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Motorcycle safety theory: do you agree?


iMike

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Running into slight domestic resistance on getting a bike. Background is that I had bikes off and on my whole life until I moved to Chicago, when I sold my Ducati M900 and was going to buy a new bike the following summer. But then I met my wife-to-be in the meantime and one thing led to another.

 

So here's the theory.

 

Motorcycling is dangerous in the following categories:

 

a) Frequency of accidents

b) Severity of accidents

 

However, if you factor out accidents involving one or more of the following, you reduce the frequency of accidents significantly. If you ride with proper equipment (helmet, leathers, boots), you reduce the severity of accidents to some degree.

 

  • Inexperienced riders
  • Riders on bikes too big/powerful for them
  • Intoxicated riders (I don't drink)
  • Teenagers/twentysomethings who use poor judgment
  • Poorly maintained bikes that have non-working safety equipment or that fail at an inopportune time

 

So basically my theory is that if you don't do things like those listed above you're much less likely to get into an accident, and that overall cyclists who don't do those things are much safer than the average motorcyclist.

 

Do you agree? Anyone have a link to data to support this theory?

 

Thanks.

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Agreed.....

 

When you take out the following risk factors,

 

*Inexperienced riders

*Riders on bikes too big/powerful for them

*Intoxicated riders (I don't drink)

*Teenagers/twentysomethings who use poor judgment

*Poorly maintained bikes that have non-working safety equipment or that fail at an inopportune time

 

you can go from an activity that almost guarantees injury to one that I would describe as only "very dangerous".

clap.gif

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In the MSF course they teach that overall riding risk is about a factor of 20 more dangerous, mile for mile, than driving a car.

 

They teach that riders in their first year and riders in their first six months on a new bike are at high risk.

 

Of course taking the course helps! Safety awareness is very important. The MSF course will make a rider more aware of potential hazards and ensure the rider knows the best response. So degree of education is also critical.

 

I consider the differences in level of protective equipment are very significant as well. If you look at the 20x enhanced risk, and say that is for all riders pooled, clearly there are differences for specific riders based on experience, bike type/size, riding style, habits, and gear. I also think local law and driving location/purpose are factors. Are you commuting in urban rush hour conditions? Lane splitting? Riding on open country roads of an afternoon?

 

We ride with full face helmets, protective gloves, jackets, pants, and footgear. We don't drink and drive our bikes at all, and we are not hot shots. We both have a couple of years or more experience, and are both on new bikes. We ride in urban conditions some, but most of our miles are out of town. I'd have to think our overall risk is lower than the general pool which includes drunks and bullet bikes with no helmets.

 

How low is harder to quantify. I'm quite sure that we are more at risk on a bike than in a car. Just yesterday as I followed my wife home, she was tailgated twice on the freeway with less than 15 feet of following distance, in one case less than 5 feet. Bad in a car, more likely to be deadly on a bike.

 

My guess is that we are between twice and ten times the risk, mile for mile on our bikes, than in a car.

 

That said, we ride for pleasure, we drive the car because we have to. We have more car miles, and are getting less from them. Well if you have a bike I guess you accept the risk.

 

There was a recent (last two weeks) news article about a study of relative risks of common activities. Motorcycles, notably, did not make the top ten, bicycles did, go figure? I always suggest that people consider the other risks they take in a rational manner and look at risks in terms of cost and benefit.

 

One last thought: Maybe your fiance would agree to take the MSF course with no further commitment. Then you can take the course together, and discuss afterwards. You'll have a common basis of knowledge on which to base your decisions, and a nice shared experience.

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I would also add:

Select your roads and traffic conditions to lower risk.

Know your limits and stay well within them.

Train, train, train.

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Lets_Play_Two
Running into slight domestic resistance on getting a bike. Background is that I had bikes off and on my whole life until I moved to Chicago, when I sold my Ducati M900 and was going to buy a new bike the following summer. But then I met my wife-to-be in the meantime and one thing led to another.

 

So here's the theory.

 

Motorcycling is dangerous in the following categories:

 

a) Frequency of accidents

b) Severity of accidents

 

However, if you factor out accidents involving one or more of the following, you reduce the frequency of accidents significantly. If you ride with proper equipment (helmet, leathers, boots), you reduce the severity of accidents to some degree.

