10 Things They Never Told You About Becoming a Biker

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10 Things They Never Told You About Becoming a Biker

So, after months of nothing but Ramen Noodles, you’ve saved up enough loose change to put down a deposit on your first motorcycle. An exciting new world with leather jackets and without traffic, right? Sure, but there some other…stuff, too. Stuff no one else has told you about becoming a biker.

Photo: Kynan Tait

1. Bees & Animals
Bees are a pretty innocuous creature, so long as they’re in the backyard. Sure, if you hassle them, you might get stung, but in general, they leave you alone if you leave them alone. Get on a motorcycle, though, and the humble bee is transformed into a weapon of mass destruction.

At anything over 10mph, a bee in the face/neck/any exposed body part will feel — and this isn’t an exaggeration at all — like you’ve just been shot with a rubber bullet. And, in its final throes, the bee will sting you. Probably in the face, because it’s trapped inside your helmet.

All of that takes place while you’re attempting to operate a relatively complex machine in busy traffic with absolutely nowhere to pull over safely.

Bees have also evolved the extraordinary ability to find gaps in your waterproof, hermetically sealed riding suit that nothing else, not even a drop of water, can penetrate. The bee will always find a way. Normally, it’s around your neck, plunging down your chest and stinging you as many times as possible before your frantic self flagellation manages to squash it. But sometimes, it’ll find its way in around your waistband, then proceed to sting you on the genitalia. Really, this does happen and likely will happen at some point in your riding career. Car drivers will pass by flummoxed by the odd, leather-clad man frantically stripping on the roadside while hopping around with a swollen face.

Animals, too, have been put on this planet for the specific purpose of performing Kamikaze missions on passing motorcyclists. In rural areas, deer will wait in the roadside undergrowth, listening for the approach of a bike. At the very last second, when it’s far too late for you to take evasive action, they’ll fling themselves into your path, or maybe just leap straight for your head.

Even domestic animals like to get in on the act. Cats will test your reflexes by bolting from underneath cars to underneath your wheels. Dogs will feel it’s their duty to hunt you down.

2. You’re Now An Expert Meteorologist
Forget the TV weatherman, you’re going to develop a better ability to read weather radar maps, cloud formations and wind patterns than anyone with an actual degree in the field. And that’s because the weather is now absolutely critical to your day-to-day life.

Can you make it home from work before the storm hits? If so, what’s your latest time of departure, chosen route and necessary average speed to make that possible?

Will it dip below freezing on your commute tonight? If so, should you pack your heated gloves or is the ride short enough for simply your heavy duty winter ones?

Is the rain today going to be light, meaning you can get away with leather or heavy, meaning you need that Bibendum suit?

Slicks, road tires, intermediates or full wets at the track day next week? You’d better know for sure, because that deposit is non refundable and it takes four days for tires to arrive.

3. Say Goodbye To A and B
Before you had a motorcycle, you always tried to find the quickest and most direct way to get around. In a car or truck, it was efficient and practical to do so. Now that you have a bike, you’ll be willing to go 100 miles out of your way to visit a store or restaurant that has the same stuff as the one in your neighborhood. You’ll find yourself with entire States between you and home, amongst strangers and in strange places that you never knew existed, just because. You’ll tell your family you’re just going out for a quick ride, then return hours, sometimes days later, not entirely sure where you have been. And it won’t matter, because you were riding.

4. Manholes, Paint and Tar Snakes
Utility companies go around placing large, slick metal plates in the road, precisely where motorcyclists need to ride or, in intersections, put their foot down. In the dry, that’s no big deal. But, in the rain? A wet manhole (no sniggering, please) becomes a deadly skating rink. Put a foot on one and your boot instantly slips, meaning you’ll drop your bike. Hit one while turning and you’ll be laying on the ground.

Road markings take on a new life in the wet, too. Nearly as slippery as manhole covers, they can make the back end of your bike weave around as the tire hunts for traction. Even under the gentlest of acceleration.

And then there are tar snakes: cracks in the road filled with liquid tar. In the winter, that tar freezes and becomes strips of black ice. In the summer, it melts and feels pretty much the same. The cracks they’re installed to patch tend to be in the heaviest sections of wear on the road. You know, like the apex of a corner or downhill, approaching a corner, where you want to be braking. They couldn’t have been designed to catch you by surprise any better.

5. Friends & Strangers
So scrimped and saved to buy your first bike, and now your friends are going to want in on the action too. No, not by going out and buying their own, but using your new pride and joy. Most are just going to want to pose for a new Facebook profile picture on it, but some are going to swear riding competency and want to take it around the block. Don’t let them, they’ll inevitably return holding only a par of (now detached) handlebars and a story about how it’s not their fault.

Complete strangers will start approaching you, too. Normally old men, who will want to recount stories of the old Triumph or Norton they once rode. They’ll tell how your bike reminds them of it. Well, until they realize your bike is Japanese, at which point they’ll look shocked and walk away. Continue Reading: Things They Never Told You About Becoming a Biker >>

  • Loren Andrews

    All of these points are very true. I’ve only been riding for a little over a month and I find my self riding 70 miles just because I can it costs me next to nothing.

