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Needs to be said... sell the DAMN motorcycle.

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A post of a ranting nature...

MJ DeMarco

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He survived after a long time in the hospital but is busted up and has a brain injury.

Reminds me, I forgot, my neighbor at the home I lived at 20 years ago always drove a motorcycle. Today he is a vegetable that can't form a cogent sentence... yup, motorcycle crash...

Some people think they'll get away with it with the 3 wheelers and 4 wheelers. I ran into a guy who lost his sister and her husband
on a 3 wheeler.

True, I know some people who have died on 3-wheelers when they flipped them, and they were < 30 years old. When I'm in my UTV, I drive very cautiously (even when the person I'm with might not) especially if I'm on a trail that I haven't experienced.
 
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Mathuin

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It was so long ago that I forgot I escaped a much tragic outcome other than a few broken bones.

Looking back now at how stupid and "bold" I was, I cringe.
When I was 8, I tried going over a 6ft drop on my bicycle. I had recently gone off a 3ft one beside it (it was a slant) so I was feeling pretty confident.

I somehow managed to F*ck it up so much that I landed badly on my left arm and severed one of the main arteries in my arm. There was no blood getting to my left hand and I almost had to get it amputated.

Spent 7 hours in surgery, 120+ stitches and 3 metal pins in my arm. They had to move a bit of muscle or something around in my upper left arm so my left and right arm look different if I am doing the front double bicep pose.

Thankfully, I don't have any issues with it now other than the odd click here and there.

Looking back, it wasn't my finest hour.
 

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OneManWolfPack

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Hi @MJ DeMarco do you still have same fun with Can Am buggy? Worth buying? I was driving motorcycles since 2012 mainly fast ones. Last time I bought Triumph Street Triple choosing between Hayabusa. I picked Street Triple in hope of riding slow... but because of safety reasons I sold it 2 years ago. Still missing the wind. Is an Can Am worth it? Can you do all the maintenance on your own? Are you doing it on your own? Any issues?
 
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Jadus

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There's a roundabout a couple hundred feet down the road from my house. Almost every time I go through there, someone does something dumb.
I've driven in Mexico and Thailand, which both have roundabouts. In neither place do the residents know how to use them correctly.
 

Jadus

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Some people think they'll get away with it with the 3 wheelers and 4 wheelers. I ran into a guy who lost his sister and her husband on a 3 wheeler. They had a blowout at speed and the three wheeler just summersaulted down the road. 4 wheelers crush people all the time. I almost killed my son and myself on a 4 wheeler. Never again unless it has a roll cage. And even then probably not.
3 wheelers have always been dangerous. They just aren't stable. 4 wheelers work well if you know what you're doing. Border Patrol uses them all the time on the Mexico/US border.
 

Klimrod

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I ride motorcycles, for the fun of it I tried calculating what my odds were to die on it. TLDR : If you drive a limited amount, and are a rather prudent driver your odds of dying on your motorcycle of your lifetime is about 0.2%

That being said this day I almost never use my road bike, almost only my dirt bike on trails. Risks of injury still pretty high, but risks of death quite low, and more importantly no collision with another vehicle.

--

ARTICLE :

Everything involves risks. Sitting in your chair, if you really did the math, has most likely a quantifiable effect on your life expectancy.

I think we usually consider risks using anecdotes, which tends to exacerbate our perception of certain risks while under-indexing for others.

I strongly believe in choosing your risks by comparing the odds versus the benefits you derive from a said activity.

Since my son was born I’ve been thinking that dying wouldn’t be a great outcome. But I also enjoy riding motorcycles, so I set out to a) calculate what are my odds of dying or getting seriously injured riding a motorcycle b) determine how I can lower those odds c) determine if I’m comfortable with risk/reward

*sources are at the bottom

Are motorcycles dangerous?

Short answer is : yes

Depending if you calculate on a distance basis or hours basis, and depending on the country, motorcycles are 10 to 35x more dangerous than cars.

Roughly, every time I ride my motorcycle for 100km I have a 0.001% chance of dying. If over my lifetime I ride 100 000km (60 000 miles) I have a 1% chance of dying on a motorcycle.

Very serious injuries such as paralysis can be even worse than death in my opinion. There is not as much data on those but I think it’s fair to equal it roughly to the number of deaths. Meaning that over my lifetime, assuming I ride 100 000 km I have a 2% chance of suffering death or a grave injury by riding motorcycles.

