Top 10 Motorcycle Myths and Legends

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We’ve all heard the tall stories about what will happen to you if you ride a motorcycle, the weird things you can do to make your bike faster or what to do if you crash. Most, if not all, is nonsense. So here’s RideApart’s view on the top 10 of motorcycle myths and legends.

1. You should lay down your bike if you’re going to crash.
It’s never going to happen. For one thing most accidents happen so quickly that as a rider you’re simply not going to have the time to think about doing this. It’s also a bit odd that you should try and crash before potentially hitting whatever risks you’re about to encounter. As RideApart’s Wes Siler pointed out in his recent article – 10 Motorcycle Accidents and How to Avoid Them – never, ever try and lay your bike down. It’s not going to help. Instead, shed as much speed as you can, stay upright and use both your brakes.

2. Race tires will make me and my bike faster on the road.

Uh, no. Motorcycle race tires are completely different from road tires. They have different compounds and properties and are designed to work best when really hot to create grip. You’re rarely going to get a set of race tires up to proper race temperature out on the highway. The chances are, after setting off on your bike, you’re going to probably fall off. at the first intersection. Stick to road tires for your bike for anything apart from track days.

3. Motorcycles are smaller than cars or trucks so police speed radars won’t be able to detect you.
Just because your motorcycle is not as big as other road vehicles it doesn’t mean that you can dodge the radar. Today’s police lasers are extremely high-tech and far more accurate than in the past. In fact, they are said to be so good they can lock on and register the speed of a flying insect. But that might be another urban myth. Either way, just because you’re on a speeding bike doesn’t mean you’re going to evade a ticket.

4. It’ll never happen to me.

Yes, it will. Just because you’ve ridden for years without falling or getting into an accident on a motorcycle doesn’t mean that it’s never going to happen. Always ride prepared for the unexpected and remember that it’s never a case of if it happens, but when it happens.

5. Traction control on a motorcycle will help me go faster.
Yes and no. If you’re new to riding and not that confident yet, you’re never going to be aware of what traction control does. If you’re an all out racer and ride really hard, then the chances are traction control is actually going to get in your way and slow you down, even when set on the least interfering mode.

If you fit somewhere between these two groups then it’s good to have traction control as a sort of safety net if you find yourself going a little faster than expected into and out of the corners. Its there to help you out of trouble.

Read More – Page 2 >>

  • maxkohl

    That helmet hair is bad. It’s a badge of honor.

    • PracticalBatman

      Bonus points for adjusting your haircut to suit your helmet. I was asked why I shaved my head – my response? “My helmet fits better.”

      • Ryan Chambers

        This. People ask me all the time, “Are you in the military?” I reply, “No sir/ma’am, I just ride motorcycles and dislike dealing with helmet hair.”

  • CruisingTroll

    Don’t use the front brake, you’ll flip over the handle bars.

    Ride like all the cars on the road are out to kill you, BECAUSE THEY ARE!

  • Chris McAlevy

    #6: I know that with car tires, there actually is a mold-release compound that is still on brand-new tires. It makes the tires more slippery than normal, and that it can take a hundred or so miles to scrub that off. Is that not true of motorcycle tires? Obviously that doesn’t mean that you should ride with them under-inflated, but I’ve always believed that you should ride a little more cautiously immediately after getting new rubber while it scrubs.

    Also pedantry re: #10: a hayabusa is a GSX-R.

    • Gordon Pull

      Still mold release in modern motorcycle tires and you should give them an easy 100 miles before opening up. Basically they just need to get up to temp to release.

      • David

        At least one of the motorcycle tire manufacturers, Continental, does not use mold release agents anymore:

        “Traction Skin provides an extremely safe and short tire break in. This
        is possible due to the revolutionary raw tread surface, which is the
        result of a new mold coating technology which eliminates the need for
        tire-release agents.”

        But this is not to say that I disagree with you about breaking in tires, at least to some degree.

      • Thatmanstu

        A bit muddled in the article,but his point seemed to be that deflating the tires to deal with the mold release is a bad strategy,which is true…still need to scrub off the slick stuff,just do it fully inflated….100 miles is all around riding,middle is scrubbed quite quickly,sides can take longer(or not)

    • Kuro

      It’s not true. What gets most riders is the change in the tire profile. Guy has been riding on a squared off tire for a couple hundred miles. He goes and puts new rubber on. The tire profile has completely changed from what he’s used to. Goes to lean into the first turn and the bike slams over compared to what he’s used to

      Take it easy for a bit till you get used to the new rubber, yes. But my last tire change the guy said to take it easy for the next 50 – 100 miles!!!! I had a knee down within 5 miles

      • Chris McAlevy

        sounds like you don’t listen to advice very well.

        • Kuro

          I listen to good advice based. But advice based on myth isn’t good advice.

  • Rocket Punch

    Myth: “If I have no chicken strip, I am a good rider.”

    Myth: “If I can drag my knee in a parking lot at 20 mph, I am a good rider.”

    Myth: “Wearing gears won’t help much in a bad crash.”

    • CruisingTroll

      The last one is not a myth. I was wearing gears the last time I crashed, and the teeth of the gears caught on the pavement and sent me flipping through the air like Mary Lou Retton. Maybe if they were helical gears instead?

      • ookla_the_mok


  • Ceol Mor

    Re #3: It is very true that it’s much more difficult to track a motorcycle via RADAR or LIDAR… The problem is it’s not too difficult for a highway PoPo man to figure out you’re going WAY faster than everyone else. That’s where they’re gonna get ya!

  • Mark D

    “Don’t buy a 250, you’ll just get bored with it in 2 weeks”

    • PracticalBatman

      I get this all the time. I have a ton of bikes but commute daily on a ninja 250. I get flak for it all the time, but I get great mileage and I can ride around at 13-14k rpm full throttle and I’m still not doing anything illegal.