  • Jeremy

    #2 is the most true and #9 the most encouraging.

  • Chris Cope

    11. There will always be grease/oil stains on your hands. Always.

    • EchoZero

      And at least once you will show up to an event smelling like gasoline.

  • Bram

    11. Lusting after the newest models and fretting over which body organs will get the best price on the open market.

    • MichaelEhrgott

      FZ-09 ….droooooooool

      I can live without a kidney I think.

    • TheBoatDude

      eBay’s your best route for that…

      • Loz Oakley

        did not know they did kidneys on ebay, l must tell my local nhs hospital, that will clear the waiting lists, cheers mate

  • uberbox

    #6 for sure. For this reason alone I think more people should ride–so they understand that tailgating on I-70 at 80 mph down a mountain pass while text messaging is probably a bad idea.

    • Stuki

      A license process that required 1 year/10k miles on a <10hp, <250lbs non-freeway bike, then another 1y/10k on a 25hp, <300lbs one, then similar on a Euro A2 bike, then 2 more years and 25,000 miles on any bike of your choosing, before you were allowed to obtain a car license; would do absolute wonders for driving skills across the board. Start the whole process at 14, and you wouldn't even have to wait that much longer to get a car. And, high schools would have proper looking parking lots and halfway responsible students; not a bunch of ninnies being chauffeured back and forth by mommy in a wallowing SUV.

      • Piglet2010

        Your numbers for the first year are off, since a Honda Elite 110 is 254 pounds wet. :)

        • Stuki

          Well, they’ll just have to muster up all their engineering might, and bring that 110 scooter down 4 pounds then, won’t they…… :)

  • EchoZero

    Regarding the friends and strangers, the day I bought my Street Triple R, I was parked outside a strip mall and this 20-something girl jumps out of a car and runs over to me going “OH MY GOD Is that the new Street Triple? I LOVE those bikes!” and proceeds to talk to me about how she really wants to get one after she takes the MSF and maybe gets some practice in on a smaller bike and…

    then her friend came over and dragged her away. It was the most attention I’d ever gotten about the bike from a random person that wasn’t some old dude going “Huh, didn’t know Triumph was still around. Neat.”

    • Khali

      This summer in the middle of our week-long cross-pyrenees travel, we arrived to a camping and all the employees surrounded our totally loaded bikes. Usually people goes to the RR’s…but this time EVERYONE went to my V-Strom and started saying: “Oh man I would travel all around the world on one of this” “I bet you can make a thousand km on this without getting tired” and things like that.

      Wasnt that awesome! hahaha

    • Joe Bielski

      I need a speed triple ;) They forgot to install the p*ssy magnet on my bike :P

      • Richard Gozinya

        Or get a puppy.

    • Piglet2010

      Yep, my 2013 Bonnie attracts every old dude within miles whose brother, uncle, cow-orker, whatever had a Bonnie back in the 1960′s/1970′s. :(

      • markbvt

        Yeah, that’s part of the experience of owning a Bonneville. I get comments on mine nearly every time I ride it.

    • Mr. White

      Love the two Bonnie stories. I had one guy call my 2012 Bonnie an “antique” and another told me stories about riding around Europe in the late 60′s on a Triumph.

    • ATL675

      I get the same response from older fellas about my Daytona 675. I also get, “I didn’t know they made sportbikes”

  • Mark D

    $500 jacket? You need to be safe! Dinner for two at the pier? Sorry, I’m broke.

    • TP

      Haha, yess

    • enzomedici

      $500 jacket, $300 pants, $350 helmet, $150 heated gloves, x it all by 2 because you need better gear or didn’t buy the waterproof jacket or need leather and textile.

  • Jen Degtjarewsky

    Tim – Well done!!!

  • Jason 1199

    A Tim Watson article that doesn’t mention Hardly Ableson motorcycles! Bookmarked!

    In all seriousness great article particularly the bees and weather forecasting lol!

  • mfour

    11. You’re never happy with one bike in the garage.
    12. You never do “just one” track day.

    • Harry King

      The wanted number of bikes is always n+1 where n is how many you currently own.

      • MichaelEhrgott

        Science

  • Brian D

    3A – You become a master of casual orienteering. Instead of putting an address into your GPS and following turn-by-turns directions you simply know that your destination is West and keep following the roads headed in that direction.

    • MainSpike

      Corollary to 3A: You become hyper aware of the dipshit cagers who are actually using GPS nav systems. The options-changed-to female voice blurts turn left (right for the continent, yanks, whatever) in 50m, and they do it without looking (like, they’ve been _told_to_). Of course, they don’t see the biker in the inside lane, and just swap lanes and make the turn.

  • Sohl

    Tim doesn’t wave. Got it.

  • Dan Wustman

    All bugs hurt @ 70+mph.rain drops hurt even @ 30 mph.A ten minute trip in the car can turn into two hours….just because, your on your bike!…& who cares ur on ur bike that’s why we bought them!!! & as for waving I wave @ all bikes…sry scooters don’t count.
    The eleventh thing if you ride a bike…..you now know why a dog stick’s it’s head out the window
    Be safe out there!!! To many idiots driving cars out there

    • Mark D

      I think scooter riders court, but they don’t seem to think they do.

