MSF 100 Motorcyclists Naturalistic Study Data Analysis UnderwayMSF 100 News

Back in September, we told you about the MSF 100 Motorcyclists Naturalistic Study. This study is the result of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) and its members partnering with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute on the world’s first, large-scale, naturalistic motorcycle riding study.

The 3.5-year study began by collecting data from instruments installed on 100 motorcycles owned by study participants, and the bikes were ridden in normal day-to-day use. Sensors and video cameras recorded all motorcycle operator inputs such as steering, acceleration, braking and lean, as well as recording all motions of the motorcycle, current riding conditions and the actions of surrounding traffic. The motorcycle instrumentation was designed to be as inconspicuous as possible, so that participant-riders would forget their rides were being monitored.

The MSF 100 Study tracked participants in Virginia, California, Florida and Arizona. The MSF 100 is expected to be a source of data and insight on a wide range of questions for an international array of safety professionals generally, but riders and rider safety professionals specifically.

The first set of preliminary data is now available, and analysis is underway following the completion of an exploratory review and organization of the data. The MSF 100 data set includes approximately 363,000 miles of riding, as well as data from riders of nearly every age group (21-80 years).

The data sets have begun to help identify which factors lead to safe riding, and which factors lead to crashes and near-crashes.

From analysis completed to date, the data include individuals who rode most days and others who had long stretches without riding. There are riders who commute, and others who ride for pleasure; riders who sometimes wear all their gear and sometimes don’t wear their gear. As expected, the bulk of the data is “riding without incident.”  However, there are incidents – crashes and near-crashes – that will be studied.

VTTI and MSF will conduct a detailed analysis of crashes, near-crashes, and matching periods of uneventful (baseline) riding to determine how different factors increase or decrease risk for riders. Within each event, over 50 factors will be scored using five video angles augmented with sensor data. Rider inputs and outcomes preceding and during crashes and near-crashes will be logged. The baseline riding periods will be reviewed on video in the same manner to permit statistical comparison to the crashes and near-crashes.

In addition to factors present at the time of an event or baseline, factors from participant questionnaires and their broader riding data will also be included. For example, general factors such as the rider’s time since last ride, training history, observed riding capabilities, or observed riding style will be included.

“This study constitutes groundbreaking research,” said VTTI Director Tom Dingus. “It will help determine the causes of motorcycle crashes in greater detail so that effective countermeasures of all types can be developed or improved to reduce fatalities.”

“Through this analysis, MSF continues its history of looking beyond age, gender or bike type,” said MSF President and CEO Tim Buche. “This work will go deeper to identify the factors that individuals can address to improve their own safety.”

As with all of MSF’s research, the results of this work will be incorporated into its training curricula and disseminated through public information programs.

The MSF is a not-for-profit organization sponsored by BMW, BRP, Ducati, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, Piaggio, Polaris Motorcycles, Suzuki, Triumph and Yamaha. For safety information or to enroll in the RiderCourse nearest you, visit or call (800) 446-9227.