Recently, I read an article on Gawker that really struck a nerve, titled "If You Buy a Motorcycle, You WILL Die." Sarcastic notions aside, the article - along with the Wall Street Journal article it references - suffers from a case of click-bait-itis, where the journalist skews the facts to draw an absolute and concrete conclusion about motorcycling that's plain-old incorrect.
While you can try and skew the facts to prove a point – and trust me, guys on both sides of the aisle in Washington have been doing this forever – when it comes to riding, where life and death really means life or death, fallacies have no place on the web…except, of course, in the comments.
Buy a Motorcycle - You Will Not Die, You Will Live
The piece perpetuates a super-negative paradigm about owning a motorcycle. As a new rider that has been fully and totally committed to riding every single day - rain or shine, warm or cold, in sickness and in health - for the past three years, I can tell you that if you buy a motorcycle, you WILL truly live. Not just live, but damn it, thrive. Don't believe all the negativity out there about motorcycles. Much of what’s been said is said out of ignorance and fear - not experience.
My advice to any new or returning rider is as simple as pie: as long as you learn to ride properly, adhere to ATGATT – all the gear, all the time - and ride with a modicum of discipline, you can enjoy the amazing world of motorcycling and not die.
Bikes are awesome, all of them; dirt, street, even those side-by-sides, they're all awesome and I'm happy to ride anything with two wheels or even three. It’s an unarguable fact that riding a motorcycle is a fantastic experience - liberating, pure and absolutely addicting. It's happiness and cheap therapy imbued in metal and rubber, all of which will become your little slice of heaven in everyday life.
So, how do I get into this slice of heaven, you may be asking. The hardest step is pulling the trigger.
My own experience of venturing into the wonderful world of motorcycling was met with a lot of negative reactions from friends and family, all except my father. My father highlighted the risks, but he pointed out the beauty and marvels of riding and working on a bike. Not only did he encourage me, he told it to me straight:
"Always make sure you're fully insured, wear good safety gear and never get on your bike unless you're mentally ready to ride…You have a greater responsibility on a bike versus when you drive a car.”
I hear my father's voice in my head everyday; it typically preludes my own personal soundtrack before stepping out of the house. I will go a step further to tell anyone looking to get into motorcycling - please take a few additional courses to expand on your skills as much as you can.
While some will take this advice as a testament to the difficultly and lack of safety in motorcycling, honestly everyone on the road should follow the same advice, even the guy in the SUV next to you on the highway texting along at 70mph as there are some seriously atrocious drivers out there on the road…but I digress.
Keep learning those new skills that are invaluable to increasing your level of safety, which truly will raise the level of enjoyment on your motorcycle. A lot of riders out there think just because they've obtained a M1 Motorcycle Endorsement through an MSF course, they're adequately competent and prepared to pilot that brand new GSX-R 1000, BMW GS, Yamaha R6 or Triumph Bonneville to the best of your ability. Guess what? They're not.
It means you know how to operate it on the most basic of levels. You need to get to riding, but you also need to go BACK to school to get your Masters and PhD in Motorcycle Bad-ass-ness.
Jimmy Lewis Off-Road Academy
Lee Parks Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic
SportBike Track Time
California Superbike School
Moto Mark One
Once you actively take an interest in learning how to ride, all the benefits of owning and riding a motorcycle become immediately apparent. The fears society spouts about motorcycling become nothing more than an irrational argument.
Since buying a bike and taking an active role in learning how to become a proper and better motorcyclist - I am still learning new things every day - I have developed new and amazing friendships. I’ve learned how to work on my bike and become an alright mechanic. Parking in and around town is practically free no matter where I go.
But most of all, the long road home after work is something I embrace and enjoy, no longer a journey to be despised. Traffic is not a source of stress and, strangely, learning to operate a motorcycle has made me a more aware and much better driver too.
I can’t imagine my life without a motorcycle and not a day goes by where I don't think about the next winding road, the next journey, or the next friendship I'll make because of my part in this population of riders.
I've never felt that way about driving my car - and I've had some awesome cars.
Don’t let those people who know very little about motorcycling scare you out of enjoying one of life’s greatest adventures. Talk to someone that actually rides and we will be nothing but honest and truthful. In the end we all die, but if you buy a motorcycle, you will truly live.