      • Mikel Anthony

        I agree. I went from a Vespa (Euro Swag) to a Suzuki 650. Its as dangerous to be out there on the road so respect is due to some level.Glad I traded up though!

      • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

        Two wheels and a throttle tube, and they are brethren.

      • eviladrian

        When I’m on a bike, bike guys will almost always return “the nod”, but scooter riders generally ignore it.
        When I’m on a scooter, it’s the opposite. I see the same ST1300 rider every morning on the way to work and he never nods back!

        • shaun

          That motherfucker.

      • Davidabl2

        “court” or “count”? ..If they court maybe they reproduce instead of having to “convert.”
        Sorry, bad joke. Not that I’m homophobic, but the joke was irresistible.

      • devillock

        I don’t bother with them, they’re not even aware of the stupidity of it all anyway. In fact I don’t wave unless waved to first. It’s just silly.

    • gregory

      What’s wrong with automatic transmission motorcycles that have their engine hanging off the left-hand side of the rear wheel? Don’t count, eh? :-)

      • Dan Wustman

        there’s one scooter out there than that I know with an automatic transmission that’ll do 110 that one I would say does count and I would wave at them

  • Michael Howard

    “At anything over 10mph, a bee in the face/neck/any exposed body part
    will feel — and this isn’t an exaggeration at all — like you’ve just
    been shot with a rubber bullet.”
    An 11mph bee strike feels like a rubber bullet? If that isn’t an exaggeration, you must be incredibly delicate. ;)

  • Davidabl2

    Word: “Motorcyclist.” You’re not riding American, you’re not 1% or a 1%wannabee or 1% wannabe lookalike …You’re probably not white,large.and a middle-aged male, or at least not all three of those things. At least not yet ;-)

    • Wayne

      Should you ever visit Australia, you will find they ride American too. The they are just as muffler-less obnoxious noise machines in the “land down under” as they are in the US.

      • Davidabl2

        That makes them “bikers” then if they fill the other criteria I guess…except that in Oz
        the outlaw club members are called “bikies’ not “bikers” I believe :-)

        • MainSpike

          Yup. Bang On.

          • Davidabl2

            I’m getting curious: So in Oz, you do call the 1% wannabee-lookalikes
            ..”bikers” vs “bikies” or is it something else?

            I’ve heard brits call them “Potbelly Pirates” but we yanks are lacking a good term for them. I’ve called them “suburban outlaws” but the phrase hasn’t taken off..

            • Richard Gozinya

              Southpark covered that one adequately.

  • shaun

    #12. You grow eerily attached to the smell of your jacket and pants after a day’s worth of riding.

    • Piglet2010

      Or the inside of your lid?

  • Guzzto

    Great list! Bees are one thing, worse was having some sort of winged beetle make its way into helmet unnoticed and then into my ear where it proceeded to use my eardrum as a trampoline, most disturbing loud disorientating weird experience ever. This happened just as I was pulling up to a friends place for a BBQ, I dumped the bike on the lawn and ran straight to the kitchen raided the cupboards and proceeded to pour olive oil into my ear to drown it. I got more than a few strange looks from the guests I hadn’t met. Another good reason to wear earplugs.

    • aergern

      Or riding down the highway and a passenger in a cage flips a lit cigarette out the window and FOR SOME reason fate says ” that should fly into his helmet because his face shield is just open enough for it to fit. ”

      Yeah. Not fun at 80+ mph.

    • Michael Howard

      One day many years ago I was cruising down the highway at around 100mph (this was in Spain where you can – or at least could back then – get away with it). I had my visor cracked open and a bug hit me right in the eye. I slowed down, opened my visor, and started digging it out. That’s when a second bug hits me in the other eye. Blind, I quickly slow to a crawl and ease to the right until I feel the bike go off the pavement and onto the gravel shoulder where I could get my helmet off.

  • Jeff Henderson
    • MichaelEhrgott

      Great article. Exactly how I feel.

    • Cody Small

      That was the best thing that I’ve read all day.

  • Brian Schellberg

    I’ve had total strangers come up to me since I got my bike in May to tell me their motorcycle horror story.

    • MichaelEhrgott

      It’s like everyone knows someone who has “gone down” and thus they feel like they are in the know about motorcycles or something. Yeah, because hearing that their uncle laid his Harley down is really going to influence my riding decisions. Pfft, it’s infuriating.

      • Loren Andrews

        Yeah I get annoyed. Have you ever ridden a motorcycle? No? Then dont me how dangerous it is. Be a better driver and there wont be stories of dead motorcyclists I love how after I give someone a ride they all of a sudden think its the best experience ever, then they want to learn.

      • Michael Howard

        Funny how most people have actually BEEN in a car accident and yet, not only do they not try to warn people off driving them, they still continue to drive them themselves.

        • Davidabl2

          There ARE 30x times more injury accidents per million miles ridden vs million miles driven. It’s what Al Gore would call “an inconvenient truth” On the other hand, I’d imagine that the bicycle numbers are even worse…

          • Michael Howard

            True, though pretty much everyone knows more people who’ve been hurt or killed in auto accidents than in moto accidents. It’s just that driving is such an everyday, taken-for-granted part of life that the thought of NOT driving is ridiculous to most people. But them darn motersickles, ya got to be crazy to ride one of them thangs.

