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  #1  
Old 29 May 2008, 09:14 PM
Mr. Anderson
 
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Default Bullet bike life expectancy

I've always heard that the life expectancy of a bullet bike owner is six months, but I can't find any stats. Anyone have some good sources to debunk this myth?
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  #2  
Old 29 May 2008, 10:00 PM
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Richard W Richard W is online now
 
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I wasn't sure what a bullet bike was, so looked it up - would it be one of these?

Lightning F40 bullet-bike off to a flyer in rush-hour traffic



(Not sure whether that image will allow direct linking, so it may break.)

Quote:
The machine cost £4,000 and has a top speed of 35mph.
... What's the alleged cause of death in this case?
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  #3  
Old 29 May 2008, 10:05 PM
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More seriously, it's probably something like this:

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Old 29 May 2008, 10:21 PM
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Got mine June of last year, although due to a lovely midwestern winter I haven't put 6 months worth of time in the saddle yet.

I'll keep everyone posted.


Bullet bikes
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  #5  
Old 29 May 2008, 11:12 PM
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You still didn't quite say what a bullet bike is - I gather it's a fast motorbike. Is there a more specific definition?

Surely if the definition was just "fast motorbike", then if the life expectancy was really only six months, then the number of people killed on fast motorbikes would be very close to the number of fast motorbikes sold. (Fast motorbikes have been sold for long enough that the six month lag between buying one and dying wouldn't be that significant.)

Or is the definition something like "fast motorbike + person who thinks of it as a bullet"? Or something else? I don't know.
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  #6  
Old 29 May 2008, 11:26 PM
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I guess the official term is sport bike. Anything like a Yamaha R series, Honda CBR series, Suzuki GSX series, etc.
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  #7  
Old 29 May 2008, 11:55 PM
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Le Chevalier Blanc Le Chevalier Blanc is offline
 
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When I bought my first motorcycle back in 1988, the salesman did comment "See that guy buying his kid a [Kawasaki] Ninja? If you come back in 6 months, I'll have a used one to sell you - slightly dented with some blood stains." So while the statistic may not be true, it has been a popular statement for quite awhile.

I did find this presentation online:

http://www.lifesaversconference.org/...s2008/Teoh.pdf

Which does have data that suggests a supersport bike is about 4 times as likely to be involved in a driver death than a crusier or touring.
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  #8  
Old 30 May 2008, 06:30 AM
Troberg Troberg is offline
 
 
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Quote:
Which does have data that suggests a supersport bike is about 4 times as likely to be involved in a driver death than a crusier or touring.
I think the statistics are reasonable, at least as far as I can see from the data I have here, although I have no classification on the bikes so I just have to look at the model and skip the ones I don't recognize, so it's not an exact science.

I think, however, that the cause is not in the bike itself. I think it's because it's bought by a different kind of driver. A racer is not inherently unsafe, but it's bought by someone who wants to race, while a big cruiser is bought by someone who intends to cruise.

As for myself, I'm very much considering getting this bike: http://www.imz-ural.com/wolf/

Trust the Russians to make a cool customizable bike that even has a reverse gear in case you need to pull your tractor out of the mud, and they do it at less than 1/4 of the price of a Harley! Besides, Harley lost their image when they started selling after shave with that brand and turned into a yuppie bike. They even sell helmets with an attached pony tail, so the yuppies can ride it to work looking like a bad guy, then take off the helmet and look neat! The Wolf will never be a yuppie bike.
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  #9  
Old 30 May 2008, 01:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Troberg View Post
I think the statistics are reasonable, at least as far as I can see from the data I have here, although I have no classification on the bikes so I just have to look at the model and skip the ones I don't recognize, so it's not an exact science.

