I’m Turning Into a Motorcycle Snob

At a party last week an interesting discussion formed about motorcycles. Actually I take that back, it was more like a lecture on motorcycles. A young gentleman saw my motorcycle gear and asked, “What do you ride?” I answered and then he followed up with “How fast have you gotten it up to?” *DING* *DING* Squid Alert! I try and not answer those kinds of questions. My favorite responses is “Fast enough” or “pretty fast”. My ambiguity spawned off a discussion among a couple others about how fast the Hayabusas and ZX-14s go. My good friend says “Aw man I want one so bad.” I tell him, “No, what you need is a 500CC bike or less.” He scoffs at the notion, unable to believe that I failed to realize that the size of a motorcycle’s engine is directly correlated to the amount of fun one can have on it. Bigger is better right?

“I just don’t understand why people buy these ridiculously powerful machines. When this,” I stick my hand out to demonstrate a closed throttle position, “and this,” I rotate my hand slightly, “is the difference between life and death, I don’t understand how such a machine can be enjoyable as your first motorcycle.” I break eye contact with everyone and everything comes spilling out, “I mean most riders cannot even safely control half of that machine’s power safely, and when you are able to it’s too dangerous on public roads.” The GSXR guy interrupts and says, “Yea but on some open expressways it’s fairly safe to get up to those speeds, especially if you’ve surveyed the area first.” I reply, “Absolutely, I admit to doing it myself, however any idiot and throw open the throttle and head in a straight line. What the hell is the fun with that?” I realize I just implied that he was an idiot, but I keep going, “I have more fun going 20MPH on a switchback than I would going 200MPH down a straight away.”

I sense that I’m getting a little preachy and back off. The expressions on people’s faces are a mixture of polite confusion. Polite because they realize that a very sensitive issue has been brought up and they should tread lightly as if we were discussion the abortion issue. Confused because they realize that this guy is talking about motorcycles with such a passion that is on par with abortion activists.

It’s lost on them all.

  • emptyM

    not a snob
    just someone who enjoys riding for the sake of riding.

    (in my opinion) some people want to be “that guy” on the ‘crotch rocket’ 100+ in a straight line, where its all about image and if they freak out a cager… all the better.

    some (myself included) want to just enjoy being on 2 wheels, 20mph hairpins. Its a more personal enjoyment that doesn’t require any validation from people around you.

    my 2ยข

  • Malcolm

    I did more on my old 250 Ninja than most of these idiots will ever do on a bike they can’t control. Buying something doesn’t improve your life or the pleasure you draw from it; improving your SELF (as in moto skills) improves your life.

  • http://impulsionblog.com BillS

    It sounds like they only seem to know the stereotypes of motorcycling – Sensationalized videos and stories about adrenalin fueled, “crotch rockets”, doing 200MPH or big guys, in leather vests, on raked-out Harleys disturbing a neighborhood. They don’t know, like I know nothing about particle physics or adventure motorcycle touring (yet). And that confusion you saw might have been someone realizing the just don’t know the whole story – they saw the passion you spoke of. “’til you have walked a mile in another man’s shoes…”.

    All is not lost – I think you should convert them! Show ’em the picts of the places that me, and a lot of your readers, dream to see (or have seen) on two wheels. Heck, in some states the MSF BRC is only $25 – that’s a cheap and good introduction, too.

    like emptyM said, my 2c

  • http://rynoweb.com Chuck Reynolds

    So, as a gixxer guy I totally understand where you’re coming from here. I was pretty much raised on two wheels and have been riding forever and it really does raise a flag when the first thing somebody asks is “how fast does it go” or “you do wheelies and stuff”…
    To me… it’s the same as asking a veteran of a war if he killed anybody… Stupid question

    Eh whatever – I’m used to it to the point where I don’t really pay attention to it. The guy at Wendy’s that says he wants my bike but a 1000 instead of the 600… worries me… because he’s young, probably never ridden one and he’s going to show off to his buddy’s one day and bam… light pole.

    Anyways… keep the rubber side down Bill

  • http://www.everydayriding.org Chris Luhman

    I’ve been in the same situation talking about the same two bikes. guh. You missed the “do you race?” question.

    Those types of conversations seem to follow the style of bike though. When I’m riding my Ural in Minnesota winter, I don’t get the “how fast does it go questions” anymore. I get the “are you crazy?!” ones now instead. :)

  • Nick Gauthier

    I rode with a group for a little while, and they’d crawl around the corners and gun the straights. I wouldn’t go more than 15 over the limit, but I did that straight through the corners :-)

    The only reason I have a 650R and not a 250R is that I’m 6’3″ and my height’s in my legs, so I just don’t fit. I’d rather be on a smaller bike, so I could ride it more aggressively and still be under the limit.

    I just wish there was an easy way to look for a group of people with this mentality, like a code word or something.

  • http://www.atlasrider.com Atlas

    @emptyM

    I totally agree.

    @Malcom

    Well said.

    @BillS

    Yea, perhaps they just don’t know the whole story, but it is kinda hard to convey…

    @ChuckReynolds

    Yea kids like that scare me too. I always am wary when conversations start out like that

    @ChrisLuhman

    Ha, that’s hilarious!

    @Nick Gauther

    I’ve ridden with groups like this before. It is funny to keep catching up with them in the curves.

  • cashstore1

    I have gone through this discussion before. I talked to an older biker who had one of those 156hp rockets, and asked him why he would want one. He told me that the thrill is in the acceleration and the ability to pass a car. I thought about it for a bit and realized he was right. There are different kinds of thrills out there. I have driven speed triples and relished in their power. For riding the curves a 250cc would be more nimble, but a different kind of thrill. I still think it’s best to have a variety of bikes, and choose the correct bike for the occasion, depending on the thrill you want. I also believe skill level comes into play when riding the twisties. I can though my large 96 Triumph Trophy, very well in the curves.
    I don’t have one of those super fast kind of bikes, but would not mind riding one on occasion.
    An analogy would be the difference between flying a biplane and a fighter jet. The biplane would be much more maneuverable at slow speeds, while the fighter jet would give you the thrill of acceleration and climbing ability.

  • Torch

    Preach it brother!

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