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Why You Shouldn't Ride a Motorcycle

Growing up, my father lovingly gave my brother and I three commandments that we absolutely, positively must not break: 1) no drugs 2) no religious cults and 3) no motorcycles.

Why no motorcycle? The way he put it: If you ride a motorcycle, when it rains, you get wet. When it's hot, you suffer, too. If a car hit you, you'd lose. If you hit a car, you'd lose as well. Now, how can one argue with that logic?

Apparently, Jeremy Clarkson of BBC TV's Top Gear show doesn't like motorcycle as well. If you're thinking of switching to a motorcycle to save on fuel, read what he wrote in his review of the Vespa scooter first:

If you use only the front brake, you will fly over the steering wheel and be killed. If you try to use the back one, you will use the wrong foot and change into third gear instead of stopping. So you’ll hit the obstacle you were trying to avoid, and you’ll be killed.

Then there is the steering. The steering wheel comes in the shape of what can only be described as handlebars, but if you turn them — even slightly — while riding along, you will fall off and be killed. What you have to do is lean into the corner, fix your gaze on the course you wish to follow, and then you will fall off and be killed.

As far as the minor controls are concerned, well . . . you get a horn and lights and indicators, all of which are operated by various switches and buttons on the steering wheel, but if you look down to see which one does what, a truck will hit you and you will be killed. Oh, and for some extraordinary reason, the indicators do not self-cancel, which means you will drive with one of them on permanently, which will lead following traffic to think you are turning right. It will then undertake just as you turn left, and you will be killed.

What I’m trying to say here is that, yes, bikes and cars are both forms of transport, but they have nothing in common. Imagining that you can ride a bike because you can drive a car is like imagining you can swallow-dive off a 90ft cliff because you can play table tennis.

However, many people are making the switch because they imagine that having a small motorcycle will be cheap. It isn’t. Sure, the 125cc Vespa I tried can be bought for £3,499, but then you will need a helmet (£300), a jacket (£500), some Freddie Mercury trousers (£100), shoes (£130), a pair of Kevlar gloves (£90), a coffin (£1,000), a headstone (£750), a cremation (£380) and flowers in the church (£200).

Link - via Locust & Honey


I've often thought about getting a Vespa, even though it'd only be good six months out of the year, but oh man, these points are spot on.

I need a more badass way to kill myself.
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Ouch! Scathing.

Really though, forget scooters. For $2k you can get a Honda rebel. Way more stable, still gets 75mpg, and you don't look like such a sissy.
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I love Clarkson, and I am a die hard Top Gear fan, but that review is NOT of a Vespa... he is referring to foot shifting, which you don't do on a Vespa.

They used to sell the PX150, with a brake on the floor but the shifter is on the handlebars, squeeze the clutch and twist the handle bar.

The GTV he was riding, is a twist and go, squeeze both levers evenly to come to a safe stop.

Further in his article he does make a good point, it's a hobby. I thought I would be using mine for everything, but maintenance schedules on bikes are much more frequent and cost a lot of money. Tires wear out in around 3000 miles (YMMV) and cost around $300 to replace (tires and service fees)

I still haven't done all the math, but I'm sure it's close to if not cheaper for me to drive my 2002 Malibu than my Vespa GTS when you count total cost of ownership.

I love my Vespa though.
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Not all vespas are manual though.....anyway I may be bias against not liking this. My boyfriend and I ride his scooter around and it suits us just fine. You just need to know how to use one I suppose.
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This was obviously written by someone who has never, ever, ridden a motorcycle, and is too afraid to try. It would be funny if there were even a small element of truth to some of his point, but he's so full of crap it's just sad.
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Coming from the land of scooters (Taiwan, that is) I would argue that it is the best method of personal transportation there is. If only it pollutes less...
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It may be of some note that Clarkson is the only presenter on Top Gear that doesn't ride a motorcycle. This article could just be his way of harassing James May and Richard Hammond.
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Clarkson was and will for ever remain an unmitigated ARSE.

