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Common Tread

The motorcycling brotherhood

Jun 12, 2015

One of the things I love about motorcycling is the camaraderie. When you meet someone else who rides, there’s an instant bond, something you share no matter what other differences you have.

Sure, we ride different kinds of motorcycles, but you know the saying: It’s not what you ride, it’s that you ride. I ride a Honda, myself. I mean, really, if you have half a brain, why not buy a bike from the company that’s known for quality engineering? Performance and reliability, that’s what makes Hondas the best. Not that other bikes aren’t good. As they say, there are no terrible motorcycles today.

Of course I always wonder about people who buy Gixxers. Everyone knows the GSX-R line attracts squids like a wounded Australian seal attracts Great Whites. You see them riding around in shorts and flip-flops, with a helmet bungeed to that ridiculous little square Suzuki calls a pillion pad. Hey, dumbass, here’s a tip: Your rear seat doesn’t need Snell-level protection! I really don’t understand those idiot squids.

Not that I’m one of those ATGATT Nazis. I can’t stand those guys. They’re like a squad of trolls, scouring motorcycle forums, just waiting for someone to post a photo of himself in jeans, and then they pounce, saying how irresponsible it is not to be in full leathers on a 90-degree day for that four-mile ride to your girlfriend’s house. Jerks.

For the most part though, we riders share an instant bond, which is why we wave to each other on the road. Of course some of the Harley guys won’t wave at me. You know the type. All smug about their “American” bikes (and wearing their Harley leather chaps made in Pakistan). I finally got fed up with the attitude and now I don’t wave at anyone on a Harley, even if they wave at me. Screw ‘em.

But I wave at everyone else. Even the hipsters on their chopped-up Honda CB350s. When did this trend breed among the population like a mutant ebola strain? I mean, come on, every dude with a beard management problem who hacks away at a 1970s UJM (Google it, hipsters! If you knew anything about motorcycle history beyond how to post a photo of one on Instagram, you’d know what I’m talking about!) thinks he’s an artist, now. It’s like a holocaust of 1970s crap bikes. But, what the hell, those bikes weren’t worth much anyway, so I guess it’s no big loss. I wave at them most of the time, unless I’m just tired of it and can’t be bothered.

I have respect for serious riders. The guys who pull up on dusty BMW boxers with major miles on the odometer. Of course, you have to sort out the posers. You know, the guy whose major goal for the weekend is to get a good parking spot in front of Starbucks and angle his R 1200 GS Adventure just so, hoping and praying someone will notice his sticker from Kazakhstan and ask him about it. So what, Mr. Junior Hedge Fund Manager, you paid a sum equal to a year’s salary in the Third World to fly in for a luxury tour on a rented motorcycle and they posed you for a photo in front of a desert. Big deal. Those guys are just posers.

Some of the Ducati guys are just about as bad. If I have to hear one more speech about “Italian style” or how the hottest party is always at the “Ducati Island,” I’m going to puke. I mean, it’s not about the brand name on the tank. Am I right? That’s not the true spirit of the motorcycle brotherhood.

And even though I said “brotherhood,” there are some serious women riders, too. Got to give them credit. It’s not easy, being a woman rider, what with men looking down on you and the poser women giving you a bad name. You know the poser kind. They ride just to get attention. You see them in their pink jackets and helmets with flowers on them, just screaming, “Look at me, I’m a girl on a motorcycle, I’m special! I’m edgy!” I really don’t have time for them. They usually just get in the way.

Fortunately, there’s still a sense of family among motorcyclists, most of the time. Let me give you an example of why that’s so important to me. So, my girlfriend is in this book club, and every month they all read a different book and discuss it. Well, lately the group split in two because they had this big fight. One of the older women said that Jane Austen was the greatest genius of British literature and one of the younger ones said that only a weepy, post-menopausal fool could suggest that Austen could hold a candle to Shakespeare or Dickens, and pretty soon they all chose up sides and split into two groups and stopped talking to each other. I mean, can you imagine getting all worked up like that over something stupid like a book?

I’m glad motorcyclists aren’t like that.