May 31, 2018
May 23, 2018
Bloomberg Press just published an article claiming "Americans Are Prioritizing Phone Payments Over Car Loans." The article says, “As cars grow relatively less important, borrowers struggling to pay back their loans on time are increasingly prioritizing payments on the latest iPhone instead of making sure they hold on to their pickup or coupe.”
“So what?” You might say . . . and rightfully so.
The reason Bloomberg was interested in this phenomenon is investments. In particular, good old derivatives. Remember them? Those unsecured, gambling vehicles that were used to bankrupt the entire world economy in 2007? Yeah, that’s the way we’re going to look at the future of motorcycling, cars, and cell phones. “The shift is increasing the attractiveness of bonds generated from mobile-phone loans, a small but growing portion of the asset-backed securities market. While just $7.7 billion of bonds backed by phone purchases have been issued since 2016 -- and all by Verizon Communications Inc. -- the number may increase over coming years.”
So, not only are Americans more interested in staring at their tiny screens, tapping away with their thumbs at the speed of mentally deficient secretaries, and double-checking their “likes” while walking into traffic without a clue or a care in the world. And they are walking because their car has been repossessed and they probably didn’t even notice.
If that’s the direction we’re going, you damn well better get whatever you can get out of your vintage bikes while you can. In another generation, you’ll be selling those wheels for scrap metal prices.
Great Britan has a different take on motorcycle licensing. Until one of our friends, Paul Compton, sent me a link on the British motorcycle license history, I had no idea how different it is: http://www.motuk.com/Motorbike-MOT-history.asp. In comparision, I’m not sure what we have passes for the basic requirement of “a system.”
May 21, 2018
I had a furnace maintenance this week and the young man who did the work turned out to be “bikecurious.” After talking about what he was thinking of buying, we took a look at my motorcycles. He was particularly interested in the WR250X, but said he’d been planning on saving up for a down payment on a Harley of some sort. I asked why someone under 60 would be looking at a Harley and his answer was, “I heard it was safer.” His uncle, apparently a pirate of some sort, had told him “90% of all crashes happen when you are riding alone” and the easiest way to find a group of people to ride with is to own a Harley.
I had to admit, that solo crashing thing has mostly been true for me; because I almost always ride alone. However, I also told him that I’d seen one group of Harley pirates crash in mass when they plowed into a bunch of bees. Every group ride I’ve ever been on has had at least one pretty serious crash, but that’s a poor sample because I’ve only been on a half-dozen or so group rides in my last million motorcycle miles. I wonder if racing is “group riding,” because I’ve sure seen a pile of motorcycles go down together in the first turn.
The whole idea that group riding is in some way safe, amazes me. On every level, the concept seems insane to me. When I taught the MSF classes, I got a constant taste of how true David Roth’s “Law of Crowd IQ” is more true than not (It’s math: the smartest guy in the crowd’s IQ divided by the number of people in the crowd.). People get stupid in crowds, just look at a Trump rally: the bigger his crowds got, the dumber they became. Hillary never had to worry about that because her crowds were always tiny. Motorcyclists are not only no different, we are naturally inclined to be hooligans and not that bright on our good days. So, put us in groups and it’s hard for the group IQ to beat 1.0. Probably the best illustration of this was when a Minnesota motorcycle instructor was on a group ride and dropped her bike trying to exit a light at an intersection and was killed when the nitwits following her ran over her repeatedly. If that event wasn’t a highlighted moment illuminating exactly how stupid groups of motorcyclists are, we’re just too stupid as a nation to get irony.
Where do myths like this come from? How does shit like this get said out loud without being laughed into hiding from embarrassment?
May 20, 2018
I put my V-Strom on Craig’s List today, after doing a pre-sale clean-up on the bike and a little bit of maintenance. I’ve had this bike for 12 years, the longest I’ve ever owned a motorcycle . . . ever. Sadly, I didn’t put that many miles on it, considering the time: about 54,000 miles. Since I bought my WR250X in 2009, the V-Strom has taken a second-fiddle position for everything but long distance rides and even some of those I did on the WR.
I can’t help myself, the fact that Craig’s List doesn’t limit the wordcount is just freedom to go nuts for me. Too many years of editors telling me how many words I get to use for a subject.
