10 Dumbest Things You Can Do On a Bike

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There’s no fixing stupid and, although some of us would never own up to it, we have all done some pretty dumb things when riding motorcycles. Here are some of our favorites.

Brain Fade 1: You’re coming up to a very busy intersection and you want to turn left. There’s a ton of traffic ahead of you and lots of pedestrians milling around on the sidewalk. You hit the horn instead of your signal and everyone is suddenly looking at you, including the enormous angry guy in the truck ahead who is now confused as to why you’re beeping at him.

Brain Fade 2: It’s a sunny day, you’re out on your bike and you’re looking good. Nothing wrong with grabbing a quick look at your reflection in the store windows as you ride by, right? Nothing wrong at all, except the traffic ahead has suddenly backed up and you now need to stop admiring yourself and be on the brakes to keep from rear-ending the car ahead of you.

Brain Fade 3: Damn it’s cold outside. Time to put on the cold weather gear. Step into that expensive riding suit, zip yourself in. Put on the backpack with chest and abdomen straps, pull on your helmet and put on those thick cold weather gloves. Walk outside to your motorcycle and realize your key is still in your jean pocket. (Ouch!)

Brain Fade 4: You’ve been riding all day and you’re getting tired. You pull up at a stoplight. You think your sunglasses have slipped down your nose a little. Lift your visor up and poke yourself in the eye. Only then do you remember you’re not wearing them as you’re riding at night. Have to pull over, as you may have a corneal abrasion.

Brain Fade 5: Quick run to the grocery store on your bike. You’ve got the list of everything you need and it shouldn’t be that difficult to get it all on your motorcycle. The problem is that no matter how many times you’ve done this you always buy more than your bike’s bags can carry. You now have to ride home with three cans of beans, a six-pack of beer and a large loaf of bread stuffed down the front of your jacket.

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  • CruisingTroll

    Brain Fade 11: Years ago, I installed an aftermarket Freeway Blaster horn on my bike. While conducting a tight turn in a parking lot, I almost induced a heart attack in one of our seasoned citizens when the horn button made firm contact with my tank bag…. Yup, everyone looked at me on the bike, and the looks weren’t exactly friendly.

  • Travis McCartney

    I’ve managed to do a few of these myself. Number 6 or a version of has got me too many times than I care to admit. Usually instead of being in neutral I have instead come to a stop without down shifting and try to take off in 3rd and promptly kill the engine and then frantically try to restart and get moving.

    I’ve also set my tank bag on the pillion while filling up and forgot to reattach it before riding off only to wonder what I felt moving being me as I was traveling at about 90 on the slab. I did manage to grab it and secure it before it got lost.

  • LondonBoy

    Ride off with the disk lock still on. Because that NEVER gets old.

    • Joe Bielski

      Oh god…. I totally did that this summer….in front of a crowded bus stop….dropping the bike and snapping the brake lever…

    • ThinkingInImages

      Only did that once in all my years of riding. Now I have a disk lock alarm. It will go off if I get on my motorcycle and forget it.

  • Likhi Ondov

    Come out of the store with your motorcycle gear, getting onto your badass motorcycle. It’s badass, so it’s loud. You squeeze the clutch and startup the bike. No problem. You’re a badass. You drop it down into first to peel out of the parking lot, impressing the crowd gathered to enjoy your loud badass motorcycle. But your bike stalls, the engine coming to abrupt BANG as the engine dies. You look down and notice your kickstand is still down. With what remains of your pride, you raise the kickstand, restart the bike, and get away hoping none of your parking lot fans noticed.

    • justinB

      I did that same thing after talking to a real Bikie in a parking lot (complete with leather vest covered in patches, big 1600cc Harley and tattoo sleeves)
      Feeling a bit out of my depth while sitting next to his behemoth Harley, I started up my little 250 Virago, went ‘alright, see ya later’ CLUNK!
      He had a good laugh at my expense. I rode away shaking my head :)

  • Mark D

    Most terrifying brain fade? Merge on the highway, and feel and weird flapping sensation against your neck. Feel around and realize you never strapped your helmet on! Immediately poop pants and pull over.

    • Mary

      OMG I did that recently! I kept hearing a slap on my helmet and I kept wondering what it was!

    • Loren Andrews

      That happened to me yesterday. I felt under my chin and was like crap i forgot to do my chin strap. Luckily for me there was traffic so I could stop and adjust before lane splitting.

    • eddi

      Testify!

    • Kr Tong

      Why i never completly undo my D-ring

    • 200 Fathoms

      Kind of bizarre to think about how unprotected you felt in that moment, but that many people never ride with a helmet, eh?

