Photo by Nathan LeClair
Based on member demographics, AMA’s official magazine, American Motorcyclist, seems pretty on-target. The format is no less predictable: letters from riders, the obligatory letter from the president, an article about some wilderness somewhere that some state wants to turn into a squirrel sanctuary being off-limits to off-roaders (Bueller?), a reminder that E-15 gas is evil (Bueller?), a 2-page spread on an obscure bike from the ‘70s (Bueller? Anyone?)...ok, Bueller must be out joyriding on his father’s motorcycle while his dad is home reading American Motorcyclist. Shake things up a little, will you? You heard about the melee in Manhattan, right? The recent Motorcycle Film Festival in Brooklyn? Those girl racers who finished in the top-10 at Daytona? And what’s this Iron Butt thing I keep hearing about? There’s so much more to motorcycling than motocross and vintage scramblers!
Photo by Dave James
Despite a deep and growing pile of evidence that concludes mandatory helmet use is beneficial every which way from Sunday (public safety-wise, economic-wise, social policy-wise, etc.), the AMA still refuses to take a stand on this one, stopping short at a “recommendation” but holding firm that it’s a rider’s choice. I may disagree with that argument, but at least I understand it. What I don’t get are cockamamie statements like “helmets don’t reduce the number of motorcycle crashes” and “helmet use alone is insufficient to ensure a motorcyclist's safety.” Duh. Man-up and fear-not being abandoned by members who insist on keeping the wind in their hair and their heads in the sand. They are a dying breed. Literally.
Photo by Dave James
They’re From Mars
Every three years, the AMA sponsors a women’s conference. Heavily cruiser-oriented, and last year, deftly scheduled on the same weekend as one of the biggest annual motorcycle events in the U.S.: the RedBull Grand Prix and AMA Pro RoadRacing in Monterey, CA, and plunked it down in logistically obscure Carson City, Nevada. One can only imagine the number of vacuum cleaners given to wives as anniversary presents from members of that planning committee. As if to underscore their ineptitude, they invited various professional female racers, most of whom were competing in Monterey that weekend, to give inspiring speeches, etc. as volunteers. And the coup de gras...they unveiled this new card design:
Good lord...do the other design options say “Male Rider”? Have you heard the word ‘equality’? My guy took one look at this, chuckled, and asked if there was a recipe printed on the back.
Photo by Cara VSAngel
Give It Some Throttle
I would like to think the AMA was learning from these guffaws, albeit slowly. I’m not holding my breath. I’m not giving up my membership, either. Why? Because if I do, if you do, the AMA gets just a little less diverse. A little more red. A little more out of touch. I’m not willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The fact is, for all its bumbling missteps (or lack of steps), the AMA does a lot of good, and there’s a lot of good left to be done. E-15 gas is evil, motorcycle-only checkpoints are wrong, and sometimes wording does end up screwing the moto-pooch in government sponsored legislation. While I disagree that the EPA and the CDC and the AHA are secretly plotting our demise, I am old enough and wise enough to realize we need an organization like the AMA to make sure small-bore dirtbikes aren’t classified as lead-based toys. We need an organization to promote safety and education for riders and non-riders alike. We need an organization to sanction events that ensure fairness and safety among competitors. We just need to not give up on it.
You’re either part of the solution or part of the problem, right? Not an AMA member? Join now. Due to renew? Do it now. For $49 bucks, maybe you and I can eventually make this organization look and sound more like you and me. And man, that free roadside assistance program for members is great.
* Statistics obtained from the AMA’s 2012 report and are reported as of April 2013.