Apparently, packs of motorcycles—not Harleys, but sportbikes—are terrorizing the highways around St. Louis.
Brian Johnson of St. Louis said he was heading on I-170 north to Lambert International Airport with his wife when he saw the pack of motorcycles on the other side of the highway.
"There was a good half mile stretch where it was 20 bikes wide the whole highway," he said. "It was hundreds after hundreds after hundreds of bikes."
Johnson said the bikers were not your typical Harley Davidson types; most were wearing racing suits and riding speed bikes like you would see in stunt shows.
He said the first group of bikers were pumping their fists; the second group created a ringlike formation and had bikers riding down the middle doing wheelies.
Johnson said cars were forced over to the shoulder of the road and trying to get off. There were also traffic tie-ups on his side of the highway as drivers slowed to gawk at the spectacle.
Let me explain something to you morons very simply. If I’m out driving in my Ram 2500 Long Bed, and you try to force me off the road with your motorcycle you’re gonna die.
It’s a dangerous sport we’ve embraced, folks. Indeed, looking at this graph, it’s hard to make any other conclusion. Motorcycle fatalities per passenger mile are 37 times higher for motorcycles than for cars.
What irks me about this report, though, is that we, as a community, don’t seem to be making it much safer. Sure, there are cars that turn in front of us, or change lanes into us…I get it. In fact, my last crash was a guy that T-boned me after running a stop sign.
But I notice two salient facts from this report.
22% of motorcyclists that died in 2009 did not have a valid license.
If you’re riding without a license, there’s a couple of things that could be going on. You can’t ride well enough to pass the test. You don’t want to be inconvenienced with getting a license. But, I presume a significant portion of those people without licenses don’t have them because they got taken away after getting caught doing something stupid. That doesn’t stop them, because…well…they’re stupid and/or reckless, and the odds caught up with them.
30% of fatal motorcycle crashes involved a driver with a BAC greater than .08.
Speaking of stupid and reckless. If you tie one on and get on a bike, then you’re just a moron.
Overall, those two numbers tell us that somewhere between 30% and 52% of all motorcycle fatalities are stupidity-related. Frankly, I don’t have any sympathy for these people. Good riddance.
Not only do they kill themselves, and cause their families pain, they make those of us who have licenses and don’t drink and ride look bad.
Just not drinking and riding would lower motorcycle fatalities by 30%. Maybe that would help stop other morons from arguing that motorcycles should be banned.
If you’re interested in reading about motorcycles, or in learning how to ride better, the New York Times, of all places, has a list of books and DVDs about Motorcycling.
Included in the list is:
- Alan Cathcart’s American Dream Bikes
- Roland Brown’s Superbikes of the Seventies
- Kevin Cameron’s The Grand Prix Motorcycle: The Official Technical History
- Keith Code’s A Twist of the Wrist II DVD
- Abe Aamidor’s Shooting Star: The Rise and Fall of the British Motorcycle Industry
All of these offerings seem worthwhile, and the Kieth Code DVD on precision cornering techniques is supposed to be very useful in improving one’s riding skills.
This isn’t a political blog at all, but I couldn’t help noticing that even the American Motorcyclist Association is now getting involved in the ongoing debate about health care reform. The AMA feels that a government-run system may discriminate against motorcyclists by denying coverage to motorcyclists who are hurt while riding.
There is precedent for us to be concerned with regarding any health care legislation coming from Washington. For example in 1996, Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that was intended to ensure non-discrimination in health coverage in the group market. However, when it came to implementing the law, the Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service and the Health Care Financing Administration – now the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – issued a rule allowing insurers to deny health benefits for an otherwise covered injury that results from certain types of recreational activities, such as skiing, horseback riding, snowmobiling or motorcycling. Even though the AMA has fought this discriminatory rule with legislation, this indicates what could happen if a new health care bill is implemented by bureaucrats in Washington using biased data.
And not only are they expressing their concern, they want you to express yours, too, and the link above also has an editable email message you can send of to your Senator or representative straight from the AMA web site.
I don’t hold any particular brief for Motorcycle “Clubs” like the Angels or the Mongols, but it’s nice to see the government slapped down when it goes a little too far.
The U.S. Government has been going after the Mongols for a while–and the Mongols do have some unsavory characters in their membership. But the government didn’t just go after individuals, they went after the club’s logo. Under RICO, they tried to strip the Mongols of their logo, and make it the property of the government. After getting a preliminary ruling allowing them to do so, the Feds have being going into private property of American citizens to confiscate patches, breaking into cars and homes to do so.
