In general, motorcycle design has yielded steady safety improvements.
The motorcycles of today are better in virtually every significant
safety area than those of just two decades ago.
Current motorcycles have better brakes, greater stability, more
responsive steering, more effective controls, improved ergonomics
for better control and reduced fatigue, and improved reliability
in all systems than those of even a decade ago.
The acceleration and top speed of the most powerful models (mostly
sportbikes) have increased continually. The effect of these performance
increases on safety is currently unknown.
Tires, which are particularly crucial components on a two-wheeled
vehicle, have advanced significantly and have contributed much
to vehicle performance, reliability, and safety. Modern tires
are more durable, offer better traction for turning and stopping,
and have contributed to significantly improving stability compared
with their counterparts of the 1970s.
Some motorcycles have hand and foot controls that can be adjusted
to accommodate various riders with larger or smaller than average
hands and feet, thereby increasing the riders control of
Brakes are often significantly more powerful and can have an
antilock braking system and/or linked front and rear application.
Lack of rider protection is a characteristic of all motorcycles.
Research into devices to reduce rider injuries in crashes is ongoing.
Because of the lack of coupling between motorcycle and rider (which
would create an additional hazard), motorcycle-mounted rider protection
systems have significant limitations (Ouellet,
1990; see Personal
Protective Equipment, page 27).
Leg protectors have been devised and studied in the United
States and internationally, but the results have been mixed thus
far. There is no widespread agreement that they provide additional
protection, and they may pose safety drawbacks.
Motorcycle airbags have been under study for 30 years
both as vehicle equipment and as a part of the riders apparel.
At this time, the benefits and risks, such as undesired deployment,
are still under investigation (Iijima,
The evolution and specialization of street motorcycles to meet
specific requirements of the market have created some design features
that raise safety issues and suggest further research.