Lowside and Highside Crashes: The Ultimate Guide to Preventing Most Rider-Induced Crashes


  • My Passion for Explaining Lowsides and Highsides

  • What Are Lowside and Highside Crashes

  • All Articles About Lowside and Highside Crashes

One of the topics I’m most passionate about explaining is lowside and highside crashes. This is because 1) most motorcycle mega books skip the topic altogether, and 2) most lowside and highside crashes are avoidable.

Yes, I said, avoidable.

The lack of information on these crashes—and the potential payoff in saving riders’ lives—was a huge catalyst for me writing my first book.

A Look at the Data

Lowside and highside crashes are mostly rider-induced, and they account for almost half of all motorcycle fatalities. Common sense suggests the crash data would change if more riders understood these crashes and knew how to avoid them. Let’s crunch through some numbers.

The Hurt Report found that roughly 25 percent of all motorcycle accidents were single-vehicle crashes (bike did not hit another vehicle), and 75 percent were multi-vehicle crashes (bike did hit another vehicle).

The Hurt Report also found that rider error accounted for approximately 67 percent of single-vehicle crashes and 33 percent of multi-vehicle crashes. When you do the math:

(.67 x 25) = 17% of all motorcycle crashes were single-vehicle crashes caused by rider error

and …

(.33 x 75) = 25% of all motorcycle crashes were multi-vehicle crashes caused by rider error.

yields …


(17% + 25%) = 42% of all crashes were caused by rider error!

To riders who say they can’t change their chances of crashing, I say nonsense. Every rider can reduce their risks by improving their offensive and defensive riding skills—and a great place to start is understanding lowside and highside crashes and what triggers them.

Quickie Definitions

The concepts of lowside and highside crashes aren’t difficult to understand as long as you don’t get bogged down in the physics.

In a nutshell, a lowside crash is when your motorcycle slides on its side, and you slide onto the ground behind it. See Figure 1 (below).

Figure 1 Lowside Crash

(Motorcycle Slides Out and Dumps Rider)

A highside crash is when your motorcycle tosses you up and over the handlebars. See Figure 2 (below).

Figure 2 Highside

(Motorcycle Catapults Rider)

I’ll explain both in more detail in the articles below. But just in case I lose you, let me tell you up-front something you need to know.

The crash studies don’t lie. Riders are crashing and dying, making the same errors our grandparents made generations ago. We need a fresh approach to understanding and preventing rider-induced crashes.

In the articles below, I’ve attempted to explain lowside and highside crashes in a simple-to-understand language. To do this, I’ve combined illustrations and videos of actual crashes.

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About the Author

David Mixson writes about the topics other motorcycle books gloss over. He worked as a NASA engineer for over thirty years and is the author of three books.