I think, however, that the cause is not in the bike itself. I think it's because it's bought by a different kind of driver. A racer is not inherently unsafe, but it's bought by someone who wants to race, while a big cruiser is bought by someone who intends to cruise.
I agree that driver attitude has much more to do with it than the bikes themselves. Back in my riding days, I preferred sports bikes because they were more nimble and better able to avoid/evade road hazards than other types of motorcycles. However, there is a small price for such maneuverability in that they are a little less stable and require a lighter touch and more attention.
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  #10  
Old 30 May 2008, 02:02 PM
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I 'remember hearing' that there was a phenomenon in the UK of middle-aged guys returning to biking after twenty years, splashing out on a superbike five times as powerful as what they used to ride, with tragic results.
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  #11  
Old 30 May 2008, 04:33 PM
Nappy Solo Nappy Solo is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noggins View Post
I 'remember hearing' that there was a phenomenon in the UK of middle-aged guys returning to biking after twenty years, splashing out on a superbike five times as powerful as what they used to ride, with tragic results.
I think on this side of the pond, it's more likely to be a first time rider or re-entry rider buying new Harley, and realizing they are in over their heads, until they get some miles of experience. I don't know that many older riders who ride sportbikes. Most of the sportbike accidents in this area are younger - very young teens that are showing off, drunk, speeding etc. Motorcyling's public relation department! Just a few blocks from my house two high school boys ran their Ninja into a house, killing both of them. Showing off, no helmets, and they forgot it was a T intersection. I've been riding for 37 years, and currently ride what is considered a naked sport bike. A Triumph Speed Triple. I think you can ride something like it without acting like an imbecile, but not sure how I would have fared if I had it when I was 16.
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  #12  
Old 30 May 2008, 05:56 PM
niner niner is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Troberg View Post
I think, however, that the cause is not in the bike itself. I think it's because it's bought by a different kind of driver. A racer is not inherently unsafe, but it's bought by someone who wants to race, while a big cruiser is bought by someone who intends to cruise.
I'll disagree with you here - certainly the type of rider does have an impact, but different style of bikes are more or less likely to be in an accident due to their design. I ride a Pacific Coast 800 - essentially a cruiser engine in a touring body. As a learner, if I accidentally leaned hard on the throttle, the engine would rumble up and I would slowly accellerate. If you did this on a sportbike with the same size engine, you could easily flip the bike upside down before you realized what had happened. A bike that responds much faster is inherently going to get a new rider into trouble much faster, and hence be "less forgiving".

Cruisers also have their negative rider style - for one thing, older riders tend towards cruisers, and they tend to be more "sure" of their skills and more likely to thus push too hard and make a mistake. Cruisers are also the bike of choice for the "beer run" style rides, and alcohol and riding mix worse than with driving (I have yet to tip my truck over in the driveway because my balance was off).

The problem with saying it's just attitude is it encourages new bikers to get on whatever powerful bike they want, as long as they "respect" it. The only sure way respect keeps you out of an accident is if you respect it enough to put it in a showcase and not ride it.

HenryB
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  #13  
Old 30 May 2008, 06:27 PM
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Question from a Brit...

What hoops do you have to go through in the US (training, examiniation etc etc) to be legally allowed to ride a sports bike?

In the UK there is a scale of ages and qualifications to attain before you can ride something super quick.
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  #14  
Old 30 May 2008, 07:01 PM
Zachary Fizz Zachary Fizz is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Troberg View Post
As for myself, I'm very much considering getting this bike: http://www.imz-ural.com/wolf/
Ural used to build a two-wheel drive motorcycle and sidecar - it was basically the BMW machine from the second world war. Apparently they were hilarious to ride off road, though the Russian build quality was poor.

If I had your engineering skills, Troberg, I reckon I'd be considering a homebuilt, preferably around a Kawasaki 900 engine. With a turbo. Or I'd spend the $10,000 on a second hand Fireblade
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Old 30 May 2008, 07:13 PM
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An old high school classmate of mine bought a Suzuki a few years ago. He is an experienced rider who's had several bikes including a Norton Commando in the 1970s. He was not fond of the riding position, given his age. I am guessing that he got rid of it.

The newer sports bike are a better fit for a younger body, but I agree that experience would make them safer to ride. Maybe a cushion on the tank? Actual stirrups?

Ali "sounds OB-GYN like to me" Infree
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  #16  
Old 30 May 2008, 07:19 PM
Nappy Solo Nappy Solo is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hans Off View Post
Question from a Brit...

What hoops do you have to go through in the US (training, examiniation etc etc) to be legally allowed to ride a sports bike?

In the UK there is a scale of ages and qualifications to attain before you can ride something super quick.
Hans,

Over here it varies state by state. 50 states, 50 variations! In our state, Nebraska, you need a motorcycle endorsement on your license. It's just a small "M" in a box. It will allow you to ride anything, from a 100cc bike to a 180 MPH sportbike. The only limitation (usually) is if you can afford to insure it. You need to carry liability insurance and carry proof of it being in force. Liability only is not the major cost, but collision insurance, that you must have if you finance the bike. To get the M endorsement, you have two options. You can take a weekend long motorcycle safety class, and pass it. You ride smallish bikes in agility tests, classroom work, etc. If you don't want to do that, you can make an appointment with your local examiner. You take a written test, and if you pass, you take a riding exam whilst wearing a helmet that the insructor can signal to you via some kind of speaker, headphone, etc. on what course to take, what manuever, etc. If you pass you get the M endorsement, and can ride anything. You don't have to show up on your own bike to take the riding test. Many people borrow a small one that's easier to ride. Cannonfodder, correct me on any of this if I'm using old information, this is the lateset I know of. In my case, in 1970, I passed the written test, went out to the parking lot, started my bike, rode around two blocks, with the instruction watching, and if it looked like I knew what I was doing, I got the M endorsement. Nothing to renew, I just keep it everytime I renew my driver's license. (every five years)
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  #17  
Old 30 May 2008, 07:21 PM
Troberg Troberg is offline
 
 
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Quote:
Ural used to build a two-wheel drive motorcycle and sidecar
Yep, they are still being built (browse around on the link I provided earlier). Even cooler, they had two wheel drive, in other words, the wheel on the sidecar was powered as well.

