Safer on a Dual-Sport Bike?

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by mikem9, Jan 25, 2013.

  1. mikem9

    mikem9 Wanderer

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,251
    Location:
    North Georgia
    Do you feel you are statistically safer, or less safe when you ride a (650cc or less thumper) dual sport bike vs. other types of more powerful streetbikes (sport bikes, sport touring bikes, cruisers, Big Adventure bikes etc)?

    Let's take rider differences out of the equation and pretend that we are only comparing one person at a time on one type of bike vs. the other type. And that one person's tendencies on one type of bike vs. the other.

    650cc or Less Thumper with 50/50 tires:

    Pros:
    Sit up higher
    Easier to be seen
    Better vision
    Lighter and easier to maneuver
    Typically enjoy riding at slower speeds than other bigger bikes, so you generally ride slower on the street.
    Bike is slower - less likely to get into trouble by brief lack of judgement with the throttle
    Better handling if the road is very rough or you have to quickly go off the road.

    Cons:
    Blown around by wind
    Less passing power
    Less power to blip out of danger.
    Brakes
    Pavement tire grip
    #1
  2. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,502
    Location:
    Delaware Ohio
    I got nothin' for you. One can fall down and crash on anything.

    I ride my dual sport faster than my street bike. With the Duro tires I have never had them slip in a corner even when chasing my friends about on their supermoto types (moto'd XR650R and Aprilia 550). As for passing, it's all in the execution - planned passing. I don't really find myself blown about much that I ever really notice either.

    As for danger, I can't really speak for that either. Your first plus allows me to see what is going on and not get in any danger per se. My KLX can bring the front wheel to a squeal if I want, in other words the 300mm rotor stops quite well, although I think a 4 piston caliper would take it from a 2 finger brake maybe to a single finger brake. Again, no problems with braking.

    The key point is the rider makes the safety factor above all else, by knowing how to deal with the world regardless of the kind of bike ridden. Thus I got nuthin' for ya.
    #2
  3. Wraith Rider

    Wraith Rider Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,604
    Location:
    Germany
    Statistically speaking, according to MAIDS, only tourers are a bit less likely than other types of bikes to have an accident.

    As long as I can look over the cars it doesn't matter if I sit a few cm higher or lower, same to see and being seen.
    Lighter/easier to maneuver isn't really right. A sports bike has, due to its harder suspension, the better maneuverability at least on even pavement.
    #3
  4. stepink104

    stepink104 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2012
    Oddometer:
    10
    i also ride a suzuki m109r.........to me it is safer faster and a lot more easier seen and heard
    #4
  5. ray h

    ray h Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 3, 2010
    Oddometer:
    270
    Location:
    Waynesboro, PA
    I don't think theere has ever been a statistical breakdown of particular bike types. I'm sure insurance companies have done similar things based on cc though.
    I believe, as a previous poster said, it comes down to how you ride it. Stay within your capabilities and the bikes capabilities and neither would be more or less dangerous.
    #5
  6. scottrnelson

    scottrnelson Team Orange

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,523
    Location:
    Folsom, CA
    I know for sure that I can't brake in as short of distance on my XR650L as I could on the Ducati ST2 that I used to ride regularly. The XR dives about eight inches in the front during a hard stop and takes longer to get to maximum stopping power as well. So I would say the Dual Sport is less safe in a situation that requires hard braking.

    I'm less likely to get going too fast on the XR compared to that Ducati or my current KTM 990 Adventure, because it doesn't come anywhere close to the acceleration ability of those bigger V-twins, so I'll call the Dual Sport a bit safer in that area.

    In every other aspect of riding, I'll call them close enough to equal that the differences should be insignificant.

    Personally, I don't feel any less safe on any of the bikes I've owned recently. Most of what makes a bike safe is how the rider controls it, and since I've concentrating on safety first for nearly ten years, I, as the rider, make a much bigger difference than the bike.
    #6
  7. mikem9

    mikem9 Wanderer

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,251
    Location:
    North Georgia
    I think that is a very true point, but I'm trying to ask the question based on what you consider to be typical human behavior. Do you think you would stay equally within your capabilities and that of the bike no matter what type bike you are riding? Or are you more likely to engage in actions on one bike vs. the other which would make you more or less safe?

    For instance, I'm much more likely to go a good deal faster on my Bandit than my KTM Exc, (except maybe in tight twisties) mainly because I feel more comfortable doing so. I'm also much more likely to pass cars in all types of situations on my Bandit because I feel more comfortable with the power of that bike. Will the slower speeds and less passing risks on the KTM overcome it's handling shortfalls in the safety equation? Hmmm, I don't know.

    Just an interesting topic to think about.

    I do feel that for an inexperienced rider, a dual sport is probably a safer choice - as he's gaining experience and hours. The mistakes made with throttle, clutch and braking control can be potentially less severe. Also, he can take that dual sport and get dirt experience, which is pretty well proven to help his personal statistics.

    Interested in your thoughts.
    #7
  8. PeterW

    PeterW Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,820
    Location:
    Gold Coast
    Yes, but I ride in marginal conditions :).