    • Curly

      I don’t understand how people manage to do this. I can instantly tell as soon as I get over 20km/h that my chin strap is undone because there’s way too much airflow under my chin without it…. What I *have* done however is to do the d-ring up and then forget to clip the loose end of the strap which ended up with the loose end smacking hard against my helmet for ten minutes until I finally got it clipped at an intersection.

      • Jeremy

        Yup! I use a modular helmet, so the first thing I do when I put it on is latch it. Trying to put that little strip onto it’s snap with my gauntlets on, I may as well be trying to pick up glued pennies.

  • Ceol Mor

    #3 does not sound remotely familiar….

  • markbvt

    It’s always fun to ride off and have the engine cut out after a quarter mile or so because you’ve forgotten to open the fuel petcock.

    • eddi

      An oldie but a goodie.

      • Chanson

        I see what you did there….

    • Jeremy

      Did that one, today! Huuuuu pbtpbtpbtpbt, “Dahfuq? It’s not that cold out! Oh…”

  • Jono

    start bike to warm up, get all gear on and attempt to pull off. Then realise disk lock + steering lock are still on. I’m a moron in the mornings.

  • gaudette

    After a nice run through some twisties you’re headed back home and relax a bit while driving through traffic. Start following the bike ahead of you, thinking how stupid he must be to wear sperrys and jeans while riding. Watch him switch lanes rather abruptly, realize why…a car is stopped waiting to turn left. Maneuver around the car at the last minute but not without busting the mirror off.

  • Eric

    Make a bad habit of starting the bike in neutral while standing beside it. Gives you time to put your gloves and helmet on while it warms up just a tad. But then once in a rare while you somehow left it in first. Hit the starter and it jumps forward. Dropping everything to try to catch and hold up a few hundred pounds you weren’t ready for.

    • Piglet2010

      Just make it a habit to hold both the clutch and brake levers in, and let the clutch out slowly.

      On the other hand, it is a bad idea to get the rear wheel spinning really fast when the bike is on the center-stand.

  • Alpha_Geek_Mk2

    Here’s a fix for #5, although it may result in #10. Number 8… been there, and let me tell you it’s even worse if you’re wearing a balaclava.

    • Tim Watson

      Nice job!

    • DeusMach1na

      Not sure if Delivery or DiGiorno. . .

      • Alpha_Geek_Mk2

        I’ll have to ask the guy I borrowed the picture from. ;)
        Same make/model/year as mine (same bags, too) but the wrong colors and state.

  • Joe Bielski

    Bwahahahaha, OMG, 1 and 6 all the fracking time…… forever a squid…

  • Maymar

    I once stopped off to buy a pair of pants, not really thinking about the logistics of how I was going to get them home (lacking any bags or backpacks). Ended up stuffing the shopping bag between the speedometer and windshield, and hoped it’d stay secure for the kilometre til I got home.

    I’m also guilty of, while trying to promptly pull away from an intersection, not quite kicking up hard enough, finding myself making quite a bit of noise and far less forward progress. Equally frustrating is when my bike decides it has no interest in getting into first gear and frantically trying to sort that out before I hold anyone up.

  • gaudette

    Rolling through town, riding with one hand on the bars. Roll on the throttle, start heading for the left lane. Next time, hold on with your legs.

  • Piglet2010

    # 5 – Why I have bungee cords in my top box. Works for oversize item such as cat litter too.

  • Piglet2010

    I notice the bike seems louder than usual once I have my lid, glasses, and gloves on – then take it all back off so I can put my ear plugs in.

  • Piglet2010

    #8 – Did that once, and ended up dropping 575 pounds of Honda at an intersection on the way to work. :(

  • sixgunsteve

    Brain Fade 11: You’re out riding by yourself, no other traffic sight on a beautiful fall after in western Virginia. You run it up to 100mph and realize your bike really handles nicely at speed. As you look ahead you begin to wonder why those water barrels at the little bridge up ahead have colored light bars on them. You realize too late that the lights are not on the water barrels but on the Crown Vic behind the barrels . . .

    • eddi

      Consider it an extra road tax fee for advanced driver training.

      • TheBoatDude

        I like that! As much as I like the term “Performance Award”

        • justinB

          HIGH SCORE

  • Mark37724

    Sounds like a contest to me…who nailed all 10?

    • eddi

      1 through 9. I don’t usually use a tank bag. (knock wood) So far I’ve remembered to keep it zipped when I do.

