Motorcycle

Ask MO anything: gas tank and pelvic injuries

Hi MO,

My 74-year-old knees and ankles can no longer ride a bike, so I’m thinking of getting a motorcycle again (there were four 1973 CB500s that day).

I’ve done a lot of reading and spec comparisons, but I came across an article a few years ago about research on high gas tanks and the risk of serious damage to the male genitalia. So if you take a second look at some of the bikes I was considering, you’ll see that there are actually high gas tanks where this can be a problem (Yamaha MT03, Honda CB300R, Kawasaki Z400 …).

I used to ride a Strida folding bike, but it was very painful to get off if I wasn’t careful (so that I wouldn’t lean forward when getting off). You can imagine the same problem with these tanks.

Two questions: I know this can be very dangerous, as this is a problem with everyday use and you should always be careful, why manufacturers like this Do you think you will continue to design?

Cautious old man


Dear cautious,

Pelvic injuries should not be at the top of the list of injury concerns, but they occur so often that they deserve some thought. For example, lower limb fractures are much more common, and head injuries are even more serious and devastating. A helmet that meets one of the criteria (DOT, EU, etc.) can reduce the risk of brain injury by two-thirds, although you can’t do much to protect yourself from a serious foot fracture. increase.

Nevertheless, over the years, petrol tank designers and accessory makers have come up with some truly short-sighted designs and features.

Perhaps the most frightening was the “racing-style” flip-open gas cap design of the 1960s and early 1970s, especially with a hinged front. In a head-on collision where the rider slides forward along the top of the tank, a scenario is conceivable where the rider’s netherbit first encounters the release latch when the rider slides forward (because he asked about the effect on the man). rice field. , Spring open the gas cap. Since then, its vertical gas cap has become a very effective castration tool. The open fuel filler can also quickly splash petrol into the rider’s crotch, leading to a memorable Winnie Roast. Fortunately, lawyers quickly caught the attention of motorcycle manufacturers about the shortcomings of this design, that is, it was no longer used in OEM equipment. However, some filler necks still stick out from the top of the tank, which may reduce your chances of becoming a father. Flash tank top fuel fillers aren’t just for style.

Another real gonadal grabber was the tank top parcel rack. It was available on some bikes until the danger became apparent. As early as 1968, the “Motorcycle Crash Test” study of Peter Boswell’s Jim Clark Foundation expressed concern. What was pointed out was the dangerous one that was often attached to these racks. In particular, police often attached radios to these luggage racks.

If you want to carry things over the tank, you don’t need what Boswell called “the horrifying and deadly mess of the tank top.” For example, you don’t need a rack to bungee the sleeping bag to the top of the tank, but don’t strap it firmly.

Recent studies suggest that approximately 15% to 25% of hospitalized riders have pelvic injuries, most of which (85% to 95%) are due to contact with gas tanks. is. Injuries can range from a small piece of a tapped boy to a strange walk for a few days to a truly ugly one such as a broken pelvic ring or damage to the bladder or other internal organs. Unfortunately, when I looked into this article, I was informed of an “open book” injury where the pubis was torn open like a book.

The reason for the large gas tank is clear: range. To create a larger tank, manufacturers usually need to make the tank wider or taller. Both come with a compromise. If you don’t mind having to stop for fuel every 50 miles or so, it’s easy to get the tank out of the way. Placing the petrol tank under the seat will deviate from the drainage channel, which usually means that something else has to occupy the same space.

My first assumption was that the shape and size of the gas tank was the main cause of pelvic damage, which is probably the most important factor, but it turned out to be only one factor.

If the rear of the fuel tank is high and nearly vertical, like many sport bikes, consider the one that is most likely to hit its surface first, for example when using an SUV T-bone. Sure enough, 2014 Australian Studies “The greater the angle of the petrol tank, the greater the chance of pelvic / abdominal injuries.” The 2006 study at the University of California agrees: The angle of the gasoline tank has increased. (Delta-V is a change in velocity on impact.) As far as I know, no one has researched how softer plastic aftermarket tanks for dirt bikes affect pelvic damage. Is not …

Therefore, the gently sloping top of a typical cruiser tank may seem less likely to be injured than a vertical sporty tank. It’s almost true. However, the rider’s posture is not taken into consideration. Cruiser riders usually put their legs forward, put a lot of weight on their hips, raise their hands, spread their legs slightly, and keep their backs vertical. Combined with the cruiser’s larger rear weight bias, it reduces the tendency of the motorcycle to pitch forward in a stoppie style. In this position, the rider is less likely to pitch over the fuel tank and more likely to slip the rider into the fuel tank … Crotch-First. (It’s before considering the braking ability of the two types of bicycles and the braking skills of the rider. Even if you apply the brakes. If you lower the brakes before the impact, you will get a stronger impact.)

The style of modern cruisers also defines the wide gas tanks of many cruisers, and the width of these thick tanks also serves as an additional injury mechanism by expanding what the body collides with when it hits the tank. increase.

In contrast, the sport bike posture (put your feet under the rider and tilt the torso forward so that most of the rider’s weight rests on the hands and arms) facilitates the bike’s diving and the rider. Is more likely to tilt up a little. , Probably clear the gas tank. Putting your feet under him makes it easier to push out and allows you to stand with his crotch above the fuel tank before a collision. With warnings, riders may even be able to jump to help get over low vehicles. There are many stories of riders colliding, jumping, and cleaning up the car they collided with. Such jumps may also eliminate the possibility of goods and gas tanks coming together.

Of course, even if you put away the fuel tank, there are all sorts of dangers, such as handlebars, fork crowns, fairings, windshields, etc., waiting to cross the fuel tank and hurt you in a head-on collision. Then you will encounter a vehicle or other object that has collided. But the worst may still come – all the dangerous things on the road. The US government and road safety types virtually do not pay attention to the dangers that roadside “furniture” poses to motorcyclists. The “Safe Street” initiative you hear benefits cyclists and pedestrians, but motorcycle injuries are ignored.

Therefore, if you are concerned about pelvic injuries, it is advisable to add an inguinal guard to your protective clothing, other than considering a gas tank, but don’t forget the rest of the protective equipment. If you hit your head without a good helmet and move from animals to vegetables, I promise you don’t care about your crotch.

Oh, I own a Strida folding bike. I have never felt uncomfortable when installing or removing it.

— Art Friedman


Art Friedman is a former editor Cycle news, Motorcycle cruiser, When Motorcyclist Was a magazine and editor / principal investigator National Agenda for Motorcycle Safety, A joint project of the National Highway Traffic Safety Bureau and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. He rides thousands of motorcycles for over 1.5 million miles. He may have crashed once or twice.

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