5 Reasons You Aren’t An AMA Member

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5 Reasons You Aren’t An AMA Member

Background photo by Jenn Clark

I’m a 1-percenter. Did you know the American Motorcyclist Association came up with that term? No wait…not the Mitt Romney kind; back in the 1950s the AMA coined that phrase in reference to the 99% of all motorcyclists who are decent, law-abiding citizens and the 1% referred to those who are basically just criminals. No, I’m not a criminal, but let me explain. I’m one of the roughly 1% of all motorcyclists in the U.S. who are AMA members nowadays. How did the AMA lose its relevance? These are the five reasons you aren’t an AMA member.

5 Reasons You Aren’t An AMA Member

Photo by Patrick Daly

You’re Not a Middle-Aged White Dude

95% of AMA members are male.* Ninety-five percent. There’s only two ways to look at a statistic that lopsided. Either this organization has no idea how to get a more diverse membership or it just doesn’t want to. And though I didn’t have access to any information describing membership ethnicity, a quick review of the last three years of their magazine covers paints a pretty clear (as in, white male) picture. You only have to go back seven months to find a cover girl, but you’ll have to dive deep to find a colorful face of the AMA; all the way back to December 2010 (which is actually a quarter-cover; keep on going to August 2010 to find an actual black man/rider/AMA member gracing the cover. Asians? Hispanics? Um, none.

Tyson Beckford with Ben Spies
Tyson Beckford with Ben Spies

Other demographics that make you go hmm…the average age is 48. The average number of years riding is 26 (that’s the average). Is anyone else humming Springsteen right now? “Glory days…”

5 Reasons You Aren’t An AMA Member

Photo by Jane Yesee

As of April 2013, the AMA’s 215,966 members reflected a 9,034-member decrease from the previous year, and the AMA reported a steady decline in the two previous years. I’m not surprised; nobody wants to hang out with their Uncle Walt all the time…not even other uncles.

Adey Bennett in action
Adey Bennett in action.

The Rhetoric

Late in 2011, the AMA brought in Wayne Allard, former US Senator from Colorado, as Vice President for Government Relations (i.e., he’s a lobbyist). I don’t know if it took him awhile to get his bearings, or if he’s just late to the whole speak-your-separatist-mind-and-logic-be-damned party, but Mr. Allard seems hell-bent on painting the AMA red (with embarrassment). Consider these Palin-esque gems:

“…motorcycling’s opponents are hard at work on Capital Hill trying to pass laws to tell us what, when, where, and how we can ride [American Motorcyclist, July 2013]”

Kind of cool to think we motorcyclists rank up there with LGBTs and dreamers to have honest-to-God “opponents” on capital hill, but, yeah…seriously. Get real. We all know it’s those Prius drivers who’ve got America by the balls, anyway. How about this one:

“We need to protect public lands for the people, not from the people [American Motorcyclist, December 2013, after vehemently opposing President Obama’s proclamation to make September National Wilderness Month because it did not specifically mention motorized recreation]”.

Because in the history of the world, people never did anything bad to the earth, right? The President’s proclamation didn’t specifically mention horseback riders, bungee jumpers, or scuba divers either, by the way. Dude, we know you don’t like the guy, but being a thorn in his side has sort of lost its cool.

Allard’s recent get-off-my-lawn insinuation that the Center for Disease Control has no business commenting on helmet use and injury prevention takes the cake, stating simply,

“The AMA doesn’t understand why the Center for Disease Control is involving itself in motorcycling when it’s supposed to be protecting Americans from disease. Motorcycling is not a disease [American Motorcyclist, January 2014]”.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Yes, he really said that. Way to make us all look like Larry the Cable-Guy, Mr. Allard. Even he knows how to Google.

Continue Reading: 5 Reasons You Aren’t An AMA Member >>

  • contender

    Don’t forget that if you auto-pay for your membership you get *free* car OR motorcycle towing. I almost left when they refused to take a stand on lane-splitting but stayed only for the roadside assistance.

    • Alpha_Geek_Mk2

      Ditto. I’ve used it twice for my car, never for my bike (knock on wood).

    • motoguru.

      That saved me from a hella long walk when I ran out of gas in the middle of Nebraska last year.

  • Ayabe

    They should tie AMA membership into new sales, either comp the fee or at least include a form or literature with every bike sold. That would get brings hoards of new, young, diverse members.

    Is the “Male” card all black with a huge pair of balls on it, maybe some lightning bolts or an AK-47? I’d go for that.

    As for the lobbying…is it possible to be a lobbyist and not be a complete idiot? I mean that’s kind of their thing, asking for someone to be sane and competent is like asking for a morally unimpeachable lawyer. You are paying someone to advocate a position, regardless of whether they personally believe any of it, feel it has any merit, or if representing that position makes them look like an idiot.

    Otherwise they’d ineffective; they are largely talking to elected idiots, it’s important for them to speak the same hyperbolic language.

    • Nathan Haley

      That’s a really good idea, giving out AMA annual memberships with the sale of a new bike. It’s only $50 and it would go a long way toward helping new riders. The fact that the AMA hasn’t done that makes me wonder if they’re trying to keep their membership skewed toward their current demographic.

      I’m not really sure if the AMA has any evidence on the efficacy of its lobbying efforts but the only thing they seem to lobby for is mandatory helmet laws (and occasionally land-use laws). I guess they do a good job of spreading awareness of the legal issues in motorcycling but I wonder if that money might be better used elsewhere – lobbying is extremely expensive and rarely effective in the long term.

      • sharper86

        Lobbying as an advocacy tool can be effective (making a general statement here). The problem, IMO, is that the motorcycling community is relatively small, fractured and my guess is that motorcycling issues are not top of mind when many motorcyclists go to the voting booth. This clearly isn’t a recipe for success when our issues are pitted against other interests that enjoy greater or more cohesive support.

        I’ll admit that I don’t know much about what AMA does with member dues, but I would join in a heartbeat if they spent time educating cities on how being more friendly to motorcyclists could improve parking, traffic and air quality. I live in DC where designated motorcycle parking is woefully inadequate.

        • stever

          I am so into this. I’m similar to a gun voter in that I will vote against anybody who tries to take lane-splitting, but your comment, which I misread a little, also made me see how an organization like the AMA could put pressure on city and state politicians to rationalize things like parking. There are places that have painted lines marking parallel parking and force motorcyclists to use an entire space, when we can just fit right between two bumpers, taking up zero spaces. Sensible sidewalk parking, too. There are also really slippery road treatments that shouldn’t be used, like the stuff in railroad crossings that looks like plastic.

          There’s also the fact that car motorists can get away with maiming and killing us because there’s nothing between manslaughter and “whoopsies!” No jury of drivers will destroy a driver’s life with a manslaughter conviction, which is probably too much, but maybe something stricter than “shoulda yielded! $140 fine!” would stick and make people drive better.

        • Heather McCoy

          I detest the very existance of lobbyists (people who are PAID to influence my congressmen/-women), but they’re not going away any time soon. They are PAID to get attention and stir things up in order to influence congress. I’m sure Mr.Allard knows this would get a good chuckle from my remarks before announcing “mission accomplished”. The AMA (and Mr.Allard) are also addressing many of the issues you mentioned, albeit at a federal level. If you do a little digging, you’ll see that they’ve worked to reverse city and local ordinances that restrict motorcyle access in public places, HOV lanes, parking lots, etc. The entire point of my last paragraph was that maybe if membership were bigger and stronger, it would be better and more relevant.

          • Stuki

            As long as Congress critters enjoy carte blanche to decimate the lives and livelihoods of whomever they fancy, those whose lives and livelihoods are in the crosshairs have little choice but to pony up ever increasing sums to try to nudge our overlords to redirect their harassment urge towards someone else for a little while. IOW, Lobbyists are just a symptom. The underlying disease is that which makes them worth vile employing.

            • Heather McCoy

              Very, very well-said!

        • Smittyman

          I, like sharper86, would also join AMA, but they don’t seem to be moving in the right direction for most motorcyclists. I attending the International Motorcycle Show here in DC and they were nowhere to be found. How can they afford not being present in one of the largest motorcycle shows in the U.S. where they can interact with the motorcycle community?

      • Heather McCoy

        You mean pro-diversity, equal representation, and logic = anti-conservativism? There’s nothing partisan about anything I wrote.

