Tip-Over Tests Lead To Design Innovations

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The price of insurance is largely driven by the cost of damage claims. A surprisingly large number of motorcycles are badly damaged following low speed falls or stationary tip-overs. This contributes to high insurance costs that can make motorcycling unaffordable for many potential riders.

The Insurance Australia Group (IAG), a group that works with motor companies to help reduce the cost of car insurance, has conducted dozens of tip-over tests on late model motorcycles and found that there was considerable variation between the amount of damage to each motorcycle and the costs of repairs. The organization says it found the variations were caused by specific design features made in the pre-production phases of motorcycle development, and now hopes to raise awareness among designers of the influence they have over motorcycle repair costs.

"IAG found that motorcycles which fall off their side stands can cost just as much to repair as ones which slide down the road on their sides at speed," the organization noted in a brief sent to the Motorcycle Design Association (MDA), an international coalition of motorcycle designers.

Each motorcycle used for the testing was a prior insurance total loss with cosmetic (non-structural) damage on one side only. For the tip-over testing, the motorcycle was allowed to fall on its undamaged side from a stationary, vertical position.

However, while the IAG found design features that were found to exacerbate damage and add to the cost of repairs, the organization also found certain other design features that can help to alleviate impact damage and reduce repair costs.

For instance, aftermarket motorcycle crash protection can reduce the cost of repairs by as much as 40 percent, the presence of pannier luggage can prevent a considerable amount of motorcycle damage, and naked motorcycles generally incur less damage than faired motorcycles — although damage costs depend upon the quality of protection around the radiator and exhaust system.

The tip-over tests were developed by the IAG following advice from MDA member Mike Samarzja of the Buell Motorcycle Company.

Representatives of Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha have been shown several presentations and a live tip-over test, and the organization's work is already prompting changes in the design community.

See http://www.industryresearch.com.au/motorcycle/ to view tip-over test methodology, a repair cost comparison, a comparison study of two Ducati 999 insurance claims, and a presentation on design features that can help reduce costs.