A few days back, incited by the increasing number of superbike crash incidents being reported of late, we invited your thoughts on the idea of limiting the peak power for ultra powerful superbikes, or banning them altogether. As we expected, most of the comments damned the thought, and very articulately brought to fore the loopholes in our system that need to be plugged. For most, it’s the man, not the machine responsible for such incidents. There was, however, one opposing view, which endorsed the idea of banning superbikes.
The key takeaways from the leading thoughts are as follows
- Banning motorcycles based on power output is NOT a solution
- Riders need to be better trained and made more responsible
- A graded licensing system for riding motorcycles (following the European model, where higher capacity motorcycles require evolved skills and special tests for advanced licenses) was a strong suggestion. Reduction in the validity years of license was another thought.
- Another thought was to share a fixed percentage of the fines with the policemen, so they don’t indulge in corruption and focus better on law enforcement.
- Stricter penalties for non-conformation with the requirements
- Another thought was training of the superbike customers by manufacturers, though we really believe it wouldn’t be possible to implement it to any effect. Furthermore, it’s the responsibility of the authorities and not the businessmen to ensure that only properly trained riders get to sit astride these machines.
Here we have the compilation of the best comments by our readers. The top three have been published in that order, though the rest are just honourable mentions in no particular order. Some of the comments have been abridged, edited and chopped to ensure this post doesn’t look too verbose.
Top Comment # 1
A lot of nice thoughts, got 11 upvotes too
Make license levels, like in the UK, where an applicant has to spend a minimum number of days within a level before advancing to the next level. For a purchase of a specific class of bike, the owner should possess a valid license of the bike in transaction. This will reduce the amount of brainless heavy wallets from getting their behinds kicked by the tarmac.
Make strict penalties like confiscation of vehicle for non-conformation of the requirements, cancellation of license and banning of applicant. In cases of accidents of such non conforming riders, if the rider is the accused, the insurance amount of the accused shall be given to the victim, entirely.
The government should also start training schools for motorcycles beyond certain capacities. Reduce license validity to 5 years.
Make commission basis for traffic officers. 50% of fines from them will be added to their salaries. This will also reduce the level of corruption. If the cop will benefit by fining, they will have no need for losing their dignity.
Top comment # 2
A good licensing system is the need of the hour with so many superbike brands available in India right now. In fact a training course for handling powerful bikes should be a must to ride a superbike here. As far as these hyperbikes and superbikes crashes are concerned, some individuals are dumb enough to think that just because their machine churns out 200bhp, they should actually be using all that power.
I have had a Ninja250r, and now I ride a duke390. I always thought I have never actually taken the N250R to its limit, and even today I don’t think I will wring out the bike’s maximum power during ownership. The main thing which every rider needs to keep in the back of his/her mind is that apart from his own safety, the safety of others on the road is also equally important.
Top comment # 3
By Varun Narula
There are three parts the whole debate can be split into: The machine/class, the power limit and the rider skills/attitude.
Starting with the machine aspect, it would be a regressive move if litre bikes are banned only on the excuse that they register higher incidents of crashes. I mean what is the benchmark to define high? It’s not that the total motorcycle superbike crashes around the globe are more than. Just that like all things niche and expensive they get highlighted more. Hyperbikes still make sense as a class because for a cult set of riders it equates to happiness. By this logic would you ban all commuter bikes because they come with piddly tech and safety kit and hence have a higher propensity to crash? The KTM boss can have his views, it doesn’t define that of the masses. Is it a coincidence that so far KTM hasn’t had much success in the superbike segment with the RC8 deemed an average contender at best?
How much power is ‘a-lot-of-power’? That’s akin to asking how much food is a lot? It’s basic to remember that these bikes belt out the maniac horses only at their peak rpm. At lowest revs they can be/are as docile as anything smaller. It’s not as if from the start of throttle you are straight away belting 200+ horses. It is upto the rider how much power he wants to use/needs at that moment. There are racetracks like the BIC where even 200bhp makes you want more. Power should not be equated to top speed alone. That’s ridiculous and myopic. With the advancement in race technology it is only a matter of time before the track tech comes onto production bikes. It makes a lot of business sense to do the same to recover the cost of research which goes into the tech. Maybe next people will question the processor speeds and RAMs in smartphones and PCs. Why not? At the end of the day there is only so much hardware performance needed from your device and why buy a 3Gb RAM device when 512 Mb can suffice?
Now coming to the most important and dynamic factor – the rider. Like most suggested, there needs to be a licensing system in place which mandates that one does a basic safety and track-riding course and puts in a few hours riding big bikes in a controlled environment (read racetrack). Only then must they be eligible to register a hyperbike for the streets. Now that’s easier said than done. Firstly how many folks have access to a racetrack or to a riding school? Secondly how many racetracks will come up in the future considering the economic investment into it and from a developing countries point of view?
As a community of riders and manufacturers, the onus is on us to develop and utilize such infra. Protect our own I say.
Do remember that almost all these hyperbikes aren’t just big on power but also on top when it comes to safety tech. All these rider aids not only help keep a foolish rider safer than he would be on a standard machine but also help the trained ones in moments when laws of physics try to act against them.
At the end of the day it is not the machine or the power which is dangerous, its the speciman straddling those two wheels and the grey matter inside his helmet (assuming he/she is wearing one) which counts.
By Rahul Nargundkar
Siding with cars isn’t right. Cars may be safer, but crashing at over 350 kmph, no amount of carbon, magnesium, titanium or any other ium going to stop you from bein literally red paint on the road for half a mile
What all will a government ban? A Ninja 300 can touch 180 kmph on some days. A Duke 390 touches 100 kmph in around 6 seconds. Are these safe bikes? Yes of course. They are inherently not dangerous. They’re just non-tolerant towards careless or reckless riders.
Moving ahead & talking about India, we might require a good licensing system first of all. We don’t want a repeat of the Azharuddin’s son & nephew’s accident, or the Chennai incident. The common riding license is given to commoners, some of whom have no idea what a superbike is.
So, how do we proceed in real world? Well, make a signable campaign on change creating sites. In the campaign, we must ask for stricter norms for a new Superbike license for India. Encourage people on sites, forums, and real life to sign the campaign, so that India can be secured, both from the rider’s and the pedestrian’s point of view. Once the government takes notice, we will surely have a separate superbike licensing system, because for government this does equate to more income.
By Arun Alexander
Banning superbikes is not the solution when you have the right to indulge in what your heart has set its desire upon, neither can you exploit your indulgence to rip others safety and most importantly yours too. The solutions from my point of view to prevent these accidents are:
- Separate license for under 500cc and performance machines
- Training prospective customers by the manufactures. It’s difficult for the manufacturer to handle the burden, but they can include the training cost with the superbikes’ package. Else certification from reputed superbike training schools should be made mandatory for purchasing these liter class machines
By Nishant Mandavkar
I am part of many superbiking clubs and I see these riders very strictly follow all safety precautions, none found in regular riders. I see lot of fatal regular motorcycle accidents in which generally riders are knocked down by large a truck/bus and run over. I really see lot of such cases and these do not involve any speeding at all. So motorcycle accidents are the result of indiscipline and irresponsibility – just human nature, you can’t change it. We can’t ban knives because it can kill humans, can we?
By Vijay Chauhan
I think anyone buying a superbike should undergo a basic course in schools like California superbike school etc. Or at least should follow a simple procedure of first buying a less capacity bike and then should gradually go to bigger bikes.
And here’s the counter view by Anup
Yes, I believe that there should be a limit on how many horses people carry on their pocket keys to be used on public area just for the sake of life. Tracks are any day present for the enthusiasts.