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Modern Bike Rant


I have some ideas about riding, some of which go against the grain of motorcycle culture. I share them here in case anyone is interested. It's worth noting that some of these ideas seem to resonate with those same people who seek out "sensible shoes" bikes like the Nighthawks, Secas, K-Bikes, and Bandits of the world. Please note also that this section represents my philosophy, and not necessarily my actions, which are often modified to meet the conditions - riding in San Francisco during rush hour requires different rules than riding through Berkeley during a quiet evening. And of course internal and other factors weigh heavily as well... [IMAGE]

It seems to me that the rider should fit into society, showing restraint and consideration for others. There is a fair amount of us-vs-them attitude on the part of many riders, and I think this overlooks some of the realities of the situation. Bikes ARE hard to see, and when we compound this problem by exercising our natural power-to-weight superiority (oh god yes) over cars, shit can and does happen. Maybe we should reign it in a bit when others are present -- I bet the accident statistics would back me up here. You've got to admire the Harley and other cruiser guys, despite the outlaw trappings these folks are actually really good citizens of the road. Except for the all-too-common stupidly loud exhaust system, that is.

To me, the bike is first and foremost transportation, a way to get from point A to point B. The ride can be really really fun, but if it doesn't involve going somewhere, or seeing something, or being with friends, then it rings a bit hollow. (In my early riding days I felt different about this!) That's just how I feel, and it's central to my philosophy as a transportation rider. When you add in the safety factor, medical bills, and the possibility of death or crippling injuries, the balance doesn't look good for bikes as transportation. But I do it anyway, at least for now. When you're hopelessly in love, you must let your heart be your guide, setting such limits as you can.

Another wonderful thing about riding is the community, a connection between people of different places and languages and colors. We share a passion, and the things we have in common usually far outweigh the differences in the kind of bike we ride. And in these days of mega-culture, we need all the community we can get.

One of the things I DON'T like about riding is the noise. It doesn't seem right that things as beautiful as motorbikes should make such a racket, right there on the public boulevard or residential street. Loud pipes probably do save lives, but they don't make any friends with other motorists, pedestrians, hikers, or the people who live on racer road. The world is quite noisy enough already. I'd like to see a little more restraint, before Uncle Sam gets prodded into really stepping in.

Maybe the above ideas miss the whole point of what riding is and why we do it. Or maybe I'm just trying to reconcile my own internal conflict between a fantastic thrill and a mortal danger. But I'd like to think we can have it all: the freedom of personal choice, and respect for others. Reach for the dream, says I.

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