He is so blinkered to the car that he doesn't see that motorcycles don't kill people cars kill people, be they motor cyclist cyclist pedestrian skate boarder whatever.
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Clarkson is incredibly entertaining, even though I frequently don't agree with his views. The man prefers Ferarris and hates Porsches, so that tells you what sort of person we are dealing with.
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So when my dad was in high school he decided to buy a motorcycle. One clear sunny day he took the motorcycle down a back road in Texas and opened it up. As he was traveling down the road he hit a rock and pitched over the handle bars into a barbed wire fence and was knocked out cold. While he laid there, and old farmer came along and found him. The farmer thought he was dead, so he threw my dad and his motorcycle into the back of his truck and drove him to the county morgue which is where my dad woke up. He has never gotten on a motorcycle since and I have followed that example. Hell, I’ve fallen off my mountain bike enough times to know to never motorize that experience.
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I've ridden a motorcycle and now a scooter for about 8 years without a single incident. I HIGHLY recommend taking a motorcycle safety training course at your local community college. These classes teach you how to ride safely, be vigilant, handle obstacles, etc. Also, if you're on the fence, these classes will also help you decide if riding is for you...all without having to buy a bike or scooter. There were people in my class that decided it was not for them, which is totally fine.

I will never deny that there are risks...but there are risks in leaving your house, or commuting an hour to work every day (huge risks statistically)...but risks are a part of life, and it's hard to explain the thrill of cruising through a tree lined neighborhood on a warm summer evening on your scooter...smelling the flowers blooming in people's yards, the occasional backyard campfire, people grilling steaks, and even the girl who's put on a bit too much perfume. All the while you get just the slightest feeling that you're flying just a few feet off the ground. I would not trust this reviewer with a kid's Big Wheel.

You simply have to find your comfort level. I personally don't feel comfortable on the highway...so I don't do that. But as someone said above, they've had horrid accidents on a mountain bike. You find your comfort level with your risks, you take every precaution you can, and enjoy the benefits that come with it. It's the stuff of life.
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Everyone slamming Clarkson for making an unsustainable claim that motorcycles = bad and cars = good should really have read the piece properly.

In particular:

"Imagining that you can ride a bike because you can drive a car is like imagining you can swallow-dive off a 90ft cliff because you can play table tennis."

I don't see that he is saying that motorcycles are intrinsically bad, only that people who think riding them is easy because they can drive a car is a recipe for disaster, a point he feels worth making because more people are starting to think of this as a way to save money.

And, presumably, because the UK driver licensing system allows anyone with a full UK Driving License (for driving a CAR) to get straight onto the type of BIKE he describes without so much as an orientation course.

+0.02
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LOLOL I love that guy. That was the funniest description of riding a motorcycle ever.

I ride a 650cc Yamaha V-Star. Up until a week from now, I haven't needed a jacket and pants and gloves and such cuz I live in Florida. I just bought the bike ($3,250) and a $75 helmet. Current gas prices I can fill up my 3 gallon tank for $7.50 and go about 160 miles before I need to switch to my reserve. I gotta say, that's much cheaper than driving my car, even at 30mpg.

I'm about to buy a jacket, pants, and gloves because I'm moving to Baltimore, but still, you can get some nice gear at decent prices if you shop online. I'm going to get them all for under $200. It's been an investment that is paying off every day!
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I've been riding motorcycles since I was 6 years old and had my share of spill and close calls at typ sized speeds and distance from the ground. By the time I was ready to drive on the road I had enough experience and common sense. Still, if you ride a bike, odds are you'll whip out at some point.

I know of too many people that got their first bike and tried to 'see what it'll do' and died, or if they were lucky, only severely injured themselves, and everyone in their family became motorcycle-phobic.