      • Piglet2010

        I traded in a F4i for a pre-gen Ninjette. The F4i was boring to ride on the street since I could not even run it through the gears properly without getting into go to jail territory. Similarly, the handling did not seem to come alive until extra-legal speeds were reached.

    • james

      I got bored with mine in 9 months, yeah not two weeks but still i think they make a bit of a point. I ride a 400 now its much better, been with it for a year and a half now and still not bored.

      They are a good starting bike, but you will get bored after a little while.

      • Joe Bielski

        What kind of 400 are you riding?

      • Mark D

        Totally, but that is no reason not to buy one. Especially since you can sell a used 250 for exactly what you paid for it, especially if you sell it in the spring.

    • Theodore P Smart

      My favorite bike was an grey-market NSR125F. More fun than the proverbial barrel of monkeys. And it could smoke (literally) any 250cc 4stroke out there

  • David Magallon

    You’ll be bored of that CBR600RR pretty quick, just get the thou

  • Raph

    I want to hit the jackpot.

  • grb

    I couldn’t relate allot to this list… And I think you just dont get it regarding Traction Control. If you’re new to riding and not that confident yet, TC can save your but, you can very easily find out what traction control does and be grateful you did. And if you’re an all out racer and ride really hard, like the guys in MotoGP, youll be doing so with TC on, like the guys in MotoGP…

    • Jorn Bjorn Jorvi

      The tech from motogp traction control does trickle down to the consumer markets, but showroom bikes are still pretty far behind race prototypes in terms of the capabilities of the computers. There are a few things to consider. Obviously the cost of implementing race level TC would make most bikes unaffordable. Also, pro riders can have TC software tailored to their riding style, weight, suspension setup, etc. to approach near perfection in the TC interference. If a company were to put this type of sophisticated programming on a showroom bike, the average rider wouldn’t respond to it well and it could become a safety liability. Those are just a few of the reasons that the tc you get on a new bike is not a surefire way to speed things up ( I can’t believe I just stumbled into that reference).

      • grb

        ok, but my comment was not about the tc on motogp bikes being the same as the commercial versions, everyone know is not the case. The point is the tc on street bikes is a safety device, thus “If you’re new to riding and not that confident yet” tc will work for you, it could definitely be the difference between a crash or you still riding. And if you are a skilled rider, tc can save you from oil, sand, a mistake, etc. etc. The reality is that tc is the future and one day it’ll be on every bike (because it works and prevents accidents)… And the motogp reference was just to show that the people who are the most “all out racers and ride really hard” use tc to go faster.

        I dont know what RideApart was thinking when they post this stuff, sound outdated

        • Jorn Bjorn Jorvi

          I agree, the advent of TC has made motorcycles safer. However, the myth being disproven was the blanket statement that TC will make you faster. Many fast club racers can outpace their traction control and find that the interference hamperstheir speed, ssoclaiming this myth is somewhat true.

          I agree with you, TC makes bikes safer, but it does so by making the bike slower. New riders need that but intermediate riders in racing/practicing environments would be better off honing skills without the engagement of rider aids that they can outpace.

          • grb

            Well we can agree that point 5 is misleading in saying that if your knew to riding you’ll never know what TC does. And Im also with you regarding “intermediate riders in racing/practicing environments would be better off honing skills without the engagement (intervention) of rider aids”. But I disagree in the believe that tc hampers your speed, yes there are TCs more oriented towards safety thus making you slower, but you have to judge equipment for what its intended, road TC does work in making you safe, and racing TCs do help you go faster, so the reality is that if your on a track you are probably using track oriented equipment(if not your just wrong), and racing oriented TC does make you faster, this is why SBK, MotoGP, SuperSport, etc. the top level fastest racing series use it.

            • Jorn Bjorn Jorvi

              Okay, but most local club racers aren’t building track bikes with custom TC programs, so that race specific TC isn’t widely available to everyone. The point is traction control programs fall within a spectrum and the blanket statement that “TC will make me faster” is not entirely accurate.

      • BillW

        Funny, but I seem to recall Wes and Sean raving about Aprilia’s APRC traction control a year or two ago.

  • sean macdonald

    good point.

  • NONo443

    Guardian Bells / Gremlin Bells? Maybe those are more superstition than myth.

  • Blu E Milew

    Myth 11: RideApart articles need to be two pages because readers like to do extra clickies while reading articles.

    • UrbanMoto

      Myth 99: RideApart doesn’t need to pay it’s bills and should magically appear for me for free with no inconvenience whatsoever. Because clicking a link is BULLSHIT!

      • tobykeller

        That would make sense, if there were any ads on the page to generate revenue through page views…

        • bobinjames

          I certainly can see ads on the pages.

          • tobykeller

            Oh, heh, forgot I had Adblock installed on this machine ;)

      • Blu E Milew

        1. I have Adblock on my browser, not like I can see ads anyhow
        2. I think RideApart paid its bills 2 weeks ago, when everything was still on one page
        3. Clicking a link is bullshit.
        4. When I paid for HFL, I don’t remember having to click links to get to a second page.

        • Chris Hunter

          Adblock is a form of theft. You are effectively stealing from Wes and co, and from other websites you visit.

          • yoooks

            People should know you can disable adblock on a per site basis. Please disable it on sites you frequent, and rely on ad revenue.

            • Sean Tempère

              Seconded, i use AdBlock because of sites that overdo it, impairing the viewing of the site and using intrusive or purposefully hard to dismiss ads.
              So by default i hide all ads and if i like the site i’ll disable ads for it.
              Sometimes i even buy stuff (bought your 2013 calendar Chris) or subscribe (was an HFL subscriber for a while).

