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Atlanta Dan
08-08-2006, 01:58 PM
A weekly column that has now returned to ESPN.com from NFL.com is Tuesday Morning Quarterback by Gregg Easterbrook. Easterbrook's day job is as a political columnist, but his very lengthy NFL column usually has some interesting points.

Today's column includes an understated but very persuasive analayis of why the bike Ben was riding at the time of the accident should not even be legal and also has some thoughts on why not only Ben but all players should be going to the new Riddell "Revolution" helmet that is designedto cut down on concussions. The more I read about the bike Ben was riding without a helmet the more amazed I am that he is not dead or a quadriplegic.

Sayonara, Hayabusa: "It remains totally ridiculous, to say nothing of immature, that Ben Roethlisberger, or anyone, rides a motorcycle without a helmet." (From TMQ in August 2005.)

Helmet aside, this is what Roethlisberger was straddling when he wiped out [note -this cut & paste does not include the pictiure of the bike that is in the linked story]-- a Suzuki Hayabusa, advertised by the manufacturer as "the fastest production bike on the planet." The Hayabusa has a 160-horsepower engine, same as the new Ford Fusion sedan. But the motorcycle weighs 478 pounds, while a Fusion tips the scales at 3,101 pounds. This means a Hayabusa throbs with seven times the horsepower-to-weight ratio of a modern car. Another vehicle with a 160-horsepower engine is the Cessna 172 Skyhawk, with a maximum takeoff weight of 2,450 pounds. Roethlisberger's bike had five times the power-to-weight ratio of an airplane, and minimum-weight criteria dominate aircraft design. The Hayabusa boasts a peak speed of almost 200 miles per hour, but since no street rider ever approaches peak speed, in everyday circumstances what the power is used for is acceleration. The bike accelerates from zero to 100 miles per hour in three seconds, which is astonishing. The new Corvette Z06, the fastest Corvette ever, accelerates from zero to 60 in 3.8 seconds, plenty dazzling enough. But the Hayabusa gets to 100 miles per hour faster than the best Corvette reaches 60 miles per hour. One-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three -- your Hayabusa is now moving 100 miles per hour.


Like all max-performance bikes, the Hayabusa is basically a big engine with two wheels and a seat. There are no safety mechanisms: no roll bars, no shoulder harness, no impact-absorbing beams, no air bags, not even bumpers. Acceleration of max-performance motorcycles is wildly disproportionate to driving needs. The only real use of the acceleration ability is road rage -- to drag-race from stoplights, cut others off in traffic, speed like mad. Perhaps you've been on a highway when a couple colorful high-performance bikes have roared past you at far over the speed limit. The people on the bikes may be morons, which is their problem. But their antisocial behavior is your problem, since vehicles moving significantly faster than the speed of traffic are a leading cause of accidents.


This column isn't much of a fan of the tort bar, yet wonders why litigators have not put the Hayabusa and similar overpowered bikes out of business. High-performance street motorcycles are socially irresponsible, and designed without regard for the safety of riders. Roethlisberger and others who buy high-performance bikes don't wish anyone harm, they're just looking for an ego rocket. But harm is what they cause, and legislatures should intervene. The Constitution says you've got a right to own a gun and to read a newspaper; firearms and materials related to First Amendment political, artistic and religious expression are the only categories of purchases with specific constitutional protection. Race a mega-motorcycle on a private track? Sure. But public roads are subject to public regulation. Our nation's laws do not confer any "right" to operate on public roads a high-horsepower bike, anymore than there's a "right" to drive a bulldozer down the middle of an interstate. It is past time the high-horsepower motorcycle was regulated off the roads. The intended use of these bikes is lawbreaking!

Note: In addition to disdaining motorcycle helmets, Roethlisberger just told Mike Prisuta of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he won't wear Riddell's new Revolution football helmet. "We tried it on, and we didn't like it," Roethlisberger said. We tried it on? Who tried it on with you, Gollum? Queen Elizabeth II? Any football player who doesn't switch to a Revolution, which has concussion-prevention engineering, is out of his frakking mind. My kids' high school team has gone all-Revolution. The coach, James Collins, says he does not want any of his players on the field without a Revolution or the similar new Shutt helmet with anti-concussion design. The faster every team at every level of football switches to concussion-reduction headgear, the better. Idle thought: Would a Revolution protect you if you were hit by an Evolution?

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=easterbrook/060808

RoethlisBURGHer
08-08-2006, 02:20 PM
Until the Steelers make a switch to all-revolution helemts Ben can choose whatever helmet he wants.

AZ_Steeler
08-08-2006, 02:31 PM
Just to add to this particular bike that Ben had been riding... in one of his interviews he stated he just got it back because he had had some custom work done it. From looking at the pictures, I can tell right off hand that the 2 exhaust on the bike is an upgrade. I added the exact same exhaust to my bike and it upgraded my HP by 5 and I only have 1 exhaust. I'm not sure if it makes a bit of difference since he has 2 but still it's at least an added 5 HP onto a monster already. Plus, we don't know if he had any other major work done to the engine, he could have it fully jetted!!! That would be ridiculous given that it's somehwat already super-charged...