But, they got that slapped down in Federal Court. Judge Florence-Marie Cooper has ruled that a) the government can’t take the trademark, and b) even if they could, they have no right to go around confiscating patches or other items containing the mark from private citizens who are not under indictment.
…even if the Court were to assume that the collective membership mark is subject to forfeiture, the Court finds no statutory authority to seize property bearing the mark from third parties…. only defendants’ interests in the RICO enterprise and the proceeds from their racketeering activity are subject to forfeiture.
So, the Mongols get to keep their patch, and the Feds have to stop making searches and seizures on the basis of merely possessing it.
If you’d like to add another motorcycle–or two–to your garage, and you don’t have the scratch for a new one, then you might be interested in the Great California Garage Sale going on in Sacramento this week. As you may have heard, the state of California is…ummm…a bit short of cash. So the state is going all out and selling cars, motorcycles, computers, and just about everything else they can think of in a big state garage sale. The sale and auction will take place in Sacramento on Friday and Saturday, 28-29 Aug 09.
They’ve got at least 5 BMW R1150RTP’s from the highway patrol, which you could probably pick up for a decent price. I’ve seen some other bikes listed there, too, probably confiscated from drug dealers and whatnot.
You’ll probably get a better price there than you would from a regular dealer, anyway.
If you live in bear country, you probably already know not to keep food in a car, because bears will tear a car apart to get at a box of donuts, or whatever. Now, it appears that even transporting food may be a problem. Especially in a motorcycle.
Wells and his wife had taken his 2004 Harley-Davidson motorcycle out to get a pizza for dinner. They put the leftovers in the tour pack on the back of the motorcycle for the ride home.
“We got home around six, took the pizza out of it right away and put it in the refrigerator,” said Wells.
Three hours later they heard something outside, near where his motorcycle was parked. Wells went outside to investigate.
“I came around and shined the flashlight and my bike was on its side and a bear cub was on top and another bear cub was behind it and the momma was right there too,” remembers Wells.
The bears ripped the tour pack apart trying to get to where the pizza at one time had been. In the process they did around $3,000 damage to the bike.
So, three hours later, just the 3 hour-old smell of pizza in this guy’s tour trunk was enough to get it seriously molested.
And you thought deer were a problem…
In case you haven’t been keeping up with current events, things are slow in the economy. We went to the local mall Friday night to see about getting a part for our dishwasher, and the place was a ghost town. After finishing up at the mall, we also went to a popular local eatery. We were one of three parties in the place. All the rest of the tables were empty.
This afternoon, I went to Escondido Cycle Center, and North County Yamaha. I was the only customer in NCY–another customer was leaving as I arrived–and one of two customers as ECC. Dead, dead, dead.
Interestingly, the sales guy at NCC couldn’t have been less interested in trying to sell me a bike. Since I have an insurance settlement coming from my accident last December, I am looking at possibilities for a second bike. Something small and hooligan-like, but without the cramped riding position of the Gixxer or CBR. I went to NCY because they have Triumphs there, and wanted to look into a Speed Triple 1050. I told the sales guy what I was after, and he said, “I don’t know mcuh about it. It has a good torque range. Broad. why not go sit on it and see if you like it.” He then turned on his heel and left me to my own devices. Apparently, trying to sell a motorcycle didn’t fit into his schedule this afternoon.
And, keep in mind that this is their chief sales guy, and as far as I could tell, the only sales rep there. I’ve seen him there before, and his whole vibe was that I was being a pain in the ass for trying to engage him.
The sales guy at ECC, on the other hand, was knowledgeable, and showed me not only the sportbikes, but an array of standard bikes that have same sportbike engines, but more comfy ergos. Totally different sales experience.
Sometimes the guys at NCY are helpful, and sometimes they act like they’d rather you just didnt show up at their door at all. When sales are as bad as they are currently, you’d think they would deep-six the latter attitude.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Board has just released a survey on drunk/drugged driving in the US. Overall, the numbers look pretty good. The number of people driving under the influence continues to decline.
A new roadside survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirms a continuing decline in the percentage of legally intoxicated drivers
In 1973, 7.5 percent of drivers had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. In the latest survey, that figure had fallen to 2.2 percent. A BAC of .08 or higher is now above the legal limit in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
But, as it often is, the devil is in the details. Motorcyclists are the most likely set of drivers to be operating their vehicles while under the influence.
Motorcycle riders were more than twice as likely as passenger vehicle drivers to be drunk (5.6 percent compared with 2.3 percent). Pickup truck drivers were the next most likely to have illegal BACs (3.3 percent).