              Please don’t put every adblock user in the same bag, some are assholes, some are just fed up people who try to minimize an inconvenience in a sensible manner.

          • Mark D

            Most of us would gladly pay a nominal fee to not see ads for products we have no intentions of purchasing. Stealing might be a bit harsh.

            • Chris Hunter

              Unfortunately, most people don’t want to pay a fee.

              There are companies that monitor the use of Adblock, such as Playfair. They offer a system where a popup appears to visitors who are using Adblock, asking them to support the site via a donation or fee if they don’t want to see ads.

              Most people ignore the request, and if the popup is persistent, simply move on to another site. They just want something for nothing, and to hell with people who are working to provide that ‘something.’

              Hence my view of people who use Adblock as being one step above petty thieves.

          • aergern

            The only ads I block have a nice little F with a circle around it. I don’t mind ads. I mind flash applets that waste MY cpu cycles and cause the fans to go off making my laptop sound like a Cessna taking flight. If it’s a static banner ad.. it shows up. Theft is harsh but some of us are just tired of websites looking like discos for 5 paragraphs of content. *shrug*

            • Chris Hunter

              I have to agree there, Flash ads are often pretty painful. Unfortunately it’s difficult to monitor every single ad shown on a site.

          • Mugget

            Since we’re getting into an Adblock morality discussion…

            How is that any different to the fact that I never click on the links to date 40+yo women anyway?

          • Mark

            …then it would be illegal. AdBlock rocks! I won’t use a browser without it.

        • grindz145

          I was happy paying for HFL. I feel like that model was better for pure journalism because it takes some of the pressure off. I don’t however question the laurels of rideapart and I have to admit that I do enjoy the new volume of content. Adblock ftw.

        • Tupack Shackur

          Didn’t think you were this serious about having to click a link.

  • Stuki

    With enough experience, I no longer benefit from ABS brakes on the street.

  • ticticticboom

    ABS is bad because it increases stopping distance. If you are a skilled experienced rider you can stop in shorter distance without ABS.

    • Jai S.

      I hear this all the time. It’s like people don’t get that ABS only is activated after your tires lock up. If you do everything right, they do not interfere at all.

  • FastPatrick

    Bakersfield line.

  • kevin

    Myth I encounter a lot: “I just bought a CBR/GSXR/Rwhatever and I can do 0-60 in under 3 seconds!!11!!1!1!” actually, no you can’t. Just because the bike can, doesn’t mean you can. It takes a lot of practice and skill to launch a high power bike at anywhere near its maximum potential.

    • Piglet2010

      Other than a BMW S1000RR HP4 with “Launch Control”, that is.

  • Jack

    Re: Never lay the bike down.
    Once in a built up area…narrow road … cars parked both sides…while travelling around a sharp left hand bend…I eyeball a go faster mini heading toward me on the otherside when I was cranked over.
    I laid the bike down, because stopping was a priority and I planned on rolling out of the way. The car stopped maybe 6 foot from me but inches from the bike. Despite minor damage to the bike and me, I’ve no regrets…in my opinion laying the bike down was the best option. In most situations, I agree with you, but when an accident is certain, I’d advise looking for the most comfortable place to crash and not to choose on-coming vehicles, trees, walls, and iron railings…and if you’re in a situation when laying the bike down helps you avoid these.
    Do it.

    • Jai S.

      I’m not sure if this is satire or not.

      • Jack

        My reply was based on a real example that demonstrates that the advice given ‘never lay a bike down’ is unsound, because in certain situtions it can be the best option.

        • E Brown

          No, it’s not.

        • grb

          I think there is no situation where the sticky rubber from the tires will not slow you down much faster then the leather/jeans on your bottom (or the metal of the bike) sliding on the tarmac. Tires are designed and optimized to do that, and even if you were wearing special robber trousers, you still have much better stopping power and control with tires when braking without locking them. Im sorry but you laid down your bike in vain, because if sliding you stopped before you hit the car then you could have just braked without damaging your bike. The stoping distance of a controlled brake (not locking) is much shorter then the stoping distance of the same tires but sliding, and its worse if its your less grippy bum sliding.

          • Tim Watson

            Where can i get a pair of the robber trousers you speak of?

            • grb

              I know! they might be all the rage with people who like laying their bike down to stop

          • Jack

            Something is missing… I’m doing about 25 mph at that
            speed when you hit the deck you stop real fast. I’m banked, no room to squeeze
            by him, and he’s bearing down on me … and I know breaking sufficiently (like
            to avoid a head on) will cause the bike to lie down. So, down she went. And, there is a situation when the sticky rubber will not slow you down faster than your butt…when you can’t apply your breaks hard because your heeled over.

    • Justin McClintock

      Know the fastest way to stop a bike? Use the brakes.

      And on the part about looking for the most comfortable place to crash…I’d say my couch, when I get home after NOT crashing my bike because I was looking where I wanted to go and not where I wanted to crash.

      • Jesse

        Gonna have to agree that brakes and tires stop a bike in a far more controlled way than body work and bar ends.

      • Piglet2010

        I think the only conditions where laying the bike down would stop it faster than using the brakes would be in sand, mud, or deep snow.

    • forking

      ” laying the bike down helps you avoid these.”

