4 Insane Things Nobody Tells You About Riding a Motorcycle

Message
Author
User avatar
dr_bar
Site Supporter - Diamond
Site Supporter - Diamond
Posts: 4531
Joined: Mon May 23, 2005 4:37 am
Real Name: Doug
Sex: Male
Years Riding: 44
My Motorcycle: 2007 Yamaha Royal Star Venture
Location: Surrey BC, Canada

4 Insane Things Nobody Tells You About Riding a Motorcycle

#1 Unread post by dr_bar »

4 Insane Things Nobody Tells You About Riding a Motorcycle
By: Robert Brockway
May 23, 2012 741,585 views

I've been gone a few weeks, but I can explain: I just bought a motorcycle. Which means that I've pretty much spent the last fortnight on a motorcycle, thinking about a motorcycle, fixing a motorcycle, almost crashing a motorcycle, gazing longingly at a motorcycle and pushing a dead motorcycle around a parking garage looking for a jump. I could try to give you some useful advice here, like "Don't take the Motorcycle Safety Course with a fever," or "When the floaty elf tells you to 'ramp that "poo poo",' don't listen -- that's just the fever talking." But that stuff is probably pretty apparent to most of you, and if it's not, try listening to the elf a few times; some lessons you can only learn from mistakes. So instead, I'm going to tell you about a few very obvious fundamentals that, honestly, any idiot could figure out -- but that nobody ever seemed to mention to this particular idiot before he got himself into this mess.
#4. We Go Way Too Fast

Source.
A few motorcyclists just read that heading and thought something like ""fudge" yeah, we go too fast! We're daredevils, bro. You suckers can keep your cages, we're free." (Yes, some bikers refer to cars as "cages," because literally everything has its embarrassing elitist jerks.) But I'm not talking about the reckless velocity of dudes without enough brain cells to comprehend mortality. I meant exactly what I said: "We all go way too fast."
First, let me say this: I'm not a wizened old hand at this motorcycling business (for example, I refer to it as "motorcycling business"), and so far I spend most of my bike time wobbling to a terrified stop after every pothole. But my limited experience atop a motorcycle has taught me a valuable lesson already, and it is this: All of us -- every human being alive today -- are traveling way, way faster than we have any right to. And I don't mean "We're in too much of a rush," like it's some symptom of our modern world; I'm saying that, since the advent of the engine, humanity has always flitted about at a ridiculously incomprehensible speed. It's just that we're removed from it in our cars: They're aerodynamic and sound-proof and shock absorbing and sealed off from all external stimuli to make commuting an isolated and relaxing experience.
Source."Look at us, honey: We're commuting! How droll."
But on a motorcycle, you sit right down on top of an engine with wheels, and the second you start moving, you realize that even our posted speed limits are still three to eight times faster than our species was ever meant to go. Our stupid eyeballs and ears and brains simply cannot reconcile our established rate of travel without all the buffers of a car around us, because our instincts understand that this should not be possible. But on a motorcycle, suddenly you comprehend the wrongness of speed. You feel every tiny bump in the road as you hurtle over them at a sacrilegious pace, the wind screaming in your ears, because that's what happens when you try to outrace the very air itself, objects flying by too quickly for your eyes to fully register.
"We are running way too "procreating" fast!" your primal brain screams. "How did this even happen?! ARE WE FALLING?" And then your rational brain glances in the rear view mirror and says "Speed up, man, this is a school zone: You have to do at least 20 mph."
Source."No, it's OK, little girl. You can cross. See? He's stopped to cry for a bit now."
That's not just me being a "wimp" about the whole thing (I mean, it is totally that, but there are other factors, too). When the automobile first started seeing major usage, the U.K. passed the Motor Car Act in 1903 to dictate proper road speeds. Here's the debate lawmakers had about the matter. There were some passionate responses to the matter on both sides, with some advocating reduced limits, while others argued for the limits being abolished entirely. A fairly typical argument went like this:
"[Mr. Nussey] wished to protest against the great speed at which motor-cars were driven. He thought the danger would be increased and not decreased when motor-cars came more generally into use, and he urged the right hon. Gentleman to meet this danger in time. It had been suggested that there should be a sphere of danger and another sphere of comparative safety, but he thought those in the danger sphere would have a very bad time indeed. It was no use being able to recognise the number of a motor-car after they had been nearly killed."
Man, is this when they lowered the speed limits to 55? How fast were they going that they wanted to designate special "danger spheres" for suicidal motorists? Why does a speed limit debate read like panicked religious zealots reading the Book of Revelations? And while we're at it, what is a Danger Sphere, and can I have one?
Source.Is it this? It's this, isn't it?
For answers to (most of) those questions, here's the rest of the quote:
"... and the only effective way to deal with the question was to make cars illegal which ran at more than about 15 or 20 miles an hour, or whatever speed was fixed as reasonable. He hoped something of this kind would be done, otherwise what was now a great nuisance might become a great danger."
That's right: This bitter debate regarding the crazy, irresponsible, blasphemous highway speeds at the time was about raising the speed limit ... from 14 to 20 mph. That's ridiculous now, seeing those numbers. They're talking about speeds lower than our absolute bare minimums like the devil himself was hurtling by their houses every night leaving little Back to the Future flame tracks in his wake. But if you want to understand why, just hop onto a motorcycle. Early cars were built somewhat similarly to modern bikes: They were small, open to the air, bumpy, windy, loud, careening minimalist carriages that made you pay for every mile with an ounce of old-timey fear urine. But nobody ever tells you that before you go out and buy a motorcycle.
There's no helpful FAQ out there that says "Caution: We've all been defying the laws of nature this whole time, and you're about to realize it."
#3. Other Drivers Hate You

