Motorcycling is risky. No spit, you say, right? But did you know how risky? It’s really risky. As much as thirty-five times more risky than driving a car in 2010, in fact, according to the National Motorcycle Training Institute (keep in mind this averages all skill levels, including beginners, and the risk is far lower for experienced, highly skilled riders).
Would you have made the decision to start riding if you had known that? Maybe. But maybe not, and that’s where the motorcycle industry starts squirming. Traditional motorcycle safety training programs might be more likely to tell prospective riders it’s risky, without getting into the details. Don’t expect to hear exactly how much more risky, according to any particular study. How many people (who don’t understand how truly awesome motorcycling is, of course) in their right minds would set foot in a motorcycle shop if they heard that?
Although displaying different risk statistics, Icon Motorsports kind of stunned me when I saw the new Airframe Statistic graphics scheme. It’s a helmet superimposed with the famous diagram from the Dietmar Otte helmet-impact study that shows 66 percent of helmet impacts strike the chinbar and forehead. The black-and-white graphics also identify parts of the skull like temporal, occipital and sphenoid bones that are in peril on an unhelmeted—or helmeted—rider.
Such a stark reminder of risk is a little past what even Icon usually does (a side note—Icon used to sew St. Christopher medallions into its jackets). Icon is a brand owned by Parts Unlimited, one of the major parts and accessories players in the powersports industry. Hardly a small, outsider company trying to shake things up. As far as I know, only one other outfitter, LS2, has made an attempt to educate riders with this information—see the YouTube video LS2’s Reg Kittrelle did below.
The reality is that though all that fancy, expensive riding gear we wear will certainly attenuate some injuries, especially roadrash, it does way too little to prevent severe injuries. Only a helmet is proven to reduce fatalities and head/brain injuries in any meaningful way. My kudos to Icon for having the courage (or is it just clever marketing?) to remind prospective (and current) riders of the risk we face every time we ride.
The Icon Airframe Statistic is avaialble through any dealer that carries Icon gear for an MSRP of $390.
*MSF Basic RiderCourse Rider Handbook, 2008, page 5.
Gabe Ets-Hokin is the Editor of CityBike Magazine, and a frequent contributor to MotorcycleDaily.com