 

  • Inexperienced riders
  • Riders on bikes too big/powerful for them
  • Intoxicated riders (I don't drink)
  • Teenagers/twentysomethings who use poor judgment
  • Poorly maintained bikes that have non-working safety equipment or that fail at an inopportune time

 

So basically my theory is that if you don't do things like those listed above you're much less likely to get into an accident, and that overall cyclists who don't do those things are much safer than the average motorcyclist.

 

Do you agree? Anyone have a link to data to support this theory?

 

Thanks.

 

Ahhh you are going to try the old "logic theory" on your wife!!! Good luck with that. The response is likely to be "I don't care what your statistics say, they are dangerous and I don't want to lose you" Now what? grin.gif I think you are better off with "If you really love me you will let me get a motorcycle" clap.gif

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You know, you could save a lot of time and aggravation if you just bought her a house and sent her a check every month.

 

Seriously, the factor you're missing is other drivers. You're lowering your odds on single vehicle accidents by not drinking, not hotdogging, etc. Still not doing anything (other than situational awareness and experience) about the uncontrollable other drivers. They rank up there with meteor showers as unforseen hazards. So motorcycles are more risky no matter what we do and the boo-boo's are worse when the risk fairy catches up with us. For some, it becomes an irrational fear and statistics won't help. I'm that way about flying. I don't care if you tell me that airplanes are the safest way to fly, I still have to chain smoke a carton of cigarettes before I get on one, and then chew a case of nicorette gum while I'm in the air. I may be more likely to get hit by a waterbuffalo in Kansas, but I still worry about it. She'll be worried about you until you can either get her involved (passanger or fellow rider) or she quits caring and ups your life insurance.

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BigGalloot

iMike -

 

You might want to rethink your approach.

 

Can you set her fears to rest with statistics? I doubt it. For most women the gut feeling that motorcycles "look dangerous" trumps any facts or figures you can dig up.

 

You are making things worse by refusing to recognize the obvious dangers inherent in motorcycling.

 

I humbly suggest that you assure her that you keenly aware of those dangers and intend to avoid them. You need to replace her vision of you blazing down a crowded freeway ducking flaming wreckage with an idyllic vision of a leisurely bimble down a deserted tree-lined country lane.

 

I should point out that we had a study done here in Florida recently of motorcycle fatalities. Here are some facts that may or may not help; 65% of fatalities are single vehicle accidents, 75% of fatalities involve drivers who were never licensed to drive a motorcycle. In other words, the majority of dead bikers never passed a safety test and managed to kill themselves without any assistance.

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There was a recent (last two weeks) news article about a study of relative risks of common activities. Motorcycles, notably, did not make the top ten, bicycles did, go figure? I always suggest that people consider the other risks they take in a rational manner and look at risks in terms of cost and benefit.

 

LOL. Do you have a link to that article? I ride a bicycle 100 miles plus a week which my wife fully supports.

 

It's not a matter of getting her approval. I'm getting a bike. I'd just like her to be rational in her understanding of the risks, instead of assuming that riding a motorcycle guarantees serious injury or death.

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I appreciate the responses. And I think what I'm trying to do is less to reason with my wife (which is mostly impossible) and more to coax her away from irrational fear.

 

We all know that it's more dangerous on a bike than it is in a car. What I'm trying to do is to show her that much (but not necessarily most and certainly not all) of the risk is controllable.

 

The Florida stats are very helpful. Thank you for those.

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There was a recent (last two weeks) news article about a study of relative risks of common activities. Motorcycles, notably, did not make the top ten, bicycles did, go figure? I always suggest that people consider the other risks they take in a rational manner and look at risks in terms of cost and benefit.

 

LOL. Do you have a link to that article? I ride a bicycle 100 miles plus a week which my wife fully supports.

 

It's not a matter of getting her approval. I'm getting a bike. I'd just like her to be rational in her understanding of the risks, instead of assuming that riding a motorcycle guarantees serious injury or death.

 

Yes, I think the comparison between bicycling and motorcycling is very interesting. Among my condo neighbors, there is a high degree of support for bicycles, while there is significant disdain for motorcycles. Yet, which mode of transport do I -feel- safer using? Motorcycles. I think that's because I can keep up with traffic, while on a bicycle I feel I'm at the mercy of whatever car is barreling down on me from behind.

