A sports bike is a beast of a machine with its roots in the world’s motorcycle racetracks. The sports bike is how the avid motorcycle race fan can experience a little of what it is like to ride these powerful bikes. The riding position on a sports bike emulates the racing position, and people with back concerns may wonder if riding a sports bike would be bad for their back.
So, is riding a sports bike bad for your back?
Here’s my answer:
A sports bike is not bad for your back if you have no pre-existing conditions, injuries, or prior surgeries. For these conditions, a sports bike may result in discomfort and aggravate the condition due to the riding position. Someone with a healthy back may experience some discomfort when riding over a long distance on a sports bike.
Back problems and bike riding can sometimes create problems for someone who loves motorcycles and wants to start riding or continue riding after an injury or surgery. Within this article, I will investigate the riding position for sports bikes and establish if they are bad for your back and whether it will be a problem to ride these styles of motorcycles or not.
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What Is The Sport Bike Riding Position?
The sports bike riding position is intended to be conducive to fast riding, to reduce wind resistance, and for your body to become part of the bike to improve handling the motorcycle at speed.
This is reminiscent of a bikes’ classic racing position when racing on a track but a little less aggressive than this track racing position.
The riding position on a sports bike is designed for the rider to tuck down over the tank and position themselves behind the windshield when on a fast straight and move around in the seat to throw your body about when taking tight corners.
The classic racing riding position is leaning forward over the tank to reach the drop handlebars, with the knees tucked into the bike in a fairly high position.
This position also frees up the hips and lower back to move around on the bike to adjust the center of gravity for fast cornering.
The suspension on sports bikes is generally more rigid than most other bikes to improve road handling at speed. However, this does mean that the rider’s forward-leaning position transmits the vibration and bumps of an uneven road surface more directly to the arms, shoulders, and upper back.
This riding position puts a fair amount of strain on the wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck, and lower back. But is this strain enough to be a problem for your back or prevent you from riding a sports bike?
Is Sport Bike Riding Bad for Your Back?
While the riding position on a sports bike is not the most relaxed or comfortable bike riding position, it is appropriate for riding these bikes.
Whether this riding position will pose a problem for your back will depend on a few conditions:
- Your age.
- Your back health.
- The type of riding you are doing.
- The amount of time that you ride.
The Age Of The Bike Rider
As we get older, many people develop aches and pains, particularly in the back and shoulders. These can be from various age-related ailments such as arthritis, old injuries becoming stiff, or even loss of supporting muscle tone, which weakens the back muscles.
These ailments in older riders often make the riding position of a sports bike very uncomfortable and sometimes to the point of inducing pain in the back, neck, and shoulders.
In this case, riding a sports bike would be bad for your back, and it is for this reason, many older riders trade in their sports bikes for motorcycles with a more upright riding position or even a more laid-back riding position such as a touring bike.
Adventure motorcycles are very popular with more seasoned riders as they allow for a more relaxed upright riding position.
Why not check out my article 15 Reasons An Adventure Motorcycle Is Comfortable by clicking HERE.
This is not to say that this rule applies to all older riders. Riders who are advanced in years still ride sports bikes and find the riding position to pose no problem for their backs so long as they have no pre-existing conditions.
Your Current Back Health
A person with a healthy, pain-free back will have no problems riding a sports bike and coping with the riding position. The problem arises when your back is not at optimum health, and this is when you could have issues with this type of motorcycle.
Upper back and neck issues may cause pain and tension in the muscles across the shoulders and into the neck when riding in the sports bike position. The forward-leaning of the position places most of the upper body weight on the shoulders and wrists.
The head position is looking forward and up to get a good view of the road ahead. This head position can cause pain and tension in the neck and upper back if you have had neck surgery or surgery involving the upper back.
The lower back does not take the same strain on a sports bike as the upper back and shoulders do, but the mobility required in the lower back for leaning into corners may be problematic for people with lower back problems.
While the riding position of the sports bike will not cause any back issues, it may result in pain for those riders who have existing back problems from old injuries or previous surgeries in these areas.
Whether these back issues will prevent you from riding a sports bike will be determined by the seriousness of your back problem.
I have written an article Are Sports Bikes Comfortable To Ride which you can read by clicking HERE.
The Type Of Riding You Do Most
If you do mostly short trips on your sports bike, you may not be seated on the bike long enough to cause you back problems, even if you have an existing back problem.
If your back issue is not particularly chronic, you may be able to withstand riding a sports bike for short trips, such as commuting to work for 30 minutes or going on a breakfast run on the weekend where you are riding for about an hour before you have a break.
If this is about the extent of your riding, you will probably still be able to ride a sports bike without the position causing any problems for your back.
For anyone with a healthy back, the riding position will not cause any issues, and it will not bring about any health concerns for someone with a normal, healthy back.
How Long You Spend Riding Your Sports Bike
This is where we enter into territory where sports bike riding may cause you some issues with your back. Sports bikes were not intended to be long-distance touring machines.
Long-distance riding generally means that you stay in one riding position for extended periods. The standard riding position on a sports bike is not conducive to this type of riding. It was meant for an active riding experience where your position in the seat is regularly changing.
Staying in the tucked-in riding position for hours on end can rapidly cause fatigue to set in and result in the shoulders, neck, and back becoming stiff and sore.
It is not recommended that you use a sports bike for frequent long-distance trips. It would be better to have a touring bike for this purpose and keep your sports bike for the fun, fast, short trips.
If you have a healthy back, to begin with, the fatigue induced in your back by a long trip on a sports bike is unlikely to have any long-term repercussions for the health of your back.
Any pre-existing back problems may preclude you from participating in a long-distance ride on a sports bike because of the strain caused by staying in this riding position for an extended period.
While riding a sports bike, a long-distance ride will be achieved with less pain and discomfort if frequent breaks are planned to extricate yourself from the riding position and stretch yourself out for a while.
Riding a sports bike will not cause you any back issues and will not be bad for your back if you currently have no issues with your back.
A person who has back problems may find that the riding position aggravates the problem in their back and causes discomfort and pain.
Don’t let back pain be a reason to keep you from riding, rather change to shorter trips, or trade your sports bike in for a motorcycle with an upright riding position that puts less strain on your back.
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