Source.
You've probably heard that phrase before, or something like it: "Drive like they're all out to get you," your drunken, paranoid uncle might have told you, right before he took you out for "driving lessons" that always seemed to start at one bar and end at his house. But I mean it literally here: If you ride a bike, every other driver on the road despises you. As soon as you set "O Ring" to motorized cycle, you become Unclean.
I don't know if it's something in the perceived image that mounting a slightly narrower than normal vehicle makes you more of a man, or a tough guy, or a reckless daredevil, but traffic hates motorcycles. Not only hates them, but possesses a rage so intense that murder is the only solution. Other drivers will tailgate the crap out of you, regardless of your speed, and that's kind of a bigger deal when, y'know, you don't have a tail or a gate. So there's a several-ton steel box traveling more than fast enough to crush you to death in a nanosecond, and its operator has decided that his safe stopping distance is "up your "O Ring"." And there's no way to make him back off, either. He's comfortable there, inside your "O Ring"; he shows no signs of moving. He's going to make a life up in your colon -- hell, he's already planting a garden and having his mail forwarded there, so you better get used to him.
Source."Margaret, come look! The Rectal Daisies are coming in! Truly, we are blessed with the bounty of this "O Ring"."
Drivers will also pass you in-lane -- just flying by on the right in a one-lane street -- because a bike is smaller, so there's technically enough space to slip by. Technically there's enough space to fit your Prius in a school gymnasium, too, but shockingly, it's still generally frowned upon when you mow down a dodge ball game. And if you think I'm embellishing, or that this behavior is exclusive to me and how I ride (which, for the record, is a bit timid, all adorably knock-kneed and shaky-legged like a newborn deer), check out this study by the California Office of Traffic Safety.
The survey was conducted to find out whether Californians knew that lane-sharing was legal for motorcycles (that's when you drive in the space between lanes to cut through traffic). Most did not, but that's not the interesting part: The interesting part was exactly how many of them -- 7 percent -- freely admitted to the survey conductor that they "tried to prevent lane sharing." That dry, objective phrasing makes it sound like no big deal, but the only way you can "try to prevent lane sharing" is to abruptly block a lane with your car when you see a bike coming (i.e., ramming a motorcycle off the road).
Source."It's not road rage; it's justice! He can't do that! I AM THE LAW."
That is a shocking piece of information to volunteer to anybody at any time, and 7 percent of people freely admitted it to a total stranger. Find any other scenario where nearly one out of ten passerby will casually, almost happily cop to attempted murder on a regular basis:
"Excuse me, sir; were you aware that commercial fishing within two miles of the coastline is legal in California?"
"Why, no, random stranger, I was not! And in fact, I regularly hurl knives and flaming bottles of kerosene at boats when I see them fishing too close to the beach! Hahaha, joke's on me, I guess! Welp, see you later, I'm off to stab pedestrians crossing at intersections without crosswalks -- have a good one!"
#2. Wearing Protective Gear

Source.
I'd always heard that riding gear consisted of a leather jacket, jeans and a helmet. And I didn't question it, because damn near every motorcycle rider I saw was wearing a leather jacket, jeans and a helmet. Go figure. Sure, the occasional sport-bike rider would speed by in an elaborate strappy number with jagged stripes, brand names and patches everywhere, but I thought it was mostly a style thing. Hey, some dudes wear Tapout shirts on purpose; there's just no accounting for taste. Then, doing the research, I learned that you're supposed to have actual riding gear designed for that purpose.
Source.It's the same concept as that first image, just not as cool.
And I can tell you firsthand that it is all just as uncomfortable, constricting and awkward-looking as you'd expect. And that it's also totally badass. Motorcycle protective gear is, by definition, insanely durable. Jackets, pants, bags and damn near every other type of clothing is made out of the toughest fabrics on the planet: Kevlar, Cordura, ballistic nylon -- this is "poo poo" that, when layered properly, stops bullets and knives. That's not to mention the thick, padded gauntlets with carbon fiber knuckles meant to withstand crashes at highway speeds and impenetrable leather boots with oil-resistant non-slip soles. And beyond all that, there are pads, inserts and plates hidden all throughout the fabric to protect your major joints and body parts.
For the more nerdily inclined among you, you're probably already getting it: It's not "safety gear," it's "procreating" armor.
Riding gear is a full suit of armor that is socially acceptable to wear in public. You walk into a Starbucks wearing your period authentic replica half-plate, and at best you're going to get some impolite stares; at worst, you're going to get a news piece with the headline "Police Fell Local Knight With Bear Mace, Mocking Laughter."
Source."Behold! Rygarth is here to claim what is rightfully his: a vanilla latte!"
But you walk in there in motorcycle gear and, depending on how much the other customers want to "pee" off their father, you're either a responsible commuter or a naughty rebellion just waiting for a sexy coup.
I have no idea why I didn't know this -- why every motorcycle rider wasn't constantly daring me to hit them (seriously, hit me, guys! It's awesome!) and laughing as my blows rain off of their helmets. I have no idea why zombie movies even exist anymore, because they sell full suits of bite-proof armor in your local auto parts store. The drama would probably be somewhat diminished if every episode of The Walking Dead was just a smugly grinning Rick wading unharmed through the undead horde.
Even though a lot of riding gear is designed to resemble ordinary clothing as much as possible, you're still leaving the house with hardened knuckles, slip-resistant boots, knife-proof fabric and impact pads. That's like, half a super power. So while you may look like this:
Source.
You feel like this:
Source.
#1. It's Like Riding a Bicycle ... That Hates You

Source.
One of the first things the instructor at the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course said to us was "It's a lot like riding a bicycle."
And she was right; she just didn't finish the sentence.
I'm sure what she meant to say was "It's a lot like riding a bicycle ... off a cliff."
The basic principle is the same, sure, but if you've ridden a bicycle and are therefore counting on already possessing the skill set needed to ride a motorcycle, you are in for a terrifying, bloody disappointment. Some of the very basic maneuvers will feel familiar -- most of the time you steer, take off and stop using the same motions -- but there's so much more. For instance, for reasons that are entirely beyond me, motorcycles have the clutch on the handlebar and the gear shifter at your foot, forcing me to assume that Bill Motorcycle, the inventor of the motorcycle, was either medically dyslexic or some sort of drunken acrobat who exclusively rode bikes while doing headstands. You also control the throttle with your hand instead of foot, and have not one but two brakes -- using either of which at the wrong time will hurl you off the bike like a meat trebuchet.
Source.
The clutch is going to be familiar to you if you've driven a stick shift before, true, but now you have to do it backward, and upside down. You'll get the concept, but the motions are just foreign enough to require an all-new learning curve. Oh, and you have to practice in live traffic -- traffic which, again, has admitted to trying to murder you in the name of ill-informed justice. The end result is you attempting to master an only half-familiar skill (that is, if you've actually driven stick before. If you haven't, it's a totally unfamiliar skill to you and oh, God, what are you doing?! That's first gear; go up, no -- up, man, brake! "poo poo"! Tree!) with an entirely different layout, and all while careening down the road at speeds that made your great-grandfather's monocle pop out in astonishment.
Source."I have affixed it with ocular glue, good sir, and I think you shall find my monocle quite immOHMYGOD! 25 mph!?"
So yeah, sure, it's just like riding a bicycle ... while playing Moonlight Sonata, on a glockenspiel, and sprinting full bore through a psych ward full of murderers.
In short: It's awesome.
You should get a bike right now, and a full set of armor that's like blood red, and you can start zipping around like those forest speeder things from Jedi and you'll be like "WHOOOAAAA" and your bike will be like "VROOOOOO-"


You can buy Robert's other book, Everything Is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead, or follow him on Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook.
For more from Brockway, check out 5 Awful Things Nobody Tells You About Moving and 5 Bizarre Pitfalls of Owning a Classic Car
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Four wheels move the body.
Two wheels move the soul!"

User avatar
dr_bar
Site Supporter - Diamond
Site Supporter - Diamond
Posts: 4531
Joined: Mon May 23, 2005 4:37 am
Real Name: Doug
Sex: Male
Years Riding: 44
My Motorcycle: 2007 Yamaha Royal Star Venture
Location: Surrey BC, Canada

Re: 4 Insane Things Nobody Tells You About Riding a Motorcyc

#2 Unread post by dr_bar »

Sorry about the double post, I fixed it...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Four wheels move the body.
Two wheels move the soul!"

User avatar
totalmotorcycle
Administrator
Administrator
Posts: 29676
Joined: Sat Nov 22, 2003 1:00 pm
Real Name: Mike
Sex: Male
Years Riding: 32
My Motorcycle: 2013 Moto Guzzi V7 Stone
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba

Re: 4 Insane Things Nobody Tells You About Riding a Motorcyc

#3 Unread post by totalmotorcycle »

I have a new book title for him "10 weird tricks to rip off the public by selling them stupid books"... :rant:

Good choice of forum for this post! :D

Wow, that's a long read. Some funny parts, some head-scratching parts and some "ya, you are new at this aren't ya?" parts.

I think Mr Brockway just needs to re-do his motorcycle safety course at the different school (or actually pay attention rather than having fever illusions) and calmed down at the same time. lol.

Glad he discovered motorcycling, but the "4 Insane Things Nobody Tells You About Riding a Motorcycle" are really not that insane or even uncommon knowledge, it's just new to him. ;)


Mike
NEW 2024 Motorcycle Model Guides
2023 Motorcycle Model Guides

Total Motorcycle is official Media/Press for Aprilia, Benelli, Beta, Bimota, BMW, Brammo, Buell, Can-Am, CCW, Ducati, EBR, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Husqvarna, Husaberg, Hyosung, Indian, Kawasaki, KTM, KYMCO, LiveWire, Moto Guzzi, Moto Morini, MV Agusta, Norton, Phantom, Piaggio, Polaris, Ridley, Roehr, Royal Enfield, Suzuki, Triumph, Ural, Vespa, Victory, Yamaha and Zero.

blues2cruise
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 10182
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2005 4:28 pm
Sex: Female
Years Riding: 16
My Motorcycle: 2000 Yamaha V-Star 1100
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia

Re: 4 Insane Things Nobody Tells You About Riding a Motorcyc

#4 Unread post by blues2cruise »

I missed this thread...but, then...I miss a lot of things....

I can't imagine anyone buying his book.

:cry:
Image

User avatar
Grey Thumper
Legendary 1000
Legendary 1000
Posts: 1434
Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2007 11:21 pm
Real Name: Dino
Sex: Male
Years Riding: 9
My Motorcycle: 2004 BMW R1150Rockster, 2015 BMW R1200GS
Location: Manila, Philippines

Re: 4 Insane Things Nobody Tells You About Riding a Motorcyc

#5 Unread post by Grey Thumper »

I don't mind if it isn't deep or insightful. The article title implies that it's written for non-motorcyclists anyway, and the guy is pretty honest about his lack of experience.


