Jul 31, 2012

Motorcycle Hate

After an incredibly rational reply from Joe about his favorite motorcycle magazines, stating "RR [RoadRunner, I thinkhas lots of cruisers but that really doesn't bother me. I just like seeing and learning about where they are riding. It bothers me not what bike they are riding. Motorcycle hate is unhealthy." I couldn't help but think about my own perspective on brands and types of motorcycles as I plowed across the boring flatlands of Wisconsin this weekend. He's right, of course.

If this isn't a picture of some level of Dante's inferno, it has to
be damn close. The sound  and smell of those miserably
tuned 14hp girls' bikes would be enough to make Richard
Dawkins pray for salvation. 
I've been accused of being a "motorcycle bigot" and worse because of my general distaste for cruisers and the obsolete technology they represent. I'm working on an engineering-based analysis of that opinion for MMM that might be in the September issue, if I get it together soon enough and Sev and Bruce go for it. While plodding through Hardly territory, I had lots of opportunity to examine my "bigotry," since an easy 90% of the bikes I saw in Wisconsin were cruisers of one sort or another, probably Hardlys. They all look the same to me. Ugly and slow.

From a distance (across a four-lane medium, for example), I have little-to-no opinion, one way or another. They are big, slow, and awkward but I don't have an emotional reaction to opposite direction cruisers. Up close, I found I do hate the damn things passionately. As I would approach one of the garage candyasses, the closer I got the more I hated the experience. Sitting behind a blubbering noise generator at a stop light is a miserable experience. I found myself trying to get a few cars between me and any in-town Hardly. On the road, passing one of those hippomobiles is painful. (No, not once in 720 miles did I experience getting passed by a cruiser.) The closer you get to the ass-end of an asshole's bike, the more painful it gets, so I discovered I have an automatic reaction of shifting to 5th and hammering by those derelict machines as fast as my 650 can go. On the little WR, I just have to grit my teeth and get by as quickly as possible, with the 85mph top speed limit putting a cap on how quick that can be. Of course, once I'm ten feet in front of the blubber-machine, the pain is done and they are out of sound and mind.

That sums up my emotional reaction to hippobikes. If they are quiet (not one in hundreds in Wisconsin), I don't notice them and have no more reaction to them than Goldwings hauling trailers, SUVs, or other land yachts. If they are "fags" (as accurately defined by South Park), my reaction to those screwed-up 16-year-old girl machines is exactly the same as "everyone" else. (In case you just arrived here from the fifth planet from Alpha Centauri and had been deluded by HD's marketing into believing Harley's are "cool" and "every body loves 'em," here is your opportunity to re-calibrate.)

For me, the big payoff was discovering that I'm neutral on the "type of bike" you ride and I'm no more a biker hater than 90% of the public. Sitting behind a few cages, with a pile of steaming garage candy in front of us all gave me the opportunity to look at the expressions of the people in those cars. As they rolled up their windows on an otherwise beautiful day, they were glaring at the asshole on the hippobike and hating his existence as if he were that moment's worst person in the world. I, on the other hand, didn't appear to exist for anyone in that line of traffic, for the moment. [I can't decide if that's a good or a bad thing.]

From my informal observations, I know that a huge number of people hate motorcycles, generically. I mean they automatically hate us all. Noise is the reason. We are the loudest thing in the urban environment. Babble all you like about how, if government goes after our noise it should go after other noises sources, but we're an unimportant portion of transportation and contribute nothing of noticeable value to relieving urban congestion. We are at the top of the irritating noise ladder and so easily knocked off that most people will just smile if motorcycles are banned from public roads, altogether. Think that can't happen. You wish.


RichardM said...

The really loud vehicles do bother me be they cruisers, sport bikes, cars or trucks. All are equally annoying but not hated.

Trobairitz said...

I thought that South Park episode was so on point when it first came out and still is.

When vehicles - be they motorcycles, lifted trucks, tuner cars, etc - are so loud you have to stop your conversation or cover your ears - they are too loud period.

Paul said...

It's easy to "hate" cruisers when you get stuck behind a bunch of em on a nice road and they're just putting along, slowing excessively for corners and revving the engines just to make noise.
In everyday traffic, pickups with loud systems are just as bad.
I was sitting at a DQ watching the world go by, a semi went past and the only real noise was the whistle of the turbo and the sizzle of the tires. I was struck with the thought of all that power pulling 40,000 pounds making so little sound, yet a 800 pound HD with drag pipes makes more noise than everyone around combined.

T.W. Day said...

I live on a block with a sharp 90 degree turn. The fags blast out of that turn, after crawling through it slower than I bicycle it, just to show how little we're getting for our Sheriff's department tax money. In back of our house, we have a freeway on the other side of a tiny lake. You can hear the fags for miles, far above the constant noise of the freeway. I hate 'em. No doubt about it. About 1 in 500 pickups make that kind of noise and 1 in 10,000 cars. 9 out of 10 bikes, around here, are fag-mobiles. They are making enemies for us all every time they fire up their POS cruisers and they should be made responsible for a substantial portion of road rage incidents.