I bought my V-Strom used in August 2006, with 1,400 miles on the odometer, when the V-Strom was still a fairly new model and adventure touring motorcycles were very new to the US. I bought it from a “kid” in Cincinnati, sight unseen, on a salvage title. The original owner, an old guy, had bought the bike, ridden it for less than a season, dropped it in his driveway, and did enough damage to the plastic, bars, levers, and exhaust to cause his insurance company to total the bike. The guy I bought it from put new bars and a brake lever on the bike, got an Ohio salvage title, put more than half of the bike’s miles on the odometer, and sold it through eBay to me. Since then, I have ridden my V-Strom to the Arctic Circle and Alaska, to the West Coast and back a few times, to Nova Scotia and across much of the North East of the US and Canada, to Texas and New Mexico, on a North Dakota ghost town tour, to Colorado and the Rockies dozens of times, and up and down much of the length of the Mississippi River more times than I can remember. Last fall, I rode my V-Strom to Thunder Bay, Ontario for a week of back-road Canada exploring and when I came back home I did my last complete maintenance on the bike. After doing an oil change, chain adjust, fluids check, and the usual routine, I managed to drop the bike against a retaining wall in front of my garage and I needed help to get the bike back on two wheels. I realized, at 70, I am near the end of my 55 years of motorcycling.
It feels disrespectful to sell this motorcycle in this condition. I wouldn’t call it “put up wet,” it has definitely been ridden hard and I simply don’t have the energy to do one more thorough repair and rejuvenate maintenance pass. If you’ve read my Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly column, Geezer with A Grudge, you’ve heard a lot about my adventures on this motorcycle. The 12 years that I’ve owned this motorcycle has been the most adventurous, interesting, reliable and dependable, longest, and strangest period of motorcycling in my life. For 10 of those 12 years, my V-Strom maintenance and trip preparation routines were almost as much a part of my motorcycle life as the actual riding. Physically and mentally, this year has been rough and I’m just not up to pulling the plastic off, patching, repairing, and replacing the broken bits, and reassembling the bike. So, it’s for sale as is. Of the dozens of motorcycles I’ve owned and sold, I have never handed one off in less than “ready to ride across the country” shape, but my V-Strom will need some work before it is ready to pound big miles.
The 650 V-Strom review I did for Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly (“Me and Wee”) in 2007, includes some of the accessories I’d added to my V-Strom. Beyond that, the bike has the best suspension addition I’ve ever seen, the Elka Street Motorcycle Series shock absorber ($1600 worth of shock absorber), a front fork brace, GIVI E36 touring cases, a beat-up pair of GIVI E21 cases, a Sergeant custom seat, a Giant Loop Kiger tankbag, a Scottoiler system, a Stebel Nautilus Air Horn, IMS serrated footpegs, Pat Walsh crashbars and bashplate, a Suzuki centerstand, hand guards, and a power distribution system that provides fuse protection for heated gear, and connections for USB or lighter power. I installed a new battery this spring. I have the stock shock, a GIVI rear case mount, assorted spare touring parts, and most of the stock parts that I’ve replaced with aftermarket bits.
The fairing and front fender took a beating when I was blown backwards on the Dempster Highway in the Yukon and that is my excuse for the decal decorated right side fairing. I broke the mounting for the right turn signal when I dropped the bike in the driveway last fall and some how the left turn signal wiring disconnected then, too. The rear tire is in good shape, but the front will probably need to be replaced in the next couple thousand miles. After sitting untouched all winter, the motor fired up instantly with the new battery this past month. The engine uses about a quart of oil every 3,000-5,000 miles and has since it was new. The valve clearances were last checked at 48,000 miles and they have never needed adjustment and I’ve checked them every 12,000 miles.
The first picture in this ad is not what the bike looks like today, but it is my favorite picture of my V-Strom. It was taken in 2006, not that many miles after I was blown backwards on the Dempster Highway in the Yukon about 120 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Me and the V-Strom were bent and broken, but still moving and covering new ground. We’d done several 1,000+ mile days together and would do several more that trip and it was early in what was the most intense relationship I’ve ever had with a motorcycle.
May 17, 2018
So, today was the first day of this season that I actually fired up a bike and took it out for a short ride. Mostly, I rode to a friend’s house in Wisconsin to return some CD’s I’d borrowed a generation ago. I’ve been down with a flu for a couple of weeks and today was the first day since our warm-up two weeks ago I felt good enough to give the bike a try. Red Wing is an easy ride, so no challenges there. The V-Strom needed a new battery and a massive clean-up before I try to sell it this spring, so the WR250X it is.