            • Davidabl2

              Actually, I think I know roughly equivalent numbers of both..but again everybody drives and relatively few ride.. Somewhere under 5% of total highway miles travelled in my state are travelled on motorcycles.

          • Adrian Cearnau

            Actually, they aren’t :) Seriously, look it up.

            • Davidabl2

              Worldwide, probably not. Riding a trailbike in Haiti,for example, probably isn’t much more dangerous than being a passenger there in a jitney truck..
              But those 30x stats were the D.O.T.figures for the USA I remember seeing on Rideapart when it was still HellForLeather

        • Randy Singer

          Worse, when you are in a motorcycle accident, and you have to go to the hospital/doctor, they give you the lecture about how dangerous motorcycles are, how motorcyclists are called “organ donors” by doctors, etc.

          But when, let’s say a skier or a horseback rider is injured, doctors say “Oh, we’ll have you back on the slopes/back on your horse again in no time”!

    • Robert Hayworth

      I nod and agree and tell them all about the accident I had in a small Toyota pickup and how I’ll never ride in one of those “death traps” ever again. Then I walk away enjoying the puzzled look on their face as they try to figure out whether I’m serious or not. I love it.

      • Kim Page

        Knock on wood, been riding 20 years never injured. But I hate it when I’m in a hospital elevator in my riding gear and the doctor/nurse feels they have the right to give me a hard time. My doc this last time gave me a “health” survey, including, do you drink? drugs? wear your seatbelt? I said seatbelt? They don’t have seatbelts on motorcycles!! To me, that’s using the color of authority (in this case a DOCTOR) to push into our private lives. But it seems as more & more people ride, they get used to seeing us and accept us more.

  • Khali

    About Friends & Strangers.

    When you buy a bike you become a stranger to your friends, up to some degree. They will want to see your bike and to hear the engine and maybe take some pics on it for their facebook profiles, but if they dont ride, they will never, ever, understand you. Theres a new whole world out there and you wont be able to share it with them.

    Its then, when strangers become friends. Ride a full morning with anyone and you will feel like you’ve known him for months. Even if you barely know his name. Hear about a friend of a friend who has just bought a bike and doesnt have a group to ride with, and it takes you seconds to pass him your number and “adopt” him so unlike you did, he can learn on a safer environment, with other riders that will show him where to brake and how to turn, and in the case of any event will be there to help him.

    • MichaelEhrgott

      This +100. I feel like one of the most important aspects of myself and my life is completely foreign to my non-riding friends.

      • Mill0048

        So true. I’ve never quite placed my finger on this feeling until this article and these comments.

    • Mr.Paynter

      When you crash, and keep on riding, even more so.

      I get all palahniukesque.
      “You nearly died?” I nearly died?

      You sit in a queue of cages every day forever? Who’s really dying?
      I’m living!

      • Khali

        I usually ask them: If you crashed your car, would you sell it and STOP DRIVING??? and they usually shut up at this point :)

      • TheBoatDude

        You are not your job….you are not the contents of your wallet…you are not your Street Triple…

      • Tim Ashton

        After 24 years of riding I did crash and I spent the month and a half off putting the bike back together. After I was cleared to ride I got on and never looked back. That was 5 years ago and I still put 7-10k miles on a year.

  • John S

    35 years and I still get the “my uncle Louie had his leg torn off” stories.

  • grb

    I never “became” a motorcyclist, I think I was born like this…

  • motoguru.

    Tar snakes. Fuck those things.

    • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

      In the ear. Twice.

  • Mykola

    I’ll wave for scooters over 150cc, their operators are almost certainly “riders”, but it will be a cold day in Haiti before I wave to anyone on a motortricycle.
    Riding also opens up a wonderful new world of smells to you. Discovering a bakery by riding past on the freeway, and going back to find it (see #3) is great.

    • Piglet2010

      How do you tell the difference between a Honda PCX125 and a PCX150, so can know whether to wave or not?

      • Khali

        If it runs faster than 110kmh, then you can wave confidently :P

        • Afonso Mata

          My Sym 125cc tops out at 120km/h :P

          I think Mykola was refering to the fact the (at least in some European countries, like here in Portugal), you only need to have a driver’s licence, to ride sub-125cc bikes, so they’re not “real bikers”.
          That’s not something I agree, but I get his point.

          • Mykola

            Ding Ding, it’s college students, hospitality workers, and such who, if they could afford payments, gas, insurance, and parking, would ditch their 50s for an Acura in a minute.
            Don’t get me wrong, I like scooters and I’d like to see more of them around; I’ll jump on my 60cc Razz if I just need to zip down to the store or to work, but it just gets me from A to B. I figure that someone on a maxi-scooter or a Vespa GTS300 is in the know; the LX150s and PCXs and such, I can’t say.

            • Piglet2010

              So you would wave to me if I was on my Bonnie, but not my Elite?

