Motorcyclists have a "bad" name

I just came across an old post on one of the women motorcycle forums I hang out on occasionally and since that board has a bit of a problem with its database back-end every once in a while, I thought to myself it would be nice to save this thing from an uncertain future by copying it here, where it can live its life in the relative safety that is Google’s data-center. I’m not going to edit it to make it blog worthy, I think it can stand on its own and makes a nice contribution to missbusa.com. Here it goes:

As a ‘crotch rocket’ rider, I’m gonna have to chime in here. First, an observation (of only the bad things, because the good still outweigh the bad on either bike): When I was riding my Harley Sportster, nobody messed with me. I didn’t get the finger, I didn’t get cut off, I didn’t come out of the grocery store with a shopping cart sharing my bike’s parking space or some fat SUV parking so close I can’t even throw a leg over without putting a dent in their quarter panel. When I switched to become a ‘crotch rocket jockey’ things changed dramatically. I was cut off, given the single-digit salute, paced, honked at, generally disrespected in my lane space, more dingleberries than I care to think about (tailgaters), and the list goes on. I couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on. I was wearing the same gear, was riding the same way, my style gradually changed, but that happened later… but I come to that… and I was courteous as I could possibly safely be to all motorists / pedestrians / bicyclists. So, I have to deduce that people in general (mostly non-motorcyclists I’m sure) hate crotch rockets and respect cruisers OR they hate all bikers, but are too afraid to mess with a Harley rider. Maybe it’s that lingering 1%er thing… Who knows?

I used to ride it like a cage. Stayed in my lane, went with the flow of traffic, kept my safety cushion, etc. Not anymore. To ride like that is to put yourself in jeopardy and your life on the line. I now ride very aggressively in traffic, for the sole purpose of getting out of their way and find my own airy piece of asphalt where I can continue on my way in relative safety and unmolested by cagers. I don’t care anymore if they look at me like I’m aggressive, cutting them off, being an idiot on a crotch rocket (they had formed that opinion about me before I even eased out the clutch at the stop line). In rush hour traffic I ride hard. I don’t hang around the pack. I take control. If they don’t like it and get their feelings hurt and their collective egos bruised, so be it. What they take as ‘aggression’ on my part is my way of keeping out of harm’s way. I hate road rash and crashing sucks, I’d rather have their ego bruised than pick gravel out of my butt cheeks or worse. Thank you very much. They basically pushed me into the mold, by disrespecting me as a motorist and forced my hand. I adapted and overcame. I am not the fastest on the road. I don’t do wheelies, stoppies, or any of that other bullcrap, at least not where anybody is around to see it (I practice in private :mrgreen: ). I usually go speed limit +5 unless it’s residential… but I dang sure gonna leave you at the line, so I get my safety cushion back and your bumper off my tail pipe. I see more law enforcement now than I ever have. EVER! It’s because they call me in (I had this suspicion confirmed by a motor officer) … I call it ‘calling in a sighting’… taking a bite out of that local crotch rocket problem. Yeah, I’m a little jaded, but I’ve come so close to crashing (due to their disrespect of my space) so many times that I am really done with ‘nice’. I ride my own ride and I make it a point to stay out of their way. I’m still a defensive rider, I still consider myself a safe rider and one who knows her skill-set and stays within her limitations… but sometimes it takes ‘aggressive’ riding to stay out of harm’s way.

Rant complete.

On a positive note: I meet more people now than I ever have. Women especially give me kudos for riding. Dudes are in awe that I handle my business the way I do and mostly, even the non-biking public seem amazed when I pull up on my ‘such a big bike for such a small girl’. 🙂 I have more positive experiences than bad ones, but most of those come when you’re not playing in traffic, those happen at stop lights, parking lots, gas stations, etc. Cagers hanging out of their cars taking pictures still kind of freaks me out, tho. =D Maybe it’s the cat ears???

P.S. Yeah, I can be a squid at times. Yeah, I’ve done 152 in a 55 (on an empty road in the middle of nowhere). Yeah, I’ve used a public road as my personal race track and went twice the posted speed limit (on mountain roads where cagers actually expect it and wave you through). Yeah, I popped an inadvertent wheelie during a stoplight-to-stoplight redneck drag race with three chopper dudes (and four other riders bringing up the rear more or less at speed limit). I’m only human. The other 90% of the time I’m responsible, safety minded and try to be freakin’ courteous. But my good samaritan action and courteous riding manner cannot undo the tarnished reputation that we currently enjoy. Am I adding to it at times? Hell, yes. Am I trying to change the public’s outlook? Hell, yes, but not in traffic. I do that off the bike.

Ok, now I’m really done.

Recommended Reading: Ride Hard Ride Smart by Pat Hahn


4 Comments on “Motorcyclists have a "bad" name”

  1. Faceyman says:

    Interesting read re: the differences in perception by the public between sport bikes and cruisers. I ride both and have had not had the same experiences as you. Regardless of which bike I drive, I find that defensive driving is a must, especially in the age of cagers using cell phones, blackberries, etc…generally speaking, there is a complete lack of respect by most cagers for motorcyclists. Ride safe…

  2. Jeremy Blanchard says:

    Riding in Boston can be a death wish at times. I find being defensively aggressive works pretty well. One trick I've discovered is using your turn signals to control traffic around you. When someone insists on driving in your blindspot activate your turn signal and then watch them pull ahead and pass you. This works while in a cage as well. I use this trick all the time when a cager is driving in a position that I don't like.I switched from a sportster to an FZ1 and I noticed a difference in perception but not as drastic as you have reported.Happy Riding.

    • MissBusa says:

      I think I’m going to try the turn-signal thing myself and see if the peeps around here get it. But it seems that in GA a lot of folks are allergic to directional indications. Use them in Atlanta and you might just get blocked in your intention. LOL

  3. Trish says:

    Ohhh i like Jeremy’s idea-I’m going to use it! On forums there seems to be more of an anti-Harley attitude. (youthful rebellion against mom and dad bikes and outdated 1%’er posing?) I like mine-wish I could afford a variety of ALL types though. Would be fun. I notice that even in my car going 20-30mph OVER the speed limit-often a car will show up behind. Some people are just tailgaters no matter what, a few may be emboldened by an MC as more vulnerable. Bad drivers usually screw ANY driver-WE may notice it more because we are more aware of what a fenderbender would mean to us, much more than a bent fender. It’s like people complaining about fast MC riders while THEY are going 70mph in the 55 zone, or loud pipes while THEY boombox, leafblow and their truck is just as noisy-but it’s not a bike so it’s ok. They NOTICE the MC’s so they focus on it. I think their are some drivers that tend to dis any MC, HD’s because of 1%’s and jealousy, crotchrockets because of daredevilness and youth-and of course jealousy. After all they’re too sensible (scared) to even try it.


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