      So does steering the bike…

  • di0genes

    Agree with all except maybe #7 Are the 40 to 55s more likely to be injured or killed for the same reason Honda Civics are the cars most likely to get stolen? I would be interested to know if they are reporting a ratio or just raw uncorrected data? In other words, there are more 40 to 55 year old riding than 18 to 25 year olds because the older group can afford it. It is also a 15 year spread vs a 7 year spread for 18 to 25, so all other things being equal it would be twice as large, so yeah, more get killed or injured simply because there are more of em. OTOH if the data says something like, 10 of every 10,000 40 to 55 year old riders are getting killed or injured as opposed to say, 5 of every 10,000 18 to 25 year old riders then we have a valid statistic. I could believe either one, getting smarter is a not requirement for getting (much) older, but you can’t just throw a stat like that out there without some explanation of how it was derived. Who was it said figgers don’t lie, but watch out for liars who figger?

    • E Brown

      Check around, it’s been pretty well documented thanks to cases like this:

      The number of motorcycle fatalities has been climbing, doubling in the last 20 years, and at this point almost half the number is new riders over 40. They are seeing the same trend in other countries as well. Older, affluent riders are about the only growing segment of the motorcycle market in 1st-world countries, and they make some of the WORST new riders – they’re out of shape, over-confident (“I ain’t no kid” and “I used to ride”), and under-trained.They buy 1.5L 800-lb cruisers they can barely control beyond a stright line, ride around in t-shirts and jeans with no helmets and lose control of these behemoths at pretty much any provocation. MSF courses are no help – they get their M-class riding lightweight 250cc bikes that they only rode a couple of days in a parking lot, which doesn’t prepare them to ride something with 3x the weight and 5x the power. They’re as bad as the 20-something that think liter-bikes make good first bikes, just with a different mindset.

      • di0genes

        Still does not answer my question, are the over 40s more likely to get killed or injured because there are more of em or because there is something about being over 40 that is the factor?

        I am over 60, when I was in my twenties we were the largest MC riding age group, almost nobody over 30 rode motorcycles. It was the same story back then, guys bought bigger more powerful bikes than they could handle. A Kawasaki Mach III was $999, it was evil, tires and suspensions were awful, I would not be surprised to learn Mach IIIs killed more Americans than the Pearl Harbor attack. I recall a high school buddy telling his parents that he should get the Kawasaki because it was ‘only a 500′ (he survived :-) Non riders called them murdercycles. Newspapers were full of lurid stories such the one quoted above. Seems nothing has changed, except as noted in another Ride Apart story, the average age of bike riders has increased and is now well north of 40.

        If you want to see an unbiased study of historical moto mayhem check out the Hurt report.
        Among other things Hurt found that most MC accidents involved riders with not much riding experience plus they were unfamiliar with the bike they were on when they crashed. And oh yeah, alcohol. IMHO those findings are more significant than the age of the rider and they still apply today.

        • Tim Watson

          One of the key factors in the deaths of this category was attributed to alcohol consumption prior to getting on a bike. You can find it all here

          • Mary

            Thanks Tim, I was going to mention this fact as I recall my MSF instructor noting it.

            I went skydiving once and read a skydiving magazine with all the statistics of fatalities. Very inexperienced jumpers had the least amount of fatalities. It was the most experienced jumpers that suffered the most fatalities because they were so experienced they started taking more risks.

            Maybe it’s the same here? I only have 3 years of experience and I won’t even smell a beer prior to getting on my bike. Maybe these older guys have been riding so long that they think they can handle a couple of beers?

            • Tim Watson

              Mary, thank you for your input. I have read the NHTSA report on motorcycle injuries and deaths in the some detail. There is a ton of statistics and it takes a lot to get my old head around! but it was pretty evident that the older guys were most at risk. Alcohol is one factor certainly, the other is guys returning to bikes after a good number of years think they can just take off where they left, but the world and bikes have moved on.

        • E Brown

          I thought it answered your question pretty clearly. Accident and fatality numbers follow the “new/inexperienced riders” demographic, and the over-40 demographic has more new/inexperienced riders than the under-40, thanks to Baby Boomers taking up or returning to riding. The more older riders that start riding, the more accidents and fatalities in the group. It’s often partially attributed to declining ability (reflexes, reaction times, fitness levels) and maybe that contributes, but the biggest single metric is riding experience. Being older isn’t inherently less safe.

          As I mentioned, the irony here is that over-40 new riders often think their age gives them a safety advantage – they have better judgement, more maturity,road experience, etc. It’d be great if that were true, but the numbers prove them wrong – they’re as unsafe as younger new riders all across the spectrum. They’re just as likely to ride after drinking (the biggest cause of accidents), just as likely to ride without proper safety gear, just as likely to ride without proper licensing/registration/insurance.

          Instead of the old Hurt report data, try the NHTSA web site’s FARS (Fatality Accident Reporting System) data which gives a pretty comprehensive breakdown of accident types and causes from 1994 until 2011.

          • di0genes

            I see we both agree that age is not all that relevant, deaths and injuries are more likely to happen to inexperienced riders riding bikes that are unfamiliar to them, and of course having consumed alcohol.

            • E Brown

              Yep, experience and practice are king, imo. I think older guys SHOULD make better new riders, for all the reasons they’re prone to cite, but unfortunately guys over 40 that start riding are just a different shade of clueless.

  • Jack

    Re: Race tyres… no better grip
    Yes for best performance they should be hot agreed…but that doesn’t mean they don’t offer better grip than road tyres under dry road conditions. A touch will tell you they have more grip…in fact they are made from softer stickier rubber.
    The downside is they don’t wear well and are not optimized for the countless conditions you’re likely to encounter on the road.
    Incidentally, did you bother to consult tyre manufacturers about the mold release agent?
    I sure you’re intuition will impress.

    • William Hardy

      Race tyres have far shorter heat cycle life spans to road tyres and deteriorate very fast once they have been through their determined heat cycles, in some cases it can be just a few hundred miles when ridden hard. Then they do not grip like road tyres let alone race tryes…

      • Jack

        William, I used to run racing triangulars on the road …and as you say…but even more … they wore out at an incredible rate…like 750 miles and that was pushing it…but they had tread.
        Whoa to be on racing slicks and find flowing water around a fast bend.