            • Afonso Mata

              So basically what you’re saying is that someone who commutes every day of the year on a PCX 125, come rain or sun shine, for a total of 10000 miles a year, is a less skilled motorcyclist than someone who only rides his Gixxer on sun shining summer weekends for a grand total of 1000 miles a year?

              • Mykola

                Nope.

                Let me break this down without descending into a novel-length screed (see #7 at top):
                There’s lots of ‘non-bikers’ who ride small scooters ’round these parts. I use a simple >200cc/<200cc test because that is the level of mental input I feel is appropriate for deciding whether or not to wave at a complete stranger on a scooter in the brief moments we pass each other while I'm operating a motorbike on public streets.

                I know full well I'm making broad generalizations about different scooterists, but I still sleep soundly at night.

  • itnanti

    Funny about the bee thing. A buddy and i were dual sporting up to Santa Barbara mountains from LA. A Bee flew into the space between my helmet and leatt neckbrace going 30 mph on a twisty. It got stuck between my neck and the brace and kept stinging the s#$% out of me.Took me 10 minutes to stop the bike take off the helmet, gloves and neckbrace.

  • FreeFrog

    Most excellent. Don’t forget the gravel you always thought was quaint in a driveway now adds excitement when you come and go.

  • David Kent

    You will never, ever go anywhere without a comb. Or you’ll shave your head.

  • Jason Bennick

    Awesome article.

  • Joe

    Nice article.

    After 11 years and 7 motorcycles, some things never change.

    I still love that all of my boots are worn and dirty on the top of my left foot. Also makes it easy to identify others from the tribe.
    I still can’t figure out why EVERY oil filter does not come with a welded on nut. I spent nearly an hour last weekend wrestling off the old filter with a c-clamp.

    I still appreciate the blood and oil stains on my riding jacket. (Thank you oil filter).

    My pointer and middle fingers are stronger and faster than yours.

    A 21″ front wheel and metal grated bridges are not friends.
    Taxis should be illegal.

    I know that you wanted to make that right turn that you just drove past before your GPS starts recalculating.
    I smile in my helmet each and every day.

    • Piglet2010

      The most stable metal grate bridge bike I have found is the standard/SE Bonnie – I wave at all the cruiser riders on the US 52 Mississippi River bridge, but none ever wave back. http://www.johnweeks.com/river_mississippi/pagesB/umissB01.html

      • Joe

        I figured I couldn’t knock it until i tried it, so I spent a year riding a Harley. Now I know why they never wave back! I’m back on something more comfortable (for me) a 2003 Suzuki SV1000S.No more bridge skating.

    • Guest

      All Taxi drivers should DIE :P

  • eviladrian

    The human body is aerodynamically shaped to direct all oncoming rain to the crotch area, and there’s no such thing as waterproof pants.

    • Damo Von Vinland

      Up vote for 40k avatar.

      • Mykola

        The Emperor Protects.
        Two-piece rain suits do not.

  • runnermatt

    1. I haven’t had any real problems with animals. I guess my CBR250 is too quiet for them to hear me coming. Bugs is another story. I have had several bounce of my helmet/faceshield hard enough for me to hear even with ear plugs. I took a dragonfly to the shoulder vent once and felt it though the shoulder armor. When I stopped and took my helmet off it was looking up at me because it was missing its entire tail end.

    4. I already knew how slick manholes and paint were from driving my car. The low end torque and factory locking diff on my GTI would cause the whole front of the car to slide with the crown of the road when taking off from stoplights. So now I always stop with the front tires past the stop line.

    5. Haven’t had this experience yet. A couple of my friends checked my bike out and sat on it, but that was only once and neither asked to take it out.

    6. I knew how bad other drivers were before I got a bike. As such I could already predict who may pull out, change lanes, is texting or is lost.

    7. If they are on two wheels I wave; doesn’t matter if it is a sports bike, cruiser, scooter or bicycle. About 75% of the time the cruisers wave back. I think I just confuse the bicyclists. My older brother was out riding he road bicycle ($2000+ dollar bike) and an old guy rear ended him at about 45. My brother is ok now, but had a broken back and some brain damage and balance problems from the severe concussion. If you want to know more you can google his blog “The 10/19 Project”. He was hit 10/19/2010.

    10. The air must be cleaner here in Virginia….

  • DoctorNine

    12.) You will start to think of time and distance in terms of how long it would take to get there on your motorcycle. This alteration in sensory orientation will be reflected in how you plan vacation time, and may induce a need to perform transcontinental crossings, or treks to another continent entirely. Family and friends will have no idea why you are scanning the GoogleMaps of Kazakhstan all the time. And your boss will become increasingly exasperated with the requests for weeks or months off the job, because you are, ‘taking a little trip’. Eventually, you may quit your job entirely, and start riding full time, with little ‘vacations’ of working for a few weeks or months to support your professional riding habit.

    • gravit8ed

      I’ve even taken to having a dual residency…summer months in Iowa, with late november – march in New Mexico. My various employers think I’m nuts, and try explaining this to the cops who inevitably pull the old ‘you should have an Iowa license if you’ve been here more than 10 days’ routine.

