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Forum » Special Interests » Motorcycling » How to identify a biker

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How to identify a biker
Once upon a time it was easy; a biker was a guy (or gal) tooling down the road on a motorcycle, usually with bugs in his/her teeth from too much grinning. Generally there were the hard-core biker types - the Harley riders who looked like they lived on their machines, and the weekend warriors who more closely resembled regular people. I don't remember ever seeing a rider who looked like they belonged in a Japanese movie, you know, the ones with midnight black faceshields on their black helmets, wearing a backpack and riding one of those lay-down-to-ride "crotch rocket" cafe racers.

These days it seems like there are just as many pretend bikers as there are pretend people in general, each of whom has apparently spent way too long perfecting their "style" in the mirror, and evidently unaware that some people ride motorcycles because they like riding motorcycles, not because they think it makes them look cool, or badass, or whatever the look that they are going for is supposed to represent.

I guess I'll cut the Harley riders a little slack based on the fact that anyone who spends as much money as those things cost these days is probably not overly concerned about how they are perceived by average people, but even if they're just trying to assert their position on the HOG pecking order, I see no reason to need to hear their muffler (or lack thereof) or radio from two blocks away.

But I will NOT discriminate in calling out riders who are just plain stupid. Not only does it give ALL bikers a bad name, but most of us feel a certain kinship with one another and really don't want to see another biker get splattered because of their ignorance. Herewith, my three biggest pet peeves for bikers, all of which are perpetrated by jerks who are trying to look cool.

!. Shifting into neutral at stoplights, in most cases combined with striking an ubercool pose like arms folded across chest like a real he-man. I watched one cool dude do this years ago, from two cars back. The girl in the car behind him evidently dropped her lit cigarette, and as she bent to retrieve it her foot left the brake pedal. Although she was only going zero miles per hour when she tapped his back tire, it dumped his bike, broke his leg, and caused several thousand dollars of damage to his ride.

Just for the record, it's illegal in most states to take your vehicle out of gear on the road. I can tell you from personal experience that - especially on a 500 pound motorcycle that doesn't compete well with many-thousand pound cars and trucks, you are most vulnerable when you are in a public roadway and standing still. No matter what you are driving, your vehicle should always be in the correct gear to allow you to try to evade an oncoming threat.

2. Lounging while driving. I just don't have the words for the riders I see driving one-handed or with their feet dangling in places far removed from the foot controls. Evidently they've never had to dodge something that suddenly appeared or got thrown in front of them. The one that is in my record book is the fellow with one arm who I watched take a motorcycle road test in Nevada some years ago. I don't care how good your balance is, what special controls you have, or how skilled a rider you are, this is just plain suicidal. This is why God invented three-wheeled motorcycles! (And no, his wan't)

3. Zipping in and out of traffic. There are some very real differences between the way cars and similar vehicles and motorcycles behave. What the "zipperheads" have not yet realized is that to weave from one lane to another requires shifting the motorcycle's center of balance to prevent the bike from tipping over. If you're in the process of zipping and the car in front of you pulls into the lane you're heading for without looking, unless your reactions are very good you basically have a choice between hitting or being hit by the vehicle cutting you off, running off the road, or dumping your bike. The prize here goes for all the wingnuts in California who think that there are special lanes for motorcycles between the regular lanes. I watched one fellow toodling along at about 50 MPS when the owner of a pickup truck becalmed in the traffic jam decided to open his door to spit tobacco. Nothing says "I'm a biker" quite like wearing a door in place of a windshield.

In case you're interested, the author has been riding since age 9 (over half a century ago), has done a ton of off-road riding including a bit of motocross racing, and had a father who was an instructor for all classes of vehicles from motorcycles to halftracks in the German army. I was unhorsed once while stopped at a "T" intersection. Traffic from my left had right of way, but a driver coming from my right made a left turn onto my street and was struck in the rear passenger side by oncoming traffic, causing the rear end of her car to spin around and push my knee into my gas tank. Thank goodness for solidly German engineering (me, not the motorcycle!)

My current ride is a '96 Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 to which I have added quite a few extra lights. Have you noticed how everything (for example emergency vehicles) is getting louder and brighter as people become more and more distracted, which of course is a self-defeating cycle? I've got a string of red LEDs along each side of the tank to provide some side lighting, since I like to be visible even when traversing intersections at night. The 4 extra tail/brake lights that strobe when I hit the brakes have proven remarkably effective at keeping most drivers off my tail. In front, besides a pair of LED headlights ("passing lights"), I have a pair of what I call "coyote lights"... LED projector bulbs mounted low and canted a bit to the right to best illuminate critters entering my lane, especially from the right.
Edited by Admin on December 11 2018 10:43
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