more at risk for not having three years riding experience, and another five times more likely to crash because you are under 25.

Y'GONNA DIE! Well, sure as taxes you will, whether a motorbike will play a part is another matter! But lets look at this. We ALL have to start somewhere. We cant get those three years experience without starting at the beginning and facing the risks! Whether you are a  fresh-faced 17 year-old boy, or if you are a 70 year old woman.

So lets look at this, because this is all RATHER depressing. 'Average' car driver. 12,ooo miles a year, in all probability is likely to have ONE accident in three years, or 36,ooo miles.

So, NEW bike rider; 17 year-old boy, on L-Plates; one accident in 36K miles falls to one in 12K miles for being on a bike, drops to one in 2,400 miles for being on L-Plates, drops to one in 480 miles for being under 25, drops to one in 100 miles, for having less than 3 years experience.... THAT cant be RIGHT! Risk is one crash every hundred miles!?

Hmm, yes, actually. That's not far off! It's all 'on average' and probability of probability, so you COULD ride 1000miles and not have an accident, or you could fall of a dozen times in your first ten miles!

As an L-Plate Newbie, the reality and the odds are not far wrong, and it IS almost an inevitability that you WILL have more than one 'accident' in your first few miles riding. This is one reason we have Compulsory-Basic-Training... gives you a chance to get some of that falling off done on a play-ground where you cant do much harm.

But, on your own, on the road, after CBT, you probably WILL fall off, the only consolation, is that it is ALSO probable, that you wont hurt yourself very badly. As a learner you are BOUND to make mistakes, and on a motorbike, that usually means falling off. Having an 'accident'. And you will pick yourself up, dust yourself down, rub your bruises and ponder whether the scratches in the chrome will 'polish out' of your bike.

MOST early-rider crashes are pretty 'minor', its teaching through the school of hard knocks. Rarely do 125 Learners have hugely horrific accidents; learner bikes shouldn't GO a hundred miles an hour, so 100mile an hour skids into brick walls or crashing at high speed into lorry's ISN'T something likely to happen. It can, and it does, but this brings us to the other aspects of 'personal' risk.

125cc Learner-Legal motorcycles you can ride on L-Plates I just said should NOT go a hundred miles an hour. Licence Restrictions say that you can ride a machine with a maximum engine displacement of 125cc and producing a maximum of 11Kw. THIS is 'good' for MAYBE 75mph, but most Learner-Legals don't make even the maximum permitted limit, and generally will have more like 9Kw of power and go 65-70mph, at a 'push'.

There ARE 125cc motorcycles that are claimed to go 100mph. They seldom do, but older two-stroke sports 125's like the Aprillia RS125 with a near race tuned engine, did deliver around 20Kw of power and could achieve speeds over 90mph. But you CANNOT legally ride these bikes on a UK 'Learner-Licence'.

So if you are sensible, and law abiding you wont be ON such a machine, so that limits your risk. But if you are attracted to that kind of bike, and those kinds of speeds and have the 'idea', "well, its still a 125, who's to know, how much power it makes?".. yeah... straight away, you are ignoring 'risks', and choosing a bike like that for 'illegal' thrill seeking, pretty obvious if you choose to ignore THAT obvious risk, then when you have the red-mist of adrenaline charged 'speed', you are NOT going to consider any OTHER risks, like what other traffic is around, what the road surface is like, or anything else. Ignore risk you WILL crash. Its pretty simple.

Back to the plot, the risk is there, but its limited, and an L-plater AWARE of the risks, and not out looking for 'quick-thrills', you are already likely to beat the odds, because there are plenty of revin-kevins who are out there on L-Plates, riding bikes too fast like lunatics, happily doing YOUR share of the crashing so you don't have to!

So if you are sensible, you CAN beat the odds. You probably WILL fall off, but if you are sensible, that's just part of the learning process as you find your feet on a bike, and shouldn't hurt too much, or wind up with major medical dramas. Just some bruise cream and a bit of chrome polish!