    • Wes Siler

      No, race tires will not achieve higher grip levels on the street than a good sport road tire like a Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa. It has the same shoulder compound as the SC2. Combined with a high mileage center compound and silica throughout, plus good tread, you just can’t do better.

  • Eduardo

    #6 About new tires: There is paraffin and mold wax left on new tires, also to protect them from humidity
    for the time they will be stored, as everyone knows, tires do have a use-by-date.

    The coating products need to be worn off and the radial structure of the tire also needs to fit well around the rim which may also cause instability along the first tenths of kms as it clips in tight.

    An example of a brand new bike with an unaware newbie rider would be this:

    Some manufacturers issue special instructions either to distributors or directly to clients through their website. YOU MUST GO EASY FOR AT LEAST 100 MILES, there is no doubt about that so please don’t be misleading in your comments as this can actually cause a crash. You can only start trusting your tires -gradually- after that, leaning the bike progressively to max angle after a number of corners, breakings and re-accelerations.

    Before installing them on my bike, I put my tires into the shower and rub them with a sponge and soap and water; taking care of NOT wetting the inside of the tire or dry it well after you’re done. You will still have to go easy for 200kms, but at least you don’t risk to stupidly crash because of a loss of grip.

    PS: I really hate Disqus, it always takes me 20min to login, it never works properly please change that..

    • Wes Siler

      Disqus is used on more than 750,000 other websites, making it the most popular commenting system in the world. If it doesn’t work for you, it’s a problem with your computer or browser. Try clearing your cache or upgrading to Google Chrome, which is free.

      • Eduardo

        Thanks for your help Wes. I cleared the cache before commenting and for some reason I have to try dozens of times before it logs in. I have a safe IT environment (which is probably the reason why Disqus is not working). I believe a less intrusive system would be better, with simple email registration. Disqus is not only unstable, it tracks you down; same as Chrome and any Google related software.
        I would prefer to pay a monthly fee to access the great content that you publish, rather than giving up my privacy. Massive advertising on all of your pages would also be better than being obliged to use Disqus.

  • Larry

    “I don’t need to waste money on ABS. I know how to brake properly.” – Surprising actual quote from stereotypical bearded GS rider straight out of central casting. Also, “all GS riders are bearded stereotypes”.

  • clasqm

    Myth: you don’t need to “run in” a modern motorcycle. Just ride it like you stole it.

  • Mykola

    “Loud Pipes Save Lives”

    • usediv


    • Brian

      actually not entirely a myth really. I have been in a few situations where a crack of the throttle of my Leo Vince cans made the driver on their cell phone very aware of my presence there to keep them from merging into me.

      • Justin McClintock

        So would your horn. Your point?

        • Brian

          In my experience, because I have not upgraded the little “meep meep” stock horn to something like a Stebel Nautilus ( or other horn with a more substantial resonance), the horn is not effective due to the sound insulation in a lot of the vehicles nowadays and due to the level of distraction of a cell phone ( think higher pitched sounds of someone else yakkin at em’ being funneled directly into their ear). It is usually about as effective as screaming through my helmet. The woof of my cans stands out more distinctly to capture their attention, even if only for enough of a moment to let them know I am there ( and no, I am not revving it off the ceiling or anything ridiculous like that, just a simple pull in the clutch and a quick twist twice and then resume regular movement).

          I will demonstrate my point from a different aspect. I am also a runner ( training for my 1st marathon currently) and while I come to a lot of street crossings where I have the right of way as a pedestrian, I am in peril. This is because those same people roll through the intersections oblivious and/or more self important to their movement than anyone else’s. I carry the standard garden variety coaches, lifeguards, police whistle as it works in the same manner. Pierces through whatever sound they are focused on and through their environment to make them aware of me and my position and intention. The point as you ask, is to do exactly that and make myself safe by letting them know without question of where I am.

          • Justin McClintock

            So you prefer to piss off all the people all the time instead of 1 person on occasion…and spent more money on the exhaust than a horn cost. And motorcyclists wonder why other folks don’t like us…

            • Brian

              my guess is that your vision of what I am explaining is an inline 4 cylinder sportbike with a loud can banging off the rev limiter for several seconds at a time, and what I am doing is far from that in reality. For specifics, I am currently riding a KTM 990 SM-T, and the Leo Vince cans were already installed on the bike when I purchased it. When I say that I pull in the clutch and twist twice, I am bringing the motor up to about 5500 rpms ( of which it will go much higher) which is enough to elevate the sound above other things going on without being obnoxious like I am guessing you are thinking is going on. If that happens to piss off someone ( or multiples around me), then they have much bigger issues going on and I am not planning on being around or near them for much longer than I am already at that moment.

              • Justin McClintock

                I’m perfectly aware of what you’re talking about. I have an SV1000S and my brother used to have the same, with Leo Vince cans on it. You know why I never put them on mine? Because I have neighbors.

                • Brian

                  I have neighbors also, and control of my right hand. Only once has any of my neighbors said anything to me about hearing me at 6am in the morning when I leave for work on the bike, and that was when I 1st got the bike and didn’t understand the cold start issue my bike was experiencing on start up on the alley that resonates between all of our houses. Issue addressed and all has been fine since. And your point is?

                • Justin McClintock

                  See my response to grb. That’s my point. Your attempting to make a practicality argument for a fashion accessory and ignoring basic MSF fundamentals to do it…along with apparently pissing off your neighbors.