Without having kept up my flexibility training for a couple of weeks, I almost assumed getting off and on the WR would be a catestrophe. It wasn’t. After dropping the CDs off and blowing smoke at each other for an hour or so, I headed for the old Southeast Tech training course, which I figured would be almost unreadable after two seasons of disuse. Worse, it was coated with a layer of dirt from a destruction project at the back of the school. So, my baseline was tested on several levels. Riding the course was the least of my problems. Finding it was the hardest part. I did just Ok on the figure-eight in the box. I did fine the first pass through on the 135 degree curve and my stopping distance is still excellent. I can’t decide how I did on the swerve. It was a bitch to see until I was right on top of it. I might need to bring some cones with me next time.
My goal was, “So, every March from here out I'm going to go through the old routine but after an hour or so of practice, I'm going to run through every one of the nine BRC exercises and the day I can't do all of them ‘perfectly’ (no cones hit, no lines crossed, fast enough, and clean enough) the bike goes up for sale and I'll fill the space in the garage with a small convertible. I might buy a trials bike, but that will be the end of my street riding days.” I was too wore out for the hour of practice. The flu really kicked the snot out of me and I’m still short of wind. Like I said, I did ok. I’m going to give it a few days and try again. I wasn’t perfect today, but I was good enough to pass the Ridercoach exam.
May 16, 2018
May 14, 2018
All Rights Reserved © 2015 Thomas W. DayA dozen years ago, Pat Hahn asked me to write a section on "passengers" for the Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Council's webpage. I don't remember why I was picked for that assignment, but Pat had ambitious plans for the state's motorcycle safety program and he'd gathered a collection of riders to author the various sections of the planned website. At the time, I almost never had a passenger on my motorcycle and not much has changed since. In fact, Pat is one of a handful of riders I'd ride pillion behind. In fact, when I wrote the MMSC article, my list was "my brother and my best friend." Pat was added a couple of years later when we did a segment for my cable program, Motorcycling Minnesota, at DCTC (see photo at left). The list is significantly shorter now, since my best friend quit riding last year.
The finished article was titled "Co-Rider Seminar" and, to be honest, Pat wrote a lot of it. What he wanted was an article that described the "co-rider's" responsibilities and clarified what the passenger's expectations should be. What he got was an article that mostly warned potential passengers to carefully evaluate the decision to ride passenger and to think twice about who they were handing the reins to their lives. The fact is, I think swinging a leg over a bike to take a backseat on a vehicle that has a grossly unsafe history is pretty damn dumb. As I wrote in that article for Pat, "The first thing you need to do, to be a motorcycle co-rider/passenger, is to choose your rider carefully." That was about all Pat kept of my rant against the whole idea of being a passenger on a motorcycle. He forced me to come up with a list of passenger suggestions, once he'd made it clear that a page with little more detail than "Don't do it! He's an idiot!" was insufficient. The only bit of Pat's editing that I really regretted was his cutting my comment that roughly said, "If you wouldn't trust this guy without your life support equipment, why would you ride with him?" I thought that line was accurate, direct and to the point. Pat, apparently, thought it was too confrontational.
I was reminded of all this when our car died late during the summer of 2014 and we were "forced" to use my V-Strom for transportation for a couple of weeks. That probably doesn't sound like much of a sacrifice, but I don't like riding with a passenger and my wife doesn't like being a passenger. Two-up is something we usually do about once a year, getting reminded of why we don't do it often and calling that one experience "good enough" for the rest of the year. On top of everything else, we were buying a house in Red Wing and needed to make the trip from Little Canada to Red Wing often during that period. In a week and a half, we put on more miles together on my bike than we have since our 40th anniversary, seven years ago. For the most part, we got through the week comfortably and even had a little fun. Regardless, I was on edge every mile we traveled and the necessity of riding two-up added some urgency to finding a replacement cage.