  • Konstantin Chachanidze

    well, me and my 3 friends were out riding on 2 bikes and my bike died not far from the city, battery problem. so we decided instead of dragging my bike back to let the passengers hold on to the bikes to let my bike roll along :D :D :D of course me, my bike and passenger toppled over in about 20 meters and I burnt my leg, motor was hot and I was wearing shorts :D :D :D

  • Mugget

    Another head cold brain fade: riding to work on a rainy morning, “a bit out of it” and come up behind a slow moving truck. Move to the side of the road to pass it, give it gas as I’m moving onto an off-camber section of road. Rear steps out big time and I don’t even flinch because I’m so out of it. Bike corrects itself and I pass the truck and continue to work.

    I guess that’s a successful brain fade? Actually taught me an important lesson – not to tense up and make any quick reactions when something goes wrong.

  • BillW

    Take throw-over soft bags off the bike to give it a wash. Put it back in the garage. Next day, bags are on the floor in the way, so throw them back on the bike… in a, y’know, TEMPORARY sort of way, without fastening the straps. A few days later, go for a ride, and decide to get on the throttle hard away from that light. Arrive at destination and wonder where your bags are.

  • Kr Tong

    brain fade 11: You go to take a swig of gatorade/powder-mix drink from your camelbak. You can’t remember the last time you cleaned it out though, and you’re greeted not by gatorade, but by the bacterial culture living off your gatorade for quite some time. You panic and lean over to spit it all out, forgetting that leaning over with a helmet on doesn’t work. You refer to RideApart’s tips for cleaning your helmet.

  • eddi

    On number 8. You don’t need a head cold, just hay fever. Literal in my case. Every summer I try to blast the visor off a couple times a month.

  • Dustin

    Sadly I think I have done every single one of those at some point, except #10, so I’m changing it to; Riding in the morning and still having phlegm. For some reason I always think that I can magically put spin on my spit and it will go around my chin guard of my helmet. Nope, it’s impossible.

  • victorz21

    You’re riding through near-freezing mountain roads in winter, staving off the cold with a heated jacket. You pull over for gas and a cup of coffee. Step off the bike and head for the cafe, thinking only of the sweet, sweet coffee. Feel a tug at your waist as the cable for your heated jacket snags – and snaps. Because you left it plugged in. Because you are a moron.

    You are now the proud owner of a $150 jacket full of useless wires – with a long, cold road ahead. Enjoy the coffee…

  • 200 Fathoms

    Park three-week-old motorcycle directly behind SUV where wife can’t see it.

    Yep.

    Then, a few years later, let father take two-week-old Bonneville “out for a quick spin” (he hasn’t ridden in 30 years).

    Yep.

  • Connect To Ride

    Waiting for a light to change, tapping feet along to the music. Accidentally kick shifter into first and promptly fall off bike as it jumps forward. Dont worry, the rush hour traffic isnt staring at you.

    • Jeremy

      You don’t stay in gear at lights? That’s the mistake. I usually will tap my feet on the ground while I wait.

  • Brett Lewis

    Something that caused brain fade in me: 16oz Monster Energy/Full Throttle/etc drinks. Took a while and several incidents for me to realize, about an hour after slamming one of these for a quick pick-me-up, that I would mentally lapse…

  • Jorn Bjorn Jorvi

    PSA: the dumbest thing you can do on a bike is (still) drink and ride

    • eddi

      That not brain fade, that’s brain death!

    • TheBoatDude

      Yet, I see bikes outside of bars all the time…they all can’t be drinking club soda…

  • John

    Okay, how about riding 70mph at night because you’re tired and cold and then wonder why the low horizon moon just suddenly blinked from view? Oh, wait, that’s it, a logging truck with its back lights out. Thank God your VT500 was conceptualized as a flat track bike, because nearly laying it over it what it took to avoid the big log aimed at your chest. And thank God for no oncoming traffic, because that was just sheer fortune right there.

  • Sid Widmer

    I would submit – forget you have a helmet on and spit.

  • Lee Scuppers

    On the return half of a 500 mile round trip, I discovered after the first 50 miles of rain in 50 degree F (10 C) weather that steel-toed Red Wings aren’t waterproof, and the water pools in the toes. And wet steel in the wind is a great way to bring your feet down to ambient temperature.

    At least I had the brains to bring waterproof everything else.

  • David Kent

    Riding point in a small group of dualsports during the Shenandoah 500 rally a few years ago, coming up on a long sweeping dusty gravel curve that disappeared into the trees, forming a black hole I couldn’t see into. Several riders ahead had pulled to the side and stopped, several had videocams in their hand. I thought they were taking shots of epic powerslides, so I obliged and all my posse followed suit. But powerslides were not the subject. The huge mudhole immediately inside the black hole in the trees was. We were all still crossed up when every single one of us stuck mud and high sided, leaving the bikes on one side of the hole and us piled on top of each other in the middle, laughing like the idiots we were.