        • Nathan Haley

          I assume you’re trying to reply to someone else because I also haven’t brought partisanship into the discussion.

          but as long as I’m here, I might as well note that values such as diversity and gender/racial equality are *generally* stronger among liberal voters and politicians, but I would never insist that conservatism is inherently anti-diversity, anti-equality or anti-logic. There is a correlation between progressive liberalism and equality advocacy, but I would not try to claim that it is causal, let alone definitional.

          • Heather McCoy

            You’re right, Nathan; reply was for someone else (sorry); using my iPhone to reply has proved to be an exercise in frustration!
            I totally agree with your above comments.

        • Stuki

          The AMA ought to focus on motorcycle related issues. Narrowly defined. Who gives a toot about equal representation and other trite, old liberal talking points? Makes about as much sense as if Fox News lamented the AMA didn’t focus enough on how to protect our “freedom to ride from the terrorists”…..

          In general, as a small minority; democracy is not your friend. Our vote don’t count anyway. Scaring unlimited hordes of clueless cage apes into casting a vote for some sleazeball who promises to save the healthcare system from abuse by those bad motorcyclists who relish on cracking their skulls on your tab, is just much more lucrative vote wise. In America, one of the few salient sentiments that are holding said opportunistic sleazers back in the slightest from doing just that, is some vague notion still present, that knowingly and wantonly stomping all over other people’s every conceivable right to live their own life as they see fit without constant harassment, is somehow sort of Amti American. It may be a dying sentiment in this age of well indoctrinated drones pumped out by the millions by government funded indoctrination institutions, but for now, it is still there. Probably slightly more so on the hard/libertarian right than on the left, even though I’m seeing more and more from that side of the spectrum coming around to at least looking into the long dormant anarchist strain of liberal thought.

          Anyway, motorcycle policy should be written by motorcyclists, if by anyone at all. Not by anyone who can simultaneously fog a mirror and be carted along to take part in some “democracy” ritual. Absent that, motorcycle policy is best not written. As in, Cali style no law either for or against lane spiting. Nor for or against helmet use. Nor parking your bike wherever it fits as long as you are not blatantly inconveniencing others. Etc., etc. Like Cali lane splitting demonstrates, that fly under the radar approach works. Something bending over and hoping the 99% horde of non riders should somehow bother to ask their preferred overlords to specifically write into law, simply won’t.

          • Piglet2010

            “…anarchist strain of liberal thought….”

            Oxymoron. But not surprising, due to how the meaning of liberal has been perverted in common discourse.

            • Stuki

              If that “Most Successful Nigerian Scam of all time”, achieved one good thing, it was to rub it in to quite a few self described liberals, that concentrated power isn’t really friendly to the common man, no matter how ardently it proclaim to fight for them, instead of for the ones that cut it’s checks.

              As with most other fads these days, the new found popularity of “anarchism” on the left, may not go much deeper than hip sounding sound bytes, but at least it is a start. Besides, for kids growing up today, “democracy” and “rule of law” was something their boring parents paid allegiance to. While having nothing to show for it but getting fleeced.

  • Nathan Haley

    This article hits the nail on the head. I don’t want to carry around a card in my wallet that says “Man Rider”, so I’m guessing women don’t want one that says “Woman Rider”. How about we just have a card that says “Rider”?

    Also – when is the AMA going to fund an up-to-date Hurt Report (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurt_Report)? Or an American version of this study on motorcycling gear safety?


    • katesy

      That card is embarrassing. Just give me the same card as everyone else, please.

    • Piglet2010

      “Man Rider” could be interpreted more than one way.

      • Kemal Kautsar

        “can i see your ID, sir?”
        “ofcourse, officer”
        *sees “man rider” card*
        “okay, move along”

    • hairpinz

      Last time I signed up, they asked me which card I wanted. Race card, Women’s card, Kawi or KTM card. Seriously not a big deal. They’re trying to make the female demographic happy by offering a card some people probably requested.

      • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

        This? This is my Race card…


      • Literdude

        Do you have to have a Kawi or KTM to get those cards? For that matter, do you have to be a woman to get the Women’s card?

    • Scheffy

      To be fair, they did have another study lined up with support and funding from Congress and a bunch of motorcycle manufacturers, aaaaaaand then the economy crapped itself. The manufacturers bailed since they were losing cubic meters of cash daily when people stopped buying bikes for an indefinite amount of time, leading to the scale of study being cut, leading to more funding cuts, and round and round. Eventually even the MSF disowned the effort because it had been scaled back so far that the results would have been statistically indeterminant.


      • Nathan Haley

        Given the human-economic cost of motorcycle fatalities and injuries (millions a year, if not more), the benefits of conducting and distributing findings from such a study would far outweigh the cost (by orders of magnitude). When over 5,000 people are dying a year (and hundreds of thousands more are seriously injured) because of lack of awareness about motorcycle safety measures, there’s no question that a study would be worth the cost. It was worth the cost during the recession, too – but if that’s their best excuse to not to fund the study, they’ve run out of excuses.

      • Nathan Haley

        Given the human-economic cost of motorcycle fatalities and injuries (many thousands a year, each of which costs thousands of dollars), the benefits of conducting and distributing findings from such a study would far outweigh the cost (by orders of magnitude). When over 5,000 people are dying a year (and thousands more are seriously injured) because of lack of awareness about motorcycle safety measures, there’s no question that a study would be worth the cost. It was worth the cost during the recession, too – but if that’s their best excuse to not to fund the study, they’ve run out of excuses.

        I think there’s a sentiment that motorcycle riders – “outlaws” that they are – are forfeiting their right to government-sponsored safety. This should not be the case.

  • Guest

    You give a list of reasons the AMA sucks but then encourage people to join? Interesting.

    I’ve been an AMA member for years and, while they could certainly do better, I agree with their stance on most issues ‒ including some of the ones you took issue with.

    • Nathan Haley

      Noting the AMA’s problems and then encouraging the RideApart readership to join and try to change it actually makes perfect sense.

      • Michael Howard

        Which is why I deleted my comment, but all that accomplishes is changing it to a “Guest” comment. This needs to be fixed.

  • Alpha_Geek_Mk2

    But… I *am* an AMA member! Just got my 5-year pin, too.

    Then again, I’m a 30-year-old white male, so… :shrug:

  • wbizzle

    Heather, I know you stated that you did not have access to the ethnic backgrounds of AMA members while writing this story, but I was wandering which colors and features you were using to determine the ethnic backgrounds of hispanics and asians? Or any other face of color?

    I am not currently a member of the AMA, but do support recent changes in their stance on lane-splitting. Maybe that will influence a change in my future. Seems a pretty unifying idea and practice for motorcyclists.


    • stever

      if you’ve been around long enough, you can tell an old-ass white guy on sight.

    • Heather McCoy

      I looked for skin, hair, and eye-color generally associated with major ethnic groups. Pretty much the same colors and features everybody else uses when making snap decisions about total strangers.

      • Piglet2010

        Spend some time in Hawaii, and you will learn that people of Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Filipino descent look nothing alike.

        • wbizzle

          I was thinking along the same lines, but according to this article they would all be asian, so what is the difference?

        • Heather McCoy

          Major. Ethnic. Groups. Not nationalities.

  • Generic42

    Just signed up last month, hoping to make them more about what I need.

  • Randy S

    “… a recipe card printed on the back.”

    ROFLMAO. I’m going to have to remember that one for the wife the next time someone (inevitably) throws a sexist elbow her way.

  • Tiberiuswise

    I’m a 46 year old white male who has been riding for most his life. I joined a while ago because a rally I wanted to go to required membership. I let it expire because I had no use for the paper magazine they sent and really saw no benefit to the membership.

    I know I’m mostly wrong about the no benefit part but when it comes time to write that check to renew, I just couldn’t pull the trigger. Maybe I didn’t know what their real reason for being was. Agree or disagree, with the NRA its pretty clear. AMA, not so much. Also fctor in how small the AMA is. Its just kind of hard to back a loser.

    My final thought is the annual membership. Ain’t nobody got time for that. I just went to their website and after a good 5 minutes I couldn’t find a clearly stated price for a lifetime membership. Sure there’s links about Life Member Plus and what not but you can’t get past the welcome screen without giving an email address. Come on.

    • Heather McCoy

      Lol…don’t even get me started on that website. There’s a little bald spot in the back of my head and some hair stuck in my fingernails that explains it all.

    • Smittyman

      Interesting…the problems with their website could reflect the generational gap mentioned earlier that suffers from low technological expertise.

