Ask MO Something: Gasoline Tanks and Pelvic Accidents


Hello MO,

I’m occupied with getting a motorbike once more (had a 1973 CB500 4 again within the day) as a result of my 74- 12 months previous knees and ankles aren’t as much as bicycling anymore.

I’ve been doing a whole lot of studying, evaluating specs, and so on., and I found an article from a number of years again a couple of research on excessive gasoline tanks and the chance of great injury to male genitals. So wanting once more at a number of the bikes I’ve been contemplating I see that they do certainly have excessive gasoline tanks the place this could possibly be a problem (Yamaha MT03, Honda CB300R, Kawasaki Z400…).

I as soon as rode a Strida folding bicycle and dismounting was very painful in the event you weren’t cautious (no leaning ahead when getting off). I can think about the identical challenge with these tanks.

Two questions: Is that this a lot of a problem on each day use, like one thing you’ve to concentrate on consistently, and, figuring out this may be very harmful, why do you assume producers proceed designing them this fashion?

A cautious previous man

Expensive Cautious,

Though pelvic accidents mustn’t occupy the highest of your checklist of harm considerations, they do occur typically sufficient to advantage some thought. Fractures of the decrease extremities, for instance, are way more frequent, and head accidents are much more severe and devastating. You’ll be able to’t do a lot to guard your self from severe leg fractures, however a helmet that meets one of many requirements – DOT, EU, and so on. – can minimize your brain-injury danger by two-thirds.

Nonetheless, over time, gasoline tank designers and accent makers have provide you with some really short-sighted designs and options.

Maybe probably the most horrifying was the “racing-style” flip-open gasoline cap design of the Sixties and early Seventies, specifically, people who hinged on the entrance. In a head-on collision that induced the rider to slip ahead alongside the highest of the tank, the doubtless situation was that as he (because you ask in regards to the results on males) slid ahead, the rider’s nether bits would first encounter the discharge latch, inflicting the gasoline cap to spring open. That vertical gasoline cap then grew to become a really efficient castration device. The open gas filler may additionally present a fast splash of gasoline on the rider’s crotch, resulting in a memorable weenie roast. Thankfully, attorneys rapidly introduced the shortcomings, er… drawbacks of this design to bike makers’ collective consideration, and it isn’t used on OEM tools any longer. Nonetheless, some filler necks nonetheless protrude above the highest of the tank, which can cut back your possibilities of fatherhood. The flush tank-top gas filler isn’t merely for model.

One other actual gonad-grabber was the tank-top parcel rack, which was obtainable on a number of bikes till the hazards it posed grew to become obvious. As early as 1968, Peter Bothwell’s “Motor Cycle Crash Exams” analysis for the Jim Clark Basis expressed concern: “These are usually not trivial circumstances of harm as they are often answerable for such accidents as amputation of the male intercourse organs…” Worse, Bothwell identified, was the damaging stuff that was typically connected to those racks. Particularly, police typically mounted radios on these baggage racks.

Even if you wish to carry issues atop your tank, what Bothwell termed “appalling and deadly muddle on the tank high” is just not wanted. No rack is required to bungee a sleeping bag to the highest of the tank, for instance, however don’t strap one thing stable up there.

In accordance with more moderen research, someplace round 15% to 25% of riders who’re hospitalized appear to endure pelvic accidents, and a big majority (85% to 95%) of these accidents are brought on by contact with the gasoline tank. The accidents vary from frivolously bashed boy bits and people who make you stroll humorous for a number of days to essentially ugly stuff like fractures of the pelvic ring and injury to the bladder and different inside organs. Researching this text, sadly, knowledgeable me about “open-book” accidents, the place the pubic bone is break up open like a guide.

The explanation for giant gasoline tanks is clear: vary. To create a much bigger tank, the maker typically must make it wider and/or taller. Each contain compromises. If you happen to don’t thoughts having to cease for gas each 50 miles or so, it could be straightforward to get the tank out of your approach. Placing the gasoline tank below the seat removes it from the ejection path, however that normally implies that one thing else has to occupy that very same house.