And, following that 'sensible' approach, IF you have any sense, you get yourself some early TRAINING, so that you don't have to do so much learning via the school of hard-knocks, and you learn to do stuff 'right' right at the start; buying 2nd hand experience, where you have little of your own, AND you use that to get yourself qualified, get a FULL licence in your pocket, and get yourself out of at least ONE of those 5x risk multiplying zones.

Three years goes fast, and keeping sensible head on, not thinking that JUST because you have passed the test you know it all, but appreciating that you need three to five years riding under your belt JUST to become an 'average' rider, you plug away, don't choose silly bikes and let it go to your head, and ultimately, you loose another 5x risk multiplier. If you are 17, and a boy, that takes you to 20-21 years old, and only a short way down the line, you loose yet another multiplier.

The multipliers reduce as you go along. AND if you keep your wits about you, you can have a very long, very happy and accident and injury 'free' riding career.

The 'Danger' is there. To many, unfortunately THAT is actually an attraction. If they weren't getting their kicks ragging a motorbike, they would be doing it hang-gliding, jet-skiing, rock-climbing or something. These sensation-seekers have 'sensational' accidents, and THOSE are the ones every-one remarks on, and help perpetuate the ideas of 'Danger'.

Mention ELSEWHERE that Safety isn't sticking your head in a hat and thinking its covered; its USING your head... THIS is where it starts. In your APPROACH to riding. Recognising the dangers, being sensible, and applying due caution & precaution. Do THAT and you could ride thirty years with bare a scratch. Don't? You could end up dead in a week. Reality is, to a greater or lesser degree, the RISKS are what you make of them. And if you RECOGNISE the dangers, you stand a damn good chance of beating them.

Its not ENTIRELY in your hands, but, certainly not all in the lap of the gods either.

My Mum/Dad/Girlfriend/Boyfriend/Husband/Wife HATE the thought of me riding a bike!
What Should I do?

Well, I cant tell you what TO to do, but what you must NOT do is Argue about it! Its a contentious subject, and blind argument will just feed the contention. But understanding the arguments can help.

One of the reasons I stress this difference between RISK and PERCEIVED RISK. And dealing with concerned 'loved-ones', its important to recognise, and understand that we ALL do this 'risk inflation/diminishment' thing depending on our point of view.

Its ALSO important to recognise the difference between LOGICAL reasoning, and EMOTIVE reasoning.

I have tried to help a lot of people with this perennial argument. Whether its Mums & Dads and the "NOT while you are under MY roof!!" argument, or the "But Darling, I'm not a nutter, I wont die, I promise!" one. And it can, and frequently DOES, get messy! And the usual problem is simply trying to counter an 'emotive' argument with a 'logical' one.

Emotive Reasoning: Motorbikes are DANGEROUS! People get KILLED on motorbikes, so I DON'T want you riding one!

Logical Reasoning; Motorcycling is more dangerous than driving a car, but horse riding is more dangerous than riding a motorbike. So if you wouldn't mind me riding a horse, why would you be worried about me riding a motorbike?

So, 'loved one' states their completely 'emotive' argument. It sounds a bit 'irrational' and can get even more so, but in fact its actually very rational, when you dig into it, and the important thing is to recognise the 'motivator' is "I love you, I don't want you hurt!, and the "Stimulator" which is why it is an issue, is "I don't TRUST you not to get hurt"

You can offer the logical arguments, that horse riding is MORE dangerous, or that doing DIY around the house is more dangerous, or all manner of 'logical' suggestions & parallels, it wont change the way they FEEL!

One that popped up was chap in Mid-Life-Crisis, decided that he really wanted to get a bike, because he felt he'd missed out on something in his teens.

Wife, of course was worried about this idea, and rightly so; chap was intending to do a one week intensive DAS course and buy an R6 sports-bike. Of all new motorcyclists, this would have made him a casualty in waiting, more one-week-wonders, stepping straight onto ridiculously unsuitable machines, convinced that twenty years of driving a car and a quick 'crash-course' make them expert enough to handle such a beast, DO go and kill themselves in something of a hurry.

However, chap's argument was, WOULD she be so concerned if he had suggested he wanted to take up jogging?