  • Michael Howard

    The AMA tries to block legislation that restricts motorcyclists. Despite helmet use being a good thing, legislation mandating it is not. There ARE those in Washington who believe motorcycles are too dangerous and should be outlawed. Don’t think it can happen? ATCs (3-wheeled All Terrain Cycles) got banned in the 80′s. That is the kind of legislation that can happen once the ball starts rolling. Even if you love your helmet, allowing the government tell you to wear it just opens the door to more restrictive legislation. That is why the AMA is against a helmet law.

    • stever

      And yet, the only free state in the entire USA has a mandatory helmet law. We’re still splitting lanes in California, a decade and a half after our helmet law.


      ps: Three-wheel ATVs were banned because they are a inherently dangerous. Motorcycles are only dangerous when used dangerously. When three-wheelers are used as intended–as advertised in the commercials you can see on YouTube–they flip over and kill you. That is why selling them in America is illegal. It is also illegal to sell Thalidomide, asbestos, and cars that pump exhaust into the cabin.

      • Michael Howard

        “Motorcycles are only dangerous when used dangerously”.

        Riding on public roads in traffic isn’t dangerous? Oh kay.

    • Heather McCoy

      Michael, I studied the 3-wheel ATV thing extensively in my epidemiology class while in my doctoral program at Columbia (which included a 2-year residency in neurosurgery, by the way). The things were death-traps. So much so, that the ATV industry VOLUNTARILY AGREED TO STOP MAKING THEM; they weren’t “banned”. A mandatory helmet law will no more open the bowels of the earth and suck us all inside than the mandatory seatbelt law, speed limits, the ban on asbestos, or expiration dates on food.

      • Michael Howard

        Neurosurgery, huh? Wow. You’ve totally convinced me how wrong I was. I stand corrected, informed and newly-educated. But I’m still saddened that some people are so eager and happy to be told what to do.

        • Heather McCoy

          Ba-a-a-a…it’s a familiar sound. Me, too.

      • Piglet2010

        The other side of the coin is that society as a whole would be better off with some natural selection “thinning the herd”.

  • chris ordanez

    Anyone that knowingly sells you a broken product can’t be relied upon to fix that product after you’ve given them your money.

    When someone else — someone that realizes that we’re in the 21st century — steps in to address the issues that the AMA should be tackling, I’ll gladly throw them fifty bucks.

  • J. Brandon

    Thanks for writing this, Heather. I agree that the AMA needs to change if it wants to be at all relevant to riders who don’t look like me–a middle-aged, gray-haired white guy. I’m also an AMA member and don’t find much in American Motorcyclist that interests me. There was a lot that could have been better about the 2012 women’s conference in Carson City. I was there. I live in the area. And I got to meet, hang out with, and ride with some really terrific people, most of whom also happen to be women. So I’m going to keep my AMA membership. And I hope to see you at the next AMA women’s conference.

    • Heather McCoy

      You’re welcome! Glad you got to ride with the girls at the last conference; still smarts that I had to miss that one! I was the poster girl for the event in ’09 (literally; that’s me on the Monster below) and was crushed over the lousy timing, having purchased my GP tickets months in advance. Keeping my fingers crossed for the next one!

      • Tigra Tsujikawa

        I was the manager of the conference in both ’09 and ’11. I am an Asian , female street, dirt and amateur racer.
        The advisory council for both conferences were women who wanted an event where we could have both general riding information and female specific info like on gear, women’s clubs, women’s health and to highlight prominent women riders. I’d like to point out to you that there is no presenting sponsor for the 2011 conference, meaning in the midst of the economic crash when the motorcycling industry had to abandon any women’s programs, the AMA still produced the conference.
        The timing was unfortunate, not intended to exclude race fans, as I explained to you then and now, it was a collision of event scheduling.
        The conference is only financially possible every 2 to 3 years-there are a lot of factors why this is, but the lack of support from women riders like yourself is a strong reason why it is difficult to gain sponsor and media support to help the AMA supplement the costs. My hope was that more women would choose to participate in an event rather than be a spectator in an annual event.
        We did broadcast the races at the conference and had the FIM women’s council present at the event. We were in full support of the women racing at Laguna Seca.
        You critisize the AMA for how it fights for what it stands for, yet don’t recognize that the AMA is the only organization who fights for the rights of ALL motorcyclist (and if you believe there are no opponents to motorcycling then you are not seeing the whole picture) when the rider has no other representation.
        I recently canceled my AMA membership because I was looking at one issue, one time that I believed was handled the wrong way. After reading your article and the comments against the AMA-I reinstated my membership. It’s far from perfect, but I realize I have no hope in effecting the outcome if I am not a member.
        Last word about “the next conference” that you hope to attend-if you and other riders do not support the AMA through membership, how do you think the AMA will be able to continue to produce events, programs, ALL types of racing and riding??

        • Heather McCoy

          Tigre, I just wrote a very public article going out to tens of thousands of readers that ended by imploring them to support via membership. How could you possibly say I don’t support them? I reviewed five reasons that I an many others do not feel valued, yet I maintain my membership AND I explained why. I’m sorry to offend you with my feelings about the last women’s conference, but with three years to plan, I just can’t understand the decisions that were made. I also continued my very vocal, public support of the conference prior to the event, despite my personal feelings, as you may recall. I’m also sorry that my whole intent, which was to rally support and enthusiasm to make a flailing institution healthier was lost on you.

  • Richard Gozinya

    So, you make the argument that the AMA is a dinosaur, not worth the $49 a year membership dues, then tell us to give them our money anyways? The first thing someone has to do to get me to pay them money, is to earn it. The AMA does not do this. They won’t change, no matter how many people join them. And the hard truth of it is, they don’t have any interest in changing. If they did, they wouldn’t have hired Wayne Allard.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Hear, Hear!

    • roma258

      This. I just don’t see them changing any time soon and don’t feel like contributing $50 to the NRA of motorcycling. If another sensible org steps up to the plate, I’d happy to toss some money at them. Even attend a meeting or something.

      • Gonfern

        My thoughts exactly. They are just as nutty and unreasonable in their law oppositions. The difference is the NRA is 1:successful and 2: doing it to protect the profits of the gun industry. Supporting helmet laws would help companies who make or sell helmets MAKE MONEY!! Shouldnt they be trying to help the business? Yes, protect the land for riding….which you are doing a terrible job of…try to find a public property that allows riding in the Northeast. Yes keep fighting to legalize lane splitting…oh wait, you arent. Yes keep fighting the evil ethanol push. Yes keep fighting unfair motorcycle traffic laws. But for God’s sake pretend to be a modern reflection of the American motorcyclist.Encourage them to be safe, and portray us as sane, responsible, calculated motorists who have more care and attention on the road than anyone else. Fighting the helmet laws makes us look like suicidal nutcases…and thats never going to win over the CNN sensational dumbass cager population.

    • Heather McCoy

      An eternal optimist. Guilty as charged.
      And, I can’t blame you, Richard.
      Maybe I’ll run for the next open position…

      • NextTurn

        …and why shouldn’t you? I heard more good ideas from you in this one article than I have ever heard from the AMA. That is probably why none of the riders in my family are members. I would gladly join if some one was pointing it in the right direction rather than down the same roped off road.

      • PJ

        Seriously – run! With the following of rideapart alone – I’m sure that’s a good enough backing majority!

    • Lee Scuppers

      People used to say basically that about the NRA, then the membership more or less seized power and changed things. However, nobody in national politics wants to ban private ownership of motorcycles, so it’s hard to get people motivated. The 1994 Assault Weapons Ban created the modern gun rights movement. Is there anything we can do to antagonize some authoritarian retards like Feinstein and Pelosi? Short of a full bore paranoid moral panic at that level, the grassroots mobilization ain’t happening.

      But then again, if they’re not out to get you, you don’t *need* to fight them. Seriously, guys, you don’t need or want those headaches. It’s a depressing pain in the #ss to have millions of ignorant retards who hate you for no sane reason, and vote accordingly.

      Also, if you want a hip cool organization full of younger riders who give a sh#t who Connor Oberst is, start one. The reason the AMA is old white dudes is they showed up and you didn’t. Would you rather nobody had showed up?

      • Stuki

        The most obvious problem with leveling your guns exclusively at California liberals, is that in all those supposedly less authoritarian states, you can’t even lane split……… Land of the free and the traffic suffocated…. Great!