If you translate that into hours, with an average speed of 33km/h :

1 hour = 0.0006% chance of dying or serious injury

Lifetime (3 000 hours) = 2% odds of death or serious injury

My plan to not die on a motorcycle



I believe there are ways to get this number down, but before that a few disclaimers :

  • I actually mostly ride dirt bikes, but stats are much harder to find for dirt bikes, and it does seem that while minor injuries are much higher, very grave injuries and death are lower. So I will only talk about road motorcycles.
  • I ride both scooters and motorcycles, here I don’t differentiate between them.
  • Most of the stats are from the US - I currently live in Thailand which is riskier, but I am unsure where I will live for the rest of my life. So, using the US which is mid-risk (lower risk than most developing countries, higher risk than most developed countries) feels fair.
  • This is very very rough napkin math, a lot of these factors are correlated (for instance being young also makes you more likely to ride and drink, and to not wear a helmet). I also know that you can’t just add up % reductions like this. But I do believe that it (again, very very roughly) holds up.
Now onto the interesting part!

1. Ride less​

Dumb but true. Obviously if I ride half the hours I will half my odds of dying. This would probably reach diminishing returns at some point because the lack of practice could make you higher risk, but overall it’s fair to see it this way. That being said I I think that 3 000 hours and 100 000km is a realistic number for me.



2. Don’t be young and dumb​

50% of fatal accidents happen for people who’ve been riding for 5 months or less. 16 to 24 years olds are heavily overrepresented in deaths. This actually matches my experience, I had more scares (including a crash on the highway at 100km/h) in my first year of riding than the next 4 years combined. Low-skills and recklessness make for a dangerous combination. But I feel like I’ve now matured and am not in this category anymore.

We’ve already come down from 2% to 1% !



3. Ride dirt bikes​

I was pleased to see that : “motorcycle riders with dirt bike experience are significantly underrepresented in the accident data.”. They don’t specify by how much it helps, but it matches my experience of being a much better rider with better balance, brake usage and understanding of surfaces.

Since we don’t have the exact data on this I’ll be conservative and say that we are at 0.84% now.



4. Don’t drink and ride​

Here we have to be careful with the data, in more than 50% of motorcycle accidents there is alcohol involvement, but that also counts cars. If looking at motorcycles, 28% were alcohol-impaired. I rarely, if ever, drink, and never when I ride a motorcycle so I feel like I nail this one.

Since this is probably highly correlated with 1. let’s be conservative. I’d say we now reach 0.7%



5. Wear a helmet​

Wearing a helmet has an astonishingly (though not so surprisingly) strong effect, in the US 60% of the dead did not wear a helmet. In Thailand, where helmets are rarely worn, it’s quite tragic to think of how many lives it could save. I could do better with this, I often don’t wear a helmet on the scooter for short rides.

This brings the number down to 0.36%.



6. Don’t speed​

Speeding is present in 32% of fatal crashes. We would actually need to know what % of hours spent riding are above the speed limit to know its true effect on fatal crashes, but having more time to react (and also not surprise the rest of the traffic) can only be good. Another stat is that 12% of death put speeding as the main cause of the crash. I used to speed, but it’s lost most of its appeal to me.

Let’s say it gets us to 0.3%.



7. Have the right attitude​

This one is hard to quantify, but any time I ride my motorcycle my prime focus needs to be on not dying. If I have this focus all of the above will follow and some more such as keeping the ego in check, never assuming that I have the right of way, not riding when emotionally compromised etc.

This can get us to 0.24%.



8. Getting some training​

I would say that for all of the above I’m close to maxed out. This is the one where I am potentially missing on big life-expectancy gains. Per the stats :

“The motorcycle riders involved in accidents are essentially without training; 92% were self-taught or learned from family or friends.”

Again it’s a bit frustrating because to know the true effect we would need to know how many people ride without training (for instance if it was 92% it would mean it has no effect), but despite looking I haven’t been able to find this info.

Stats in Quebec tell us that mandatory motorcycle training can prevent 46% of rider fatalities.

That’s massive. And even though 5 years of experience + riding dirt bikes have already improved my odds, getting some extra road training definitely can’t hurt.

If I do that it could bring down the number to 0.2%. (wow what a coincidence that we get to a round number which also makes it very convenient for me)

So we have our final number, if I follow these 8 points I go from odds of 2 in a 100 chances of dying or getting seriously injured on a motorcycle to 2 in a 1 000.

Putting risk in perspective

When I started writing this paragraph it reminded me of when I was searching about prepping and my conclusions were the following :

  • If you listen to preppers a total breakdown of society, which would require fending for yourself for an extended period of time, is imminent : a 50 to 100% chance of happening within your lifetime. On the other side the average person does not even consider it a possibility, so let’s say 1 in 10 000 000. If I had to put a number I would say 1 in 1000 over my life time. So, simultaneously significantly higher than the average person, significantly lower than the average prepper.
  • Most preppers are fat. Sure, it can be some extra reserves to last a few days more but cardiovascular diseases are a thousand time more likely than a prepping-worthy event. Put in other words, if they spent 1/10th the energy they spend on prepping towards improving their cardiovascular health, they would be doing a lot more for their survival.


