The Safety Aspects of Chopper Motorcycles: A Literature Survey in Response to HJR #90

Report No: 75-R18

Published in 1974

About the report:

This study was initiated to examine certain safety characteristics of modified motorcycles. Are motorcycles which can be classified as "choppers" less safe than standard, retail, stock machines? Do personal modifications differ from professional modifications with respect to safety characteristics? The conclusions of this report are as follows: (1) At this time, there is no empirical evidence that would suggest that chopper motorcycles are overrepresented among motorcycle accidents. (2) In relation to chopper motorcycle design and demographic characteristics of chopper motorcycle drivers, there is indirect evidence that would lend support to the opinion that modified motorcycles may not present a safety hazard. (3) In relation to handling characteristics, chopper motorcycles may be more stable than stock motorcycles, although steering is slower and handling may be lighter or heavier. (4) Due to the importance of weld quality and the need for greater steering neck strength when front forks are extended, a safety hazard may be posed by a lack of quality control on motorcycles modified by amateur builders. From these conclusions, the following actions are recommended: (1) Procedures should be initiated to distinguish between modified and non-modified motorcycles either at the time of registration or at the time of inspection. These procedures would provide information on the number and kinds of modified motorcycles in operation. (2) The Vehicle Equipment Safety Commission Standards, when released in final form, should be critically examined and valuated prior to any administrative decision, to determine if they are applicable and adequate for adoption in Virginia.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


Other Authors

Charles B. Stoke, Donald W. Lemons, Cheryl W. Lynn

Last updated: February 5, 2024

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