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Are cruisers unsafe?

Discussion in 'Cruisers' started by Grey Gentry, Mar 15, 2009.

  1. mate of mine who riders a cruiser recently had an accident. A car turned in front of him. He is ok now recovering and about to go back to work.
    He locked up the front brake. This has got me thinking about why.
    The cruiser in question only had one disk, lots of others are the same. Why one disk?
    The reason is that because of the increased rake of the steering head, the cruiser is unable to get the weight transfer, like a sports or touring bike can, onto the front tyre to increase the amount of traction available.

    This means poor braking performance.

    Even with ABS fitted, it would only stop the front from locking, but not decrease the braking distance.

    This is a design problem. And a bloody dangerous design problem.

    The long rake also increases the straight line stability, therefore reducing the ability to swerve quickly.

    Therefore I have come to the conclusion that the primary safety of the cruiser design is unsafe.

    So until the authorities ban the use of cruiser styled motorcycles...be aware that they can't stop very well. Or turn very well.

    Better still don't buy one.

    Take care out here.
  2. There is almost* no such thing as an unsafe motorcycle. Just bikes with different performance envelopes and different characteristics.

    Any bike, ridden within its performance envelope is acceptably safe. Cruisers certainly brake differently from sports bikes, requiring more rear brake than might be expected, but any modern bike of whatever shape will pull up without that "Ohshititsnevergonnastop" sensation familiar to many riders of even some 1980s tackle.

    It's a bugger about your mate, and my best wishes for a speedy recovery, but it's a bit unfair to condemn a whole style of bike because he doesn't know how to stop one without dropping it.

    *Exceptions may exist in the form of things like Kawa H1s, Suzuki 1200 Maduras and other machines with a tendency to switch from one behaviour mode to another without external or rider input.
  3. Don't say that :(

    My next bike will be a night rod
  4. As I understand it, braking in one area where cruisers can keep right up there with sportbikes. I'm not a scientist so I don't know the physics behind it, but there are plenty of data out there that support this statement.

    For example, these bikes are a bit older, but I don't think the trend would've changed much (and even if it changed by a few inches here and there, the point stands)

    Considering MCN is American, these units would be in imperial.
  5. Rear brake. Decent-sized (generally) rear tyre. Allegedly poor weight transfer to the front means the rear brake would do more work, and therefore if up to the task would be more effective, yeah?
  6. Yep, the total load on the tires ie. the sum of the load on the front and the load on the rear will remain the same during braking, so the rear brake can be used to a greater extent which will compensate for the reduced front brae effectiveness.

    Actually the effective coefficient of friction of tires tends to reduce as the vertical load is increased, which means that greater braking can be achieved if the load transfer is reduced.
  7. The safest cruiser in the world . . .

  8. The most likely reason is wrong braking technique.

    As others have alluded to cruisers need a different method of braking with more force to the rear and less to the front.

    As an example many advanced rider training schools make comments like "90% of your braking is done by the front brake".

    That's simply wrong when it comes to cruisers and the balance is much closer to 50% front/50% rear.

    So... look for a cruiser with a strong rear brake and not too strong a front brake (unless it's a power cruiser with almost unraked upside down forks, or a Guzzi California/Bellagio which have standard(ish) rake).
  9. What's long and pink and makes you gag?
  10. Your conclusion is wrong, the crash was caused by human error.

    Cruisers have a much different weight distribution than a sports bike, he should have used much more rear brake. A recent ride on a 883 Sportster showed me the difference.

    I agree with you however, that they don't turn too well! :grin:
  11. #11 Bluesuede, Mar 16, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 13, 2015
    There, fixed that for you :roll:

    Sorry but firstly you're making an assumption that because your mate crashed, therefore it was the fault of his bike, and not his ability to ride it. Or that it would have been avoidable on a different bike.

    Try telling the guy in 99KKx7cB-Ok[/media]]this video that his big heavy cruiser isn't maneuverable and doesn't turn very well.