I think dying riding motorcycles (while not in the same ballpark odds as a prepping-worthy event) also falls into this trap when compared to other risks which are higher but slow-burns.


Some interesting stats for perspective :

  • Based only on my age group, over the next 12 months I have a 1 in a 1000 chance of dying.
  • You have roughly a 1% chance of dying from a car accident over your lifetime (the reason it’s close to the motorcycle stat is because people spend a lot of time in a car).
  • You have 50% chances of dying from heart issues or cancer. Obviously we all need to die of something eventually, but “looking at specific causes of death, the study found that, for each 5-unit increase in BMI above 25 kg/m2, the corresponding increases in risk were 49% for cardiovascular mortality, 38% for respiratory disease mortality, and 19% for cancer mortality. “
  • Smokers die on average 10 years earlier than non-smokers. They have x2.7 chances of dying before 65 (even after considering confounding variables like smokers mostly being men, doing manual jobs etc)


If a fat smoker considers riding motorcycles dangerous he is being statistically stupid.



At the end of the day this was a useful exercice. Honestly when I first got the result of 2% I checked it a bunch of times because I felt like it was a lot. But that’s the true number for the average US motorcycle rider.

I am obviously more comfortable with 0.2% than 2% but it’s entirely possible that I’m kidding myself by thinking that I can improve my odds by 10 fold. Having said that, I sincerely believe it’s possible. Not because I’m extraordinary but because the bar is set stupidly low : 60% of the dead were not wearing a helmet, 50% less than 5 months experience etc.

For the moment I still consider riding road motorcycles worth it for me at a 2% to 0.2% risk over my lifetime.

And I will definitely get some extra training.

BONUS

Some interesting finds that surprised me.

  • I tend to be a bit paranoid about my motorcycle having mechanical issues but it turns out that only 3% of fatal accidents involve failure of some kind of the motorcycle, and the majority of those was actually a punctured tire.
  • Despite motorcycle riders often believing cars are out to get them, less than 1% of death involved any kind of hostile action or road rage (and among those, I suspect a lot of stupid riders doing like their favorite youtubers and antagonising car drivers).
  • I always thought that riding in the rain which is much more slippery, has longer brake times, provides less visibility would seriously increase the risk, but weather is a factor in only 2% of accidents.
  • This one really boggles my mind : female riders are overrepresented in fatal crashes. I would have bet the opposite, assuming that women would be more careful and so on. I am not sure how to explain it.
  • My biggest fear is a car ramming me from behind, leaving me no chance to react. But 76% of deaths come from head-on collisions. And I would expect that most of those should be avoidable by a careful and skilled rider. The most common accident is at intersections, with a car making a turn without seeing the oncoming rider. So, you should really slow down at intersection and assume the cars can’t see you.
  • 73% of fatal accidents involved no eye protection. In the report they state that it’s because it leads to lower visibility, but I think this one is simple. 60% involve no helmet, which most of the time is what provides eye protection. I suspect the 13% difference is mostly explained by cheap helmets with no visors.
  • You have 37% less chances of dying if your motorcycle has ABS. I didn’t put this one in the main discussion because I suspect 95% of motorcycles have ABS at this point, but I personally would never buy a motorcycle without ABS. You’ll sometimes hear that ABS limits your braking, which means you could have a better outcome without ABS. That’s maybe true for the top 0.001% of riders. But as for myself, despite being used to it with dirt bikes not having ABS, I strongly believe it’s a life-saver in a moment of panic on the road. ABS all the way.

Sources :

List of findings in the Hurt Report - Wikipedia

As overweight and obesity increase, so does risk of dying prematurely

Risk of death by age and sex

https://fortnine.ca/en/how-dangerous-are-motorcycles

As overweight and obesity increase, so does risk of dying prematurely

 
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sa_ill

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I live in a city where having a two-wheeler is an absolute must. Say if I have to drive to a meeting that is 40 kilometres away, my car would take 90 minutes whereas on the motorbike it would take 60 minutes. No, that is not due to riding fast, that is due to more manoeuvrability in traffic.

Having a two-wheeler easily saves me an hour a day, which is a lot! Currently my work place is 40 kms away from where I stay, so a motorcycle is a must for me. Plus, I save on fuel costs.
 