Clarkson is a comic with his comments, and may be from one of these families, considering his dad's rules.
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Motorcycle riding should be encouraged. We have a serious organ shortage.

No matter how good a rider you are, it does not stop those driving multi ton cages around from being complete idiots.

Wear leather, spill without it, and you may not die, but you'll wish you had.

Most estimates put riding as being at least 15 times more lethal per passenger mile as driving.
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Sid that's funny as hell. The ferrari v porche statement.

I used to ride all the time when i was younger and am planning to get hold of the new Kikker 5150 200cc as soon as i resolve a personal crisis. You guys should really check these small horse power bikes out. This one looks like the old 50s bobber style bikes.

Any way, the only danger I felt I was in was from drivers of cages. (cars)

They pay bikers no mind or down right ignore us. Normally that's why a biker gets wrecked.
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Clarkson is a notorious darling of the right-wing Daily Mail-reading Tory/libertarian chattering classes in the UK. He's one step away from Richard Littlejohn, in love with the sound of his own voice, and so very proud of his convoluted smartarse writing. I discard him.
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I wouldn't mind getting a bike for the inner city area like Toronto because the chances me getting run over by a semi at over 60 mph is pretty much nil. Of course, that doesn't mean I'm going to get one anytime soon.
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"Most estimates put riding as being at least 15 times more lethal per passenger mile as driving."

That's the problem with aggregate statistics, they mislead when the components of the aggregate are widely disparate.

There are several types of riders who end up dead most often, and there often is overlap:

1.) males in their teens / early 20s, without rider training
2.) riders who drink before riding
3.) those who had a bike "back in the day" now buying a bike to recapture their youth - they survived by luck and quick reflexes then, but they don't have those reflexes now
4.) those who refuse to wear protective gear, especially helmets
5.) in general, anyone seeking "rebel" status - one might guess that they are risk-seekers and contemptuous of training and safety

The most common fatality is a young male riding off the road, at night, often after drinking.

There are several roadhouse bars in my area that we call "Harley corrals" because the bikes sit in front of the bars for hours before the riders head home. I doubt the riders are drinking club soda for all that time.

I've been riding for almost 30 years now. Yes, there are risks! I think about it every time I get on the bike. But as someone else said, you take risks every time you walk out the door. Life would be very dull if I never took any risks.

Clarkson is absolutely correct that riding is different than driving a car. It's a different skill set and some things seem counter-intuitive after driving a car. Also it is true that some people simply can't get the hang of it, and they should not ride.
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yeah,there are a lot of experts out there,who have never ridden a bike in their life,in 35 years of riding and racing motorcycles I meet them all the time,I've never asked them for their opinion,but they feel compeled to try to "save me from these things".These are the people I'm most afraid of meeting on the street because the same idiot who put these ideas in their heads,are probably the same idiots that taught these morons how to drive in the first place! I just remind myself that 50 percent of the drivers on the road are below average drivers.I just wish people like these would start taking the bus!
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You really need to relax.Yes bikes are dangerous but dont be such pussy. If you pay attention and wear all your gear you will improve your odds. Most everyone I know who has crashed ended up in ER because of road rash. Think about that if they would have spent a couple hundred in gear they could have saved thousands on medical bills.
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wow, this is retarded. thats not at all how motorcycles are and if you would just stop being such a puss you would realize how sweet they are. take a motorcycle safety training class and learn some useful information. i know this article is supposed to be humorous and yes it kinda was but if any one honestly thinks this is all there is to a motorcycle then thats just sad. i guess if you want re assurance of why you should live a boring life then you have came to the right place. lol keep riddin!!
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Anytime we walk out or front door we are at some degree of risk. Even sitting safely in our living rooms we are at risk. Should we not drive our cars? Should we not fly on the plane? Should we not jog on the sidewalk? We all make decisions on the degree of risk that we are willing to accept. I think a majority of motorcycle riders are aware of the danger that riding entails. Just be careful and don't drink and drive.
DannT
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