        Not saying the liberals aren’t deserving of any ire directed their way. Just that the grass ain’t all that green anywhere anymore.

        • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

          I was gonna say, NRA’s not doing a great job fighting for the rights of gun owners here in California. Mostly because this isn’t the south or the midwest. Folks weren’t raised to shoot. Its not a family past-time. So when they see a gun they go crazy and want to stop it. Kindof like motorcycles. If NRA was able to make guns safe and fun for the family, AMA should be able to do the same with motorcycles.

        • Lee Scuppers

          Those were just the two names that popped into my head — coulda been Bloomberg and Schumer on another day. I was thinking national politics, not CA local concerns, which, I agree. Fair point there. I plead bourbon. Very good bourbon.

      • Gonfern

        First of all props on the Connor Obrest reference. Lol. Second, you want to see full bore moral panic? Suit up and join your 4 buddies to take a Sunday morning ride through Long Island or anywhere I the NYC area. Watch how quickly soccer moms whip out their cell phones and how fast roadblocks pop up and your bikes impounded for whatever god knows reason. New York has budgeted 2014 for a “Motorcycle Task Force” yeah…a group of cops that your taxes paid for only to harass you. 2 laws proposed that would make any application of throttle or brake deemed unnecessary and wreckless driving offense and any damage to property caused by a motorcyclist reason for loss of license. That means it would be effectively illegal to crash your bike in NY. Moral panic? That little Rate Rocer stunt was the columbine of motorcycles.

        • Piglet2010

          Er, “Conor Oberst” (hey, I Googled it – no clue who he is otherwise).

          Maybe the NYPD should police themselves – two cops were present during the incident: one did nothing, while the other smashed the rear window of the Range Rover. Where were the on-duty cops 15 minutes after the first 911 call, and where were they when Hollywood Stuntz members had been riding for hours before hand on obviously non-street legal vehicles such as quads and dirt bikes?

          It seems those of us who do not live in NYC (the majority, despite what the media implies) have yet more reasons to be grateful for our good fortune.

        • Vin

          Any details of this so called New York “Motorcycle Task Force”? As a motorbike commuter on Long Island, I would love some more information.

    • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

      It surprises me to me that people are compelled to give AMA their money and sign up, not because they agree with the AMA, but because they disagree with the AMA and want to change it. It’s 2014. If you want to start your own group and stand up for the things you feel are important its NEVER been easier to do that.

      • Lee Scuppers

        My point though was that it may be easier to change the AMA than roll yer own.

        On the other hand, Alan Gura is the 2A rock star of the last decade, and who but movement gun nuts has even heard of SAF? So what the heck. The more the merrier.

        Of course, my other point was, people don’t hate riders enough for it to be an issue.

        • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

          This is going to sound retarded but I don’t believe democracy works on a national scale. If you want to get things done you need to have a decent number of people in ONE area. Me giving money to AMA for them to fight for more trails in another state doesnt do anything for me. If I want something done around here i’m better off forming a smaller, more localized coalition here at home and focus on making changes here.

  • luxlamf

    I do not know much about the AMA, what I have heard in the past never made me even consider becoming a member, it appears to be a HOG type organization that HD gives you for free for a year after a bike purchase and as the author states its old white guys and people who want to mill about parking lots wearing the Corp Logo like its a Gang and talk about riding. I own 2 bikes, i HD 1 Triumph and I still see no reason to join the AMA, just like I am a Gun owner and see no reason to join the NRA, I have met very few people in ether organization that are well educated etc… and instead people who like to spout out FOX news headlines.

    • Heather McCoy

      Precisely why I wrote the article. I hate it that this seems to be such a common perception (and to find so much fuel for that particular fire).

    • Michael Howard

      The AMA isn’t “people who want to mill about parking lots … and talk about riding”. They’re a political lobbying group.

      • luxlamf

        Hence why I wrote that in describing the similarities between them and the HOG organization, Lots of people talking and nobody Doing anything. I have met some very intelligent and artistic/creative people in the MCing world, what they all appear to have in common is that they “Ride” their bikes and often, don’t drape themselves in Corp logos like Pirate HD guy or Power Ranger or Hipster types who ride to be seen etc.. unfortunately they are few and far between. Lots of talking, little riding gong on out there but T-shirt and patch sales are way up.

  • http://www.eastwestbrothersgarage.com/ East-West Brothers Garage

    The other problem is that any attempt to create a competing organization to bring some level of interest from other kinds of riders or to offer a more substantive perspective on important topics is typically met with disdain. If the AMA is unwilling to change its ways, then it should lumber out of the way like the dinosaur it is to allow for another organization to help fill in the gaps and take on the real issues that matter to American motorcycle riders who do not own a cruiser.

  • Fava d’Aronne

    The only reason why I am a member is their motorcycle AND car roadside assistance. I have used it twice, and it gives me peace of mind. However, when I read their magazine I cringe a little: even when I agree on certain things (E15), their tone puts me away. Plus, they support a lot of stuff that is only relevant if you ride dirt bikes in the country. nothing wrong with that, just not me. If anybody wants to create a new association which really does stuff which is relevant to all the people that are not represented by AMA, I would gladly switch.

    • Heather McCoy

      The infrastructure for a less-partisan orginazation are already in place. Maybe we should all just start letting them know what we want?

  • Davidabl2

    This is a question that has just occurred to me..and I haven’t researched it yet, so i’m asking people who have.

    While the AMA itself is unarguably lame (by and large doing dumb stuff instead of smarter stuff) there are worthy organizations that are AMA-affiliated(or sanctioned) motorcycle clubs. My local SanFrancisco Motorcycle Club comes to mind (http://www.sf-mc.org) which has been in the AMA since 1924..Why not join a similar club and try to get your club to put pressure on the AMA..It could be an additional reason to join one of these clubs..especially IF you can join one of them w/o joining the AMA..I think i’ll go over to the SFMC clubhouse next Thursday(meeting night) and find out..

    • Stuki

      I agree with that. Most laws affecting Motorcycles (lane splitting parking, currently even helmets), are state and local. Part of the reason why the AMA is so focused on helmet laws, is that those are one of the few MC related issues of any kind that gets mentioned in DC.

      • Davidabl2

        If the AMA were doing the job it should be doing there’d be MORE motorcycle related issues being mentioned in DC

        • Stuki

          Be careful what you ask for……

  • http://www.karinajean.com/ karinajean

    “One can only imagine the number of vacuum cleaners given to wives as anniversary presents from members of that planning committee.”

    ZOMG you win the internets with this one.

    seriously though, I’ve always been kind of quietly super against joining the AMA. so if I do join, how do I get them to change? is there, like, a chance to write in and make them different?

    • Heather McCoy

      Maybe a perfectly legitimate, objectively neutral question in a very public forum, like their Facebook page, would prompt an answer. Something like, “How does the AMA respond to member feedback?” or “If I join, how do I know you will appropriately listen to me?” or maybe “Does the AMA represent it’s members, or do members join in with the policies and position the AMA already represents?”

  • Heather McCoy

    They did issue a policy statement on lane-splitting. In short, they support it. http://rideapart.com/2014/01/5-reasons-arent-ama-member/

    • Smittyman

      Heather, I can’t find the publication date of this article. Any ideas when this was done?

      • Heather McCoy

        As best I can tell, they quietly issued the statement in early November (2013). There was a flurry of internet reports about it in mid-December, and it was published in the January issue of American Motorcyclist, but yeah, no dates anywhere.

  • Thierry Roullier

    I went to their museum near Columbus OH last year. Manicured landscaping, great architecture…and only 2 motorcycle visitors… While I enjoyed the museum greatly I was startled by the very luxurious setting and thought they probably should spend their money on causes more directly related to motorcycling.

    • James Foley

      I was also taken aback by the lack of bikes. The staff parking lot didn’t have a single one.

  • IRS4

    I’ve been a (white male) member since I started serious street riding in ’92, and I’m 45 now. The Nattering Nannies of Negativity would have us all off our bikes in a second if not opposed. And as a dual sport rider, I’ve seen the push to close publics lands to motorized recreation when working with the organizers of the Barstow to Vegas run and The Ride for Kids. We do have real enemies in Washington.

  • CaptainPlatypus

    Joining an organization to beat it from within is all well and good, but the AMA needs a beating. When it stops trying to fight mandatory helmet laws and starts fighting for legal lane sharing outside of California, we can talk.