Luckily, nothing bad happened. However, all of the really dire warnings about riding pillion turned into reality when a guy pulled out in front of us from a side road when we were west-bound on Highway 61, just outside of Red Wing. The good news was that he saw us half-way into the intersection and stopped in time to leave me with a whole escape lane. The bad news was that, when I applied the brakes, I had all kinds of unhappy epiphanies. I'm a little over 200 pounds and my wife is a little under that mark and the usually excellent V-Strom brakes were overtaxed and under-equipped for a sudden stop. I'd recently replaced the rear tire and installed new rear brake pads as part of the process, but the 450 pound addition (counting gear and baggage) to the bike's gross vehicle weight completely changed the handling characteristics and, especially, my stopping distance. Earlier on the trip, I'd done a few experiments with the brakes as stop lights and signs, but in an attempt to prevent passenger nervousness I hadn't really tested our stopping power. I know my V-Strom pretty well, after 70,000 miles, but riding solo and riding two-up are different experiences. In those seconds before the driver made a decision and provided me with an exit route, I realized I'd be using every bit of strength, skill, and nerve I possess to get stopped if he continued into the intersection. It was a "moment" and I don't think my passenger/spouse even noticed how close the call was. It took me most of the way home to settle down, decompress, and relax enough to enjoy the ride a bit.
Afterwards, I couldn't help but think about all of the motorcycle safety students, both "Basic" and "Seasoned," I've taught who were almost completely unfamiliar with their front brakes or how to maneuver their motorcycle in an emergency. Many of them happily tell stories about the trips they've taken, the near-crashes they've managed to avoid, and the wives, children, grandchildren, friends, and strangers they've loaded on to their motorcycles without a care in the world. These are people who can't perform simple parking lot exercises without all sorts of mental and physical errors, but they're willing to double up the risk of riding with people they love because they do not know how badly they ride and won't know until disaster strikes. Trust me, if you can't maneuver your motorcycle in a low-risk parking lot course, you won't be able to do any better at speed with traffic on both sides and behind you. When I first moved to Minnesota, one of the state's instructors demonstrated performing all of the Basic Rider skills on a Gold Wing, with his wife on back, pulling a trailer, and he didn't miss a line or hesitate on a single exercise. Neither the coach or his wife were lightweights. I couldn't do that to save our lives, but I should be able to if I want to carry a passenger competently.
May 12, 2018
Teaching motorcycle classes was a terrific income gap-filler when I first left the medical device industry in 2001; before my consulting and repair businesses took off and the college teaching gig became full-time. Yeah, I enjoyed teaching people about motorcycling and getting to ride the state’s motorcycles for money, but it was always close enough to “work” that I wouldn’t have done it without the money. It’s actually a lot of work. In the early years, 2002-2010 or so, I did 20-something courses a summer; pretty much every weekend of my whole summer for a lot of years.
From 2007 to 2011 I made space for at least one several week long trip every season: Alaska in 2007, Nova Scotia in 2008, the Rockies with my grandson in 2009,. North Dakota ghost towns in 2010, the Lake Superior loop with my brother in 2011. I decided on different excitement at the end of 2011: a hip replacement. I made another loop around Superior late that summer, but I put on a lot fewer miles than I usually rack up on that route. I followed that up with a heart attack and a surgery in late 2012. I retired my businesses and from my college instructor gig after the next spring school semester in 2013 and turned a simple RV retirement trip into an extended and miserable VW repair extravaganza. We moved to Red Wing later that year, sold our house in the Cities in early 2014, and . . . that’s about it. The only trip left on my bucket list would be a run down South America’s Pacific Coast Highway. That’s probably not gonna happen.
Since 2014, more than half of my classes scheduled at Red Wing’s site, Southeast Technical College, have cancelled. For the last decade, most of the classes I taught have been at Century College in White Bear, about 50 minutes from our home in Little Canada; but an hour from Red Wing. I have spent a lot of my life arranging my work and home to minimize commuting time and distance (in that order). I’m not going to stop now. I compulsively calculate my actual hourly rate, after 50 years of billing customers for work, and I’m making about $18/hour in real dollars, pre-tax, with the motorcycle classes. Not awful, but certainly not great.