                  Loud pipes do not save lives. Proper riding saves lives. Blipping the throttle is no substitute for avoiding a situation you should have seen coming and/or could more easily avoid by simply hitting the brakes and/or honking your horn. If you’re riding in a manner where you need to draw more attention to yourself, you’re riding stupidly to begin with.

              • Mykola

                I get skeptical when someone says to disengage a vehicle’s drivetrain then dramatically fluctuate engine speed as part of a safety maneuver.
                And because we can’t all simply own bikes with pipes put on by the previous owner/dealer, I’ll echo Justin’s sentiment that a proper horn does the same job for much cheaper. It even has a button dedicated solely to its use; it doesn’t get easier than that.

                • Brian

                  I guess we can just chalk it up to your ( and Justin’s) situational locale difference and traffic/travel occurences as you encounter them. I happen to know in my locale that the last lady that tried to merge into me in the Lexus LX470 she was loosely navigating would not have heard my horn, mostly because of how well those vehicles are insulated from road noise, but also because most of her face was blocked by the Fablet phone she was holding up to her head to chat on. You do what you have to do to protect yourself no matter what. That is the bottom line.

                • Piglet2010

                  The last person whom I honked at (stock horn on a Honda Dullsville) was a young woman with the windows rolled up and a smart-phone to her left ear. She had some talent despite not being able to stay in her lane, since she flipped me the bird using the hand holding the phone without missing a beat in her conversation.

                • Eric R. Shelton

                  Then replace your horn, silly. I’ve heard tell they sell those marvelous contraptions at Napa, Checker, O’Reilly, AutoZone…

        • grb

          you’re not going to go around beeping your horn all the way at every intersection, every lane you split, every car you overtake, etc, etc, etc… it would be completely absurd and much more annoying… That being said, straight pipes like the cruiser guys use are absolutely ridiculous, useless and obnoxious, but a good sport can/muffler sounds great without hurting your ears and it could very well help you being noticed by everyone, even distrated drivers you haven’t even spotted yet

          • Justin McClintock

            In the MSF course, they teach you to scan ahead for issues. That includes signs that a driver might be distracted. If you honestly think what you’re about to do could be a problem….don’t do it. The best way to get out of trouble with a distracted driver isn’t to rev your bike so they can hear your loud pipes. It’s to hit the brakes and avoid the situation altogether. Anything else is an attempt at making a practical argument for a fashion accessory that may piss off the non-riding (and some of the riding) public because you think it’s cool.

            • Brian

              see what I just responded to you with in your other response to this.

            • grb

              I agree with you about being aware of whats happening in front of you, and I don’t condone obnoxiously loud exhausts. But apart from unnecessary and ridiculously loud straight pipes and the rice move of revving your engine (in which case beeping your horn is the same but favorable), there are still some muffler options that are not that intrusive.

              You see, I always turn and look at a bike, just because I love to look at them, and the sound does make me aware a motorcycle is coming down the road before I’ve even seen it, thus helping me spot the bikes more easily, and helping me understand the argument that this exhausts (again, not cruiser straight pipes, turning on car alarms) do help people notice a motorcycle is coming.

              I know its up to us to pay attention and be able to avoid potential accidents and bad drivers, but its an overwhelming fact that the great majority of motorcycle accidents and fatalities are caused by distracted drivers, and its also a fact that accidents happen and you cant always be aware of everything going on, nor avoid every possible circumstance. So what your saying about “avoid the situation altogether” and arguing that making yourself more visible is not necessary, would be like arguing that bright colors, lights or reflectors, are useless because riders should be able to foresee and avoid ALL accidents. Every biker should understand that everything that makes you more visible helps prevent accidents. Yet I do believe there has to be a limit, hurting people’s ears is not cool

      • Eric R. Shelton

        I prefer aware riding on a bike that can accelerate, brake, and handle worth a damn. This is specifically targeted at cruisers with stupid high ape-hangers, forward controls, and South Park “F-word” loud exhausts. Honestly, pipes that loud harm public perception of motorcyclists.

    • Mugget

      Bwahahahaha. Classic!

      If loud pipes save lives, imagine what learning to ride could do!!

    • LS650

      If making noise will help avoid an accident, use your freaking horn.

  • Fred

    hah, the last one is mine. I’ve hit the jackpot.

  • Jesse Mrozowski

    At the moment my dream bike is either the Honda CBR500 or the CB1000. I honestly think that I could buy either and never feel the need to upgrade so I think in that regard my #9 is accurate… I think.

  • MichaelEhrgott

    “If you ride a sport bike you’re a menace.”

  • bossross

    #10 should have read: this is true, end of story.

  • bossross

    I concur

  • DerekB

    #7 I would say the higher fatality rate is due to the fact that older guys have the money to go out and but a 900lb Harley as their first bike and then wear little or no gear to fit the image. The majority of younger riders I see wear full gear these days.

  • CruisingTroll

    It’s a myth. If they WERE out to get us, we’d be dead. Even blistering incompetence on their part wouldn’t be enough to overcome their numbers.

  • Brian

    you know what we all forgot as the biggest myth? a driver who looks at you actually sees you! How many times have any/all of us gotten cut off or in an accident or near to one when we thought the driver was visually acknowledging us and made some move with their vehicle to endanger us anyway.

  • NextTurn

    My wife says the same thing. Of course, she looks pretty damn good in her full gear too.

  • Justin McClintock

    We’re going to have to agree to disagree. I can’t possibly imagine a
    scenario where the use of loud pipes is the best alternative relative to
    all your other options (including the fact that you can out accelerate,
    brake, and corner almost everything on the road). Apparently you think
    that’s the best option. That’s fine. You can be happy with that and I
    can be happy to not live near you.