    The leverage on the bars, the lock-to-lock angle and longer suspension on the Dual Sport I ride have allowed me to make saves that wouldn't have been possible on a sports bike.

    That said, I probably wouldn't have ridden a sports bike up a winding mountain road in the tail-end of a cyclone either ;). (Which I did this morning). Roads running with water, branches, leaves and bark over the road, fallen trees to get past and over etc.

    You tend to push the limits of safety in any vehicle, though I suspect the odds of surviving a spill on a wet road at 60kph on a DL are better than on a Busa in the dry at 180kph ;).

    Pete
    #8
  9. ray h

    ray h Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 3, 2010
    Oddometer:
    270
    Location:
    Waynesboro, PA
    So if you are asking about me personally, how I feel.
    I felt safer on my KLR650 than I do on my Versys. I don't know if I actually was safer or just felt safer.
    #9
  10. C/1/509

    C/1/509 Why?

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2006
    Oddometer:
    6,908
    Same rider - same skill set, same mind set or maturity level on different bikes, right?

    What type of bike has the best on road (assuming that's what we're talking about here) traction, based on tires and suspension?

    What type of bike has the best (feel and stopping distance) brakes?

    What type of bike has the best handling?

    What type of bike has the best "on demand, right now to get out of danger" acceleration?

    If you ride any bike like an idiot, you're likely to get bitten. But I have to say that if everything is equal from the rider/skill/not being a dumbass perspective, the "safest" bike is not a dual-sport. They're not intrinsically "unsafe" of course, but that wasn't the question.
    #10
  11. chazbird

    chazbird Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2009
    Oddometer:
    3,788
    The two dual sports I've owned, a TransAlp and F650GSA, sure were better on lousy roads - potholes, craters, bad pavement, etc. That's a plus in risk reduction. I went straight over a 4x4 on the TransAlp at about 25mph with no ill effects. Also, you sit higher and with high viz gear you should be easier to see, and I found the sit high position helped a lot in commute situations to see traffic conditions sooner.
    #11
  12. SRG

    SRG SRG

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,338
    Location:
    Charlottesville, Virginia
    I love it when sportbike riders complain about road debris/gravel. Dualsport riders aim for that stuff for fun.
    #12
  13. DAKEZ

    DAKEZ Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    19,747
    Location:
    OR
    The 650 Dual Sports are certainly easier to keep under a 100mph. :deal
    #13
  14. duck

    duck Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2004
    Oddometer:
    10,403
    Location:
    Seattle (Berkeley with rain)
    Statistics and how safe you think you are all go to shit when a deer pulls an unexpected left in front of you.
    #14
  15. mikem9

    mikem9 Wanderer

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,251
    Location:
    North Georgia
    I don't know, there is some feeling out there that big heavy adventure touring bikes like BMW GS 1200's may give you a better chance to stay upright in a deer strike. Heavy, unique suspension, tall and upright seating position. Still wouldn't want to hit one though!
    #15
  16. Wraith Rider

    Wraith Rider Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,604
    Location:
    Germany
    Everything with a steering damper might have an adventage in the deer case. Mass and speed/accelertion do help as well in staying upright. Sounds like a + for sports bikes and heav tourers again.
    #16
  17. Pantah

    Pantah PJ Fan from Boston

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2004
    Oddometer:
    10,456
    Location:
    India Wharf
    I can tell you this: riding a dual sport in the city is much easier than a sportbike. You can see better. The power delivery is more appropriate. The pot holes don't break your wheels. :D

    I think the only thing handier than a dual sport in the city is a scooter with 16 inch wheels. :deal

    I like my sportbike, but only for looking at.
    #17
  18. mikem9

    mikem9 Wanderer

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,251
    Location:
    North Georgia
    That's an interesting point. In addition to deer, these probably give an advantage in hitting other critters, dogs etc., chunks of debris in the road such as rocks, etc. Thoughts?
    #18
  19. BanjoBoy

    BanjoBoy Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2009
    Oddometer:
    878
    Location:
    Northern CA
    I dun had me a KLR650, 'n I'd say it wuz way mor dangerous ta ride than mah FJ1200s, FZ1, FJR1300, or FZ6. That big pig didn't stop or turn, and all the weight wuz up high. I crashed it 3 times in 4 months 'n 8,200 mi.
    Fer me sport'in bikez iz much safer.
    This FZ6 rider don't complain 'bout a little dirt or gravel. :dunno

    [​IMG]

    Good point. :D
    #19
  20. Gundy

    Gundy Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2010
    Oddometer:
    982
    Location:
    Philly 'burbs
    Lighter, slower, more visible, trained rider with some brain matter between their ears = safer. Speed kills. I don't really buy into the more power is safer thing, unless you ride on really really congested freeways where lane positioning is even more critical (if you ae a safety nut you shouldn't be there anyways) or you have some really sudden on ramps. Even a 250 has the juice to accelerate at average car speed.

    Also, I was a skeptic, but ABS makes a big difference in preventing low/hi sides according to statistics. So that all kind of points to something like a higher end 650cc bike that has ABS (not sure if they make anything smaller with it) some bright headlights, and a tall stance (easier to be seen). Maybe a VStrom or 650GS?
    #20