  • David Kent

    Bugs? When I was in the Navy, I rode from Virginia Beach to Pittsburgh through the mountains of West Virginia to see my soon to be bride. It was during the height of the 17 year cicada hatch. I think I have an idea of what it was like in a B17 over Berlin.

  • kevin

    Number 1 is no joke. I have a serious issue with hornets and bees, I’d call it a borderline phobia. It’s something I had to come to terms with FAST when I started riding. I got a bee in my helmet once and I had to tell myself “Kevin, if you keep panicking, you’re going to drop this ****ing bike, now calm down and find somewhere to stop.” Only got stung once though, right on the ear, which sucked. Oh, and taking a big fat bumblebee to the tip of the thumb at 75mph stings. Even through gloves. lol

  • Piglet2010

    3. Yeah, no one seems to understand that when you go some place, the trip is usually more fun than the destination.
    6. Downside is you start to hate riding in a car with anyone less attentive than you are.
    7. I wave at all other powered two-wheelers, unless I am riding my scooter, then I only wave at people that wave to me first.
    9. I was mercilessly flogging my pre-gen Ninjette at Star Motorcycle School, banging it into the rev limiter and going for downshifts at 11K rpm when braking. We get flagged in for the next classroom session, and Jason Pridmore says he was listening to us, and the guy on the Ninja 250 had good rpm management – hey, I guess I get to be good at one thing at least. :)
    10. I have not noticed this, but then I live in BFE.

  • Maymar

    A couple weeks back, a receptionist at one of my clients sees me pull up on my bike, and launches into “you’re not one of those guys weaving in and out of traffic at 100mph, are you?” I ride an ancient Rebel 250.

    Tar snakes are evil, but can be manoeuvred around. Roads partway under construction, that still need asphalt laid down are terrifying.

    Also, I try and wave at anyone who had to earn a license to operate their two-wheeler. I figure that’s enough to earn the wave, even if they don’t know the wave. Not sure cyclists would get it, and I’ve never seen someone on an e-bike who didn’t look absolutely stunned at such difficult tasks as converting oxygen to carbon dioxide.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1511446324 Alfred Rodriguez

    Yeah!

  • Guzzto

    12. You are the only person you know who actually enjoys their commute to work and back, The highlight bookend to your working day.

    • Afonso Mata

      AMEN :D

      (Unless you’re lane splitting behind the bro in the gixxer who revvs his engine at every car an inch offset from the others.
      My lungs did hurt, when I got to the office, this morning.)

    • Mr. White

      Right on my brother! Even during the brutally hot and humid Chicago summer, sweating in stop and go traffic, I’m a happy man compared to sitting in the same traffic in the a/c comfort of my car.

  • BillW

    Animals: my buddy, while riding through a residential neighborhood near his home in Paso Robles, CA, had a deer jump a stuccoed garden wall and run into the side of his bike, breaking his leg. He kept it upright, but couldn’t get off the bike until help arrived. They ARE out to get you. I’ve had a zillion squirrels, many deer, a fox, a pronghorn, a buffalo, a herd of sheep, and a herd of wild horses all cross the road in front of me, or in some cases run straight down the road in front of me for a while, but (knock on wood) I haven’t hit any of them yet.

    Meteorology: Hail HURTS. The less uncovered skin you have, the better. Hail will hit your neck between your jacket and helmet.

    Tar snakes: the compounds used vary by state. In my experience, California’s snakes aren’t too bad in any weather. Utah’s are really slippery when it’s hot, or even when it’s not all that hot but the sun is shining on the road.

    Your nose: a saline rinse kit is your friend. Neilmed is the dominant brand name in my area, available at any grocery store or pharmacy. Distilled water is preferable to tap water, but when you’re on the road, tap water will have to do.

    • Afonso Mata

      Hail does hurt like little hammers falling from the sky.
      In April I was riding on my way home from work, peaceful spring day, shiny sun, just a couple of dark cloud, miles and miles away. Outta nowhere the dark clouds came and a hail storm fell from the sky. I didn’t forecast it well, so i just had my sheepskin summer gloves on.
      Those little hammers on my thin gloves…. geezus!

  • Ian

    I wave to all on two wheels, if they don’t wave back, It’s their loss. I’m on a chop, it’s the sports bikes that NEVER wave back, seriously, I have never had “the nod” returned from a sports bike rider, and the ones in the leather onesies that match the bike are the worst for it, they normally look back with a look of disgust on their faces. Scooters never return wave either. Odd how it’s only cruisers who return the nod or wave. Must be a state of mind thing, cruisers are relaxed, scooters are twisting the life out of their machines, and sporties are ashamed of their bikes, why else would they wear matching leathers and hide their faces, Cruisers just chill out and enjoy the ride. Peace.

    • Afonso Mata

      I’d say they don’t wave back, because you’re on a cruiser :P

      • Ian

        A bit harsh though, we’re all sharing the road.

        • Alex

          Says the guy who stated: “sporties are ashamed of their bikes, why else would they wear matching leathers and hide their faces…”
          First you divide riders into sport bike riders vs. cruiser riders, then you claim “we’re all sharing the road.” You can’t have it both ways. Embody the unity that you want to see amongst motorcyclists. Only then can you be taken seriously.