 

As for statistics, I thought I recently read that cars and motorcycles are about as likely to be involved in accidents, it's just that motorcycle accidents tend to be more often fatal.

 

-- Larry

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You ask for accident studies, but your wife ought not to be convinced by statistics; after all, she is concerned with an individual (you) and not with the average distribution of risk. Also, if you go this route, you leave yourself open to the following: if you don't ride at all, both the frequency and severity of injury are zero. No amount of training or gear can compete with that.

 

A better approach might be to focus on what riding adds to your life rather than what riding might take away from it. In that vein, this study might be helpful. If your wife is really going to be OK with you riding, she needs to see both sides of the coin.

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I completely agree!!

 

Also, tell her how happy it will make you, thus making her a much happier person...

 

Riding is a great stress reducer, so your chances of ever having a heart attack or a stroke are greatly reduced!!

 

If all fails, just buy it and leave it at a friends house. thumbsup.gif

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CoarsegoldKid

I agree with you. My wife would also agree. How about a bike for track days only. No drunks, no cars, no deer, no DMV, no insurance, no tickets, fewer inexperienced riders. Pure fun.

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You ask for accident studies, but your wife ought not to be convinced by statistics; after all, she is concerned with an individual (you) and not with the average distribution of risk. Also, if you go this route, you leave yourself open to the following: if you don't ride at all, both the frequency and severity of injury are zero. No amount of training or gear can compete with that.

 

A better approach might be to focus on what riding adds to your life rather than what riding might take away from it. In that vein, this study might be helpful. If your wife is really going to be OK with you riding, she needs to see both sides of the coin.

 

You are wise, o leikam.

 

Excellent response.

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arrggh, wrote a long response with stats and links, and got a "your form is no longer valid" message when I submitted it. All gone! Poof! argggh.

 

Ok, briefly, chance of fatality per 100 million vehicle miles travelled:

 

Car: 1.2

Light truck: 1.2

Motorcycle: 40

 

Stats from: http://www.bts.gov/publications/national_transportation_statistics/

 

That said, the MSF course was right, but since the mid 90's things have changed. Mid-90's stats were approximately:

 

Cars: 1.5

Motorcycles: 20

 

My interpretation: I drive a car at least ten times the miles I ride, I am a low risk rider, my overall chances on bike or in cage are about even.

 

The article I mentioned earlier that compares risks of sports:

 

http://www.forbes.com/forbeslife/sports/...ngersports.html

 

However, I found the actual study and only off road vehicles were included as sports, so it is not a fair comparison. (sorry lost link when my post disappeared)

 

Found lots of really great motorcycle safety info here:

 

http://www.webbikeworld.com/Motorcycle-Safety/safetypage.htm

 

There seems to be lots of data here to support your theory that some riders are safer than others, and the factors that have come up in this thread are mentioned. In one place I read that just taking the MSF course reduces your risk by a factor of 9. There is also support for the young unlicensed rider being at extreme risk.

 

Ok, this time I pasted it into Word before I'm hitting the submte button, wish me luck!!!

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My advice is find someone who two-ups with their S.O. or wife and spend some informal time talking about the bike hobby with them. Or better yet find a woman who rides and let her talk with your G.F. (or get together with the woman who rides crazy.gif )

My fiance was opposed to bikes and they scared her to death to even think about them. After we were together for several months and she learned to trust my car driving habits which reflect a very careful, non-speeding attitude, she warmed up to the idea that maybe I'm equally as careful on a bike.

If you drive a car like a bat-outa-hell, don't expect her to warm up to riding with you or even want you on a bike, it would just scare her more.

 

We went down to an empty parking lot on a Sunday morning and I let her ride on the back with ATGATT. We progressed to some empty streets until she got comfortable with the idea. Later we went down a two lane empty road out in the country, and the rest is history. Now she is the one that suggests we BOTH go riding. We even use my 650GS to go fossil hunting and rock hounding.

 

She won't actually ride a bike yet but is content to be a passenger. All in good time thumbsup.gifsmile.gif

 

Anyway, rather than trying to force the idea down her throat, try easing her into the idea in the right environment, even if she doesn't want to ride with you (yet) and just doesn't want YOU to ride either, a little exposure and trust may go a long way.

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motorman587

I must have the best wife in the world. I am moto cop and cop and she says nothing.