    • eddi

      Go Team Lemming!

  • worker88

    The time you forget your bike doesn’t kickstand switch/light while making a turn…

  • Paul B

    Rotated my bars up, and the mirrors are adjustable but not the grips with attached buttons… Honk all the time for a month, until I got risers, and then can’t honk.

  • eviladrian

    Re: #1 – Buy a new Honda, discover the indicator and horn buttons are swapped around, spend the next week honking people after turns…

  • Justin McClintock

    3 and 5 sound eerily familiar.

  • Lee Scuppers

    Bike wouldn’t start. Spent fifteen increasingly anxious minutes trying to figure out how everything electrical on my bike worked perfectly except the starter and the neutral light, which wasn’t on for some… unknown… reason…

    Finally realized the neutral light was off because, duhhh, it wasn’t in neutral. It was in first the whole time, with the side stand down.

    Could be worse, I talked to a bike mechanic who did a house call for a customer who turned out to have the same problem.

    • Davidabl2

      On my SV the plug for the not-in-neutral clutch lockout (or whatever it’s called) popped out after I’d done an all-nighter at work.
      Up all night and then the damn bike won’t start..

      Called a MC shop a few blocks from where i was parked..they told me it was “a known issue’ with those bikes.

      At least I didn’t push it to the shop, and then wait a few hours for them to open up in order to get the news…

  • Chris Cope

    Filter through a huge line of traffic to a set of lights, feeling pretty damn awesome about yourself as you sit at the light. Stall when it turns green.

  • J Campos

    There’s nothing more frustrating than starting your bike after your friends admiring how shiny it looks and leaving without unlocking the disk lock.
    It’s guaranteed hat your going down and everyone watching thinks you’re a clumsy rider.

  • HammSammich

    # 3…Without fail, EVERY time I put on my rain gear, I end up rummaging through the layers to get at my key, looking like a total perv, or like someone who just realized there were chipmunks in his pants
    #5…All safety issues aside, there’s nothing like riding down the street with two bottles of wine shoved in the front of your jacket…not realizing until you get home that the bottles are positioned just perfectly with the cork ends pointing outward so as to give the impression that you are a very proud leather-clad crossdresser with a really nice rack.

  • mikki sixx

    You complete the purchase of a new (to you) bike and you’re riding it home; learning its quirks and habits. You’re 6 blocks from home and while stop at a stop sign, the children in the adjacent yard run up to the sidewalk screaming, smiling, and waving. You very cool-ly wave back as they erupt in overwhelming satisfaction. You stall your bike leaving the stop; the kids realize and and laugh, point as you start it back up and chug away in third.

  • Chester Nodier

    You forgot to shift down coming to a light you’re third in line. You sit patiently for the green light. Traffic piles-up behind you. Finally it changes and traffic ahead moves. You let the clutch out. The engine bogs down. You shift down. Ugh! You only shifted down to third. Rev, clutch rev, clutch. You’re moving. The light turns yellow. No. You’re not going to relive your failure with the same drivers behind you. Down shift and gas it!

    • Lee Scuppers

      I’ve done that. Usually because when I stopped, I was distracted by thinking about something else stupid I’d just done.

  • Versys Jake

    Realizing your jacket pocket is unzipped and panic check for your keys phone and wallet.

    • http://www.salescopywriter.net/ Alan

      I do that so often it’s not funny

  • DeusMach1na

    Maybe not the dumbest but riding for long stints forgetting to reset your blinker. Definitely feel like a moron when I do notice though.

  • ben

    You’re leaving work and you cut past a bunch of cars stopped at the light ahead and pull in front of them to wait. You’re anxious to get home and tired from a long day of bullshit. You rev your engine a little to make sure you’re in gear, which the cars around you seem to perceive as an act of aggression. You see the car to your left, an M3, twitch a little and drift forward from the corner of your eye, which makes you anxious. Moments later, you see the front end of that car lift as he lets off the brakes and accelerates. So you glance left, glance right, just to be safe, because you’ve read all the research and taken all the courses and punch it into the intersection and down the road.

    You see the M3 shrink in your mirrors, and you’re surprised that your 40 year old bike is so quick and you can feel the pride well up inside you as you think to yourself “my bike’s got balls”. It’s a block before you realize that the M3 is still sitting at a red light.