    • dr44

      Odd. I’m riding again (touring scooter) after not riding for forty years, and I wave madly at everything that even resembles a motorcycle. The only ones who don’t wave back are the bad-biker wannabe Harley riders with all the attitude (and I like Harleys). I don’t care, I’m having too much fun to be discouraged.

    • vtxtreme

      Cruisers have a laid back riding position. You could take your boot off and scratch your foot on a cruiser. They don’t accelerate or decelerate instantly like sport bikes. I’ve owned over a dozen big cruisers. I now have a Rocket III and a Z1000 and I can tell you personally I do not take my hands off the handlebars on the Z1000. Rudeness has nothing to do with it.

      • Ian

        Don’t blame you either. Ride safe mate.

  • Davidabl2

    At my workplace there’s sometimes as many as 600 people and I think I know all the motorcyclists better than I know most of the non-motorcyclists…Whether they’re ‘American” riders, “metric” riders, Sportsbikers, or ADV riders, or “whatever’ ( i.e. broke) riders…

    • Afonso Mata

      Pardon my ignorance, but: what is a “metric” rider?

      • Piglet2010

        “Metric” is American English slang for any bike that is not a Harley-Davidson, Indian, or Victory.

        • Afonso Mata

          Oh, now I get it. For metric bikes, you mean: “bikes with an engine displacement that everyone understands”. :P

  • metalheartmachine

    Anytime you or another rider is in an accident, the first thing you say is:
    “Is the bike ok?!?

  • Carl Mikkelson

    Wave. Don’t be a snob. If they’re riding a two wheeled vehicle with a motor, they’re riding. Wave.

    • Lance Baker

      fuck them i dont know them why wave i am not their bro nor yours

  • Afonso Mata

    You sound Portuguese. On a CBF 125. Ripping through IC19 from Sintra to Lisbon :P
    I think we wave to each other every morning :P

  • MultiPlaystation123 .

    Wish I never bothered doing my bike test to be honest, but only on condition that I wouldnt have ended up with a car license. F****ing hate motoring (and being on the road in general) lately. You pay through the nose to keep your pride and joy well maintained and it stills screws up. Police wanna slow you down and carmikazi drivers wanna taste of your blood. These days if you dont live in the Scottish Highlands then just how often do you truly enjoy a good ride or drive?

  • Christine Gervaise

    Haha love this

  • Brian Tiny McCallum

    I have been riding motorcycle for over forty years now & I have heard it all from how motorcycles are dangerous to how big is the engine & when you tell them it’s bigger than some small cars on the road they think it must go like a rocket.. But the one thing I hate the most is when I have it parked in the city strange people come up to it and think it is a park bench for them to sit on it or eat their grease burgers on it or spill their coffee or sticky drinks on it or just to use there mobile phone as they are too drunk to stand up or you get some hot drunk babe wanting you to take them for a ride around the block with there boyfriend/husband waiting for them when you get back…

  • http://thecrumb.com/ thecrumb

    Gotta add people asking you “Isn’t it hot” when wearing your leathers/stich/etc. No it’s air conditioned inside!

  • Gareth Hill

    For 40 years a bike is still more fun and better transport than the other rides: a 3 ltr Audi Quatro or a 4 ltr Jeep …. Ha!

  • cr0ft

    With regards to 10, you may want to invest in a Neti pot and some iodine free salt and purified water (want to avoid any parasites in the water, so no using tap water) and wash some of that gunk out on a daily basis.

    And there should probably be a discussion about what we’re doing to our air when our noses get clogged with filth just breathing…

    • Ulysses Araujo

      Isn’t it easier and cheaper to use some saline solution?

  • Thomas Whitener

    Ho bisogno una stazione di servizio. (Got that one covered, lol)

  • Kr Tong

    I had a bunny charge at me once. His little bunny body made a little bunny thunk on my right fork leg and I couldn’t bare to look at the damage. This clip is the only thing that makes be feel right about the incident: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCI18qAoKq4

  • Coffsbuddy

    Point 1. is a classic for me! I am now allergic to bees because of being stung so many times in my 44 Yrs. The rest are also VERY relevant because it is REAL! Some of this made me laugh in agreement & others made me shake my head in agreement. I’m 56 & will be on my newly purchased 2007 VTR100F Firestorm within the week to ride her home 1400 Klms. I’m nervous, but being nervous on your bike means you are not complacent & I believe less likely to “spit your treasure down the road”. :)

  • http://www.spiritstrike.com/ Adam Owens

    Great article!

  • Bobby B.

    +1.

    I’ve heard lots of that talk in life. “Motorcycles are dangerous. Owning guns is dangerous. Getting blackout drunk is dangerous. Living in Baltimore city is dangerous”. Pshhh it’s called living!

  • Steven Goodyear

    I’ve ridden for 45 years, and I think you SHOULD tell those motorcycle horror stories–because they so often come true. Riders need a healthy dose of fright to keep them alive.

  • Scooter Tramp

    6 years? I’m still hearing it after 40!!!

  • Marie Innes

    Well. I guess leaving a fiancé a and 5 week-old daughter behind to face a life of emptiness comes in at a close 11, then.

