Half a dozen motorcyclists died on Bay of Plenty roads last year, making it one of the region's deadliest in the past decade.
The six deaths were all riders and none were passengers. Six riders also died in 2014, and five riders and one passenger died in 2018.
It coincides with New Zealand's deadliest year for motorcyclists in 25 years, with 57 people killed throughout the nation. There were 78 deaths in 1995.
A resurgence in riding after the Covid-19 lockdown and months of little motorcycle use contributed to the deaths, a motorcycle retailer said.
In a bid to reduce crashes and deaths, safety advocates, Bay of Plenty Police, and the retailer have urged motorcyclists to head along to a free safety talk next week.
The Shiny Side Up Talk series will be staged at Te Puia on Hemo Rd, Tihiotonga, tomorrow from 6pm onwards.
It's part of ACC's Ride Forever injury prevention programme, in partnership with the NZ Transport Agency, and features presentations of technical experts.
ACC injury prevention leader Dave Keilty said the series is focused on upskilling riders throughout New Zealand.
"The sessions are a great chance to bring the motorcycle community in the Bay of Plenty together," Keilty said.
"On average we spend around $100 million on helping people recover from motorcycle injuries so the more riders we can get upskilled in the Ride Forever programme the better.
"The crashes riders are having on our roads are preventable. We all need to take time to slow down and assess the risks."
Bay of Plenty acting road policing manager Senior Sergeant Simon Sinclair said the courses take riders' abilities to the next level.
"Everybody thinks they are a good rider, and you may well be, but people around you can make mistakes – and these could impact on you," he said.
"No matter what stage you are at in your riding experience, Ride Forever coaching benefits all riders and we're fortunate these are run throughout New Zealand."
Provisional data on the Ministry of Transport website shows one motorcyclist has died in the Bay of Plenty police district in 2021.
There were 1583 motorcycle crashes in the region between 2015 and 2019 which cost ACC more than $29.4m in claims.
There were 330 injury claims in the region at a cost of $6.6m in 2019, meanwhile, nationwide there were 4360 injury claims for a total of $103.8m.
Bayride Motorcycles co-owner Damian Fleming said there were more motorcyclists on the roads last year, many of whom were returning to the hobby.
He said weeks of lockdown and winter weather meant riders weren't on the roads as much as usual and everyone lost some of their skill on the bike.
"All of us had lost some skill, [me] included. I noticed when I got back on the bike, wowee, I was out of tune," he said.
Fleming says riding well isn't something people should take for granted and invited all motorcyclists to head along to next week's event.
"Riding skilfully is cool, on a personal level, I absolutely pride myself when I'm riding, I want the others to go, 'Man that guy knows how to ride, look at him'," he said.
"If you're in a pack of riders, if you're the rider that rides well those younger riders will look up to you because you're skilled and you learned."
Owner of Bike Force Rotorua Lindsay Gemmell said the responsibility fell on motorists just as much as it did on motorcyclists.
He said the first thing nearly every person who crashed into a motorcyclist always said was "I didn't see you".
"People really need to do double look. It's so easy for a motorcyclist to be hidden in a window pillar."
He said riders should always "ride defensively" and imagine the worst-case scenario when it came to road riding. They should assume the motorist hasn't seen them and act accordingly.
Gemmell said courses such as Ride Forever were "awesome". Friends who had done them came out with a "whole different attitude" to road riding, he said.
Riders needed to be conscious of their speed, ride to their ability and be careful on some Bay of Plenty roads, specifically those with bleeding tar.
"Riders can sometimes get carried away. It's not the motorcycle, it's usually the person hanging on the handlebars."
Whakatāne's Richard Underwood, the owner of Underwood & Wilkins Motorcycles, has been riding for more than 40 years.
He said, as with driving, motorcycle riders develop bad habits such as following vehicles too closely, that need to be "shaken out".
And while he hadn't been able to attend a safety course himself, he is looking to get along to one as soon as he can.
"I absolutely applaud the courses because they have so much to give. I speak to a lot of people who have done them, they've all got value," Underwood said.
"It's my view that, no matter how good a rider you think you are, you'll always learn something of value."
Renowned motorcyclist and nine-time New Zealand superbike champion Andrew Stroud will talk about his career on his Britten bike at the Rotorua event.
Brittany Morrow, who needed skin grafts over 50 per cent of her body after a crash, will speak about how motorcycle gear saves lives.
United States motorcycle safety expert Bret Tkacs will talk about braking skills, and Dr Hamish Mackie will present attitudes and behaviours when riding.
Rotorua series talk
Hemo Road, Tihiotonga
Thursday, February 25
6pm: Light refreshments
6.30 - 8.30pm: Presentation
No booking required, also free to attend.
- Additional reporting Caroline Fleming