Heading for retirement age and itching to buy that motorbike you always promised yourself? A study, published on Thursday in the specialist journal Injury Prevention, may prompt would-be petrolheads to think again.
Older riders involved in a crash are up to three times likelier than younger bikers to suffer severe injuries, it says.
Researchers delved into a US national database for figures of motorcycle collisions between 2001 and 2008, involving people aged over 20, which required admission to emergency care.
More than 1.45 million such crashes, 85 percent of them involving men, occurred during this period.
Around 63 percent of the incidents occurred in the 20-39 age bracket; 32 percent among people aged 40-59; and about five percent among those aged 60 and older.
All age groups saw a rise in the number of smashups during this period.
But the 60-plus group saw the biggest increase, a rise in numbers of 247 percent. Casualties in the 40-59 group also rose sharply, by 61 percent during this period.
And relative to the other age groups, older bikers also suffered the worst injuries.
A third of the casualties in the 60-plus group needed hospitalisation after emergency care, compared with a quarter in the middle age group and 15 percent in the youngest category.
Bikers aged 60-plus were more than twice as likely to have a head or neck injury compared to 20-to-39-year-olds and almost three times likelier to have an injury to the upper chest. They were also likelier to sustain internal organ damage.
“The greater severity of injuries among older adults may be due to the physiological changes that occur as the body ages,” the study suggests.
It notes a decline in bone strength, changes in body fat distribution, decreasing elasticity in the chest wall and the greater likelihood of underlying illness that often complicates recovery.
The study coincides with a surge in US bike ownership among the middle aged and post-retirement Baby Boomers.
The proportion of American bikers aged more than 50 rose from 10 percent in 1990 to 25 percent 2003, the paper said, quoting other official data.
Among bikers aged 65 years and above, non-fatal injuries rose 86 percent from 2001 to 2007, and fatal injuries surged by 145 percent from 2000 to 2006.