    • Brian

      simple scenario, highway traffic in any state outside of California. You are in your lane with a buffer of enough room in front of you to stop, but there is a car still in front of you and a car behind you. The car in the next lane over almost right next to you decides to move over into you. What do you do in your instinctual reaction? Down there where you live, it can be I-85 if you want, where in your city where I HAVE ridden when going to see my brother who lives there. It is quite simple. If there is no where to go, accelerating isn’t going to help now is it? Alerting them to you actually being there will. Most riders I have seen in YOUR area would just flatly smack that cars mirror to accomplish the same goal, but I have done it with out creating a confrontation. Most vehicles then yield along with a hand gesture of “ooops, my bad” or something like that, but it won’t always happen that way.

      • Justin McClintock

        If you were riding next to that car in a situation where if it merges, it hits you, you were riding poorly. Never sit in another car’s blind spot, and never ride next to them at the same speed. If there’s not room to move beyond them, slow down. Describing a scenario where you’re not positioning yourself properly in traffic as justification for loud pipes is no way to convince people they’re a good idea.

        • Brian

          well, I guess in your seemingly obtuse world, riding is going to always going to go according to how MSF preaches it should go based on your responses. In the real world outside of that though, you will not always be able to have the most ideal situation(s) under which to ride. Interstate traffic being one of those very types and that is a reality. I hope that you seek some training outside of that kind of thinking for when your experience opens up beyond those borders under which your thinking can not comprehend beyond this framework of for reaction and self preservation.

          • Justin McClintock

            Brian, I ride in heavy traffic in Atlanta all the time. It’s that I DO follow the MSF basics that has kept me alive thus far and hopefully will continue to do so. Your example of why you need loud pipes clearly outlines a scenario in which you have IGNORED MSF basics as well as common sense riding practices. All this does is reinforce my point.

            What this comes down to is that I’m clearly not going to convince you of anything and you’re obviously not going to convince me. As I mentioned earlier, we’ll have to agree to disagree.

            • Brian

              1st) I never said I “need” them, in fact my Cagiva before the KTM didn’t have them. I said that they can be used to help be a useful tool and simply outlined how. GRB has said similarly as well, and I am sure there are others whom agree. Further, the way GRB also has established the differentiation between straight obnoxious pipes and a slightly vocal exhaust system is very key in this regard and one that I very much agree with.
              2nd) I have not ignored MSF basics, but I do think there are tactics that they do not touch on or teach that are as useful if not moreso. My example I cited where you think I have disregarded MSF principles is one where you can be in very easily in heavier traffic situations and it isn’t so simple as MSF would teach you to think it to be. Needing to be comfortable and knowing what you are capable of and when to apply those tools is just as key as the awareness that MSF teaches and you keep harping back to. Flexibility is key, in not only your riding for fluidity, but in your opinion as well because of what you can potentially learn.
              True as it might be about us not agreeing, I think that painting yourself into the viewpoint of inflexibility as you have doesn’t aid things in those disagreements. I know I am a rather alpha type with my opinions at times, but I am also open to sound logic and reason at almost every turn.

              • Justin McClintock

                The scenario you outlined, you were sitting in their blind spot. That’s a bad idea in a CAR, let alone a motorcycle. Additionally, proper scanning would give you insight as to WHY that person was merging, further allowing you to anticipate that they would, in fact, merge. And again, that’s something you should be doing regardless of your form of transportation. You’re not painting a good picture here. I’m plenty flexible in the tools I use to keep myself vertical. Bad positioning in traffic and failure to scan isn’t a tool. It’s a mistake, plain and simple.

                Additionally, I disagree with GRB as well, for what it’s worth, about the ability of those pipes to help at an intersection. Noise waves are only semi-directional, but the vast majority of the noise from your pipes is going backwards. If your pipes are loud enough to alert people at an upcoming intersection of your impending arrival, they’re more than loud enough to aggravate everybody behind you. You can attempt to argue that point, but physics is on my side here. I know a thing or two about wave propagation. As for making sure you’re safe at an intersection, well, that goes back to scanning again, and looking DIRECTLY at the individual at that stop sign to pick up on any signs they may (or may not) see you. I learned that on a bicycle LONG before I took to a motorcycle and has served me quite well on both.

                Again, you’re not going to convince me of anything here. Chances are if you try, you’ll simply pull out another scenario in which you were doing something you shouldn’t have been.

                • grb

                  Oh but you do hear a motorcycle approaching behind you or at an intersection, sometimes even with the stock exhaust, it has happened to me many times (just to be absolutely clear, I am never referring to straight pipes). I’ve been siting in my car and have been made aware of a motorcyclists presence because of the sound, its a fact exhaust sound helps people notice bikes, or any vehicle.

                  Its a different scenario with Electric Vehicles, but its the exact same principle. There are laws and safety regulations about the minimum sound EVs can make, in this case they are too quiet, so by law and because its a safety issue they have to add artificial sound to all EV if they dont pass the requiered minimum sound level. So there is a threshold for sound levels and safety, but this laws are ooold and haven’t changed, yet car insulation has gotten better along with air conditioner and sound stereos.

                  There is NO argument against the fact that sound does make people aware of a motorcycle, the argument should be on what levels of sounds are adequate, there is already a minimum and a maximum set by law, but again car insulation has gotten better and playing music in your car doesnt help, so the argument is that motorcycles should be allowed slightly louder exhaust, with the reasoning that its a proven fact that motorcycles are hard to spot/notice by driver, and also because in motorcycling the life of the rider is more at risk then car drivers. So saving lives should be reason enough, albeit without hurting people’s ears..

                  Its all pretty obvious if you think about it, you just need to get out of your mind those ridiculous cruisers with useless obnoxious straight pipes

                • Piglet2010

                  But how will people know that you are a badass rebel if you do not have loud pipes?


