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Old 01-24-2012, 03:03 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Motorcycle Safety

The popularity of faired Ninja 250s and Feet Forward recumbant motorcycles has raised so many comments about riding safety. 'Visionary' of the Project 100 in England and the Vetter Freedom Machine are great examples of 21st century machines that have the growing potential for great fuel efficiency. There have been reservations about the safety of such machines in cross winds and in heavy traffic. The same issues arise for human powered velomobiles. The good news is that proper design accounts for aero stable vehicles with much greater rider protection.

First, a well designed fairing reduces drag by two thirds and can be made to generate some down force.

Second, a faired vehicle can be made more visible to other motorists by its size, color, and lighting. There is also much less of the 'bad ass' image attached to streamliners and more of the eco friendly image.

Third, fairings have great potential for incorporating rider protection methods without losing the sense of the freedom of the open road. Fairings allow for crush zones front and rear. They also can provide side protection for legs, hips, and shoulders.

I encourage you to research technical articles and studies that identify the risks to riders, list causes of accidents, and highlight solutions that reduce the risk of injury. Increasing the number of two or three wheel, single passenger commuter vehicles can reduce fuel consumption, traffic congestion, and highway deterioration.

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Old 01-24-2012, 09:05 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I would say some of the more enclosed designs do present additional safety concerns, just for the fact that the rider can't easily get separated from them (like a conventional cycle) in a crash.

Last thing you want is to be held-in or get tangled-up with a cycle (or anything without a cage of some kind) when you crash.

Enlarged windshields that protrude high and back could also cause injury in the event of even a slight front-end collision.


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Old 01-24-2012, 12:52 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grant-53 View Post
The good news is that proper design accounts for aero stable vehicles with much greater rider protection.
Most are designed for light weight.
Rider protection is often not or not high on the books.

Usual attitude :
It's better than a bike, where there's no protection at all.
Which then leads to some homebuilt designs with built-in guillotines or spears in an accident.

Quote:
Second, a faired vehicle can be made more visible to other motorists by its size, color, and lighting.
This kind of vehicle is even less expected by the general motorist, leading to increased inattention blindness - i.e. not expecting the vehicle, thus not seeing it.
It's also lower as low drag is a design feature, i.e. even less visible.


Quote:
Third, fairings have great potential for incorporating rider protection methods without losing the sense of the freedom of the open road. Fairings allow for crush zones front and rear. They also can provide side protection for legs, hips, and shoulders.
Sure, but how many of these designs have the kind of rider protection that would be possible ?

Finite element analysis, carrying over the load to the other side or other parts of the vehicle, designed crumple zones , ...
These things are not within reach of the hobbyist or barn manufacturer.
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Old 01-24-2012, 01:07 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
This kind of vehicle is even less expected by the general motorist, leading to increased inattention blindness - i.e. not expecting the vehicle, thus not seeing it.
Perhaps if it was styled like a shrunken Subdivision or Explosion it would be safe?
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Old 01-24-2012, 01:31 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by euromodder View Post
(SNIP)This kind of vehicle is even less expected by the general motorist, leading to increased inattention blindness - i.e. not expecting the vehicle, thus not seeing it.
It's also lower as low drag is a design feature, i.e. even less visible.(SNIP)
This fall we had a group of International velomobiles (3-wheel recumbent-style aero bicycles) come through town. I just happened to be traveling the same direction as a few of them on a divided 35 mph roadway (3 lanes ea way) in a pretty busy area. They were almost impossible to see in traffic because of the low height. Some had flags on whips so they could be seen easier in traffic, but some didn't want to pay the aero penalty I assume.

I could have easily driven over one. They are much harder to see than a bicycle and pretty much take up the full lane.


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Old 01-24-2012, 07:19 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Reply to Grant-53 opening statement
Congratulations, you have neatly summarised most of the key issues surrounding enclosed motorcycles and you obviously recognise the huge benefits that could result from a widespread uptake of single person vehicles.

Putting aside the FE benefits, and thinking about the safety aspects,I would like to add a couple of points.
While "open" designs with extensive bodywork (as Craig Vetter) do offer greater protection to a rider in most potential accident situations, as has been pointed out, there are situations when detachment from the motorcycle may be beneficial. Personally, I believe the greatest danger comes from those objects with the largest relative speed differential to the rider, and rarely is that his/her machine.

A well designed "enclosed" machine offers far superior protection to any existing motorcycle designs. What constitutes "well designed" will be different for different people, but the essential elements are - a robust exterior shell protecting the driver from intrusion and direct contact with stationary objects, a restraint system which controls the driver's involuntary movements, and a series of energy absorbtion measures.

One other factor not to be overlooked is the comfort that is afforded by a fully enclosed structure. The absence of wind blast, and the ability to maintain a suitable temperature will reduce fatigue levels and whilst being comfortable and warm may not add to safety, it will not detract from it.

Safety has active and passive dimensions, and detractors may deliberately misrepresent size and visibility issues to confuse the discussion. In general (ie without deliberate camoflage) larger objects are more visible than smaller ones, motorcycles with bodywork are bigger than those without, even heavily recumbent designs have height equivalent to std saloon cars and velomobiles are not a fair comparison in this debate.

Sidewind stability may be the only achilles heel, but I believe that we, as engineers, can overcome the percieved problems once we make and test enough designs, just as we overcame aerodynamic instability in cars. Lets look to the future and be positive!
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Old 01-24-2012, 10:03 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I would think it more often advantageous to detach from a motorcycle than to be part of the wreckage. The structure would only provide protection from the slowest of impacts, and abrasion is rarely life threatening. It's the sudden change in velocity that usually spells disaster for the biker. I'd like the opportunity to leap from my bike if needed.

That said, I would not hesitate to ride in an enclosed bike because I am not risk adverse.
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Old 01-24-2012, 10:15 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Old 01-24-2012, 11:51 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I feel I'm entering a war zone here.

Just had an possible simple solution for side wind issues.

I am serious. This is not a joke. If we are talking about a 1, or 2 wheeled vehicle,
why couldn't we deploy on demand a training wheel opposite side the wind is pushing
from.

We would still be legal (under 4 wheels), and if designed properly, the weight penalty
should not be too high!

Would that not be a huge piece of mind for the operator?
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Old 01-25-2012, 01:13 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redpoint5 View Post
That said, I would not hesitate to ride in an enclosed bike because I am not risk adverse.
Thats what separates us 2 wheelers form the boring box car drivers.

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