March 2 2010.

New research into the behaviour and characteristics of  UK motorcyclists claims riders can be classified as one of seven types, ranging from "Riding Disciples" to "Look-at-me Enthusiasts".

A report by researchers Simon Christmas, David Young, Rebecca Cookson and Richard Cuerden, has identified the new categories by investigating attitudes to riding, safety and risk perception. It defines bikers as being either: Look-at-me Enthusiasts; Riding Disciples; Performance Disciples; Riding Hobbyists; Performance Hobbyists; Car Rejecters; or, Car Aspirants.

The report's categories comprise the complete spectrum of riders in terms of attitude, safety and behaviour. The findings show that, per mile travelled, "Look-at-me-Enthusiasts" are twice as likely to have an accident as "Riding Disciples". "Look-at-me Enthusiasts" have been identified as those with the highest propensities to accidents and riders who create unique challenges for those promoting road safety.

On average, "Look-at-me Enthusiasts" should expect an accident every 29,000 miles compared to the average 58,000 miles between accidents for "Riding Disciples". According to Simon Christmas, safety messages need to be seriously rethought for this group of "look-at-me-enthusiasts".

"Although they do place great importance on safety in selecting helmets and safety gear, it is striking that looks rank highly in both choices," says Christmas.

"There is concern as to whether they set the bar high enough when deciding what is safe enough," he says. "They are the group least likely to hesitate about riding in jeans and a T-shirt. However, it must be stressed that this group represents just under a quarter of the UK motorcycling population."

On average, "look-at-me enthusiasts" are under 25 year old males and cite acceleration, power and sound as the most important factors when choosing a bike. Out of the groupings, Riding Disciples and Riding Hobbyists both have the lowest accident propensity score.

Simon Christmas will be delivering a presentation on his report, Passion, Performance, Practicality: motorcyclists' motivations and attitudes to safety, at the PACTS (Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety) Fast Forward Conference at the University of Birmingham on 10 March. The report was conducted in conjunction the TRL on behalf of the DfT.

Further information on the PACTS conference can be found at cost for PACTS members is £200 + VAT and £230 + VAT for non-members.