Most Dangerous: Motorcycle Accidents by Type of Bike

Trusted Content

Legally reviewed by:

Erik Abrahamson, J.D. February 09, 2021

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcycle riders continue to be overrepresented in traffic fatalities.

The smaller size of the motorcycle may be harder for other drivers to see, especially if they are driving distracted. But what are the most dangerous motorcycles? 

Why Motorcycle Accidents Are So Dangerous

There are two reasons why a motorcycle accident is often far worse than an accident involving cars: speed and size. First, motorcycles are generally capable of traveling at much higher speeds than the average car. Although riders must speed to reach a motorcycle’s limits, they may feel the desire to do so along stretches of open road.

Second, motorcycles are small compared to a majority of other vehicles on the road. According to the Highway Loss Data Institute at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 63% of all motorcyclist deaths involve at least one other vehicle.

In a wreck with a car, the motorcycle and its rider will experience far more damage. In addition, riders have little to no protection other than their riding gear. 

Most Dangerous Motorcycles

A big part of a motorcycle’s safety comes down to the rider. Wearing a helmet and proper protective gear and riding the speed limit can reduce some of the risk. But for a variety of reasons, riders don’t always take those precautions. Here are common motorcycle types and what makes these motorcycles dangerous.

Street or Sport Bikes

Street bikes and sport bikes are stylish, mean-looking motorcycles loved for their high speed. Although they come in a variety of engine sizes, sport bikes often have larger engines for more power.

What makes them dangerous

Sport bikes are dangerous primarily because of their speed. Right “out of the box,” sport bikes are capable of traveling over 200 miles per hour.

While going that fast may be thrilling, many riders are without safe opportunities to do so. Nevertheless, it can be tempting to open up the throttle on long stretches of highway or even down straight city streets.

However, these higher speeds mean less time to react and more opportunities to lose control. In addition, the flashy style of many sport bikes is alluring to younger, less experienced riders.

Motorcyclists in the “under 30” age group made up over half of the motorcycle fatalities involving sport bikes in 2018. By speed alone, sportbikes are one of the most dangerous motorcycles.


There’s very little statistical data discussing motorcycle accidents by type. But the data that is out there paints an interesting picture. In 2018, nearly half of all motorcycle rider deaths occurred on bikes with an engine size of 0-1000 cc.

Cruisers typically come with an engine size of between 250 and 1800 cc, making them a large portion of this engine class. 

What makes them dangerous

Cruisers are undeniably the bike of choice in the U.S., making up over half of all motorcycle sales. Because there are so many cruisers on the road, it is inevitable that more accidents will involve them.

Unfortunately, they are also more dangerous because of the culture of their riders. Riders on a cruiser may be more interested in style than safety, forgoing a traditional motorcycle helmet for less-safe “bucket-style” helmets. In addition, cruiser riders are more likely to follow a “forget the rules” lifestyle.

Combine that with a more leaned back riding style that newer riders may have more trouble with, and you have one of the most dangerous motorcycles out there.

Retro and Kit Bikes

Older motorcycles, kit bikes, and cafe racers are lightweight, stripped down motorcycles that can offer a chance for customizations. This DIY nature makes them popular among riders of all age groups and experience levels.

What makes them dangerous

Not all bike owners are expert mechanics. As a result, modifications to their motorcycles may end up making them unsafe to drive. In addition, because these bikes have very little extra body work, they offer even less protection to a rider than other motorcycles.

Touring Bikes

Touring bikes are designed with one thing in mind: long rides equipped with some of the practical accessories absent on other types of motorcycles. Adventure touring bikes are a subset of tourers suited for both highway hauls and off-road exploration.

What makes them dangerous

Even if they don’t travel at as high speeds, tourers are on the road longer. What’s more, they are usually much heavier; the average weight of a touring bike is around 900 pounds, while sport bikes and cruisers are roughly half that. The heftier weight can make these motorcycles harder to control.

In addition, older riders more commonly favor adventure tourers. In the IIHS study, 64% of fatalities involved a touring motorcycle also involved a rider over the age of 50. Even if they have riding experience, older riders may be slower to react to emergency situations on the road.

Dirt Bikes

Dirt bikes are lightweight machines designed for taking jumps and riding off-road courses and trails. Like sport and street bikes, dirt bikes are favored by younger riders for their speed and the thrill of racing through a wooded glen.

What makes them dangerous

In this case, it isn’t so much the bike itself that is dangerous, but the way it is used. Dirt bikes are at home along narrow dirt tracks up in the mountains or on twisting courses with jumps and moguls. Combined with the rough, sometimes uneven terrain and a top speed of over 100 miles per hour, it’s no wonder dirt bikes are dangerous.

Like other off-road activities, riding a dirt bike is also riskier because emergency medical treatment may take longer to arrive. Depending on where you are, medical personnel may have difficulty reaching you.

Motorcycle accidents tend to involve more serious injuries, to begin with since the rider is more exposed than in a car. As a result, prompt medical treatment can be the difference between recovery or significant long-term injuries.

Injured in a Motorcycle Accident?

The Tampa motorcycle accident lawyers at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk have over 30 years of experience representing clients injured in motorcycle and auto accidents. During that time, we’ve helped over 20,000 clients recover hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements and compensation.

Contact us today online, by phone at 855-293-5630, or by text for a free case review.

Rate this Post

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars