A cross post from the Long Distance Rider list
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Thread: A cross post from the Long Distance Rider list

  1. #1
    Poser Emeritus Array bill's Avatar
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    Aug 2003
    Lower Mainland

    A cross post from the Long Distance Rider list

    This post caught my eye last week on the LD Rider list and I thought it was an approriate thread to cross post to here.

    It was written by David Vaughn and is posted here with his permission.

    Brett mentioned "considerate motorcyclists" in a
    recent post on the handlebar law. That combined with a
    couple thoughts that had been rattling in my head
    since the Yamahaulin' article fiasco. Maybe this
    should have been a letter to the editor, but I'm
    sending it here...

    Perhaps more than many of us would like to admit,
    public perception of motorcycling has been shaped by
    images of James Dean and Marlon Brando, rebels with or
    without causes. No one, at least in America, needs to
    ride a motorcycle. If we do so, even if we go so far
    as to own no car and ride to work in all kinds of
    weather, we do it for reasons that cannot be described
    in terms of the purely practical. We are being
    deliberately different, and that is the heart of
    rebellion. Riding a bike, even a scooter, is
    seditious, no matter how well-behaved or socially
    conscious we might otherwise be. For all the work of
    Honda’s “nicest people” and HOG charity rides, we all
    know that the stares we get when we walk into a
    restaurant carrying a helmet, be they stares of
    contempt, admiration, or curiosity, are tacit
    acknowledgment that we are different, and whatever
    popularity biker culture has in the media is the
    popularity of the rebel. People watch American
    Chopper because they like the idea of big guys on big
    bikes making noise on Main Street. They watch Torque
    for the vicarious thrill of flaunting the laws of
    physics and the laws of the road. And even riders (or
    those who dream to be) show their preference for the
    rebel when they buy Motorcyclist magazine, written by
    aging squids who think sport touring means a tankbag
    on last year’s runner-up in the 600 cc shootout.

    So what is a conscientious rider to do? None of us
    really want to be politically correct, to pander to
    those who dictate what is officially offensive and
    what is socially acceptable. Yet a goodly portion of
    the work of the AMA and even the fringe-of-the-fringe
    Iron Butt Association is public relations, convincing
    the large, non-riding public that we are sane, decent
    people. On the one hand, we ride quiet bikes, wear
    ludicrous amount of protective gear, and affix words
    like “safety” and “planning” in the slogans of our
    clubs and events. And then we buy machines that can
    out-accelerate any car on the road, wire them for
    radar detectors and grin ear-to-ear when we crack the
    throttle, letting the wash of wind and speed flow
    through us like a drug. And like addicts, we
    rationalize our choice of fun and claim any bad
    consequences are either imaginary or will never happen
    to us, anyway.

    My riding style has been called bi-polar, and I do
    feel a little schizophrenic out there. I consider
    myself an ambassador to the world, demonstrating that
    riding is a good, safe and wholesome source of fun.
    And yet, I know a small blip of the throttle will pull
    my front wheel from the road, and a larger pull will
    erase the space in front of me, reducing the ponderous
    cages around me to specs in my mirrors, and I revel in
    that knowledge. Sometimes the smile in my helmet is
    not there for the smell of the flowers, or the cool
    air under the trees. It’s the cocky grin of the
    rebel, making his mark in rubber on asphalt.

    Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe any one of us is an
    insignificant number, and even the 15,000 member Iron
    Butt Association is but the tail end of a long bell
    curve of riders that still only makes up 2% of the
    population. But then again, when we are faced with
    land or road use issues, or health insurance
    discrimination, or legislation on helmets, pipes,
    handlebars or whatever else, we must face the rebel
    who is our public image. On Monday we lobby for
    parking places and better treatment in the courts.
    And on Sunday we crash our sportbikes into oncoming
    traffic, or drive our cruisers into the ditch after
    too many beers at the roadhouse. The treatment we
    receive from those who do not ride is not based on the
    machine. Ask John Q. Public what he thinks of
    motorcycles and his response is not likely to include
    fuel economy, gyroscopic stability or power-to-weight
    ratios. The image of motorcycling is based on the
    behavior of riders, and frankly, our behavior stinks.
    From the loud-piped chopper to the wheelie-prone
    squid, we flaunt our misbehavior, call our critics
    sissies and killjoys and write off any consequences in
    the name of fun. Even among ourselves we bicker about
    what is acceptable behavior, while failing to see that
    the very act of riding carries a stigma. Accusations
    of hypocrisy are not often far off the mark. Sure,
    other road users can be jerks, too, but it seems
    pretty obvious that our sport attracts more than its
    share of the independent, adventurous, self-assured
    souls who tend to tick off the well-mannered
    establishment. Riders use their bikes to rebel, and
    rebels use their bikes to express their rebellion.

    The squids know it, even if they can’t follow through.
    Editor of the aforementioned Motorcyclist magazine
    Mitch Boehm, upon the introduction of the brutally
    powerful ZX-10, asked all his readers to “turn up the
    responsibility” in his column. The next month’s
    feature article included that very bike under the
    title “Need for Speed.” So much for responsibility.

    Laws don’t help much, at least not until it’s too late
    anyway. Yes, there are laws against loud pipes, and
    wheelies, and speeding and burnouts and all the other
    fun stuff we do with our bikes, just like there are
    laws against all the poor behavior we see from car
    drivers. But cars do not carry the burden of the
    rebel. Politeness cannot be legislated, and it’s
    much easier to just ban bikes from a park, or pass a
    helmet law, or raise insurance premiums than convince
    Mr. V-Twin that maybe he should put some baffles in
    those shorty pipes. By then, most everyone in the
    area will know bikers are rude and inconsiderate

    So we ride, and we rebel, some quietly, some
    flagrantly. Maybe I’ll dump my subscription to
    Motorcyclist and start getting MCN. Maybe I’ll dump
    my clutch and start getting in trouble. I’m not sure
    where the line should be drawn. Is speeding okay as
    long as we don’t get caught? Are wheelies okay as
    long as no one’s watching?

    Anyone have a source for a quiet exhaust for a 1997 DR
    350? The Yosh pipe that came on it is loud. Or
    strident. Or soul-stirring. Or something.

    - 30 -

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  3. #2
    Wanderer of the Wastes Array DNAspark99's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    השטן שב
    so....are you trying to rebel against rebellion??? or just posting fluffiness cuz it makes you horny?
    "I dread beyond all else the growth of the petty tyranny of restrictive legislation, the transference of disciplinary authority from the judiciary to the constabulary, the abandonment of every constitutional safeguard of individual liberty."

  4. #3
    Registered User Array SpideRider's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Fraser Valley

    An interesting read, though. While I can appreciate a well-written piece, I felt all enthusiasm for motorcycling leave my body in one giant whoosh.
    For today, at least.
    Cry in the dojo, laugh on the battlefield
    Sparring speed is a matter of simple physics:
    The height of your flight is inversely proportionate to the mass of your ass.

  5. #4
    Registered User Array Miteorite's Avatar
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    Feb 2002
    Richmond, BC
    Good read.
    It'd be interesting to see what caused this post..

  6. #5
    Registered User Array
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Maple Ridge
    In the words of Lisa Simpson- I understand those words but they just don't make sense.

  7. #6
    Moderator Array jeckyll's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Kawasaki Land Rover and a liter-twin
    I though it was an interesting read.

    "There is truth in contradition" Confuscious

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