    • Stuki

      It’s a lot easier to seem consistent if you fight against all infringements against riders’ autonomy to make their own risk/reward decisions, than if you only fight for the currently hip ones. “Just leave us bikers alone” ain’t a bad stance for a political MC organization.

      • Literdude

        Apparently it is, if so many riders are avoiding membership based on that one issue.

        “Leave us bikers alone” is a consistent way to take a stance on all issues, but it doesn’t seem like a terribly smart one. “We’ll look to current scientific research to keep motorcyclists safe” would also be consistent. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a position of principle that causes one’s positions to change over time. As Keynes (is alleged to have) said, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

    • Smittyman

      I agree with you CaptainPlatypus. AMA needs to stop fighting mandatory helmet laws and get on board with lane sharing outside of California. I think the public in general would welcome getting more cars off the road if that meant reducing traffic on our streets.

  • KyleandInhye Allen

    I joined AMA in LA at the age of 29 when I rode my VFR 800 home and discovered a nail in my tire. What would I have done if this happened to me alone on PCH or Angeles Crest? I only had a bike then and $49 a year bought me flat-bed towing with very generous miles plus assurance that if this happened on my way to San Fran AMA would even deliver me parts if something happened. AMA towing was great when I crashed that VFR in Hollywood and the time I rode home with a flat on my Aprilia Tuono and needed to get towed from Hollywood to Burbank. They’ve come to the rescue when buddies crashed deep up Angeles Crest. I got it for the roadside assistance and it pays off handsomely.

    Plus AMA gives you discounts on car rentals, hotels (up to 15%), parts, and they saved me a ton (in the $hundreds) when I shipped my bike from LA to the Mid West later on. Why Join AMA? Save $$$. WAY cheaper than AAA, they send out FLAT-BED trucks. OH, and that $49 buys you this kind of roadside assistance for ALL of your vehicles, including your cars – no limit. They bring gas, do lock-outs, tires, batteries, you name it. I have overall used AMA more for my cars than even bikes.

    I’m not Mr. pro-lobbyist either but just a few things AMA is working on now: making sure Ethanol 15 is not being pumped into your motorcycle engine, working to ban motorcycle only check points that have been going on, fighting legislation against too loud pipes or even having aftermarket pipes, off road land use, and insurance companies raping you because you ride a sportbike or employers who won’t give insurance to people to ride. On top of that you get a half-decent small magazine monthly featuring vintage bikes and news or racing coverage. AMA operates a large motorcycle hall of fame, supports racing at nearly all levels and kinds, and runs things like the AMA Vintage days every summer.

    PS: I don’t know what a “male” card is for AMA– I have a slick silver looking one or you can choose brands like KTM or Kawasaki to be on your card. BTW: who cares about the card? Keep the number in your cell phone and call when you need service.

    • Piglet2010

      “…fighting legislation against too loud pipes…”

      The primary reason I have hesitated to join.

      • Stuki

        As long as the legislation is written to target MCs specifically, it is asinine in the purest. I hate noise more than pretty much anyone I have ever met, but to harass a minority like motorcyclists, while letting similar db ratings slide for cars, planes, yappy dogs, helicopters, weedwhackers, lawmovers, sirens, delivery van backup beepers, loud diesel city buses etc. which combine to assault ones senses infinitely more often than the odd bike pipe, is about as perfect an example of the flaws inherent in mindlessly parroting the “democracy gooooood” mantra as one can find.

        • Piglet2010

          I might agree, except for the “Loud Pipes Save Lives” crowd, that intentionally irritates others.

          And other than high-powered rifles, very few things (including racing cars and motorcycles) are louder than V-twin straight pipes that are designed to increase noise through resonance and lack of back pressure resulting in fuel combustion continuing in the pipe. The loudest race prepped bikes I have been around during a track day are mild compared to some of the cruiser idiots’ bikes.

          Aircraft? There are very few airports any more where low-bypass turbofan transport aircraft can legally operate, and many have special flight procedures to reduce noise.

          • Stuki

            On any given day, do you really receive more aural assault from cruiser pipes than from yaptrash, weed whackers and police sirens and helicopters? Or even car horns? Do you live upstairs from a biker bar or something? And commercial planes are rarely the problem. Their flight patterns are pretty well restricted, and their engines muffled, as you state. Much worse are low flying single engines, no doubt flown by people lobbying their darndest to prevent those they fly above from riding their “loud bikes” down their particular street……

            Noise is noise. I’m all for $100 per db, paid to each person whose ears you assault with said sound, regardless of source. But unless it’s any fine is levied with that kind of consistency and impartialness, you’re not fighting noise, but rather just finding “someome that ain’t like us” to harass.

            • Piglet2010

              When people start deliberately modifying their power lawn care equipment to make more noise and claim it is for safety, I will put then in the same category as the cruiser idiots.

      • Joe Bar

        The laws they are fighting are ineffective, draconian, or just plain stupid. The AMA has proposed reasonable, enforceable legislative alternatives to them. They are not pro-noise.

        • Piglet2010

          Mobile crushers for bikes ridden on the street that have straight pipes is not draconian. Even most race tracks these days will kick you out if you show up with straight pipes – their sole purpose is to annoy and offend people in public spaces.

          P.S. Anyone know of an aftermarket exhaust for a TW200 that will make the bike *less* noisy than stock?

    • Tune

      I plan on starting to ride this spring and I’m glad I read this comment to verify my thoughts on an AMA membership. Honestly, I’m getting an AMA membership for the discounts like bikebandit so I can save a lot of money on my gear, AAA, and I’m not sure if it affects insurance or not but it’s an option with insurance to ask if you are part of any groups like AMA, so maybe.

  • Cory McNair

    I am an AMA member because it is not ABATE.

  • Nate Terrill

    Based on the demographics discussed in this article, I doubt that they need to bring in a failed politician to turn the AMA “red”. That being said, I, for one, feel that it is absolutely still cool to be a thorn in the side of the President. In fact, Democrat, Republican, Whig, Know Nothing, whatever the party, it is a duty of every citizen to be engaged in how our country is being governed and to voice our opposition if it is not being run as we see fit. The thing is, there are MUCH bigger issues to be thorny about when it comes to this administration and it’s predecessor.

  • Ray

    They have always been a red organization. (I’m 49, and have been a member since 1984 or so.) Wes and I have batted this around here in the comments before. For years, I tried to get them to abandon the personal freedom rhetoric borrowed from the NRA. They only report it when Republican candidates, like Ben Nighthorse Cambell and Tommy Thompson, are also riders. Not Gabby Giffords, not John Kerry. In the rest of the world, motorcycles are green transportation. But environmentalists, due to their perceived hostility to dirt bikes, are not included in the fold. Ultimately, what it amounts to is that the Association started as a lobbying group for motorcycle manufacturers, and it’s still largely a captive organ, eve though they hanged the name to American “Motorcyclist” Association and spun off the manufacturer’s association. It uses the numbers, 200k motorcyclists to essentially magnify and bring leverage to the will of American motorcycle manufacturers. Let’s see, which right-leaning, red state American motorcycle manufacturer do you think has the association’s ear? It’s about time the group represented their members rather than pushed an agenda favoring their vip constituents and funders…. I think it’s about time to start an alternative motorcycle organization that actually represents its membership, in all its diversity: by gender, by ethnicity, by political stripe.

    • Ray

      Or we foist an internal effort…

  • The Flying Kiwi

    Good article, just undermined by the unnecessary anti-conservative undertone.

    • Heather McCoy

      So, pro-diversity, equal representation, and logic = “anti-conservative tone”? There’s nothing partisan about anything I wrote. If that’s your take-away, sounds like the conservative movement has a branding problem.

    • Luke

      I think it’s more “anti-political” tone, than “anti-conservative” tone. Lobbying is about one thing – making money. The way to make money (in lobbying circles) is to get people paranoid and angry. Conservatives do it best with the NRA, but liberals do it as well with some of their more egregious environmental lobbies. I’m a gun owner and can’t join the NRA because I believe they are unreasonable in tone and spend most of their time trying to make me fear instead of finding solutions. I’m a motorcycle owner and I can’t join the AMA for the same reasons.

      I want an industry trade group, not a political lobby. One that exists to promote the hobby, encourage safe behavior, and ideally change the preconceived notion that so many folks have of what “motorcyclists are like”. HD did a good job when they created the HOGs and in general did a round of heavy and effective brand management. Now that bikes are becoming cool to young folks again (not just cruiser riders), the rest of the industry needs to do the same.