Try using the 'logical' arguments, against an 'emotive' argument and you will ALWAYS, be fighting the tide, and going round and round in circles, never getting to the NUB of the matter, which BASICALLY is that 'loved-one' is  scared, and the 'fear' is  magnified by pre-conceptions of horror, and the underlying 'problem' a lack of 'trust' that the chap would stay safe.

The wife doesn't like the idea, but I have told her how much money it will save...

Oh! NO! THIS ONE, is probably THE WORST way to deal with the situation! Mainly because it DOESN'T!

Emotive Argument; "I don't want you HURT, I don't want you riding a MOTORBIKE!" (like I said, it's actually pretty rational!)

Counter Argument: "Forget That Dear"... (BIG mistake, women, like elephants NEVER forget!).... "I've done my sums, look! Its ONLY a 125, its not some big monster-machine, so its QUITE safe... (err, NO, but we will come to that in a minute!)..... It does 100mpg, look says so in the book.... The car only does 20mpg, I spent 1500 a year on petrol, so I will SAVE over 1000!..... A thousand pounds darling! That will pay for the {insert enticement of choice; Holiday/marriage/new kitchen/whatever!}

This does NOTHING to answer the underlying arguments; You want a motorbike, she don't want you to have one. It just side-steps it. And they WONT forget it. First opportunity, they will drag it back up. and HEAVEN FORBID, you get this 'safe' little 125, and fall over practicing the U-turn.... yup... they have NOT made a crash-helmet that is 'Loved-One-Fall-Out' proof as yet!

The argument will come back with a vengeance; you'll limp in with a bruised shin, and they will ask you what you have done. You'll tell them, and as uncompassionate as only a woman with better things to worry about can be... the 'hurt' that she was so worried about you suffering to begin with will be assessed, and diminished because you are still walking and not in an intensive care unit! "Pah! Done worse brushing the stairs" she will say, "What about the bike? What state's that in?" of course, YOU wont be worried about that, you want sympathy because you are in pain, but you wont get it, she'll go look at the bike! And she'll see a scratched exhaust, and a broken mirror, and "So how much is THAT going to cost to fix?"... you will stammer, because you wont know, and she will look at you, and there will be a steely hardness in her eyes, and you KNOW it is coming, "So much for all those SAVINGS you promised! All going to go on fixing THAT, aren't they!"

Its a recipe for disaster. And SO many added opportunities for 'extra' contention. first off, in the real-world economics of biking, its VERY hard to actually see any hard cash savings. From a standing start, buying a bike, buying insurance, getting the helmet, riding kit, locks, chains & whatever other paraphernalia, training, tests, then day to day maintenance & running costs, awful lot of what MIGHT be saved by fuel economy will be eroded by the running costs, and what's left, if anything, will take a long time to 'pay-back' the initial start-up overheads.

You promise her a new kitchen, if you can have a motorbike? BOY you better be sure you can DELIVER that kitchen. And your ideas of a kitchen? A look round Wicks and a 999 'deal', Oh no! YOU got the bike YOU wanted, so SHE will want the kitchen SHE wants...

Meanwhile, every time you come home with something 'new'; be it a 300 crash-helmet or a 2.99 cargo net.... "Spending AGAIN! I thought you said this motorbike was supposed to SAVE us money?!"

Which are just a couple of scenarios married men may empathise with, but Mums are not a lot different, nor are Dads. And same arguments, same contentions, arise, over motorbikes.

Motorbike - Its what I want to do. I would LIKE your support.

Most of the contention against riding motorbikes IS this emotive 'reaction' to the idea of hurt. You have to recognise that. You have to embrace that. you have to TACKLE that, shear gut-wrenching, emotive reaction. You have to recognise also, the underlying motive, that it is because THEY LOVE YOU, and you have to address, the worry, and the fact that driving that reaction is their lack of 'Trust'. Might not be that they don't trust you, though frequently, while they wont admit it, they wont have 100% 'faith' in you and WILL worry that as soon as you are out of sight you are 'tearing it up'... but they wont trust 'other drivers' or whatever.

