Just when you thought everything was going great, your husband announces that he is thinking about getting a motorcycle. Somehow you manage to keep a passive face while inside you are thinking “That’s not going to happen, no way, no how, uh-uh, no motorcycles in this family.” Or you have always had a secret desire to get a motorcycle yourself and this announcement fits right into your fantasy.
Whatever your initial reaction, once you sense that he is dead serious (oops, bad choice of adjective), you should get serious about what to do with this new obsession. In this blog, I will give you all the information you need and some information that your husband should know. At the very least you will be able to discuss motorcycle riding from an informed point of view.
The first thing you should ask yourself is whether or not you would like to ride a motorcycle. your better half wants you to participate on this new motorcycle and no matter if you are driving or riding as a passenger, you share the same experience.
Forget about the facts for a minute and look at the emotional side of riding a motorcycle. Some people do not want to ride on a motorcycle no matter what. They have had some bad experiences or maybe they are just not interested, period. If that’s you, you probably should listen to your gut feelings and let your husband know that buying a motorcycle is going to be a problem.
Don’t try to be understanding and to compromise because if you are dead set against having a motorcycle, getting “talked into” a motorcycle is never going to work.
However, if you are not completely against the idea of getting a motorcycle, read on and get the facts. Once you have the facts, you can make an informed decision. Or by the time you know the facts, you will have already decided one way or the other.
There are a lot of couples out there where only the husband rides and the wife never participates. To me, this is not really what riding is all about. I believe that the non-riding spouse will always be projecting their personal fears onto the other spouse and the motorcycle will ultimately be something that takes away from the relationship rather than adds to the relationship. But everyone is different and as they say, “whatever floats your boat.”
Let’s cut to the chase, how dangerous is riding a motorcycle? There are a lot of statistics available on motorcycle deaths and injuries. you can check the Department of Transportation or the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (or my own blog) and find out more than you ever wanted to know about motorcycle danger. Here is the short version.
Motorcycle Death and Injury Statistics
|People killed while riding in a car||41,059|
|People killed while riding a motorcycle||5,154|
|People injured while riding in a car||2.49 million|
|People injured while riding a motorcycle||103,000|
These are the raw numbers for 2007. For a meaningful view, you must account for the number of drivers/riders and miles traveled. I put riding a motorcycle at 2 to 4 times riskier than driving a car.
But for a raw look at motorcycle riding risk, this is it, pure and simple, a motorcycle is much riskier than a car but they both have the risk of injury or death. It comes down to how much risk are you willing to accept to enjoy riding a motorcycle.
Alcohol and Drugs
Does your husband drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol? If the genuine answer is yes, then a motorcycle is not the kind of new toy you should have in your family. Statistically, 50% of motorcycle deaths are a result of riding while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. So, forget about a motorcycle (and you should really take some affirmative action to eliminate any driving under the influence).
Sports Bike or Cruiser?
The most dangerous motorcycle is the “Super Sports Bike” an enormously powerful street and road racer. The “Super Sports Bike” is the top-of-the-line road racer in the Sports Bike category. The Sports Bike category is often called the “Ninja” or Crotch Rocket.
The safest motorcycle is the cruiser. It does not need to be a Harley, just a cruiser.
To put it into perspective, the “Super Sports Bike” is four times as likely to be involved in an accident than a cruiser.
Still with me?
OK, now that you have the facts on how dangerous it is to ride a motorcycle, here are some more facts that are not quite as upsetting.
Passenger Riding or Riding “2Up”
Have you ever ridden on the back of a motorcycle? The most common passenger comment is there is a feeling of not being in control. You go wherever the driver goes. Too fast or too slow, you are just along for the ride. To some, this can be unnerving, not being in control.
There are passenger responsibilities to pay attention to such as sitting upright and avoid leaning against the turns. You will need to keep your feet on the pegs when you are stopped at a light. You will need to avoid falling asleep at 75 mpg during a long ride.
