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  • Writer's pictureTom Fowler

Are Automatic Motorcycles Safer?

When deciding which motorcycle to buy, people can choose between (semi-)automatic or manual ones. And while both of them have their benefits, riders should consider one aspect above all others prior to making a purchase. Such an aspect is safety. According to some experts, manual motorcycles are considered more dangerous. But, are automatic motorcycles safer? Answering that question requires a deeper understanding of how these complex machines function.

How Do Manual Motorcycles Operate?

How Do Manual Motorcycles Operate?

Manual motorcycles require the drivers to shift gears on their own - a process similar to manual transmission cars. These motorcycles have a gear selector pedal near the footrest on the left side and the clutch on the left handlebar. When the motorcycle achieves a certain speed, the riders should disengage the transmission first. They do that by pulling the clutch and then shifting into the next gear.

It's important to note that the rider must perform the gear changes while simultaneously letting go of the throttle. And it's this complexity of the process that can pose problems to beginners. They might not do it properly, and the engine might stall or stutter as a result. That can be a problem as it can cause damage to the gearbox or even cause the rider to crash.

How Do Automatic Motorcycles Operate?

The gear-shifting mechanism in automatic motorcycles is far simpler than its manual counterparts.

As can be inferred from the name, the rider isn't involved in the gear changing. Automatic motorcycles have a built-in computer that knows to shift to a higher or a lower gear when a certain speed is reached. That way, beginner riders can focus more on understanding how to drive their vehicles and watching the road.

How Do Semi-Automatic Motorcycles Operate?

Semi-automatic motorcycles also have a built-in gear-shifting system, but the riders have the option of changing the gears themselves. The crucial feature of this mechanism is that the riders can downshift or upshift without operating the clutch system.

Are Automatic Motorcycles Safer?

It’s impossible to say one type of motorcycle is undeniably safer than the other. However, there are certain factors that tilt the scales in favor of each side. Here are important factors riders should consider when trying to answer the question at hand.

Human Error

Human error is one of the most common causes of crashes. Naturally, automatic motorcycles are safer in this regard since they minimize the amount of required human input.

As previously mentioned, the rider doesn't have a role in the gear-switching process. A driver in this system cannot shift the gear improperly, which would shut down the engine and potentially cause a crash. This safety measure is the benefit manual motorcycle riders don't have.

Additionally, the automatic and semi-automatic transmission systems allow the riders to pay more attention to maneuvering. They don't have to worry about shifting, so they can be more alert if someone or something suddenly appears on the road. This is especially good for beginners, who need to get used to driving and generally worry more about performing the shifts correctly.


Automatic motorcycles are heavier than manual ones. They have complex systems that require more parts, which, in turn, increases their weight. And because of their extra mass, riders can sustain more serious injuries in an accident. For example, if an automatic motorcycle falls on top of someone in the crash, its weight might severely hurt that person or even kill them.

On the other hand, manual motorcycles aren't as heavy because they don't have the additional technical equipment. And while no one can predict if a person will survive a crash, the chances might be better with a motorcycle that weighs less.

Mechanical Failure

Every type of motorcycle is prone to breaking down due to mechanical failure; they are machines, after all. However, automatic and semi-automatic ones are more likely to experience such a failure. But it's important to mention that this is the case solely because they have more parts than the manual ones.

Intricate computers are crucial parts of every automatic and semi-automatic motorcycle. They consist of many parts, and the more of them there are, the higher the chances one can break and potentially cause a crash.

Final Verdict

Many aspects can determine whether one type of motorcycle is safer than the other. From one point of view, automatic and semi-automatic can seem more dangerous than manual ones. They have more parts, which means more elements can malfunction and put the driver in danger. However, they reduce the chances of crashing due to human error. And because accidents are usually caused by human error, (semi-)automatic motorcycles can be considered safer. Regardless of the type of motorcycle, it's important to have motorcycle insurance in Iowa.

If you need legal help regarding a motorcycle accident, you will be needing the expertise of the top motorcycle accident attorneys in Des Moines.


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