 

No seriously. I am big time person on training. Take as many courses as you can. ERC, MSF, and some track riding classes. I took a racing class in 2002. Boy I got to tell ya a 250 frame in a one piece leather riding suit was not pretty. But I learned and had blast. To me riding safe is training, with out going into the ride bike and safety gear. Good luck, and hope she is not a redhead.

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elwoodpone

Just tell her you had the sense to pick a really cool avatar and thus will be a good and safe rider. Logic; works every time.

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I don't care if you tell me that airplanes are the safest way to fly, I still have to chain smoke a carton of cigarettes before I get on one, and then chew a case of nicorette gum while I'm in the air. I may be more likely to get hit by a waterbuffalo in Kansas, but I still worry about it.

 

You know this but I can't resist pointing out the obvious...

You are more likely to get lung cancer than fall out of the sky, if your solution to flying is smoking. frown.gif

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Not to make light, but isn't it interesting that none of us think we are that mythical "average" rider.

 

Logic, reason, data, these are not the tools of persuasion when dealing with emotion.

Time, trust, shared passion, these are better tools.

Try to involve her, educate her, and show her you respect her point of view.

If you're lucky, she may consent, participate, understand.

She may not understand, participate, and still consent.

Or not.

When our children were young, I had consent, understanding, very little participation.

Eventually, participation grew until we shared the passion to spend time together on a motorcycle.

The wanting to spend the time together is more important, to us, than the how, why, what.

I'm lucky.

Maybe you will be too. wave.gif

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You know, you could save a lot of time and aggravation if you just bought her a house and sent her a check every month.

 

+1 thumbsup.gif

 

Do you wanna ride or be married? If you give in on this, you might as well and buy the carpet kit for the toilet seat cover....

 

Ffffffaaaaa-Tooshhhhhhh! You Betcha!

 

wave.gif

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You are mistakingly trying to rationalize buying a bike and have your wife understand "why it is safe".

 

Here is the way to go:

 

BUY THE BIKE

 

TAKE IT HOME

 

TELL HER YOU LOVE HER SO MUCH YOU WANTED TO GET HER A GIFT SHE WOULD REMEMBER. TELL HER THE BIKE IS HERS!!!!

 

My husband bought "the bike", let me test drive it. Told me how cute I looked on it. Bought it and called it my wedding gift (we were engaged at the time). Much to my surprise, HE JUST LOVES the bike and enjoys hopping on it for a spin ALMOST as much as his RT. Not so bad either way, I love it too.

 

If she doesn't know how to ride, you may have to modify this little trick to your liking. lmao.gif

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I read my post after I submitted it and it sounded a bite trite and like I was poking fun. How we came across "my" bike was all true, but I think that if you could educate her on the statistics of motorcycle accidents vs car accidents and the same with death tolls, that would get you much further, speaking from a woman's perspective.

 

I think there is a bit of fear in all of us when we ride. For me, that ups the adrenaline rush and keeps me on my toes. Like everything else that is new, it takes some getting used to and that just takes time. If she has never been on a motorcycle and felt that feeling of one with the countryside, she just doesn't have a clue how fun it can be. Maybe assuring her that you will take a BRC and allowing her to watch, might help ease her fears a bit and another thought is having her take one with you. That is a very safe environment and besides learning the basics, she will get a taste of being out there with many who are beginners, just like her and sometimes that is all it takes to be bitten by "riding bug".

 

I had ridden a dirt bike for two weeks (no training) and must have been temporarily insane, as I found it a bit fun to ride down in a smooth revine and catch some air as I came up out of it. Of course, that ended with a high side crash, separated shoulder, and a fear of riding motorcycles. Somehow I just never lost the "want to" just was afraid to try again. Ten years later, I did it right, took the BRC and slowly hit the streets with my very qualified husband at my side (really following me behind). I have been riding and loving it ever since. Her fear just comes from not knowing that there are ways to avoid the pit falls other riders come up against. As someone earlier said, when you hear about a motorcyclist dying on the news, (not always) but many times, who knows if they ever had proper training, were drinking, driving too fast, had a bike they couldn't handle, not wearing proper gear and on and on and on.

 

There are those few incidences when no matter how good of a rider you are, your number could just be up, but for the most part, formal education on the part of the driver is the key to safe riding. Good luck to you and hopefully you can come to some ammicable agreement.