I can’t even imagine the level of stupidity it takes to get on a motorcycle ofter knocking back a few. And the idea that more than 1 in 20 cyclists is tooling around with a buzz on is astounding.
You gotta hand it to Harley-Davidson, boy. They rarely m iss a step when it comes to marketing, especially in terms of rider outreach. I don’t know of any other company that interacts with the riding community so seriously, and with such a keen eye towards building the brand than the MoCo does.
And they’re doing it again.
Share Your Spark: A Guide to Mentoring is a tool kit the Motor Company developed for current and aspiring riders featuring information on how to be a resource and support system to others during their motorcycling journey. The mentoring kit includes information for both potential mentors and mentees, including a DVD showcasing tips on how to become or find a mentor, stories from successful mentoring experiences, a special Share Your Spark pin and a planning and reflection guide.
Grab younger riders by hooking them up with older riders who can positively reinforce the idea that the Harley-Davidson is the best motorcycle ever!
Nobody is as successful at this as HD. I mean, with BMW, while there are plenty of rider events in that community, the company’s attitude seems to be that, if BMW has to come looking for you, then you’re probably not the kind of person they want to associate with anyway. Honda…well, they don’t do much at all anymore. Not only did they cancel the Honda Hoot, their bike line-up changes at a geological pace. It seems like all they care about selling you is a Gold Wing.
HD, though, is hyperactive in their contacts with the riding community.
…And a tale of two Robbies. This past week, for the big new years celebration, Both Robbie Madison and “Kaptain” Robbie Kneivel made highly hyped motorcycle jumps in Las Vegas.
Robbie Madison’s jump was…insane.
Robbie Kneivel’s jump was…meh.
I think Robbie Kneivel irks me. First, he didn’t jump the volcano at the Mirage. He jumped near the volcano. And even if he had, so what. I’ve been to the Mirage. I’ve seen the volcano. It ain’t that big. Jumping it really isn’t any more impressive than what the average motocross racer does every day, and Robbie–and FOX–acted like it was just as impressive as anything Evel Kneivel ever did.
If Evel had set this deal up, he would have jumped the volcano. And he’d have done it riding a 600-pound Harley Sportster with stock suspension, not a lightweight little motocross bike with 18 inches of suspension travel.
Robbie Madison’s jump, on the other hand…well, not even Evel could’ve coaxed a Sportster up on top of a 100-foot vertical tower.
Granted, Madison used a motocross bike, too, but at least he has the excuse that it’s pretty much the only type of bike that could’ve done it.
In the video, the FOX announcer made a big deal out of the fact that kneivel doesn’t have a speedometer on his bike. But a speedometer really isn’t necessary for a jump that can be made at any speed between 40 and 80 miles per hour. At the end of the day, what Robbie Kneivel did was take a motocross bike and catch 25 feet of air from ramps on a level street, and it was hyped like the most amazing event ever.
I couldn’t do either of those jumps, myself. But then I don’t bill myself as the world’s greatest motorcycle stunt daredevil.
One of the things I learned when I switched over to a WordPress blog is that there really isn’t much of a selection of explicitly motorcycle-themed WordPress skins available. There’s about, uh, four I think, that I found online.
Well, now, I’ve more than doubled that number.
I’ve created a series of free WordPress themes for motorcycle blogs, and have tried to take care of both the sportbike guys, and the cruiser guys. All of the themes are 2.7 compatible, and widget-ready. There are no links to third-party sponsors or anything. Not even a link to me. Although, a courtesy link would be nice if you decide to use the theme.
Just click on the screenshot previews below to download the ZIP file containing the theme.
Blue Racer is a light-colored blue theme, with a racing bike header.
I certainly wouldn’t want to leave the cruiser guys out of the party. It’s a dark, grungy theme, in the orange and black colors that are traditionally associated with a certain motorcycle manufacturer.
Burnout is a sportbike theme, with a nice pic of a ZX-14 tearing up the asphalt. And its tires.
This one is a very neutral-colored, sepia-toned theme. Front and center is the image of the Tachometer of my Sportster. So, if you don’t ride a Harley, well, you might want to find another image to use as the header pic that doesn’t have a big ol’ bar and shield on it.
Like, maybe, this version, which is less Harley-centric.
High speed is done in dark steel blues, topped by a ‘busa screaming down the highway.
Sport Touring is square. The theme is square, I mean. Not a curve on it, and patterned squares are a central motif of this theme. As is the FJR1300 in the header (with all badges removed, for, uh genericizing it). Warm earth tones make this a soothing theme, in contrast to the sharp edges of the design elements.
So, I hope you like the efforts above, and find them useful if you have a blog.