On a recent MMSC Facebook post, the organization wrote, “Over 60 percent of riders killed to-date were 45 and older. Whether you’re returning to riding or have been on the road for years, continued training is essential to staying safe.” Having done a good bit of “45 and older” motorcyclist training in the last dozen years, I’m not convinced that training is as useful as my employer. For starters, the majority of over-45 riders are hooked on image and can’t see themselves on any motorcycle that isn’t a Harley or, at least, looks exactly like a Harley.
At the risk of reinforcing my “motorcycle bigot” image, this is a problem. Motorcycles that don’t turn, stop, or handle safely in any situation that isn’t a straight line on perfect pavement are a poor choice for old, weak, fat, slow-witted and reaction-time, former or current rummies. If the rider isn’t an athlete, the motorcycle needs to be. The right choice for most over-45 riders in the US would be a small (250-500cc), lightweight standard motorcycle. Something like the new Honda CB500F/X models or a Kawasaki Versys at the largest.
Yeah, I know. You want to ride two-up to the bar and you can’t get two of your Minnesota-sized butts on a smaller motorcycle seat. Read the first paragraph again. 60% of the riders killed this year are 45-and-older. Why do you think you are talented enough to be carrying a passenger? If you aren’t safe by yourself, you’ll be twice as unsafe with a passenger.
To be sure, training is a good thing. We can all learn something from other experienced riders and bad habits are more easily ingrained than good. Still, training is not a magic bullet. You can only train the trainable. Some/most people do not belong on a motorcycle and no amount of training will fix that.