If you’re a driver, you may be right to steer clear of dirty, rusted bikes on the highway. On the other hand, if you’re a fan of vintage bikes, you may have less to fear from the age of a motorcycle than the condition it’s in.

It seems that the age of the bike is less of an important crash factor as how well it is taken care of. In a recent survey of motorcycle crashes, researchers discovered that old motorcycles aren’t risky. Bikes that have not aged well are likely to break down or swerve into other drivers than other bikes.

The survey examined 167 motorcycles that had been involved in accidents, and found that some of the most dangerous bikes were treacherous because of the:

  • Level of care. Over 20 percent of crashed bikes were found to be in unkept condition, including being covered in dirt, mud, or rust. Interestingly, clean motorcycles were mostly found to be in good or excellent mechanical condition as well, while bikes with mechanical problems were more likely to be dirty.
  • Upkeep. About 15 percent of bikes were rated in poor to fair mechanical condition, with faults in the compression, brakes, and bearings. In addition, 25 percent of bikes had a worn or loose chain before the crash occurred, and 15 percent had insufficient brake pad thickness to stop the tires.
  • Tires. Over a quarter of wrecked motorcycles had under-inflated front or rear tires, and 19 percent of rear tires were so badly worn that they were almost bald.
  • Riders. Nearly 30 percent of crashes involved excessive speed for the conditions and 15 percent of motorcycles had traveled fewer than 3,000 miles. New bikes often mean new bikers, and inexperience may have played a role in these crashes.

So what does this mean for car drivers? If you’re traveling next to a biker on North Flintlock, check out his bike: if it’s an old bike, but in good condition, he’s probably just as invested in safety as you are. Be sure to share the road, give motorcyclists the full use of their lane, and always use your signals to make sure those around you can help you maneuver more easily.

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