Motorcycle Safety and the Elderly Rider


In discussions on road safety we pay special attention to the most vulnerable of road users. On the Arrive Alive website this includes the reference to pedestrians, cyclists and bikers. We have discussed in detail the safety of the elderly road users with reference to them as drivers in a section “Road Safety and the Elderly”. There is often a misconception as to the dangers posed by elderly road users. Our Elderly drivers use their experience and awareness of physical challenges to be more focused and are generally much safer than the overly confident younger drivers!


Elderly motorcyclists – Do they pose a significant threat to Road Safety?

In the post “Motorbike Safety through the Eyes of the Instructor” we find advice and suggestions on the importance of continued training and also refer to the skills required for improved safety amongst our motorcyclists. It is important to recognize that it is not only the younger generation that enjoys spending time on motorbikes on the open road –but so to our older motorcyclists! Are there special considerations that older motorcyclists should keep in mind? We raised the following questions with Instructor Hein Jonker from Bike Talk


Is it ever too late to learn how to ride a motorcycle?

It is never too late to learn to ride a motorcycle, good health permitting. The oldest person I trained was a 65-year-old lady who wanted to get her license and go ride a scooter with her daughter in the countryside in the UK – and she did. I’ve trained many older people in the past; they seemed wiser than the “itching” riders of today’s youth. Vast numbers of older folk, with their children leaving home or having done so already, have always dreamt of riding a motorcycle but life and other more important circumstances have occupied their time, and now grasp at the opportunity to get a motorcycle and live their lifelong dream. It might take a little while longer for some, but there’s no harm in doing it the right way. Age and mid-life crisis is a myth, and they have the motorcycles to prove it.

Would you have special recommendations or suggestions for older riders?

Young or old, training is important, and so is a motorcycle license. In South Africa, if you are 60 and older, you will have to obtain a doctor’s certificate stating that you are still “running on all 6-cylinders” before going for your K53 Motorcycle Test – they will not test you without one. Another reminder is that you are no longer a child, so use your wisdom well and know that your senses, muscles and reaction time might be a little delayed compared to what it used to be. Broken or fractured limbs take longer to mend after an accident, so take special care in selecting good quality gear. Lastly, you have nothing to prove anymore, especially at your age; enjoy motorcycling for what it is and let the others around you race to get the t-shirt.

Physical strength or endurance is also part of the dusty old furniture, so take your first few riders slow, and do a few short rides before taking on an epic cross country trip. Maybe take up some exercising, go walk the dog or something but don’t think riding a motorcycle doesn’t demand some level of fitness. When your body gets tired, so will your focus and senses. You’ll feel it after a day in the saddle, listen to your body!

Are there specific things older riders should avoid doing?

If there’s one thing you as an older rider should avoid, is your friends telling you to “Just get on the bike and ride”, or worse “I’ll show you a few things”. The phrase “You can’t teach and old dog new tricks” is nothing more than dumb and ignorant. I’ve been to a talk at a local motorcycle club (no, I’m not going to say who they were), but this aged Englishmen stood up and said to me, “I don’t need any training, I’ve been riding for over 50 years.” So I invited him on an Advance Rider Course at no charge and told him that, at the end of the course, if he feels he learned nothing he didn’t have to pay me a cent. He finished the day with his club mates and walked up to me with cash in hand and said, “Lad, your course will save my life one day. Thank you!” He is now the biggest promoter of training in the club.

Answers kindly provided by:

Hein Jonker | Editor and Senior Instructor

Bike Talk | Motorcycle Magazine, Academy & Events

Tel. 0861 BIKETALK/24538255 | Fax. 0866 4898 55


Also view:

Motorbike Safety through the Eyes of the Instructor

Road Safety and the Elderly


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