"SUPERSPORT" MOTORCYCLES UNDER FIRE FROM INSURANCE INSTITUTE-- A recent media blitz by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an insurance industry trade group, purports that so-called "Supersport" motorcycles are nearly four times deadlier than all other types of bikes and have the worst overall insurance losses.
The IIHS study, which basically reviews existing federal FARS (Fatal Accident Reporting System) data and calculates motorcycle fatalities by type of motorcycle, blames the growing popularity of racing platform cycles amongst younger riders in part for a dramatic increase in U.S. motorcycle deaths, according to a September 11 article in USA Today.
Motorcycle fatalities jumped 59% from 2000-2005, while overall U.S. motorcycle registrations climbed 51%, but Supersport registrations were up 83% and accounted for 28% of motorcycle fatalities while representing about 9% of registered motorcycles. So, while overall fatalities per 10,000 registered motorcycles went up from 7.1 in 2000 to 7.5 in 2005, Supersports were credited with 22.5 deaths per 10,000 registrations.
The "Sport and Unclad Sport Bikes" category of motorcycles, also noted for their speed and agility, posted a fatality rate of 10.7 per 10,000, while "Touring" motorcycles were 6.5 and "Cruisers and Standard motorcycles", which comprise the bulk of motorcycle registrations, were statistically under-represented at 5.7 fatalities/10M.
The study criticizes manufacturers for promoting the speed of Supersport bikes, noting that "speed" was cited in 57% of the Supersport fatal crashes and 46% of the fatal Sport and Unclad Sport Motorcycle accidents.
Supersport bikes also have the highest overall collision coverage losses among 2002 to 2006 model bikes, a figure almost four times higher than Touring motorcycles and six times higher than Cruisers. The bikes are also popular targets among thieves, stolen at a rate seven times higher than the average for all 2002 to 2006 motorcycles.
"Short of banning supersport and sport motorcycles from public roadways, capping the speed of these street-legal racing machines at the factory might be one way to reduce their risk," suggests the IIHS report on the study.
In the late-80s the IIHS convinced Missouri Senator John Danforth to introduce a bill in Congress calling for horsepower limits on all motorcycles sold in the U.S., but he withdrew his controversial "Super Bike Ban" following intense lobbying by motorcyclists' rights activists and the motorcycle industry.