That last 2017 October weekend, I worked with one of my favorite co-instructors: John Wright. If anything could convince me to put in another year or two at this gig, working with John would do it. As always, working with John was in no way like working. I went home sore, a little frustrated with the process and the fact that at least three of the students who "passed" had no business being on a motorcycle, and feeling like I have probably over-extended my use-by-date as an instructor. In early April this year, just like in my first experience with Pat Hahn and the old MSF program, I gave John a volunteer hand with a one-instructor class in Red Wing. After that part-time afternoon on the range, I was almost crippled for a day or so. One of the unexpected benefits of the motorcycle teaching gig has been the people I’ve taught with over the years. The list is long and memorable: motorcyclists and instructors who have not just taught me about motorcycling and teaching, but a whole list of subjects have been explored and appreciated. I feel incredibly lucky that the MMSC opportunity came along when it did; thanks to Pat Hahn and Bill Shaffer for encouraging me to battle through that first mostly-miserable year and the training program. I believe those two friends where hugely responsible for most of the good times that resulted from walking away from my lucrative but miserable medical devices career. If I tried to list all of the instructors I've enjoyed working with, this paragraph would be ridiculous. However, if I didn't mention Greg Pierce and Duane Delperdang, the two program managers who have run the best MNSCU/MMSC program in the state (Century College), I would be sorry for a long while. Not only is the Century program the poster child for a well-run training facility, but those two guys are also a pair of my favorite coaches to work with. Ben Goebel, Mike Jagielski, Jed Duncan, Sev Pearman, and Ken Pierce all make my list of favorite people with whom to spend a weekend standing on hot asphalt for a couple of ten hour day and in the 250+ courses I taught over the years, most of those days were spent with the guys listed in this paragraph.
My first year teaching the MSF program was not that much fun. For a while, that first year, I wouldn’t have bet much on my lasting another season. Since that first year, I’ve worked with several experienced coaches who are not only a lot of fun, but educational, interesting, skilled, and good people. Partially due to location convenience, I ended up teaching mostly at Century College where the program directors have also been coaches. Working for someone who knows the job, the customers, and the challenges, makes the job a lot more predictable. Oddly, a guy who is no longer with the MMSC program as of a few years ago was the first decent, experienced instructor I worked with: Steve Lane. Steve taught, mostly, at Dakota County Technical College which is often referred to as “the Wild West” by instructors from other locations. Over the years, DCTC became the place for instructors who wanted to make up their own wacky rules and course "design." I quit teaching there more than a decade ago, with once-every-three-or-four-years experimental toe-dip just to see if anything had changed. It’s a little more controlled now, but not consistent enough for my personal liability comfort-levels.
Now, after 16 years, I’m in a similar place as that first year; except I don’t need the money. I don’t like the early morning travel; especially riding or driving in the dark. The work is physically hard on me and has been harder every summer for the last couple of years. I don’t like scheduling my spring and summer weekends seven to eight months in advance; instructor course sign-up occurs in November and December depending on the school where you work. I was in no hurry to make a decision about retiring, but I wanted to as fair as possible to the MMSC program and people who are counting on me. At least until the course sign-up meetings began last winter, I could put the decision off for a while. For that matter, I could just do fill-in work in 2018 and put off the decision until the new BRC 2 kicks in in late 2018. I could have done that, but after evaluating my lack of motorcycling, physical conditioning (especially eyesight), and lack of enthusiasm this spring, I decided to officially retire this month.
Throughout the 2018 season, instructors will be training for that "new" MSF program, the BRC 2, this spring and summer (2018). That is a long two-weekend commitment and I suspect it would be a make-or-break event for me; and lots of other trainers. The rumor was that about half of Wisconsin’s trainers quit during and after their 2015 BRC 2 training (Transitional RiderCoach Prep or TRCP). If history repeats itself, it could be hard to find a Minnesota motorcycle course next year. Finding new coaches is getting tougher because there aren't many younger skilled and experienced motorcyclists and even fewer of those riders are willing to donate the time to become a trainer and put in the work to become a decent coach. It takes a few years to become much of a teacher, if it is ever going to happen for you. Like most professions and human activities, "90% of everything is crap." Once you are a MMSC/MNSCU motorcycle trainer, the state pays something for the semi-annual training requirements, but you have to get past that first long and intense training hurdle on your dime.
Quitting was a tough decision, even with all of the reasons I've listed above. I retired from my college instructor gig 5 years ago and almost all of the friendships I made there have become distant memories. Even though I've continued to teach at Century during the last 4 years, most of my friends there are now only seen in passing and rarely even then. Absence does not "make the heart grow fonder," the more accurate saying is "out of sight, out of mind." But everything changes and so have I and so have you.
Stay safe everyone and thanks for all the fish.
