The Most Dangerous Motorcycles on the Road

By Jim Greene

Published on November 30, 2009

While riding any motorcycle is inherently more dangerous than driving a four-wheeled vehicle, the class known as sport or supersport motorcycles is by far the most dangerous. These are little more than racing motorcycles equipped to meet the minimum requirements to be legally operated on public streets and highways.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the crash death rate for riders of supersport motorcycles is four times that for all motorcycle types combined. The IIHS blames both the design of supersports and the way they are often ridden.

Supersports Have Most Power Per Pound

As racing-type motorcycles, supersports are designed for maximum acceleration and fast cornering. To achieve this, they have the most horsepower per pound of any motorcycle class. The supersport 2006 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R weighs 404 pounds and puts out 111 horsepower. A 2006 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic Electra Glide touring motorcycle, designed for comfortable long-range riding, weighs in at 788 pounds, but its engine, although larger, produces only 65 horsepower.

The IIHS says many supersports are ridden as though they were on a racetrack, a contention backed up by crash data that show speed is more often a factor in supersport crashes than in those involving other motorcycle classes.

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