      An effective AMA IMO would sponsor studies, promote safety standards in gear and training, encourage youth activities, encourage High School auto shops to cover motorcycles, provide motorcycle mechanics with certifications, work with insurance companies for simpler standard policies, promote motorcycle sports and customizing, work with manufacturers to create standards, etc… I’d love to get a letter in mail from the AMA at the start of each riding season with suggested parking lot drills to keep my skills sharp. None of those things are fear based, they are all ways to move the hobby forward.

  • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

    To be fair to the ama, they do things according to whatever is the most popular opinion among their mbership. Its just like america: too much voting and democracy and nothing ever gets done the way it should.

    Im not an ama member because they dont do anything for california. Theyll fight for trails in whatever part of the country is easiest to get trails, which usually is the last place that needs more.

    I hate to say this but californians need to just do their own thing.

  • Larry

    I remember taking my ex to the Toronto Supershow one January when she was making noise about getting a scooter. I was psyched…I mean that’s the dream, a girl who rides. The plan was to check out different models, gear, riding schools…but as soon as we walked in the door, I knew I had a problem. Almost immediately, I was filled with an overpowering sense of embarrassment at how lame so much of “biker” culture is. All the corny/racist/sexist novelty gear, the beer guts, the tackiness that I somehow manage to ignore when I go to these shows by myself, suddenly it could not be denied. I could imagine what she was thinking…”THIS is what you spend all of your time on?” As usual, the place was crawling with Hooter girls, AMS Oil girls, Oxford Heated Grip Girls…and after taking all of this in she finally said “you know, all of this is sending me the message ‘go away, this is not for you’”. I should point out, she was no prude…she was stripping her way through law school when we met…but she never did get a scooter. And she would have never joined a group like the AMA, not because it’s offensive, but because it’s eye-rollingly lame.

  • Starmag

    I’m a middle aged white male. This article and comment section makes it seem like a disease.

    • Heather McCoy

      Don’t dispair; I’m actually married to a middle-aged white male (but my day gig’s in medicine).

  • Luke

    Nailed it on the Rhetoric comment (#2). I don’t need to join the “NRA of Motorcycles” – that’s just dumb. And it’s likely turning into a MORE consistent (and smaller) group with that type of nonsense.

  • cloroxbb

    Question: What does being a member of the AMA actually do for you? I dont see any incentive to become a member…

    • labradog

      It makes bikers look like jerks, in the same way the NRA makes gun owners look like jerks.

      • cloroxbb

        How so?

  • Heather McCoy

    Here’s why I don’t think we should throw the baby out with the bath water: http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/News/14-01-06/AMA_News_and_Notes_January_2014.aspx

  • A P

    Disclaimer: I am not a member of any motorcycle club, NGO or industry organization, I am not a professional journalist.

    Allard’s CDC reference may not be totally misplaced. Feb 2013, major media outlets pushed the “older riders more likely to be seriously injured in accidents than younger riders”. Well duh, older people are more likely to be injured falling down on the sidewalk too. But what was most interesting was that FIVE different writers penned variations based on one “published” study by a master’s student. The stories from all five writers were released within a couple days of the research paper being “published” online. The writers all included different heart-string-pulling personal interviews with older riders, many of which decided to stop riding after an accident, because the traffic is becoming too dangerous, their own reflexes are getting too slow or because family members finally convinced them to stop. (I can give specific details on this, but too long for comment section)

    Since when does ANY motorcycle story (other than those on the scale of the NYC biker/SUV riot) get that level of media/bureaucratic attention? The CDC may not be totally in charge of, or the only source of, motorcycle-negative research studies, but “road safety” studies do tend to focus on the “motorcycles are dangerous” aspect. The media, insurance lobby and “think of the children” safetycrats then use this research to influence public opinion, justify high insurance rates and get legislators to pass anti-motorcycle laws.

    • Heather McCoy

      I don’t disagree with you, AP. By far and away, MOST motojournalism, no matter the source, is so poorly researched and uncritiqued…well, let’s just say the bar is very, very low. Which is why I am very, very careful about what and how I write. The final question before I hit ‘send’ is always, “would my research professor hand this back to me with a scowl on her face?”. If the answer is ‘yes’, it’s not done.
      Mr. Allard is a lobbyist. He knows how to provoke a response, logic be damned. The unfortunate fallout is that it makes us all look like a bunch of logic-be-damned yahoos. The references I cited are assinine, no matter how you look at them.

      • A P

        The article I was referring to was run in mainstream media, (NY/LA Times, Health Today, and similar). It only repeated in motojournals after the first simultaneous circulation. The original intended audience for this article was not riders, but the general public. Particularly the families whose emotional appeals have never managed to convince Dad or Grandad it was time stop riding “because motorcycles are dangerous”. Now there are “statistics” and “research”and a set of horror stories from actual riders to show that aging riders should stop. And what is the average age of riders in North America? The last number I recall was, 48 years and rising. Incidentally, the AMA’s target demographic. OF COURSE the AMA lobbyists would notice.

        From what I could find, only one of the writers ever wrote motorcycle-oriented material prior to this article, mostly about gang activity. The funding source, beyond the researcher’s university, for the research was never mentioned.

        Although Allard may be a lobbyist with some polarizing positions, that doesn’t mean all of his observations are totally wrong. Newton is given genius stature today, but he was an run-of-the-mill alchemist as well as a mathematical visionary. Do we throw out the Three Laws because we now know turning lead into gold by conventional chemical/physical means is impossible?

        • Heather McCoy

          Agreed. I suspect Allard’s actual positions are not as polarizing as the language he chooses to describe them (which is just idiotic for the sake of attention, I hope). In both politics and mainstream media, just saying something is enough for people to perceive it’s truth. Like I said, logic be damned. I really try to be better than that, and appreciate that at least someone else out there doen’t just blindly accept whatever they read as the truth.

          • A P

            The AMA( and the rest of the motorcycle industry in North America, Europe and Australia) seem to be having real problems coming to grips with the idea that they are losing the battle to win hearts and minds in the general public. The general public is where most “new riders” must come from, as relying on the children of current riders to enter the sport just isn’t happening.

            Soichiro Honda realized where new riders had to come from and revolutionized the motorcycle market with “you meet the nicest people”. He managed to slip alternative transportation past the auto lobby then, but as the fight for vehicle market share heated up, motorcycles became recognized for the competition they were to car sales. Not that they would replace cars, but that motorcycles would draw consumer $$ away from car sales. I buy a much less expensive car than I otherwise might because I get my “performance fix” from my motorcycle.

            Plus, for good or ill, the days of smiling, fashionable suburban housewives zipping around helmet-less on Honda step-throughs are gone. ATGATT is the rule of the day, getting ready for a scoot around town running errands feels more like gearing up for a scene in a Mad Max sequel. Riders look imposing to the general public these days, whether the stereotype is bad-ass biker, crazy squid or just armoured up for the “inevitable” accident.

            Marketing a positive, fun-filled image to attract new riders is enough of a conceptual minefield without having the mass media, insurance lobbyists, legislators, police and everyone’s Mom hammering the general every turn with “motorcycles are dangerous” propaganda. Half-truths and lies repeated often enough become received wisdom.

            Agreed, trying to combat the propaganda with inflammatory language only makes existing riders look bad with the very people we should be trying to conscript. That includes those the AMA is supposed to be convincing in the corridors of gov’t and corporrate power.

            • Heather McCoy

              They’re either having a hard time coming to grip with this idea as you say, or are just adopting a ‘lalalala-I-can’t-hear-you’ posture. Honda’s “you meet the nicest people” campaign was light years (well, 40 or so years anyway) ahead of it’s time. The social norms of the 60′s in America weren’t ready for such a liberal concept as getting housewives out of the house and on to motorcycles. I’d love to see a modern spin-off of that campaign. I think it’d be a huge success.

              • A P

                I was too young to ride when “you meet” began, but many of my older sisters’ female friends did ride step-throughs. The rule was “no motorcycles” in my home, despite all my uncles and even an aunt who rode… in England. Go fig…

                Yes, it’s a very different world now, and it will take very careful thought and using new/innovative approaches, even if based on reviving an non-copyright-infringing version of “you meet the nicest people”. Ideally the entire industry cooperatively buys in, but history shows that’s not likely. So Ride Apart may be the most promising platform to kickstart the process.