My preliminary assumption was that gas-tank form and measurement could be the first consider pelvic accidents, however that seems to be only one issue, although most likely probably the most vital one.

If the rear of the gas tank is tall and almost vertical — as on many sportbikes — take into account what the very first thing to slam into that floor is more likely to be while you, for instance, T-bone an SUV. Positive sufficient, a 2014 Australian research discovered that “the chance of pelvic / stomach accidents considerably elevated with growing petrol tank angle.” A 2006 research on the College of California agreed: “Damage potential is elevated for the pelvis because the vertical angle of the gasoline tank is elevated in addition to elevated Delta-Vs… The common pelvic power elevated exponentially (R2 > .99) because the gasoline tank angle elevated.” (Delta-V is the change of velocity in an affect.) So far as I do know, nobody has studied what impact, if any, these softer plastic aftermarket tanks for dust bikes might need on pelvic accidents.

You would possibly subsequently assume that the reasonably sloped tops of typical cruiser tanks could be much less more likely to injure you than these vertical sporty tanks. That appears to be largely true. However it doesn’t take into accounts rider posture. A cruiser rider normally has his or her ft ahead, a whole lot of weight on his butt, his fingers excessive, his legs barely splayed, and his again vertical. When mixed with the higher rearward weight bias of a cruiser – which is able to cut back the bike’s tendency to pitch ahead stoppie-style – this place is much less more likely to pitch the rider up and over the gas tank and extra more likely to slide him into it… crotch-first. (That’s earlier than you take into account the braking capabilities of the 2 kinds of bikes and the braking abilities of their riders. Or even when they brake in any respect. Lowered braking earlier than an affect will yield a more durable affect.)

Up to date cruiser model additionally dictates large gasoline tanks on many cruisers, and the width of these fats tanks also can act as an additional harm mechanism by spreading what strikes them when your physique hammers into the tank.

In distinction, the sportbike posture – ft below the rider, torso canted ahead in order that a lot of the rider’s weight is on his fingers and arms – would seem to result in the bike diving extra, making the rider extra more likely to be pitched upward a bit, probably clearing the gasoline tank. Having his ft below him additionally makes it simpler to push off, permitting him to face so his crotch is above the gas tank earlier than affect. With warning, the rider would possibly even be capable to leap, to assist him go over a low automobile. There are many tales of riders leaping as they collide and thereby clearing the automotive they hit. Such a leap may additionally preclude the opportunity of goodies and gasoline tanks getting collectively.

In fact, even in the event you clear the gas tank, there are all types of hazards ready to harm you past it in a frontal crash – handlebar, fork crown, fairing, and windshield. Then you definitely encounter the automobile or different object that you just collided with. However the worst should still be to come back – all that harmful stuff lining the street. Authorities and road-safety types within the U.S. have given just about no consideration to the hazards that roadside “furnishings” poses to motorcyclists. The “Protected Streets” initiatives you hear about profit bicyclists and pedestrians, however accidents to motorcyclists are ignored.

So, if pelvic accidents concern you, past contemplating the gasoline tank, you would possibly need to add a groin guard to your protecting attire, however don’t neglect the remainder of your protecting gear both. If you happen to whack your head with no good helmet and transition from animal to vegetable, I promise you received’t care about your groin.

Oh, and I personal a Strida folding bicycle. I’ve by no means skilled any discomfort when mounting or dismounting.

—Artwork Friedman

Artwork Friedman is a former editor of Cycle Information, Bike Cruiser, and Motorcyclist magazines and was the Editor / Principal Investigator for the Nationwide Agenda for Bike Security, a joint undertaking of the Nationwide Freeway Site visitors Security Administration and the Bike Security Basis. He has ridden over 1.5 million miles on hundreds of bikes. He might even have crashed a few times.

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