To Have or Have Not

Well, motorcycle news over the last few weeks has been both interesting and thought provoking and definitely worth a chat.  Let's start with the light and work our way down to the more serious:  Lost and Found, A Real Hard On, and Hard Headed.

Lost and Found
First up.  After that devastating series of earthquakes and tsunamis last year someone got some happy news.  His Harley survived.  A little rusty and worse for wear, but it survived a transoceanic trip all the way from Japan to Canada.  Fortunately it wasn't alone; it was in a storage container.  The man had lost 3 members of his family, but the Harley was identified and will be returned to him.  Just goes to show that the world can be both a strange and an interesting place.  That motorcycle has been where no motorcycle has gone before.  I'd be happy to see it restored and riding shiny side up!

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UPDATE  5/30/12:
The Japanese Harley is now going to the Harley Davidson museum- goo.gl/kd1hI

A Real Hard On
Now for the more bizarre (the only thing that equaled this story this week was the idea that dinosaur farts lead to their extinction.  At least people can stop blaming the dogs now.)

A man is attempting to sue BMW for his 20-month hard on.  Really?  Hasn't he seen the commercial that says if it has been returned to its original position after 4 hrs he should go to the hospital? The case gets more complicated as well - he had a Corbin aftermarket seat on his bike.  Not being a guy myself, I can only imagine what this condition would be like, but I think a day or so it would top out your ability to tolerate and get by with it.  How this fellow managed for nearly two years is quite the mystery.  Of course there is always give and take to every situation, now that it was given, it has been taken away and he has the opposite problem now.  I think this is a ridiculous case.  I guess we'll see how good his lawyer is. 

It's hard to say whether BMW or Corbin should shrink from the "bad press" or if they should work their new markets: male porn stars and women with money who would prefer a significant status upgrade for their personal "toys" with a tremendous "wha-hoo" factor built in.  What will be next someone suing Porsche because they got laid and happened to pick up an STD from their transgendered co-driver?  Maybe they'll just sue the tire manufacturer for the handling being so much more superior with their new rain slicks?

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Hard Headed
And now for something completely different (and far more serious).  Here in Michigan, Governor Synder repealed our helmet law.  Most of the states around us allow you to ride with no helmet.  Many states do, to varying degrees.  One of my favorites is Utah.  If you are going under 45 miles an hour (and are of an appropriate age), you don't have to wear a helmet.  If you are going over 45 mph, like on a highway, you are supposed to wear one.  Side note:  in Utah there is no law about wearing a helmet while riding a regular bicycle, but most people do.  Give them some horsepower however, and they wear shorts, sandals, no shirt, and no helmet.  Talk about nuts!

This could be a great point for thought and debate.  The pro helmet camp primarily claim "it saves lives" (wearing helmets that is), while con camp says it's a "freedom issue".  The Governor’s big reason is that he thinks it will substantially increase tourism here in Michigan.  I think he's dreaming.  Michigan has some absolutely gorgeous riding and fabulous things to do, and heaven knows we could use an economic break, but if anyone thinks repealing the helmet law is going to do all that I have a unicorn with a platinum horn I'd like to sell them.

Consequently overnight (yes, really, it was overnight) 95% of the motorcycle riders stopped wearing their helmets around here.  I've been able to count the number of helmet wearers over the last couple of weeks on just my two hands.  Interesting things to note: sport bike riders (or as we casually refer to them here as "crotch rocket" riders) have been 100% helmet wearers still, Harley (and most touring types) have been almost 100% non-wearers, and big tour bikes like Goldwings have been a 50/50 mix.

Let's be honest and chat for a few minutes... the biggest life threat to motorcyclists is not whether or not they are wearing a helmet, it's distracted and unobservant other drivers on the road (a hazzard to all - motorcycle, car, or truck).  People on cell phones, texting, smoking, drinking coffee, shaving, putting on make-up, fixing their hair, not signaling, not looking before they do things, and plain not paying attention to the actual act of driving- that is the real danger.  Combine the real danger with a lack of 1-ton of metal (or a half-ton of compressible plastic) with airbags and seatbelts and well, again, you can see that a helmet is the least of a motorcyclist's worries. 

I often joke that a helmet is just a bowl to contain your squishy brain bits in case of an accident, but without a helmet, if you go down (heaven forbid), you will be dead or worse.  A helmet gives you a chance and keeps you from a perfect wrecking storm.  Have I ever ridden without a helmet in a state where I could?  Yes, once or twice for a couple of blocks at low speed, just to feel the "freedom".  Did it feel weird?  Yes.  Did I like it? Not really.  Did I want to put my helmet back on as soon as I really thought about it?  Yes.  Will I be riding my Valyk around town this week without my helmet?  No!

Now ask me the important questions.  Do I think there should be a helmet law, or a seatbelt law, or whatever along those lines, even if I do think the world is safer with them?  No.  I think that freedom isn't about having extra knots and bug guts in my hair, it's about not having to be regulated by the government for everything that I do.  I think that people should be mature enough to have good information and to make good choices.  Should everyone be penalized for a handful of idiot drivers (that shouldn't be driving in my book)?  NO!  The government is trying to regulate stupidity, by taking away freedom of thought, choice, and action.  What "they" still haven't noticed yet is that stupidity knows no bounds, so even attempting to regulate it is a bit silly.  What’s worse though are the people who want to casually hand this type of decision making over to the government.  The truly stupid and dangerous people in this world are those who want rules and regulations so they don't have to think or choose.  That is the real loss of freedom.  Freedom comes with responsibility, yet those who don't use it responsibly always seem to be the first ones to whine about it.

So, fellow riders- it's your turn now.  Do you/ Will you continue to wear a helmet?  What do you think of helmet laws?  Do they matter?  Do they help?

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1 comment:

  1. Freedom is the ability to choose and to do so responsibly and I agree 210% with not having every Tom, Dick, & Harry in Washington telling me what I can and can not do.


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