Quote:
though the Russian build quality was poor.
I've read up on it, and apparently, they have improved a lot. Most say "treat it nicely and it will never let you down". Some basic maintenance needed, and it will work nicely.

Quote:
If I had your engineering skills, Troberg
Don't overestimate them. I'm good with computers and electronics and can do basic stuff on a car, but that's more or less where my skills end. On the other hand, I know what I can and can't do, and that's probably the most important skill...

Quote:
I reckon I'd be considering a homebuilt, preferably around a Kawasaki 900 engine. With a turbo.
Too much work. Besides, a pocket bike with a jet engine is cooler: http://www.pulse-jets.com/phpbb3/vie...hp?f=13&t=2154 (make sure you read the entire thread, that guy is an amazing builder).
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  #18  
Old 30 May 2008, 07:37 PM
niner niner is offline
 
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Hans Off:
There's only two levels of skill in the US - one for bikes under 150cc, which requires a written test only, and one for over, which requires a practical exam on at least a 250cc bike plus the written (I believe that's nationwide, but I could be wrong). So the guy who learned to ride on a Ninja 250 can go out and buy a Hayabusa GXSR 1300 and hit the streets. I'd much rather see a more level-based licensing, but given that many new riders want to jump on a liter cruiser bike and would object that anything smaller isn't powerful enough, it'd have a hard time becoming law.

Zachary:
That's still what Ural makes - a quick look at the Wolf looks like it uses the same boxer engine that the other Urals make. I think by now they've made their own upgrades, and it's a bit of a parallel but divergent evolution, but the engine is still considered a simple, fix-it-yourself deal. If I had spare money, I'd definitely look into a 2WD Ural - that'd be a pretty sweet backup bike/winter bike.

Ali: A pad or stirrup wouldn't do much to stop the owner from being thrown from the bike - and unless you installed a roll cage, being stuck on the bike would be just as bad. The only way to really make a supersport bike safe for a new rider would be to disable a cylender, or otherwise limit the power coming out of the engine (governor? throttle limiter?). In any case, it'd have to be user removable, so the owners who are most at risk would most likely take it off. The best solution is to start off on a bike that's capable but safer - a smaller standard, smaller sportbike, or a midsize tourer or cruiser would make a much better first choice. Some would argue that my bike was a poor first choice, but that's more for the amount of money damage would cost (lots of plastic) and the fact that it's so heavy, making it harder to manage.

HenryB
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  #19  
Old 30 May 2008, 08:44 PM
RichardM RichardM is offline
 
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Niner,
The driving laws in the US are state specific. We have essentially 50 different sets of licensing regulations. Plus Porto Rico and Guam. Texas has absolutely no differentation for engine size on bikes. Other states (Alabama) allow a 50cc or under bike to be riden by younger riders.
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  #20  
Old 15 June 2008, 05:13 PM
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Atlanta Jake Atlanta Jake is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by niner View Post
...The best solution is to start off on a bike that's capable but safer - a smaller standard, smaller sportbike, or a midsize tourer or cruiser would make a much better first choice. Some would argue that my bike was a poor first choice, but that's more for the amount of money damage would cost (lots of plastic) and the fact that it's so heavy, making it harder to manage.

HenryB
Sorry to bump this old thread, but I wanted to comment to Henry: This is what I did just last month. I bought my very first motorcycle, and after several long talks with my brother (who has been riding for 20+ years) and a good friend (also riding for 20+), I decided on a stable but capable "beginner" bike. I got a 1992 Honda CB750 Nighthawk, which gets 51 MPG and is fun as heck to ride. It's very forgiving, and I find that I have surprised myself with how quickly I have taken to riding.

Of course, both of my riding advisers have repeatedly drilled the safety aspects into my brain (It didn't take much - I have responded to many many ugly motorcycle accidents over the years) so I never ride without Helmet, gloves, over-the-ankle boots, and my Joe Rocket padded riding jacket.

When I am more confident, and have more road experience, my eventual goal is something like a nice big Honda Goldwing. I envision week long road trips, and hopefully Mrs. Jake will come along. She would most definitely not get on a smaller bike, but I think a nice big cruiser Might be acceptable! The point was: $2,500 is a reasonable price for a decent bike to learn on. It would have made no sense to purchase a $22,000 monster when I had never even ridden a motorcycle before!

Atlanta Jake
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