    As punishment for your blatant disrespect for the life of your motorcycle, it breaks down a week after that. Because you’re on a roll, and you’re full of stupid ideas, you wheel the thing into your house and take it apart… at the same time you’ve sold your car, and left your job… your stupidity amuses your girlfriend, which is comforting, but you wonder how much more of this she can take… which you plan to test since she is destined to become a main source of transportation.

    right? right? Right?

  • eddi

    Just got back from a ride. I’ve got a new Number 11 I can’t believe we all missed. How long have you left your turn signal on after the turn? Bonus point for passing one or more side roads on the signaling side. And wondering why no one is tailing very close as usual. Je ne regrette rien !

  • vachequipis

    Throwing your leg over the bike feeling like a warrior outside a busy coffee shop, put the keys in and turn, but instead of that satisfying rumble of the engine the alarm that you forgot to switch off starts screaming to the world.You now feel eyes burning into you as you fumble with gloves on to press the button on the key fob.

    • Guest

      Key fob? Alarm? What is this witchcraft you speak of?

      • vachequipis

        After having 2 moto’s stolen I reluctantly have given in to security alarms, as much as I hate them :(

  • ThinkingInImages

    I haven’t done this – but I’ve seen it: don’t put your laptop in a low hanging saddle bag over the exhaust pipe.

    I haven’t many dim moments over the years, fortunately. One “I didn’t expect that” moment was putting an expensive camera in my tank bag only to have the vibrations back a few screws out.

  • kentaro

    Hilarious article, I am guilty of #3 every day…

  • http://www.mises.org/ Core

    Oh man, some of these are pretty chuckle worth.. I cracked up at the poke your self in the eye one.. oh I’ve done that. *sighs*

  • Dylan Jones

    Putting wrong foot down and toppling bike at traffic lights, sneezing in lid, wasp trapped in lid, commuting in winter dressed like the Michelin Man and not going for a pee before leaving work…..

  • Guest

    I occasionally forget to downshift all the way to first gear when I get to a red light, so when it turns green… Oh, what a lovely feeling.

  • SneakyJimmy

    OK, I confess to something really stupid. Pull up to a restaurant (loud of course). Put kickstand down and get off bike. Oh, forgot to put in neutral and hit kill switch. Bike lurches forward and falls over. I look like an idiot trying to right the bike before anyone notices.

  • MJ

    Forget you locked the forks. Every time.

  • Curly

    Silliest thing I’ve done recently I think was when I spent an entire day wondering why my bike was really hard to roll and wasn’t leaning over properly onto its sidestand. First thing that came to mind was that the brakes were locked to the rotors, and then I thought maybe the suspension was somehow off, and then I considered that the engine might be gummed up by bad engine oil or that the chain was somehow sticking. Turns out the rear tyre had a nail stuck in it so it deflated overnight and it was just sitting on its rims. Not sure how I spent an entire day fretting over every last detail of my bike and somehow didn’t catch a flat tyre.

  • Glenn Rueger

    One evening my friend decided to adjust his chain. He loosened the axle bolt but then heard the call, “Suppertime!”. He put away the tools and figured he’d finish it up later, but by next morning he had forgotten all about it. The rear felt a bit sloppy for about a week.

    • Sportbike Mike

      Seems to happen every single time to me. Then I remember 20 miles later.

      • Glenn Rueger

        Don’t feel bad – I once rode 15 miles with two loose bungie cords on the back.
        Could’ve been a disASSter.

  • ThinkingInImages

    I can relate to sneezing in a helmet. It’s not good. What is really dim is trying to block the sneeze with your hand and forgetting you have a helmet on.

  • HardLookAtReality

    sorry none of these would crack my top-10 list.

  • Lexie

    That’s very amusing. Being a very new learner rider it’s nice to see that these things can happen to experienced riders as well. I’ll try to keep it in mind the next time, and I’m sure there’ll be plenty, I have an incident similar to those listed.

  • Jay Ward

    forgot to put the kickstand up and killed the motor trying to leave the gas pump.

  • rajushank84

    Fun things happened when I switched to a bike that had the brake pedal on the left and the gear shifter on the right. And after getting used to it over a year, when I switched back into “standard” format. Let’s just say I did a LOT of engine braking :-)
    It was fun though.

  • rocco

    Thinking its a good idea to ride to work 20 miles one way after 3 days of a sever stomach virus and ruining a brand new set of leathers at 65mph in a hard right turn. the leathers had to be burned.

  • Adriano Casemiro

    BF 3, BF 6 and BF 8. Been there, done that. Erm, I have a friend who did all those things. Not me. He added that those are really more awkward than dangerous.