                I mean this seriously, I have some ideas to help that type of project, but I am in no position to “sell” them to the powers that be in the motorcycle industry. I have tried approaching the local lower level management/operational people in many different segments of the industry, (training, dealers, racing/track school/days, clubs and just regular riders) and no one seems to want to take the time to gain an understanding of the information and concepts I have been researching and observing for many years.

                I’m not rich, and at 60+ years am not inclined to play Don Quixote for an industry that refuses to listen. By the same token, I am concerned that motorcycling may be irreparably damaged (particularly in North America) even withing my riding lifetime. Road racing, arguably the crown jewel of motorcycling is in dire straits everywhere except emerging markets. And once those emerging markets mature, what next? If the industry execs think they can get their retirement parachutes filled before the roof caves in, they will do nothing different than they are now. So part “grip” and part “lalala”. LOL!

                So if you and perhaps the editorial board here are interested, let me know if you would like me to contact you via one of the “standard” RideApart e-mail addresses.

                Thanks for listening.

                • Heather McCoy

                  Heather@RevGirl.com (new to RA and don’t think I have an email there. Yet.) very interested in your idea(s).

            • Piglet2010

              The motorcycle industry (outside of H-D) has an enemy in Hollywood, who has done more to “lose hearts and minds” than all the politicians could do if they tried. The worst 0.001% is promoted as being the norm.

              • A P

                Can’t comment on that, as I seldom watch Hollywood “action” movies which show negative “biker” stereotypes, or TV shows like Sons of Anarchy. I think most of the general public understand that The Wild Ones and SoA are not a true reflection of the reality, despite the fact biker gangs have been a problem for decades.

                I think the news media do more damage than “Hollywood” by consistently and persistently over-reporting motorcycle collisions/injuries/deaths and down-playing the fact car/truck drivers are actually responsible a majority of the time.

                The AMA is caught between highly polarized camps on many issues because riding communities and individuals hold extremely opposite views on fundamental issues. A Harley rider, sport biker and a dirt rider go into a bar. The only thing they can agree on is a motorcycle has two wheels. Unless it’s a sidecar.

  • Dave

    I have to say I am sort of ashamed to be a member of the AMA. I joined b/c I thought it was a requirement for a rally I did. I receive no benefit and am embarrassed about their fixation on E15, fear of the government, and the asinine comments about the CDC and helmet use. Rideapart should found the Global Rider Guild!

    • John

      If you don’t fear the government, you’re not paying attention.

      • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

        This stance shouldn’t change, regardless of which side of the same co(i)n is in power.

  • Dan Kearney

    I would join, but then I’d just be skewing the membership more towards the middle-aged white-guy demographic. . .And I ride a vintage bike too.

  • runnermatt

    Having been a lifetime car nut I joined the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) and started autocrossing. When I started riding I checked out the AMA website expecting something similar, which wasn’t what I found. I got the impression that the AMA was for Harley riders and Squids, and this was before I knew what a squid was. I haven’t been back to their website since.

    The SCCA has NASA (National Auto Sport Association) as competition. I think the AMA needs some competition, a club for everyone else. Maybe Wes’s next step after he finishes developing Ride Apart can be to start the MCA (Motorcycle Club of America). I’d spend money to join that.

  • John

    In New Mexico, they wanted to pass a law that anyone who died while riding without a helmet is automatically an organ donor. Gary Johnson vetoed it (or maybe he just threatened to do so and it stopped it). Anyway, there are plenty of legislators that want to do stupid things and a motorcycle website coming out against the AMA is kinda stupid. I say this as a non member, because I’m not a group kinda guy, but this article is pretty douchey.

    And ignorant.

    • stever

      Wow, now it sounds like the motorcyclists of New Mexico got a taste of what it is like to be a woman anywhere in America. Americans love deciding what to do to and with other people’s bodies.

      Criticizing the people who claim to represent you is not “douchey.” It’s “douchey” to represent me as some yahoo who thinks he has an inalienable right to land my supercross bike on every single endangered specie who happens to have been dumb enough to exist on public land.

      PS: http://i1.ytimg.com/vi/4qR5tRwvuas/hqdefault.jpg

      • John

        Your liberalism is as outstanding and as misguided as ever.

      • Stuki

        Americans love standing around cheering for whichever top douche takes it upon himself to decide with other people and their stuff, period. Bodies incomes, bikes, guns; take your pick, the well indoctrinated majority have fully bought into the idiocy that they are performing their “duty as citizens” by engaging in the harassment of others.

  • John

    “The AMA doesn’t understand why the Center for Disease Control is involving itself in motorcycling when it’s supposed to be protecting Americans from disease. Motorcycling is not a disease [American Motorcyclist, January 2014]”.

    I kinda need someone to explain what the problem with this statement is, because it’s seems quite sensible.

    • HoldenL

      Allow me to explain. Wayne Allard is a politician and a lobbyist. In other words, he is a professional liar. Why do you take his words as truthful? Remember, Allard is the guy who said that helmet laws are bad because helmets don’t prevent motorcycle accidents. That’s a deeply cynical thing to say. It is dishonest to the core. That’s Wayne Allard for you.

      Anyway: You could go to the CDC’s website and read its mission. It’s right there: “CDC works 24/7 to protect America from health, safety and security threats, both foreign and in the U.S.”

      Among the CDC’s roles (also right there on its site, easy to find): “Tackling the biggest health problems causing death and disability for Americans” and “Promoting healthy and safe behaviors, communities and environment.”

      • A P

        I share your distaste for politicians, and at first blush, Allard seems to fit the stereotype well. However, what he may be trying to say (badly) is that the CDC, like many bureaucratic systems, suffers from “mission creep”. The CDC was probably originally set up to deal with medical/disease/pharma issues. Somewhere along the line, the prevention and safety aspects expanded to include any type of widespread injury causes. Motorcyclists are not alone, all manner of sports and also general road accident statistics are routinely examined by the CDC, medical researchers and a host of other gadfly organizations. The media pick up on the”published” “studies” and provide public circulation of these needlessly alarmist pronouncements. So politicians are not the only liars here, as Twain reputedly said, “there are lies, damned lies and statistics”.

        Motorcycles make a convenient target for these types of articles, as they only offend the sensibilities of a small portion of the population, which 75% of the non-riding public either view negatively (42%) or negatively (33%). Those are MIC figures, from a survey taken every 5 years.

        I agree the AMA needs to find a middle ground between the ABATE and ATGATT poles, and a rational voice to cast a positive view of motorcycling to the general public, politicians and the corporate world. As my Mom used to say,”you catch more flies with honey than vinegar”.

      • John

        Okay,let’s just ignore that whole “all politicians and lobbyists are liars” thing, since I agree with what he said since even liars tell the truth on occasion.
        Let’s get to the CDC. First of all, the CDC’s ACTUAL role, was to deal with CONTAGIOUS disease.

        “On July 1, 1946 the Communicable Disease Center (CDC) opened its doors and occupied one floor of a small building in Atlanta. Its primary mission was simple yet highly challenging: prevent malaria from spreading across the nation. Armed with a budget of only $10 million and fewer than 400 employees, the agency’s early challenges included obtained enough trucks, sprayers, and shovels necessary to wage war on mosquitoes.”

        But even that is assuming that this is a valid role of the Federal government. It, uhhh, is NOT. There is nothing at all in the Constitution about the States passing anything to do with health or death or disease or anything even remotely similar to the Federal government. The CDC can’t constitutionally tell me I need to get a vaccine, let alone wear a helment.

        So I think Allard needs to step it up and start with the federal lawsuits.

  • ThinkingInImages

    I’ve been reading the comments and thinking hard about why I let my membership go years ago. It’s not the cost. I think it was the value, or at least the perceived value. Towing isn’t enough, since I have that from several other sources, yet it seems to be mentioned a lot here.

    I understand the need for political representation, so this is basically paying for a lobbyist? This is the Internet age. It’s really not hard for like minded people to make a point, be heard, and affect a change – if possible.

    There’s also a fine line between a club and a gang in the eyes of the public. Seeing a group of riders parading down the highway with AMA patches means the same as “outlaw” club patches to many people (thanks to the media). I’m still hearing about the gang/SUV incident, more likely because I’m in NY. I was surprised that it took so long for the AMA to make a neutral statement.

