One of the best ways to ensure safety while riding a motorcycle is to wear proper safety gear. Leather jackets, armored boots, and big helmets are not only going to make you look badass, but they will also protect you in the event of a crash. They may not guarantee that you will come out of an accident scratch-free, but wearing them can mean the difference between life and death.
But aside from wearing the right safety gear, choosing the right kind of motorcycle is also crucial. Not only should you look for a big bike that is the right size and weight, but you must also know that some motorcycles are more involved in fatal accidents than others.
A supersport motorcycle is one of those motorcycles that can be potentially dangerous if used carelessly by someone inexperienced, so if you are leaning towards purchasing one but also aware that you lack the expertise in riding one, you may want to reconsider your options.
What is a supersport motorcycle?
Supersport motorcycles—also called supersport bikes—are two-wheeled, high-powered vehicles intended for racing but have been modified for highway use. They feature lightweight yet powerful engines, with displacements ranging from 600cc to 1,000cc.
These motorcycles are engineered to deliver more horsepower than any other type, and depending on the make and model, these bikes can reach speeds of more than 150 mph.
With the potential for great speed that these bikes offer, they attract many motorcycle enthusiasts but often those from the younger demographic who lack the necessary training to ride them safely.
What makes supersport motorcycles dangerous?
Riding a standard motorcycle is already dangerous in itself because of a motorcycle’s openness and lack of safety features that make a rider more vulnerable than any other motorist. However, using a supersport motorcycle can further exacerbate the risks.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the death rate of supersport motorcycle riders is four times higher than that of riders using other motorcycle types. Despite making up only less than 10% of motorcycles on the road, supersport bikes account for over 25% of all motorcycle-related deaths.
For every 10,000 registered motorcycles, the standard ones account for only 5.7% of deaths while large touring bikes account for only 6.5%. Supersport motorcycles, however, have a 10.7% fatality rate.
Too much power and speed
Supersport motorcycles were designed for the racetrack, so no wonder many riders treat these big bikes as if they are in a race. Because supersport motorcycles offer way too much power and speed, it can be challenging to resist the urge to go full throttle.
More often than not though, many riders give in to this temptation, which is why supersport motorcycles have such high death rates and insurance losses. Not all riders are irresponsible of course, but the number of them who think it is safe to ride on a regular public highway at speeds of more than 100 mph has been gradually increasing over the years.
Letting ego get in the way
Riding a motorcycle is cool, but not everyone can be riding-a-supersport-bike kind of cool. However, this kind of mindset—one that puts image first before safety—is what gets many supersport motorcycle riders killed.
While wanting to show off is not inherently wrong, when it comes to supersport bikes, it can cost riders their lives. What is even more alarming is that the ones attracted by these high-performance vehicles are mostly younger people who are new to motorcycles. However, an inexperienced rider and a powerful bike are often a dangerous combination.
Riding a standard motorcycle takes a great deal of experience, practice, and balance, and with supersport bikes, these three become even more crucial. This high-powered vehicle offers increased acceleration and requires a lot of control, so being careless could easily turn a sweet ride into a fatal one.
Because of their lightweight design, many people think that supersport bikes are easier to control than other motorcycle types. However, that is not always the case, especially during bad weather. If it starts to rain or the road is still wet from a recent downpour, a supersport motorcycle is more likely to skid than a regular, heavier type of bike.
A supersport bike also has lower handlebars that put its rider in a forward-leaning position which, in the event of an accident, can cause the rider to go flying forward.
Supersport motorcycle accidents in numbers
Rider error, such as speeding, is the leading cause of many motorcycle accidents regardless of the type. According to the IIHS’ Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), speeding is the number one cause of 57% of fatal crashes involving supersport motorcycles. This is in stark comparison to the 27% of deadly road accidents involving standard motorcycles and 22% involving touring bikes.
Drunk driving also plays a role in fatal supersport motorcycle accidents, although at a lower rate than fatal accidents involving standard and touring motorcycles. Alcohol impairment is a factor in 19% of fatal supersport motorcycle crashes, 33% of fatal standard motorcycle crashes, and 26% of fatal touring motorcycle crashes.
Common injuries sustained during a supersport motorcycle accident
Given its lack of safety features and excessive speed, it comes as no surprise that a supersport motorcycle accident can be more fatal. However, the injuries sustained in a supersport motorcycle accident are no different than the injuries you will get in a standard motorcycle crash.
A rider may be fortunate enough to survive a deadly crash, but he will likely suffer several serious and long-term injuries such as severe bruising, internal bleeding, road rash, broken bones, lost limbs, back and neck injuries, partial or full paralysis, and damages to the head like concussions and traumatic brain injuries.
Aside from physical suffering, the accident and the injuries sustained from it can also cause mental and emotional problems such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Are regular motorcycles safer?
Different measures have been taken to reduce motorcycle deaths over the years. However, the numbers remain high despite these efforts. Even the simplest of measures—wearing a helmet—is still not widely implemented as there are still some states where helmet use is not mandatory.
But even with helmets, supersport motorcycle riders continue to have shockingly high death rates. This begs one to ask: are cruisers the safer option?
The simple answer is yes. Standard motorcycles, also called cruisers, have the lowest rate of motorcycle-related deaths among all types of motorcycles. This is because the larger and heavier design of cruisers puts them at an advantage over supersport bikes as far as rider protection is concerned.
A cruiser is also equipped with a fender, and in case of a crash, it will help lessen the impact since a fender will typically hit the ground first before the rider.
Another advantage cruisers have is their suitability for bad weather. This is not to say that riding in the rain is a good idea as long as you are using a cruiser, but normally a standard motorcycle is better at handling wet roads than a supersport motorcycle.
Lastly, cruisers have heavier engines and are equipped with more safety features, such as anti-lock braking systems, that significantly lessen the risks of a road mishap.
Supersport vs. sport motorcycles
The supersport bike is not the only high-performance motorcycle on the road. Sport motorcycles are another type that is particularly popular among riders under the age of 35. These motorcycles have a lower power-to-weight ratio than their supersport counterpart, but every other feature is closely similar.
Compared to the death rate of riders involved in supersport motorcycle accidents, the death rate for sport motorcycle riders is slightly lower. However, it is still two times higher than that of regular motorcycle riders. Speeding is a factor in 46% of fatal sport motorcycle accidents and alcohol is involved in 23% of these crashes.
The best way to not get involved in a supersport motorcycle accident is to not ride a supersport motorcycle. But if you really want to be The Flash on a big bike, consider taking precautions by keeping in mind a few safety tips.
Do not ride with your ego
Leave your ego at home and only drive within your skill level. Never attempt to travel at high speeds or weave in and out of traffic if you are not capable.
Be conscious of your surroundings
Never assume that other drivers on the road can see you, so always ride on high alert and be responsible for staying safe around cars.
Wear reflective clothing
Because of its size, a motorcycle is often not seen by other drivers until it is too late. Riding one that is capable of running at unbelievable speeds is only going to make things worse. To avoid this, riders should wear bright colors and reflective clothing so they can be easily visible on the road.
Protect the head
Wear a helmet that fits properly; not too tight but not too loose on your head either. Head injuries are the leading cause of death among motorcycle riders, and while helmets do not completely prevent injury, they can still give your head some protection.
Invest in leather
Because of its thickness, leather can help protect you from sliding across concrete and other road hazards. Leather motorcycle boots are also great in protecting your feet, not only from the asphalt in the event of a crash but also from the heat of the engine.