I was talking to a female friend yesterday, and the topic of high-speed motorcycle riding came up. Her son is due for a family event, not far away from where he usually stays. She can’t drive her son to the venue, so she has hired a friend of hers who owns a motorcycle to ride him to the venue.
Now, I know the motorcycle owner. Let’s call him Sam. In fact, he is known in our town and beyond for high-speed motorcycle riding, and I pointed this out to my friend Juliet.
My concern is for her son’s safety because he and I are friends. I even sent him a best wishes card for a major exam he recently had.
But does Juliet have a choice? She says she doesn’t have much of a choice. Sam is the only motorcycle rider she knows and trusts, and she has used him for many errands every month. Only these were for picking up something like groceries from the local market and delivering them home to her mother.
See, Juliet can’t entrust her son to an unfamiliar rider. She can only ask Sam to ride safely at a considerable speed. You can only hope. Given Sam’s age, I bet he will find it thrilling to ride as fast as usual. You and I and Juliet and her son Morris can only hope he will consider that he has a pillion passenger and ride safely!
Where am I going with all this? Why should you care?
This scenario reminded me of a recent trend I’ve observed for some time now—there are far too many people engaging in high-speed motorcycle driving!
I’ve always found this thrilling, and I say so, I who dares not ride my motorbike too fast for fear of crashing into something.
If you are a speed thrillist, this post might rub you the wrong way. Like headwinds when you ride a bike on a windy day. I may not have much success convincing you to ride slower. But please hear me out, regardless.
If you ride at lower speeds, I may succeed at convincing you to avoid the temptation of high-speed motorbike riding and stick to riding at more manageable or safer speeds.
Let’s talk about first things first.
What Are The Risks of Riding a Motorcycle at Top Speed?
The first thing that comes to my mind is accidents. While motorcycle accidents result from many causes, speed is a major factor. And it doesn’t have to be a high speed. Even low speeds can result in accidents.
High motorcycling speeds mean the rider has a reduced reaction time, which multiplies the risk of an accident happening.
I’ve had my fair share of high-speed motorcycling. I observed that my spatial awareness and reaction time reduce when I ride faster than my usual 30-50 mph.
One time, I was speedily riding behind a fast-moving sedan that braked abruptly, forcing me to also brake suddenly. Thank heavens for anti-lock brakes! I would have rear-ended the poor sedan and possibly ended up six feet under if I hadn’t reacted in good time.
This brings us to the second high-speed riding risk—high speeds at impact when you crash your motorcycle mean a greater risk of injury. This can be devastating, especially if you sustain head or brain injuries. It may even result in death.
Last but not least, high motorcycle riding speeds may wear parts of your motorbike, especially if your bike has a low displacement (cc) and you haven’t tuned it up in a long time.
What Are The Benefits of Riding a Motorcycle at High Speeds?
Thrill is a key benefit of riding at high speeds. I’m not an adrenaline junkie. I respect people who are! Riding a motorcycle at top speed can be thrilling to a rider addicted to the adrenaline rush. If it excites you positively, enjoy. After all, it’s one of the many reasons you ride a motorbike!
Secondly, it’s easier to maintain balance at high riding speeds.
You need to apply less torque on the handlebars to turn the front wheel to maintain balance and control the bike at high speeds. You only need a small steering to angle the motorcycle quickly to shift the ground contact point laterally.
If you were riding at a lower speed, you would need a bigger steering angle to shift the contact point within the same time.
For this steering dynamics reason, you will achieve self-stability at speeds typically higher than a certain threshold, meaning your bike stabilizes itself as you ride faster. Well, without overly exceeding the threshold. You’ll feel the stability change as you ride!
What Determines How Fast You Should Ride a Motorcycle?
I have had the pleasure of riding different motorcycles over the years. How fast you ride depends on several factors, such as the type and condition or age of your motorbike, your riding ability, and road or weather conditions.
Type, Condition, and Age of Your Motorcycle
Some types of bikes are more likely to be in road accidents.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), superbikes are the most dangerous in this regard. They are lightweight and made for speed and maximum performance. They also put a rider in a permanent forward position that’s not easy to break and still ride comfortably.
The high speed and performance of superbikes encourage risky riding behavior, often resulting in accidents. However, faster bikes are safer because they are more stable and easy to overtake or accelerate from danger.
You’ll also want to consider the condition of your motorbike. If your motorcycle is too old and unroadworthy, you may have problems with responsible overtaking or accelerating from danger.
Your Riding Ability
Avoid riding a motorcycle at high speeds if you can’t handle the pressure that comes with it.
How are your reflexes? Can you escape danger within a split second? If you don’t respond fast enough to unforeseen circumstances on the road, please ride slowly.
Road and Weather Conditions
It’s unsafe to ride at high speeds when the road is slippery from ice or rain. If you must ride when it’s raining or icy, ride slowly and carefully to reduce the chances of skidding.
Another critical aspect I’ve seen is that the type of road you drive your motorcycle on matters.
For example, if you are riding in a city where 30-40 mph is fast, a 125cc motorbike will be okay. You don’t need a furiously fast bike in a congested place where speed limits are low.
I Bet You Have a Couple of Questions
These come to mind as we wrap up.
What is the Best Motorcycle Speed for Beginners?
The best motorcycle speed for a beginner is the one you can ride comfortably and safely on any suitable surface. Most beginners can comfortably and safely ride bikes within the 80-130 mph speed range.
I had the temptation to spend on speed with my first bike. An expert bike fitter at a local store advised me not to spend on more speed than I can handle with my first motorbike.
At What Speed Do Most Motorcycles Crash?
According to a 1981 US Department of Transportation report, most motorcycle accidents happen at 30 mph and have an average speed of impact of 21.5 mph. You would think that higher speeds would lead to more accidents, but that’s not always the case.
What is the Safest Type of Motorcycle to Ride at High Speeds?
According to the IIHS, sports-touring, standards, touring, and cruisers are safer and result in lower death rates when crashes occur.
Standard motorcycles are the safest bikes at high speeds, especially for beginners. They are easy to handle and made for comfort since they support an upright riding position.
Cruisers are also highly safe at high speeds. They are comfortable and easy to handle. I would love to buy myself a brand new cruiser someday. Maybe I should keep my fingers crossed. 😊
Touring motorcycles are highly safe as well. Like cruisers, they have wider handlebars and support a laid-back riding position. Touring bikes are also large to protect the rider from wind and ensure comfortable sitting over long rides.
However, the IIHS also notes that touring bikes and cruisers are highly fatal. This is attributed to their large size, larger engine sizes, higher speed abilities, and more power. All these often cause certain users, especially those in traditional tough-leather bike cultures, to overspeed and end up in fatal accidents.
If You Must Ride at Cutthroat High Speeds, Here’s How to Stay Safe
- Ride a motorcycle with ingenious safety features like wind-deflecting fairings and anti-lock brakes.
- Do not ride beyond your capabilities.
- Avoid sudden movements when braking, accelerating, or turning.
- Always observe traffic laws.
- Wear full motorcycle protection clothing and gear.
- Avoid road rage at all costs.
- Keep enough distance between you and other motorists or riders, especially when riding in a group.
- Ride the right type of bike for the road.
And just so you know, Juliet’s son arrived safely after a long motorcycle ride with Sam. She texted me to let me know and also to thank me for my support. 😊
Ride safely. Stay safe. As always, I’m all for riding safety. Are you?