The good news is that as a passenger, you are not always on, you are not always 100% focused on the ride. You can take a break and enjoy the ride a lot more than the driver. See the sights, smell the forest, really enjoy the ride.
Now your husband will probably want a passenger seat that is pretty small and unobtrusive and looks cool while he is riding alone. No sissy bar or at best, a small sissy bar (backrest). Pay attention to this as whatever ends up as the passenger seat will become near and dear to your backside.
The passenger seat becomes more than a “stylish” piece of leather. On a fifteen-minute ride to the store, almost any passenger seat will suffice but on a longer ride, forget about style and focus on comfort. Your backside will thank you.
Today’s cruiser has a very cool seat option; actually, change the seat for single or 2Up riding. Sounds complicated but there is really only one thumbscrew involved, 5 minutes to go from a single rider “looking cool” seat to a 2Up comfortable seat. This is usually not an option on a Sports Bike.
Yes, after riding for a few hours or even just fifteen minutes, when you take off your helmet, you will have helmet hair. To most guys, this is not a big deal. In fact, it may be kind of a macho look, a kind of battle scar that lets everyone know they are out there living on the edge (or something like that).
But if you never ride in a convertible because the wind messes up your hair, you are not going to be excited about your hairstyle when the helmet comes off. Or if you are looking for that $600 “just-woke-up hairstyles”, a motorcycle helmet may be just what you are looking for.
More importantly than the hair issue, is the helmet itself. First of all, I believe that every rider must wear a DOT-approved helmet. There are three main styles of helmets, the half helmet (top half of your head is protected), the 3/4 helmet (top and sides of your head), and the full-face helmet (top, sides, and face are protected).
The big news here is that only the full-face helmet will protect your face when you are skidding along with the asphalt. That’s it, if you want to make sure to keep your face intact during a crash, you need to wear a full-face helmet.
There are fashion leathers and motorcycle leathers and the two are not interchangeable. While fashion leathers may have the motorcycle look, they fall short when you really need the protection.
However, as motorcycles have gained popularity, so have the motorcycle leather fashions. Check out the Harley clothing and see what’s going on today. You will be pleasantly surprised and a little shocked at the prices.
Yes, you will be out in the weather, I mean, out in the weather. In the warm summer months, riding is a unique pleasure. The wind in your face, the smells, the overall feeling of freedom is wonderful. But it does rain, and it does get cold and you are still out in the weather.
You wear the proper clothes, gloves, boots, and safety gear and you are doing simply fine in the weather. The changing weather adds to the adventure. You will never feel more together with your sweetie until after you have weathered the ride together.
And if You are Still with Me
Now, how about the actual motorcycle riding which is what your husband is really interested in in the first place? Well, this is the fun part.
Riding a motorcycle together with your sweetie is fun. Not just going to a movie fun or having a picnic fun, but adventure fun.
I joke with my wife that she needs a destination when we go for a ride and all I need is a direction. It’s true, it’s all about the ride. Once you get to your destination there is a change in the atmosphere. The ride is over and no matter how exciting the destination may be, the ride has been suspended until you get back on to ride home.
Riding along in the wind, you have a feeling of oneness, the togetherness that is hard to find in any other activity (except one other). Sharing the adventure together just seems to put the color into life. And you have this available sitting out in the garage, ready to go at any time.
Now you know the facts.
- Motorcycles are more dangerous than cars, but you are not automatically sentenced to death when you ride a motorcycle. In fact, safe riding can really minimize the risk.
- Alcohol and drug use while on a motorcycle dramatically increases the risk and is just plain stupid.
- Super Sports Bikes are much more dangerous than cruisers.
- Wearing leathers and experiencing the weather can be a lot of fun.
- Riding a motorcycle is not for everyone but for those who ride, they only wish they had started riding earlier.
Like I said in the beginning, whatever floats your boat. Ride safe!