May 1, 2018
All Rights Reserved © 2017 Thomas W. DayThere is a lot of talk, and little real action, about motorcycle safety improvements. Motorcycles are grossly over-represented in highway death and injury statistics and it will only get worse as cars continue to become safer and less dependent on human drivers. If we really did want to make a serious difference in those statistics and reduce the insanely high cost of all that blood and tears to the non-motorcycling public, what would we have to do?
A lot, I suspect.
After discussions about the possibilities with the Administrator of the Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Program, the owner of an independent motorcycle safety program, and a few MSF instructors, I came to a few conclusions. First, the people involved in the politics of motorcycling (ABATE, the AMA, the MSF/MIC, manufacturers and dealers, safety trainers, DOT bureaucrats at the state and federal level, and motorcyclists themselves) are not incentivized to do ANYTHING that will noticeably improve motorcycle safety. There is more easy money in the status quo than in doing the right thing and in worrying about the future of motorcycling. All of these entities are primarily concerned with putting butts on seats and taking a chunk of money from licensing. In 2010, not a big year for motorcycling, the GAO estimated motorcycle crashes cost the general public about $16B. Not exactly chicken feed. The industry produces about $4.4B in revenue, annually. So, the cost of keeping motorcycles on public roads is about 4X the industry’s economic value to the country. At some point, someone might suggest this is a waste of taxpayer money. In fact, I’m suggesting it right now.
So, my list of things that have to be done to make motorcycling safer, significantly safer, enough safer that motorcycle might be allowed to use public roads in the future, is this:
- National Helmet Law. I do not know how this isn’t obvious to everyone, but we have a national seat belt law for cars and we simple can’t excuse motorcyclists not taking the minimum safety precaution while we require cagers to belt-up, air-bag-in, and surround themselves in crush-zones and roll-cages. Helmets are a minimum nod to pretending to care about motorcycle safety.
- National Protective Gear Law. Even more than helmets, I think insurance companies should be allowed to vacate health coverage for riders who have accidents and injuries wearing no reasonable protective gear. At the least, riders should be required to wear decent foot wear, protective jackets, long pants, gloves, eye protection, or self-insure. There is no reason the public needs to assume responsibility for the surgical costs of someone who chooses to ride in flip-flops and a wife-beater.
- State Emissions and Safety Inspection. Back in the 80's, when I lived in California, every vehicle licensed to be on California's roads had to pass an annual emissions inspection. Part of the inspection was to determine that the intake and exhaust system was bone-stock or equivalent. Anyone who has been anywhere near the usual cruiser suspects knows that those blubbering farm implements drool out as much unburned fuel as they manage to heat up. All that noise and nothing useful to show for it. Loud pipes not only don't save lives, they make millions of enemies for motorcyclists and probably cost a life or two hundred in road rage encounters. Since the fact that motorcyclists are incapable of maintaining safe vehicles has been made apparent by the existence of ape-hangars, chicken strips, missing front brakes, micro-turn signals, and the usual lousy maintenance motorcyclists are often proud of, safety inspections need to be established. Also true for cars and trucks.
- Mandatory Regular Training. Yeah, I know cagers don’t have to retake the license test every time they re-up their license, but car drivers are in a vehicle that is somewhere around 3,000 –20,000 times safer-per-mile than motorcycles. Even more, cars are consistently getting safer while motorcyclists are a growing portion of highway crashes and mortality. The fact that most states allow a license holder to pay a small premium to add the “M” endorsement to their driver’s license, without any evidence that the endorsee owns or can even ride a motorcycle is flat-out stupid. At the minimum, something like the MSF’s Intermediate Rider Course with a passing score on the test (There is a test? Yes, Georgia there is and it ought to be mandatory.) should be required for that M-endorsement. Of course, I think anyone over 50 should have to retake the written and driving exam for cars and trucks every 5 years or so, too.
- Tiered Licensing. I’d go with the Eurozone’s 3-tier system, but I’d be really behind something like the Japanese tests and tiers. This is a no-brainer. After teaching beginning MSF classes for 16 years and watching the worst “students” in my classes mount up on the biggest, most cumbersome, hardest to ride cruisers or the most powerful sportbikes after barely passing our minimal “skills test” (or not), I’m convinced that new riders are the last people who should get to choose what they ride without guidance. Yeah, I know that there is a decent argument that requiring serious licensing testing curtails interest in motorcycling, but that's happening with or without.