  • Jack

    Something is missing… I doing about 25 mph at that speed when you hit the deck you stop real fast. I’m banked to room to squeeze by him and he’s bearing down on me… and I know breaking sufficiently will cause the bike to lie down.

    • Scott Sweeney

      You are say what now?

  • Jeremy Chittenden

    Sounds like I hit the jackpot, she’ll love how you smell like motorcycle exhaust after your commute home e from work

  • Piglet2010

    Re #3: Around here they have put up signs by all the schools that display your speed, but they either stay blank or pick up the cage behind me.

    Nb. This should not be extrapolated to speed radar used by LEOs.

  • Piglet2010

    Dani Pedrosa disagrees with # 5.

  • Piglet2010

    # 7 – Is this normalized to miles ridden, or even the number of persons with motorcycle endorsements? I see a lot more people in the 40-55 year old range than in the 18-25 year old range (particularly here in the H-D dominated Upper Midwest).

    • Zach K

      Agree, it’s really a useless stat without normalizing.

    • Thatmanstu

      It is a lot of ‘returning” riders who are less inclined to attend a riding course,wear pirates uniforms instead of riding gear and who tend to ride on the weekends a few months out of the year…..a gross generalization,to be sure,but unfortunately a too common profile…..get trained,get dressed and get proficient….

  • Piglet2010

    # 6 – Lee Parks has students lower tire pressures slightly during classes, including those on super-moto tracks.

    And in the rain, dropping tire pressures can change a bike from nearly hopeless to having acceptable traction – dropping 10 psi in tire pressures did wonders for my pre-gen Ninjette (unfortunately after low-siding during warm-up/orientation laps at a moderate pace with recommended street pressure).

  • Piglet2010

    # 9 – What if I really want a TW200 because of the funky fat tires – can I start out on my dream bike?

  • Piglet2010

    #10 – Pretty scary when the best looking outfit is a Roadcrafter.

  • Piglet2010

    I avoid being in the road position in the first place where inattentive cagers could merge into me.

  • Piglet2010

    I wonder if anyone has ever run someone with loud pipes over on purpose, to eliminate the noise?

    • Rowan

      Good Question. I think that whole ‘Jail Factor’ usually puts people off.

  • Jen Degtjarewsky

    I think Tim did a really nice job with this article. (Even if it is spread across two pages)

  • Generic42

    From this article –
    “You know how they say you’re most likely to going to crash within a 5-mile radius of your house?”

    Did you know that the majority of your riding is within 5 miles of your house? You aren’t more likely to crash in that area, however a crash is more likely to be close to home because of the percentage of time spent there. It’s like saying “Most shower accidents happen in the bathroom”

  • Aaron L

    WRT Myth 6- (not saying you’re wrong, just a tidbit)

    Motorcycle tires have not come with release compounds for the past ~30 years. Chemical properties of the rubber back in the day required an initial coating on the mold to allow the rubber to actually pull out when it was cured. Then, this coating would have to be “scrubbed” off with a slow heat-cycling & abrasion process (what people still call “scrubbing” or “scrubbing in” tires). However, the chemical compounds in today’s tires do not require this coating, as the rubber and molds are designed to allow easy/natural release. So when you hear people say they need to scrub in tires, they are effectively just getting used to the feel of a new tire and heat cycling it once for experience.

  • Chris McAlevy

    Oh my god. You’re right. The R is after the 1300.

    I am so excited to start asking people why they bought such a huge katana.

  • Mugget

    Race tires will make me and my bike faster on the road.

    Got to agree, that’s pretty much a false belief. But there’s nothing wrong with using track tyres on the street at all. Which I’m guessing that’s what is being referred to, because slicks wouldn’t be legal anyway. It’s just not as bad as what you make out. “Falling off at the first intersection” – not really. In fact when I had BT003s on my bike I came hooking into the first intersection to try and make the light, no problem. And that was faster than I would have been game to try on a cold set of street-orientated tires.

    And Traction Control
    Isn’t it taking a bit of a simplistic view to say that TC is only going to slow a rider down if they’re a racer or ride really hard? I mean given the advances in technology – wasn’t Kawasaki one of the first to bring out a system that actually did help the rider to go faster, and not slow them down??

  • Mugget

    You must never worry about crashing on a bike because if you do you will automatically crash.

    That’s a tricky one…
    Shouldn’t be fixated on the prospect of crashing? True. Otherwise that will just become like a mental form of target fixation.

    But nonsense that you should never worry about crashing (we should worry about crashing)? The way that Twist Of The Wrist puts it makes most sense to me. Basically, yes we should come to accept the fact that we may crash. We don’t have to like the idea, we sure won’t enjoy it if we do crash – but yes, it is a possibility. But no – we should not be worried or scared at the prospect of crashing! Once you start dwelling on thoughts like that, it’s a slippery slope into that sort of mental target fixation. We all know that you go where you look – well if you constantly think about something, guess what you’ll end up doing?

    Yes, accept the possibility of crashing and think about how you would deal with certain situations. No, don’t worry and stress over it (at least not while you’re actually riding, that’s not the time).

  • LS650

    Geez, angry.

  • Tiger Joe Sallmen

    The assertion of #7 is wrong. The conclusion is wrong because there are far more 40 to 55 year old riders than 18 to 25 year olds. To compare apples with applies, you need to look at the percentage of casualties within each group.

  • Tupack Shackur

    This comment thread made me go disable Adblock on this page. I was just thinking the other day that I wish there were more posts.

  • Jeremy Ball

    “You don’t always see what hits you, but you will always see what you hit.” Is how it was put to me. Don’t wanna hit it? Don’t look at it.