I do mind that it isn't funny. Not a chuckle, guffaw, or even a smirk out of me. He kinda reminds me of a writer-version of those stand up comics that are really loud and manic, to help disguise that their jokes aren't any good. I'm surprised that this guy has managed to get a book published.
"If you ride like there's no tomorrow, there won't be."

User avatar
BRUMBEAR
Legendary 1000
Legendary 1000
Posts: 1227
Joined: Sat Feb 04, 2006 3:27 am
Real Name: Dave
Sex: Male
Years Riding: 40
My Motorcycle: 2009 Buell 1125 CR
Location: in limbo

Re: 4 Insane Things Nobody Tells You About Riding a Motorcyc

#6 Unread post by BRUMBEAR »

all I know is..
I KNOW WHY A DOG STICKS HIS HEAD OUT OF THE CAR WINDOW
Do you? :D
I read my first motorcycle book not to long ago I'll give a read see what comes of it soon as I sober up 8)
there aint nothin like it

User avatar
JackoftheGreen
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 1219
Joined: Sat Apr 21, 2012 8:10 pm
Real Name: Eric
Sex: Male
Years Riding: 12
My Motorcycle: Versys 1000 LE "Gleep"
Location: Northern Utah
Contact:

Re: 4 Insane Things Nobody Tells You About Riding a Motorcyc

#7 Unread post by JackoftheGreen »

I think it was at least a year ago when I first read this article. Then, as now, the only funny part is his references to riding gear and The Walking Dead.

blues2cruise
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 10182
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2005 4:28 pm
Sex: Female
Years Riding: 16
My Motorcycle: 2000 Yamaha V-Star 1100
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia

Re: 4 Insane Things Nobody Tells You About Riding a Motorcyc

#8 Unread post by blues2cruise »

Another insane thing about being a motorcyclist is the amount of people who are NON RIDERS who enjoy telling you how dangerous it is. They like to tell stories of people they knew who knew someone who crashed....

Insensitive people.

Last week at work...I loaned a woman some gear for riding....as her new boyfriend has a motorcycle. She wanted to go ride with him, but wasn't prepared to invest in gear yet...she wanted to be sure she would enjoy it..... and that the new boyfriend and she were going to last more than a month. Hence...I loaned her stuff to wear.

Anyway....there was another woman who butt in and took over the conversation talking about all the maiming and deaths that can happen....She said everyone crashed and many don't survive.

I told her not everyone crashes...and I walked away. I told the woman with the new boyfriend that not everyone crashed and don't believe everything you hear. Later, the know-it-all called and apologized....to me and to the new rider person.

She realized she was out of line...She is the non rider......
Image

User avatar
dr_bar
Site Supporter - Diamond
Site Supporter - Diamond
Posts: 4531
Joined: Mon May 23, 2005 4:37 am
Real Name: Doug
Sex: Male
Years Riding: 44
My Motorcycle: 2007 Yamaha Royal Star Venture
Location: Surrey BC, Canada

Re: 4 Insane Things Nobody Tells You About Riding a Motorcyc

#9 Unread post by dr_bar »

I constantly get told how unsafe riding is. Several years ago I was in a minor accident on the May long weekend, the same day, my aunt was killed in a motorcycle accident about 140 miles further up the hwy. Now I get the same thing from a good portion of my family...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Four wheels move the body.
Two wheels move the soul!"

blues2cruise
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 10182
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2005 4:28 pm
Sex: Female
Years Riding: 16
My Motorcycle: 2000 Yamaha V-Star 1100
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia

Re: 4 Insane Things Nobody Tells You About Riding a Motorcyc

#10 Unread post by blues2cruise »

The thing is that people crossing the street at a crosswalk get hit by drivers not paying attention, people have slipped and fallen under buses, people have fallen down stairs in their own homes, etc., etc.,...

Danger is everywhere....we just have to learn to be aware and take precautions.
Image

Post Reply