Top 10 Motorcycle Myths and Legends

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Top 10 Motorcycle Myths and Legends

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

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

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

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

4. It’ll never happen to me.
Yes, it will. Just because you’ve ridden for years without falling or getting into an accident on a motorcycle doesn’t mean that it’s never going to happen. Always ride prepared for the unexpected and remember that it’s never a case of if it happens, but when it happens. And if, somehow, some way, it doesn't ever actually happen – that's probably because you were well-prepared.

5. Traction control on a motorcycle will help me go faster.
Yes and no. If you’re new to riding and not that confident yet, you’re never going to be aware of what traction control does. If you’re an all-out racer and ride really hard, highly advanced modern traction control systems may help you overcome certain human errors. It is more likely, however, that traction control will be of most use to road riders who find themselves in unpleasant conditions.

6. New tires come with a coating that can only be removed by riding them for a few miles under inflated.
No. You’re going to fall off and hurt yourself or maybe get killed. Most new motorcycle road tires look like they have a coating on them but in effect that’s because that’s what they look like when they come out of the mold at the factory. Never, ever reduce the pressure in the tires to try and scrub them in. Riding on underinflated tires causes them to flex, damages the sidewall and potentially could cause a blow out – throwing you off the bike and down on the road. Don’t do it.

7. 18-25 year-olds are the most at risk category for injury or death in the motorcycle community.
While novice riders run a high degree of risk due to lack of experience, the facts are, according to the National Highway Transport Safety Administration’s latest findings on motorcycle deaths, that the biggest group of riders to be killed in the United States are the 40-55 year olds. NHTSA has been tracking this information for the past 10 years and the single largest group – more than 40 percent – of all riders killed in U.S. traffic accidents had an average age of 42 years old. Tell your relatives that when you choose a bike over a car (unless you're 42).

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8. You must never worry about crashing on a bike because if you do you will automatically crash.
Nonsense. While you shouldn’t be mentally fixated on the possibility of hurting yourself on a bike, every single time you get on your motorcycle you need to be fully aware of what you are doing and always be ready to take evasive action. If you think it won’t happen to you, it will (See No. 4).

9. Buy the bike of your dreams as your first bike as you’ll soon learn how to ride it.
This depends on what your dream bike is. But before you even part with your hard-earned cash you should have budgeted for all of the good safety gear you need. Not just a helmet. Gloves, good boots and riding leathers are a must. Once you have all of that, it is only then that you should worry about a bike. Also, just because you’ve set your heart on a particular bike doesn’t mean you should go straight out and buy it. Do your homework. Talk to friends who ride and people who know. Take a Motorcycle Safety Foundation course and learn how to ride. Then buy something that matches your abilities and that you will be confident on. Make it a bike that you will not worry too much about dropping and that can be fixed easily and cheaply. It will save you a lot of time and money in the long run and then when your skills are really up to speed you can go out and buy that dream bike. It will still be there.

10. Because you ride a motorcycle and are dressed from head to toe in leathers you will be completely irresistible to women.

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Possibly. But only if you can find one who is happy to spend hours talking with you about suspension settings, the merits of a GSX-R versus a Hayabusa, or a KTM Super Duke or something from Ducati. She will dig the fact you have oil under your fingernails and won’t be put off because you and your leathers smell like a badger’s armpit after eight hours of canyon carving. She’ll think your helmet hair is cute and will be more than happy to look at your road scars and hear for the thousandth time about how you fell off at over 100 mph even though it wasn’t you fault. In actual fact, if she does all of is, she probably rides as well. In which case my friend you’ve hit the jackpot.

Have we missed anything? We’re sure we have, as this is just a fraction of the urban motorcycle myths. What have you heard since you started riding?


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