    Seriously, there are some cruisers with bad brakes and there are some with good. Some have dual front disks, some have a single. Some have rear disk brakes some have rear drums. Some brake much better than others. Bit like any other bike really. I think the lesson to be learned here is when it comes to emergency braking, it pays to practice, practice, practice. That your mate locked up his front wheel spells to me that he applied poor e-braking technique for his bike, not that his bike is inherently more dangerous than another type.
  12. Sorry to hear about your mate, and best wishes for his recovery. But I think you’re being a bit hard on the poor old cruiser mate! Now, I will admit to being relatively new at riding, only having had my license a little over 1 year now after a 20 something year hiatus. But my return to riding was solely to ride a cruiser. I have only had 2 situations (thankfully) since starting riding again, both were red lights that I chose to practice my emergency stopping at. (To set the scene, I’m happily riding along, the traffic lights change to amber and I decide to stop rather than run them. In both instances I was fairly close to the lights and could have run the red if I had to, there were no other vehicles that would have me in danger.) Both times my “Set-Up-&-Squeeze†technique that was taught to me on my Q-Ride day (a nod to Erica at Top Rider in Nerang, Qld) came through with flying colours. The second of these times I had my wife on pillion and didn’t have time to tell her what was going on, but she worked it out for herself and tucked in and held on and we stopped perfectly. Now, I realize that stopping for red lights is a much less stressful job than stopping for a turning vehicle, but the fact remains that the technique worked.

    I am in NO way having a crack at your mate, but no matter what we choose to ride, we ALL need to be aware of what everyone around us COULD do! We have to know what the drivers are doing before it puts us into danger!

    Riding a cruiser is an enjoyable experience (I LOVE my VTX!!!!) but you really need to know their behaviours, and practice often certain techniques.


  13. Reminds me that I really need to get out and practice emergency braking. I am rarely riding the motorcycle... is the problem.. And I am often on two wheels. But that won;t save my neck if I really need to get braking right.
  14. a bigger load of bollocks i have yet to hear
    do you work for the government on motorcycle advice
    lets look at the only important part of your staement.
    the front brake locked up
    the brakes did their job and no more bracking pressure could have been applied as it had been exceeded
    the tyres did their job as no more grip could be applied as it had been exceeded
    ABS may have shortened brakeing distance as it would have overidden the pressure at the lever and would have made more efficiant use of the bikes ability to stop. Not all ABS systems work as well as each other so don't rely on this.
    the best advice for control of any bike is smooth smooth and smooth.
  15. Stupidest thread ever.
  16. Absolutely. There's nothing inherently unsafe about modern cruisers - explicitly leaving out some with extensive modifications to front ends.

    If the front wheel has locked up then adding more braking power will only lock it sooner. Cruisers do often require a different braking technique.

    Having said all that, there's absolutely no comparative information at the moment on whether any one bike is "safer" than another. There's often no crash stats kept on make - let alone model, age or style. This is something that is really crucial information for studying causation. If (say) 10% of bikes were cruisers but 50% of crashes were cruisers then this would be significant information (but not necessarily about whether cruisers were more dangerous - it might be related to the type of person who rides a cruiser).

    The Community Policing and Education Strategy also involves getting better crash information and funding an analyst to examine it in depth. Something that's never been done before either.

    In summary - there's no information to say that any one type of bike is more crash prone than another (Unless as PatB said above you're talking about H1 Kawasakis - or the first model XS1 Yamahas with the two sets of hinges in the frame :roll: or the Honda Dream 305 with the pressed tinfoil frames :LOL: )
  17. Is this post meant to be sarcastic? :-k
  18. Your argument invites 'the authorities banning' all motorcycles on similar grounds.

    If people's only concern was safety, we'd all sit in our locked houses with tin-foil hats.

    I would think so.
  19. This concept of cruisers being different to brake does have some merit. The motorcycle instructor we went to told us that almost all the braking was done with the front, and thats how we learnt (and practiced).

    So if something used to this hops on a cruiser and grabs a handful of the front brake, expecting the wheel to dig in and stop without breaking traction may have a nasty surprise. Especially if they are trying to turn at the same time.

    However the long wheelbase and rearward mass distribution of a cruiser means it can stop quickly without performing a stoppie, assuming you give it a lot of rear brake.

    So no, I wouldn't say cruisers are inherently unsafe. Unusual to drive and ugly perhaps, but no less safe than an equivalent sports bike.