The Motorcycle Facts Of Life

To people who have never ridden motorcycles it probably seems like it would be the ultimate in freedom.  A cool breeze blowing in your face, warm sunshine shining down from a cloudless blue sky, and the freedom to bask in your reverie.  I love riding bikes, and a lot of that is very true.  At least most of the time.

If you only ride on days like that you won't put many miles on a bike though.  If you are realistic you will see that there are more days when it's hot or cold or rainy or snowy.  But when everything comes together on a nice twisty road it is truly a magical feeling.

Apparently there are some people who live in a fantasy world or something.  I see a lot of posts on some motorcycle-related forums regarding things that make me wonder if some people have any sense of reality.  So, here they are: The Motorcycle Facts Of Life!  You may not like them, you may not agree with them, you may not want to hear them, but they are still true. 

  • Riding When It's Hot:  Fact of life: If you ride a motorcycle when it's hot you are going to get hot.  Motorcycles are hot in the summer.  They normally don't have air conditioning and the engine heat makes them even hotter.  You can complain all you want, you can try different things, but the fact of life is that if you ride when it's hot you are going to get hot.
  • Riding When It's Cold:  Fact of life: If you ride a motorcycle when it's cold you are going to get cold.  Motorcycles normally don't have heaters even though the engine heat helps a little bit.  Just like Riding When It's Hot above, you can complain all you want, you can try different things, you can get heated gear or insulated gear, but the fact of life is that if you ride when it's cold you are going to get cold.
  • Riding In The Rain:  Fact of life: If you ride a motorcycle when it's raining you are going to get wet.  This shouldn't need any more explanation than that, but apparently a lot of people think the rain will just go around them.  It doesn't work that way.  The spray comes up from the front wheel, the rain comes over the windscreen (assuming you have one), and if you stop it comes straight down on top of you.  Fact of Life: If you ride when it's raining you will get wet.
  • Riding In The Snow:  I haven't been foolish enough to try this one out, but I have heard from some people who have.  The general consensus is that snow is slick and riding in snow (or ice) is not the smartest thing a person can do unless they have spiked tires (yes, they do make them because some people race motorcycles on ice).  To each their own, and if you try it out let me know how it works.  My bikes stay home when it's snowy or icy outside.
  • Wind:  Fact of life: If you ride a motorcycle when it's windy it is going to blow you around some.  Wind hitting the bike from the side will move it sideways.  Simple laws of physics, it's going to happen.  Even if it isn't windy, when you are moving you are going to create your own wind.  You can put big huge windscreens on your bike, you can add fairings and bags and panniers and everything else to try and block it, but the Fact of Life is that if you ride a motorcycle you are going to have to deal with some wind so just get used to the idea.
  • Sand / Gravel / Dirt / Mud:  Fact of life: These surfaces are slipery.  Just because a lot of people ride on them and make it look easy does not mean that an inexperienced rider can do the same thing.  If you look at a true dirt bike you will see that it has been dropped or it's new, one of the two.  It happens, it's a fact of life.  Just because a motorcycle is advertised as a dirt bike or a dual-sport bike does not mean that a brand new inexperienced rider can ride it on those types of surfaces without falling.  Fact of Life: Riding on surfaces like these takes experience and if an inexperienced rider tries it the odds are good they will drop their bike.  Don't plan on suing the manufacturer for false advertising because you were stupid.  If you have very little experience on these surfaces you had better be careful or you will probably drop your bike.
  • Traffic:  Fact of life: If you ride a motorcycle you are going to end up in traffic sooner or later.  About the only way around this is to ride dirt bikes offroad only, ride only on a track, or never get out of your driveway.  Learn to flow with the traffic, keep your eyes open, and anticipate what is going on around you.  The bottom line is just deal with it.

A lot of these may seem self-evident or absurd, but I have honestly seen people complaining about every single one of them.  Fact of Life: Motorcycles do not have plastic bubbles around them, they are exposed to the elements.  They will not automatically float you over slippery surfaces.  If it's hot you are going to get hot; if it's raining you are going to get wet.  If you can't deal with that then drive a car or take a bus.  If you want to ride a bike you can expect to have to deal with the elements.  They are all around us, they are part of the experience, and they are not going to go away just because you want them to.  The sooner a rider learns to accept them the better off they will be and the more they will enjoy the ride.

I've been so hot I thought my helmet was going to melt and I've been so cold I thought my toes or fingers would break off.  I just keep thinking about how good it's going to feel when I stop and cool off or warm up.  I think about how a cool shower is going to feel or how good a hot cup of coffee is going to taste.  Bottom line, I just deal with them.  I hate getting wet, I hate getting hot, and I hate getting cold.  But I love to ride motorcycles and just because it's hot or cold I'm still going to ride (rain does sometimes keep me home though!).

You can agree with all the statements above, or you can disagree with them.  That's up to you and these are just my own personal opinions.  I am, in some ways, an open-minded person though so if you want to add your two cents worth Drop Me An EMail and I'll add your comments to this page.  Keep it clean though or I won't post it (my web site, my rules!).  If you don't want your name included please be sure to let me know or I'll add a line something like "Comments from Alex:"

Other Truisms I Have Noticed .....
  • (This one is completely serious:)  THERE ARE **NO** FENDER BENDERS ON MOTORCYCLES!  If you choose to ride without protective gear you might want to keep this in mind since the life you risk may well be your own.
  • The first bug will hit a clean face shield within a couple of minutes of beginning movement even if it is the last bug left alive.
  • When the first bug hits the face shield it will always be a big one, it will always streak, and it will always hit dead between the eyes.
  • The number of gas stations around you decreases linearly as you use gas.  When you have a full tank of gas there will be a gas station on every corner you pass.  When you are nearly out of gas the nearest gas station will be five miles past the point where you will run out.  Also, when you finally get to the gas station that was five miles past where you ran out it will be closed.

Contributed by "Nozzle" ...

  • Motorcycles require regular maintenance.  If you are not mechanically inclined it is expensive to pay someone to work on your bike (especially if the the name of the manufacturer ends in "i" or men in lederhosen must fix them).

  • Tires are expensive.  Shut up about how expensive they are, if you want to have a good time in the curves, you have to pay for the date... just like with your girlfriend.  (tyres are also expensive, but heavier - you pay by the pound for them)

  • Your bike is not the only perfect motorcycle in the world for everyone all the time.  Stop acting like the 6'5" 18 yr old squid and the 5'6" 65 yr old must both love the bike you happen to own right now (unless it is an 07 RWB 25th Anniversary Honda Interceptor).
  • Red is not the fastest color.  Watch the olympics.

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