Another humorous no-no; considering this advice, a chap, decided that to try and allay some of his mum & girlfriends 'fears'. He got his mum to drive them to a motorbike shop, so he could choose all the right gear, and give them confidence he was being 'sensible' taking safety seriously and was doing all he COULD to stay safe.

He was rather perplexed, that actually rather than allaying their fears, it brought the argument which had simmered down, and was sort of accepted that he was going to have a bike, whether they liked it or not, BACK to the fore, and resulted in a ding-dong outside the shop, with mum, NOW adamant that she REALLY didn't want him to have a bike, and regretted 'helping' him kill himself bringing him to the shop to choose 'gear'!

Actually makes perfect 'sense'. While loved-ones were mere 'by-standers', un-involved in it all, it was a 'distant' contention. They had their fears, but it was all in their imagination. At the shop, they were confronted by it, and like that industrial guillotine, "If its so safe, why do you need all THIS stuff? Crash helmet! ARMOUR? What are you going to war? Soldiers wear ARMOUR! Why do you need to dress like a medieval Knight to go to work!?!" Actually confronted by it all, it became real, and fears came back to the surface, and unfortunately, looking at safety gear, does NOT convey 'safety', it conveys DANGER than demands such precautions!

There is no REAL way to deal with it, BUT you have to get to this nub. You have to TELL concerned loved-ones that you recognise that they love you, and you have to answer that by reciprocating that love. "I know, your worried, because you love me. I love you too." Which probably NEEDS saying.

Then we need to get to the issue. "I want to ride a motorbike." And we need to cut through the FLACK of excuses or justifications. they don't like the idea. Trying to argue down their doubts talking safety stats or putting risks in context, wont make one jot of difference to their fears. It MAY help them rationalise them, but that's a logical process, to be dealt with later. Arguing economics, is another side-step, and it is NOT going to get them 'on-board'.

"I Know you are worried for me. I know this is dangerous. But I REALLY want to do it. And I would like your support. Do you THINK I want to die? I want to be around for as many years as I can, BUT I would like to spend a little of that life LIVING, and experiencing new things, and motorcycles are one of them."

You! Yes, the inarticulate 16 year-old, with acne and a grudge; THIS is how to yell "It's MY LIFE! I can do wot I WANT wiv it!" and sound like a grown-up, not a petulant child that ought to be sent to the naughty stair!

You have to get them to accept it UNCONDITIONALLY, as something you WANT to do, without there being ANY strings attached, expectations or constraints.

And you have to be prepared that they will STILL not like it. That is THEIR prerogative, and you need to RESPECT their fears and worries, but reciprocate by RESPECTING your desire to ride a bike.

"Dad, when I was five, you put me on my first bicycle. When I was six, you took the stabilisers off it. Mum, you put that horrible stingy stuff on my knee when I fell off! When I was twelve, you bought me my first BMX, and you made me wear a helmet that made me look a dork! You supported me, you encouraged me. This is ALL I ask now"

You can carry on.... at some later point, when they have swallowed that one, to point out that cycling, something they encouraged when you were a child, is ACTUALLY more dangerous than riding a motorbike.... but don't try and use that argument straight off, WEAN them round, having laid it open and got them to put their own fears and worries aside, and RESPECT your choice to ride a motorbike.

Its then all part of building 'Trust' and 'confidence'. And you HAVE to be honest, and you have to be blunt, and you HAVE to be realistic. YOU CANNOT promise NEVER to fall off, or NEVER to have an accident. And you have to let them know that you are realistic enough to know that it is actually quite likely, and that you are prepared for it. And prepare THEM for it.

THAT is when you talk about doing your research; starting on a small bike; getting 'the gear'; getting training; getting a licence; doing it all as 'properly' as you can. And INVOLVING them as much as they want or would like in the process to allay their fears.

I Only want a 'little' bike, It's not THAT dangerous, is it?
Its NOT like I'm jumping straight on a loonie-big-bike!

No... just NO! This is shear kiddology. Fools-Logic, bordering on delusion.

