Gang researcher Dr Jarrod Gilbert has been left battered and hospitalised after crashing his motorcycle during a weekend run organised by a Hells Angels support crew.

The high-profile Canterbury University sociologist, known for his in-depth research projects that have taken him inside the world of New Zealand gangs, was yesterday riding his BMW motorcycle along a stretch of road near Sheffield, Canterbury, with about 100 other riders when he was seriously injured in an accidental crash.

"Someone cleaned me up from behind," said Dr Gilbert, who had no recollection of the crash, or being later flown to Christchurch Hospital in a rescue helicopter.

He woke in his hospital bed some time later to find he'd broken an arm, a leg and several ribs, and also suffered a split in his liver.


"I took a bit of a knock to the head, so the helmet saved my life, really," he told the Herald from his bed this evening.

While pain relief was helping, he said the past 12 hours had been tough, with little sleep.

He expected to be kept in hospital for the week and wasn't yet sure how the injuries would affect his academic duties.

"I guess I'll try to do some writing in bed, but I've got to go through at least one surgery and I'm pretty tender at the moment ... I won't be dancing any time soon."

But he believed he could have come away from the accident much worse.

"The nature of motorcycle riding is that you are only ever a second away from serious injury, and I think this is just an indication of that," he said.

"It could have been way worse, because there's not much between you and the road when you're on a motorcycle going 100km/h."

Still, the crash wouldn't deter him from riding again.

"As soon as I'm patched up, I'll get back on."

Dr Gilbert is best known for his 2013 book Patched: The history of gangs in New Zealand, which he spent a decade researching and which has so far sold over 10,000 copies.

Late last year, he was in the headlines after writing in the Herald how police had banned him from accessing basic data he requested because of his "association with gangs".

Soon after his column was published, police wrote to him to tell him there would be "no issues" with him accessing the information.