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I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume your wife doesn't have a lot of experience motorcycling. My wife is 180 degrees from yours and doesn't put up any resistance to riding or owning bikes. My wife has been a passenger on many occasions: uncles, friends, past acquaintances, etc. She even took up riding for a while, but decided she liked being a passenger more (boy, I sure miss having a second bike around grin.gif). She is an excellent pillion. As others have stated your wife will probably become more comfortable with your riding if she has more exposure to the sport/lifestyle. If there is anything than concerns me, it's my wife's relative nonchalance.

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Mike, the bottom line is that (mile for mile) yes motorcycling is more dangerous than driving a car. You've got far more protection and margin for error in that cage.

 

But, as so many other pointed out, that does not mean that riding a MC is some daredevil feat. Evidently I take on more risk every time I hop on by bicycle instead of the scooter, but that's life - it's supposed to be lived! thumbsup.gif

 

There are many people with strong negative opinions of motorcycling, this happens to include pretty much all of my friends who work in the medical community. I guess if one regularly sees the result of motorcycle accidents it's likely to influence one's perspective. I don't believe there is anything I could say to change the opinions of these folks - just as they recognize there is little chance of changing my decision and desire to ride.

 

Good luck!

Greg

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Research has shown that most accidents happen close to home. I suggest getting a touring bike like the RT and go for very long rides that take you away for weeks at a time. Better safe than sorry.

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In no particular order...

 

My wife took 11 years of convincing (from when we dated, through engagement, into marriage 4 years later) before agreeing to taking the MSF BRC and getting a bike. We compromised - no riding to work until she was comfortable. She could say "no" when she felt the weather wasn't appropriate. The first 100 miles in the neighborhood (old style 'hood nearly 4 miles round trip). The first 1000 were on Kent Island. Then only in the rural area near home... etc.

 

2. I drive to work, mostly, accumulating 35000 miles/year (yuck, ugh, and it sucks!). I started looking into motorcycles not only for the enjoyment, but as a more efficient form of transportation than the typical truck/SUV/sedan most people including me drive.

 

-I've had 3or 4 accidents in cars in the last 16 years. Just last week I rear-ended a car doing 40 simply because my car couldn't stop to avoid the guy's emergency stop (brake lights in question). Had i been on the bike I'd be seriously hurt, or never in the accident because I'd have been in the HOV lane.

 

-My wife is just starting to ride with me, and is starting to enjoy it. Slowly, but she, for the first time ever, asked if we could take the bike to get ice cream one evening last week. Makes me smile just tihnking about it.

 

-I almost sold the bike ($$/new business/too many hobbies/toys...) last winter. My coworkers, to a man, all said "GOOD!"... later, one said "you idiot, you have a bike, do you know how bad the rest of us want one?!". Then another says "ya know, Matt, I'm glad you did, because it's safer, you'll live longer... ... ... but though your life could be longer, I doubt it'll be as full as that bike made you so happy. Sure you want to sell?" I told my wife this, who'd been thrilled that the bike would be sold (I thought) and she says "you must be the most shit-all stupid man I know, selling that bike. It makes you happy, dummy. Why can't you/don't you find a way to keep it?"

 

-I wrecked my Jeep into the guy's car last week because, most likely, I was bored in the car, secure in my safety (proven) and less alert than I would normally be on the bike.

 

-Don't be so foolish as to think you'll convince her bikes are safer. I dropped mine last spring all by my lonesome. Bike was rashed a bit, I was mostly OK, just had my ankle checked to be sure. If I'd convinced her that motos were safer or reasonably safe, I'd have been proven a liar. Instead, I convinced her I love her too much to want her to be a widow so young, and that I will always do my best to avoid stupid situations, and learn all I can to be as safe as I can in a dangerous form of transportation. I got life insurance, because stuff happens, and I can relax a little bit knowing she'll be fine w/o me.

 

She trusts me to come home safe as best I can. She was OK when I dropped the bike "stuff happens, glad you're OK and no one was hurt.Did you learn something? Yes? Good."

 

I ride because I'm a bit of a tree-hugging dirt-worshipper. I have a commute to a job that is miserable and destructive. Riding the bike is more efficient, and makes me smile on my way to my private hell in a cube(icle).

