Jul 7, 2015

A Letter Back to the Editor

In response to MMM's publisher, Victor Wanchena, regarding his protest of my "When You Need A Faster Bike" essay, I wrote:


Your "freedom" position would indicate that you lead a very conflicted life: Victimless Crime Constitutes 86% of the American Prison Population. (An inside joke.)

Honestly, I don't care what people buy either. I do disagree that poor motorcycling choices "don't hurt anyone" other than the buyer, since our completely out-of-proportion contribution to highway fatalities, injuries, medical costs caused by vehicle crashes, etc will soon drive motorcycles from public roads. At 67, I don't really care. I won't live or ride long enough to suffer much from the changes that are racing toward us. Even a 5 year window won't affect me. Nobody in my family, other than my 65 year-old younger brother rides or will ride. Our demographic is rapidly approaching terminal age limits.

Salespeople "tell people what they need" all the time. The big money is in the big bikes and that's where the pressure comes from. Goofy semi-riders tell their newbie buddies what kind of bike conveys mythical rider status so often I suspect way too many people are taking Sons of Anarchy seriously. We train people to be almost-competent riders on 125-250cc bikes in the MSF classes and they move quickly to a bike that will prevent them from ever riding half-well again on exactly that kind of advice. Motorcycle magazines promote the wrong bikes (including MMM) because that's where the advertisers aim us for profit reasons. There is no shortage of voices saying "500cc and below bikes are starter bikes" and "you'll quickly outgrow a 600cc bike, so you might as well start with a liter or better." Maybe you don't hear that, but if you taught a season or two of MSF classes you'd know better. (Take as many of my classes as you want, I'm old and heading for retirement of everything.)

I'm not making rules, though. I'm just giving advice and ridiculing the end result of the "you need a faster bike" argument. Personally, I think motorcyclists are doing themselves such a disservice by riding poorly, crashing alone on empty roads, making unnecessary noise (to compensate for an unhappy childhood?), riding in their underwear and leaving miles of skin on the highways, looking ridiculous, and behaving childishly that the "Start Seeing Motorcycles" campaign should be changed to "Stop Laughing at Motorcyclists." I mean, we're such cartoon characters, on the average, when a typical biker passes through a neighborhood or downtown area, at least half of the folks on the street are laughing at the South Park'ness of the clowns on two wheels.

If a motorcycles is nothing more than a lifestyle announcement, there is no point in allowing the damn things anywhere outside of a downtown parade, Shriner-style, or on private parks. They are either a vehicle or a toy and toys do not deserve special rights and, normally, they are discouraged from killing kiddies and mentally-handicapped adults.

As for that 950cc loud-piped dirt bike, you better bring your trials bike to our new place. And mess with my wife's gardens at your own risk. I will not be responsible for what happens when you get stuck on the side of our hill tipped over in a patch of freshly transplanted lilies, perennials, and landscape sculpture. You'll wish it was me you'll be hearing from. Our deer-hunting across-the-street neighbor is so protective of my wife's new gardens that I'm afraid to step on to the edge to refill the birdfeeders when he's home. Look both ways before vandalizing. I can't remember you visiting our Little Canada place, with the trials course in the backyard. With 35E across the lake, your loud-piped anything would have to compete with 90dB of neighborhood background noise. Unless you came up to the bedroom window, you probably wouldn't even have woke us up there.

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