You face the SAME RISKS on a 'Lightweight' as you do on a Big-Bike

If you, back up and have a look at "The REAL risks of biking", above, if you haven't already read them; you have a 'Base' risk, and then you have 'internal' and 'external' risk modifiers. The base risk, how likely you are to crash being on a bike, on the road, is that for ANY biker, on any bike. The 'External' risks; junctions, roundabouts; corners; blind hills or dips; the weather; road-surface; OTHER DRIVERS, these are all the SAME, regardless of what bike you are on. Personal Risk? How much experience you have, How 'good' a rider are you? How 'sensible' a rider you are? How tired are you? What mood are you in? These, again, are pretty much the SAME, whether you are riding a Honda C90 commuter or a CBR900RR Fire-Blade hyper-sports bike.

Big-Bikes tend to be heavier, and faster, then little-ones, and this can 'shift' risks a bit, but for the greater part, it makes little or no difference. The HUGE number of things that effect overall risk, are numerous, and different bike REALLY makes little or no difference in that big equation

Biggest influence on risk, is ultimately YOU the rider, and your approach to riding. How sensible you are, how experienced you are and how competent a rider you are.

On a small bike, you CANT go as 'fast'. Learner-Legal 125 is good for around 70mph. This is AS fast as any other bike is 'legally' allowed to go in the UK. So you can still fall off from 'High-Speed', you just cant have one of those illegal high-speed, 'offs' thrill seekers so often suffer. BUT if you are a thrill seeker, you can still fall off, and you can still break a LOT of speed limits, 30, 40, 50mph urban ones particularly, in the attempt!

But, even for a 'sensible' fellow; Biggest influence on 'risk' is those 'chances' we take, wittingly or otherwise. And bike we are on CAN influence the decisions we make, or our 'approach' to riding.

Probably the biggest danger with a light-weight bike is 'frustration'. If I am on my 750, riding through town I will often be sat in a queue of traffic and have mopeds or scooters, and 125 L-Platers, 'filter' past the queue I'm sat in between cars.

OFTEN, alarmingly, on the INSIDE, using gap between gutter and traffic! I often wonder what's going through their mind; do they see me? If they do, do they think; "What's he doing sat there like a car! Doesn't he know he's on a motorbike, and can do THIS!"

Maybe they think that my 'big' bike is too unwieldy to get through such small gaps, and its there chance to exploit some advantage, where at a set of traffic lights onto the open road, I would just accelerate away from them.

Maybe they simply DON'T think at all. I doubt ANY ever think; "That chaps on a 'big-bike', he must have passed his test and done a bit of riding, and lived to tell the tale... He's NOT taking these 'chances' I am'.. I wonder, does HE know something I don't?"

FILTERING through stationary or slow moving traffic, THAT is probably one of the BIGGEST risks in motorcycling, and where MOST accidents, certainly to riders of lightweight machines happen.

Its not ENTIRELY down to 'filtering', you CAN filter and do it safely, IF you know what you are doing, BUT, most of these riders are young and inexperienced, and simply DON'T know what they are doing. While, older, wiser ones, on a lightweight, ARE more inclined to take the extra chances, because its one of the few chances they have to 'make progress' where they cant use the reserves of power, acceleration and speed, to make swift smooth over-takes in other places.

When I am on one of my lightweights, I am probably just as guilty, and more inclined to take those kind of chances, to make progress, where on the 750, I can ride it out, and when I'm 50 yards from a set of traffic lights, pass an entire stationary queue in one go, knowing that from 'marginal' space at the head of the queue, I have power, acceleration and speed, to accelerate away from the queue, without putting myself at such risk. Or, I can sit it out and make up time on other parts of my journey.

Sure, I can break speed limits with ease on the 750, and if I let the red-mist rule, crash from going too fast, and crash a lot faster. So comes back to the RIDER and how 'sensible' you are, and how 'competent' you are, and how 'experienced' you are. NOT the bike.

Bike just changes the opportunities to hurt yourself!

A light-weight bike, is NO precaution or limitation on how likely you are to be hurt, nor how badly. Some of the risks may be a little different, but overall, the level is still THE SAME.


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