 

Good luck.

 

Sorry so, so, so dopeslap.gif long. eek.gif

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Stormrider
Research has shown that most accidents happen close to home. I suggest getting a touring bike like the RT and go for very long rides that take you away for weeks at a time. Better safe than sorry.

 

Bingo! thumbsup.gif

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Yukonlarry

When I bought my first bike, an R65, my wife of 20 years thought I would become a Hell's Angel. I was in the Canadian Army in Germany at the time and a Canada Safety Council motorcycle safety instrustor as well. It took her a year, honest, before she asked me about the bike! The whole time I had the bike there was a passive/agressive atmosphere in my house, especially during the winter months when I couldn't ride and the bike sat there. When I bought a GoldWing 20 years later I divorced her. I sold that and bought my present bike, that act cost me my girlfriend who didn't think I needed another bike. Relationships and motorcycles can go together however I compromised my love of riding for a relationship and was miserable until I admitted to myself what I needed.Good luck with YOUR decision.

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Mike, unfortunately I have to agree with your wife.. Riding a motorcycle is in fact a dangerous sport.. Your chance of being involved in an accident is greater to begin with (even if you do everything right on your part) as cars/trucks just look right through motorcycles & in a lot of cases just doesn’t see them (or in some cases just don’t care).. The even worse part is even a minor fender bender in a car can be enough to kill you on a bike..

 

OK, the above being said you still have to live your life.. Part of going through life is facing danger EVERY SECOND OF EVERY DAY.. You just never know when someone will walk up & stick a gun in your side,, or have a bee sting your tongue,, or have the cargo door of an airplane fall from the sky & kill you.. In my mind dying of old age not having done the things you wanted to do is much worse than dying young doing the things that excite you & make you happy..

 

People ride motorcycles because of the excitement,, moderate danger factor is part of that excitement.. If it was just riding for transportation why not drive a car-- much safer & with A/C, heat, windshield, better seating position.. Personally I ride about every day as a commuter, on vacation, on errands, to visit family.. I do it in all weather (well except snow & ice.. I just love to ride (everywhere).. Yes, there is an elevated danger factor but to me the risks do not exceed the pleasure..

 

My wife sounds a lot like your’s & had a difficult time excepting the fact I like to ride (everywhere) .. There was no justifying the danger factor to her as she just isn’t that easy to fool.. I had a long heart to heart with her & explained that riding was something I really wanted to do in life & if she insisted I would not ride but would instead take up flying (another thing I want to do in life).. One thing that might have helped me is I had ridden before & was riding when we met.. Had some dry years after I got married that I only rode off road..

 

I did take out a much larger life insurance policy (only fair to her)… Over time she has come to grips with me riding (on the road) & doesn’t think the bad thoughts she once did when I took off riding to work (just about every morning)..

 

Unfortunately about a year ago I was sitting (still) on the bike making a L/H turn when a young girl came up from behind me & swerved into my lane & rear ended my bike at about 50 mph.. It drove the bike out from under me,, I then bounced off her windshield placing a big hole in her windshield with my helmet,, I was then tossed up & over the crunched bike & completely inside the car in front of me (luckily it was a convertible)..

 

The good news is I wasn’t killed or even broken up very much.. I did look like I was placed in a cement mixer with about 6 cement blocks then twirled around for an hour or so.. There probably wasn’t a 2” piece of me that wasn’t black & blue.. My wife was called to the accident scene & that experience shook her up real bad (the bike looked like car bomb hit it) .. Two days later I was back on my other bike riding again.. That experience didn’t alter my riding as I still ride many miles a year but it took my wife a long time to accept my riding again..

 

I guess you have to make your own decision based on what you (& your wife) expect out of life)..

 

My suggestion is to agree with your wife that motorcycle riding is in fact more dangerous than driving a car (why lie as it is a proven fact).. Also assure her that you will ALWAYS wear good protection like a quality helmet, leg & body protection (even leather pants & jacket gives reasonable protection) ,, good protective gloves,, & decent foot/ankle protection.. After my little bout with that inattentive young lady I can’t say enough about proper riding gear (I was wearing good protection all around when hit) ..

 

If this isn’t what you are looking for don’t let her read it but something tells me she won’t be that easy to fool so might as well tell it straight..

 

Twisty

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