  • dougphoto

    I joined last year for the first time. I enjoy the magazine and have used the towing for my cat which paid for my membership the first time I used it. I’ve been thinking about not renewing though for many of the reason mentioned. Mainly the hard red politics, I don’t think about politics when I ride and I don’t want to read about it in a motorcycle magazine.

  • William Connor

    I support the AMA action alerts. I believe we do need an organization like this, I also think we need one that works better. Maybe their message about the CDC could have been done better but so many of these Government organizations mess things up so badly it’s worth being alarmed about when they delve into areas they have never been in before.

  • tday60

    Unless you are racing and absolutely have to have an AMA membership to ride, there is no reason on this planet to belong to that backwards disorganization. The AMA and Hell’s Angels have done pretty much the same kind of “work” for motorcycling.

  • Kevin Jessing

    Somewhere in there you missed that the new Chair of the Board of Directors is Maggie McNally, a woman. Change is possible and happening at the AMA. Like every other organization, members make things happen and drive the agenda. Of course, who am I to say? I fit right in the demographic you describe. I am 47 and have been riding more that 35 years. I am also quite liberal, do not care for the Harley culture and don’t really like lobbyists. I do however, feel that many of the issues the AMA tackles are very relevant to a large number of riders. With the relevant issues come a few that are not (helmet laws, that should be enforced, and loud pipes that should be outlawed). If I really wanted the AMA to stop wasting time on those things, I would call the board and make a fuss. I would be heard and my opinion might even make a difference in what they pursue, but that is because I am a member, not some non-member who chooses to complain about what they pursue from the outside.

    • Heather McCoy

      What I missed is that Maggie’s presence is another reason not to give up on the possibility that maybe they CAN change. Duly noted.
      Their 2013 year-end report is not out yet (I did call and ask), so we’ve yet to see how her presence has affected member demographics, other than being one of the 5% female members (like me). A 95/5 split is crazy, no matter how you look at it. If they truly want the orgainzation to grow, the entire organization, not just the board room, needs to be more diverse.

  • gregory

    I joined just for the free roadside assistance program. It’s like two free tows per year, maximum five miles, or something. If you take long trips across North America, it’s very reassuring. (Doesn’t work in Mexico, but Canada’s ok.)

  • http://www.themotorcycleobsession.com/ Chris Cope

    This. Thank you. I agree with your statement that “we need an organization like the AMA.” It’s just that the AMA is not that organization.

  • Brian

    I’d love to know what happened to my comment to this article that I wrote Saturday morning that was ” awaiting moderation” that still hasn’t shown up.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      It’s a conspiracy! Actually, I moderate the comments and instead of sitting in front of a computer this weekend, I took some friends from NY, my girlfriend and my dog dirt bike camping in Death Valley. Let me finish my coffee and I’ll go find that comment.

      • Piglet2010

        The comment moderation seems weird, as some comments without URL’s, attached images, and/or rude Old English words get held for no apparent reason.

      • Brian

        I knew it was a conspiracy!!! ;) All good, and hope you had a good weekend with your friends. Maybe moderation priveledges might be shared amongst the RA staff to cover for each other so no one single person has to delve through it all?!?!?!

  • Stuki

    My point was that I suspect it is lots easier to retain a good name, if one displays at least some modicum of consistency in ones public pronouncements, instead of simply flapping around and parroting whatever ones favorite TV character deems hip at ay given time. I personally am against bikes wide enough to get hung up in traffic, thereby blocking us narrower guys from splitting unimpeded. But I still don’t feel it’s something the AMA should lobby to get into a law.

    It’s a bit similar to most holier than thou Prius drivers; they’d have less of a bad name if they didn’t all drive around in Escalades (or perhaps Range Rovers and soot spewing 1970s diesel Benzes) back when that was the hip thing to do. Or, perhaps, if they weren’t so adamant about the evils of driving modern, clean pickup trucks, but almost to a person swoon over “vintage” ones that literally reek of pollutants.

    • CaptainPlatypus

      The day I stop taking stances that make sense because it doesn’t look good is the day I should stop voting. I’d much rather have an organization that seems hypocritical but takes stances that make sense than one that stays consistently insane. In your example, someone’s gone from a less intelligent point of view to a more intelligent one, and that’s a good thing. It’d be better if they were humble about it and (as if, in our society) admitted they’d been wrong in the past, but it’s still better than them clinging to their prior view! I’d be far happier with an AMA that decided to shape up its act than one that “stayed the course” for fear of bad PR.

  • Arno

    Other than the towing special, I don’t see any need, but they do good things for the community

  • socalutilityrider

    Funny, I joined the AMA the day before this article was published. Who knows if anyone there reads the new member surveys, but I made it clear that I wanted them to push for lanesplitting in other states and to promote everyday riding more (like commuting) vs. pure recreational.

    I also thought it was weird they didn’t have a check box for the type of bike I own which falls into the “adventure” class (Vstrom), but had all other types covered-thought the ADV scene was one of the fastest growing segments of the motorcycle world, but I could be wrong I guess.

    The AMA does seem like a hoary old organization, and I don’t fit the demographic at all, but then again, I don’t fit the demographic of most motorcyclists in the US already. There is a “sea change” afoot though-more and more people are riding scooters and motorcycles as practical transport as I do. If riders like us don’t join, how can we expect the organization to change?

    Plus it’s nice to have a backup towing plan from AMA in addition to the one my insurance provides and get discounts on a few motorcycle oriented services.

    • Piglet2010

      Not much of a sea change – looks what happens when a practical motorcycle such as the NT700V (Deauville) is imported – Honda sells 17 of them* in two years, while their silliest motorcycle (Fury) sells enough to stay in the lineup.

      *OK, a slight exaggeration.

      • socalutilityrider

        I just looked up that bike. Huh. If I wasn’t into dirt riding as well as daily transport on the same bike, I might of picked up one of these. Integral storage, shaft drive, nothing crazy, just works. Perfect commuter/work/daily motorcycle.

        • Piglet2010

          The Deauville is also fine for touring for people who do not mind downshifting to pass – funny how people deride the idea of an automatic transmission on a motorcycle, yet spend $5K to $10K more on a bike with twice the displacement just so they can avoid shifting. Then the bikes (e.g. Concours 14, FJR1300, K1600GTL, ST1300) get too large and heavy to be fun to ride around town.

          • socalutilityrider

            I didn’t know that was a thing. I downshift to pass on my Vstrom all the time, and use it around town constantly.

            • Piglet2010

              Most reviews (although not on HFL, er RA) seem to make a big deal out of top gear passing power, and quite a few even publish top gear roll-on acceleration times.

              • socalutilityrider

                So that’s the chief benefit of the big engine for a touring bike? Loads of top end acceleration without downshifting? Sorry, I don’t read any of the “normal” media in the motorcycle world. Just this site and advrider. That’s cool I guess, but I would rather have a bike that works well around a city as well.

                • Piglet2010

                  “… I would rather have a bike that works well around a city as well.”

                  My point, exactly. A plus if you live in a place that allows filtering is that the Deauville panniers are no wider than the handlebars.

  • DrRideOrDie

    The only reason I signed up for the AMA is their supposed Road Side Assistance program.

  • DucMan

    I joined the AMA quickly after becoming a motorcyclist. Their roadside assistance saved me when my RC51 left me stranded, I get form letters from them to forward to congress to fight E15, et. al., and their discount on motorcycle shipments helped get the RC51 I bought from a guy in Baltimore shipped to Houston at a very reasonable price. The magazine is kinda lame, but it is good for looking at the motorcycle event schedules if nothing else. I also got a cool patch that I had Aerostich sew onto the back of my Roadcrafter. Now, if I can just figure out where to put all these annual membership stick pins on my Dainese Leathers, I’ll be complete.

  • Heather McCoy

    Lol…don’t hold back or anything.

  • Paul Cypert

    95% male? Time for AMA to start advertising on Pinterest. Problem solved.

    • Heather McCoy

      That is gold

  • Literdude

    These are some good reasons, and many of them I share. But as someone who understands that helmet laws are actually effective at putting helmets on heads (and then saving lives), and as a white male who isn’t going to add any diversity to the AMA, are there any alternatives? Where’s the liberal alternative to the AMA?

  • artist_formally_known_as_cWj

    Not that this is a bad posting, but it would be nice if RideApart didn’t become Buzzfeed.

    Take it easy on the lists.
    Publish articles, not outlines.

  • Joe Bar

    Of the issues you mention, mandatory helmet use is the only one you disagree with the AMA on.