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MJ DeMarco

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Hi @MJ DeMarco do you still have same fun with Can Am buggy? Worth buying?

Yes and yes, presuming you have mountains and trails to use. I find UTV'ing in nature very therapeutic. It's more about being immersed in nature versus speed and thrills.
 
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David Fitz

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One of my goals this year was to get a motorcycle licence. I love the thrill of riding a bike at high speed. I weighed up the pros and cons and decided it wasn't worth it.

It made me think back when I rode a bike from Chiang Mai to Pai in Thailand a few years ago. If you've been on that road then you know it's 3 hours of dangerous roads and bends. I road that bike like an idiot, over taking cars and trucks, skidding on bends and probably half drunk while doing it. Bikes are fun but more than likely will cut your health or life short.
 

Jadus

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One of my goals this year was to get a motorcycle licence. I love the thrill of riding a bike at high speed. I weighed up the pros and cons and decided it wasn't worth it.

It made me think back when I rode a bike from Chiang Mai to Pai in Thailand a few years ago. If you've been on that road then you know it's 3 hours of dangerous roads and bends. I road that bike like an idiot, over taking cars and trucks, skidding on bends and probably half drunk while doing it. Bikes are fun but more than likely will cut your health or life short.
The road to Pai is definitely not a good one to ride half drunk, or in any dangerous way. Glad you survived it.
 
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OneManWolfPack

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Yes and yes, presuming you have mountains and trails to use. I find UTV'ing in nature very therapeutic. It's more about being immersed in nature versus speed and thrills.
MJ thank you for your answer but it is to late:) I almost pull the trigger on one of those but I decided that I will double the price and go with Grand California to have an luxury tent instead of the beast I will probably not use to often on flats where I live now. Picking up new toy from dealer shortly. It is more grandpa style. I wanted to convert Mercedes Sprinter 4x4 but 100 k conversion plus new car cost plus 1 year waiting list for conversion made Grand California a bargain:) Can Am needs to wait. I will be building home in the mountains and they are 5 hours ride from home so it will be good to have a place to eat and live. I do not like hotels too much. Hope to get some more freedom especially in THOSE times:)

But Can Am stays on my wishlist for now.

As for 2 wheels I think that they are just not worth the risk. After I sold mine last time I never looked back. It consumes time as well. If you really do not love it and dedicate life to it I think you can do better with your time and money, but motorcycles are relatively cheap for what they offer. For me it is also too much stuff with pulled me away from them as well. They look cool but your license can be taken also easy because of them. Really not worth the trouble for me, maybe Im getting older:)
 

Antti

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It made me think back when I rode a bike from Chiang Mai to Pai in Thailand a few years ago. If you've been on that road then you know it's 3 hours of dangerous roads and bends.
Haha, tell me about it. I crashed a Honda PCX while going back to Chiang Mai from Pai a few years ago. It started raining when I was on the mountains/hills near Pai and I should've immediately stopped as the road gets extremely slippery when wet, instead I kept going and as soon as I really cautiously tried to brake on a downhill the front wheel went out from under me. I didn't have much speed and I had a pretty good helmet which is not so common in Thailand so the impact wasn't that bad but I had rimless sunglasses that had really sharp edged lenses. The lense made a deep cut to the corner of my eye that required 27 stitches, if I remember correctly. I was very lucky that there was no other traffic at the time. The scar is mostly under eyebrow so it's barely visible now but it sure wasn't fun to ride the remaining 100km's or so back to Chiang Mai with my head leaking and wondering how bad the injury was.
 
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Ing

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An outing:
I ride motorcycles since 50 years now.
Yes, its dangerous.
In my early 20s in my circle the buddies started to die from accidents.
By that time I switched 100% to dirtbikes. I ride Motocross and Cross Country contests. For these I again and again get up and train hard all year.

I had broken a lot of bones and joints.

In winter I spend every Wednesday afternoon on the indoor Motocross track.

Sorry, I can’t sell one of my about 15 motorcycles. But I recommend everybody to sell it, as I know, what can happen.
 
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Last night while driving in Merida I got a bit turned around and did a full 180 on a few traffic circles that were about 2km apart.

In the time it took to go from one traffic circle to the next, do the 180 and head back to the first one there was a terrible bike crash.

What looked like a young lady was injured very badly on her bike, with potentially a large amount of blood or vehicle fluids on the road close to her. It looked like at least one of her limbs was very broken, and she was being physically supported by someone else on the road.

This cemented to me that riding a motorcycle anywhere with a large number of travelers and high potential for crash is something I would never do. It was a clear road one minute, and literally 2-3 minutes later there was a young woman who's life was going to be forever negatively altered.
 

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