  • Siddhartha Pandey

    Actually became a pretty good driver also. Didnt realize until I read this article. Every now and then people are there who always tend to discourage riding and biking passion.

  • enzomedici

    I live by the Samurai code. Live as though you are already dead because you are. Your fate was sealed the day you were born. There is nothing you can do about it. You can’t avoid it. So instead of worrying about it, just start living and enjoying life to its fullest.

    • Robert Hayworth

      The mortality rate of the living is that 1:1 will die. Get busy living or get busy dying. I choose life!

  • gravit8ed

    #9 –

    I ride a (mostly) stock/original 1983 KZ1100 A3 (shafty) DAILY. 30 years and upwards of ~50k miles (odo is not original) and aside from the prolific puddle of full syn marking my parking space wherever I go, it is still a solid, badass bike that can still mix it up with newer liter bikes when they pull up on the street. The best part is that after I picked up the bike I discovered several dedicated forums with dozens of knowledgeable, devoted riders willing to offer advice and experience on everything that you could possibly need, and a parts source devoted to late-model Kawasakis that backs that forum knowledge up.

    Not gonna lie, the ol KZ is looking a bit road-worn, but I’ve logged about 20k miles in two years, on dirt and gravel roads, through 105+ degree days, on and on…If a bike built in the early 80′s is still so reliable today, one built this year should be good well past the point in which we stop using dead dinos as a fuel source.

  • grb

    one thing they never told the guy in the picture, is that he’s wearing his helmet wrong.. I have never worn that Icon helmet, but, either the helmet’s design and fit is awkward, or its too big, or he’s wearing it improperly… his eyebrows are practically at the top of the sim, if it wasnt for the breath-guard you could see his mouth through the eye port, his nose is sticking out over the breath-guard were his eyes should be… I dont know if he just pulled it down to say something, but it would be very funny to see someone riding with all his face visible through the eye port like that

  • Aakash

    Tim,

    Are you an empath or what? I had that exact experience with a bee while travelling up through San Luis Obispo on the 101 a few weeks ago.

    70mph, bee (or wasp) gets caught in the collar of my riding jacket, I stay cool, waiting for it to fly out. NOPE! It then decides my studly chest would be a nice new home and now I’m starting to get annoyed. Then it decides it’s had enough of: A. me and my stinky chest or B. life in general, and starts to sting. I say “starts”, because after the first thing, I begin to beat my chest like Donkey Kong and the little suicidal bugger decides to sting two more times. Never been shot with a rubber bullet, but if this is what it feels like, talk about cruel and unusual!

    Keep in mind I’m still doing about 70mph. I wonder what my fellow motorists thought as they saw me suddenly begin to beat my chest like I was: A. trying to resuscitate my heart from cardiac arrest or B. performing some kind of psuedo-masculine assertion of motorcyclist dominance.

    Took an exit about a mile later and gingerly assessed the damage in a Chevron bathroom. Surprisingly, I couldn’t find the culprit anywhere. He must’ve been Wasp Houdini to have escaped the deathtrap of fist pummeling I unleashed. The damage was done, however. Three stings that itched and scratched for more than a week after the incident.

    Now when I see a suspicious looking row of flowery hedges on the side of the road, I tuck my head in and pray.

  • Chris Bishop

    I gave up driving a car 15 years ago. I really had fun reading the article – so many truths. One downside – I have perpetual allergies. My doctor calls students in to meet me – “Mr. Sinusitis.”

  • DeWayne R.

    Awesome article! I’m less than 3 months in on a new 2014 Star Bolt and this is on point!

  • DeWayne R.

    Two things I believe need to be added:

    1) Bikers will become Anti-Safety Advocates and tell you to lose the helmet and the safety gear (in Texas the helmet is optional), because it just doesn’t look and you’ll sweat your butt off!

    2) Every other biker will tell you what you need to do to modify your bike, immediately! My boss wants me to cut the stock muffler, remove all of the reflectors, drop it an inch, black all of the shiny parts, yada, yada, yada.

    I told him that I didn’t get my bike for “oohs and ahhs,” I got it to commute to work and the occasional weekend ride. If people want to be daredevils, they can have it. He had to give his extremely customized bike up a year ago and wants to live vicariously through someone else. He and another younger guy (whose stupidity I can understand) rag on my every time then see me with my full-face helmet, gloves, boots, and jacket. Human nature never ceases to entertain me.

  • Motorcycle Melee

    “3. Say Goodbye to A and B.” I enjoy my early morning commutes @ 4:30 – http://motorcyclemelee.com/riding-motorcycles-in-the-dark/

  • Krisi Allen

    buahahahahahahaha

  • redneckronin

    Hey Thomas!

  • Poy TB

    My oh my.. i laughed so damn fucking hard!

  • sandeep laik

    I have crashed and almost got killed. Took 2 months to get back on my bike again. So when someone starts with their story, I tell them mine, and I make sure I tell them that just like million others I still believe riding is undoubtedly one of the feeling solely worth living for.

  • frankfan42

    Statistically the worst thing you can do is to be born, for the Instruction manual, our Bible, tells me so “It is apportioned once to man to die, but after this judgment.” Hebrews 9:27. All shall die, but how many have truly lived?