Mosca
08-08-2006, 02:46 PM
Well, there are already laws against speeding, reckless driving/riding, cutting off traffic, etc. To say that only high horsepower motorcycles can do that is ludicrous, I'm sure we've all been passed or cut off by beater pickup trucks, Hyundais, Miatas, and yes, high horsepower sport bikes.

To pick just one point where the author shaves the truth: But their antisocial behavior is your problem, since vehicles moving significantly faster than the speed of traffic are a leading cause of accidents. Well, yes that's true, but it's only part of the truth. The truth is, vehicles moving EITHER signifigantly faster OR SIGNIFIGANTLY SLOWER than the speed of traffic are the leading cause of accidents. Now that doesn't mean that insane speeding doesn't cause accidents, but it does show that the author has a slant. Possessing a vehicle capable of producing insane speed and acceleration doesn't mean you'll use it, either.

We have laws that outlaw the behavior; that doesn't mean you have to outlaw the machine, too. Because you know that that Corvette he's writing about? That will be the next target. And eventually your V6 Runabout will be deemed unsafe because it's more powerful than Aunt Minnie's I-4 Crapmobile.

Slippery slope, slippery slope.

RoethlisBURGHer
08-08-2006, 02:51 PM
As long as he doesn't get on it until he's done playing football,I don't care what he does with it.Well I do,he can loan it to me until he retires.

Hawk Believer
08-08-2006, 03:18 PM
Well, there are already laws against speeding, reckless driving/riding, cutting off traffic, etc. To say that only high horsepower motorcycles can do that is ludicrous, I'm sure we've all been passed or cut off by beater pickup trucks, Hyundais, Miatas, and yes, high horsepower sport bikes.

To pick just one point where the author shaves the truth: But their antisocial behavior is your problem, since vehicles moving significantly faster than the speed of traffic are a leading cause of accidents. Well, yes that's true, but it's only part of the truth. The truth is, vehicles moving EITHER signifigantly faster OR SIGNIFIGANTLY SLOWER than the speed of traffic are the leading cause of accidents. Now that doesn't mean that insane speeding doesn't cause accidents, but it does show that the author has a slant. Possessing a vehicle capable of producing insane speed and acceleration doesn't mean you'll use it, either.

We have laws that outlaw the behavior; that doesn't mean you have to outlaw the machine, too. Because you know that that Corvette he's writing about? That will be the next target. And eventually your V6 Runabout will be deemed unsafe because it's more powerful than Aunt Minnie's I-4 Crapmobile.

Slippery slope, slippery slope.
My libertarian side hears you loud and clear. But having worked with a lot of kids who have had brain injuries and limbs lost to gangrene after crashing crotch rockets that they were unable to control, I also see the other side of the argument.

I personally choose not to ride because , for me, I feel the risk involved outweighs the benefit of decreased fuel and vehicle costs (and the fun of riding a bike.)

I think careless bike operation is correlated with two major variables: age and being under the influence of alcohol or drugs (this is purely me speculating - I have no evidence to back this up other than my anecdotal experience). What would you think about laws that would restrict engine or horsepower size to people before a certain age. Say 21 or 23 or something like that. And it would also place limits on people who had DUIs or drug charges on their records.

Just thinking out loud here. There are probably a million reasons why thats a bad idea. Lets hear em.

One thing that I always struggle with is the fact that we have 17 or 18 year old kids that are asked to risk their lives driving tanks/humvees/strikers in the military but they can't rent a Ford Tarus until they are 25 years old.

Mosca
08-08-2006, 04:54 PM
I agree it's a problem, but outlawing the machine makes no sense; people will buy the smaller machines and modify them to produce the same power, but on a frame that won't support it and with brakes designed for lower powered machines. For the same reason, you couldn't adequately regulate engine and HP.

I used to ride, and had one accident and several close calls. For two years I rode year-round in the Pittsburgh winters. I gave it up when getting on the bike felt more like an obligation than a pleasure. I never had a bike like they have today, of course, but back then Honda 350s were quicker than most cars. (I had a BSA 650 Lightning, a Suzuki 500T, and a Honda 750-4.)

The answers are never easy. Legislation never works to modify behavior. Education. Upbringing. Peer groups discouraging risky riding. The hard, long-term answers are the only ones that work. And they'll only work for some, because some people are born to not pay attention.

And I'd add, access to tracks and track time. This is where the benefits of COMMUNITY (let's get libertarian here) come in. Enthusiasts can join together in clubs and use their numbers and pooled funds to get track time. I live near Pocono Speedway, and every day all three road courses are in use by one bike or car club or another. I've spent some (car) time on the track, and it makes street speeding seem like idiocy. Once you've spent two days lapping at the limit, there's no fun in racing up the hill.

But some folks won't learn. If you legislated motorcycles out of existence you'd still see those guys in triage or rehab for something else. It's not the bike, it's the person.


Tom