When You Really Need a Big Bike

All Rights Reserved © 2013 Thomas W. Day

Add Your Data to the Geezer Mileage PollFor a bit of self-entertainment, I created a spreadsheet to collect data about how many miles a typical motorcyclist rides in a year. A few other riders and I grabbed sale ads from CraigsList all over the country and the spreadsheet takes that data and turns it into a look at who rides what how far in the good old US of A. The numbers are enlightening and a little depressing. The gross overwhelming majority of motorcycles get ridden  substantiall less than 2500 miles a year. This confirms my personal observations and suspicions, Americans are not motorcyclists.

One point I was trying to make with gathering this data is that the argumens justifying a bike larger than 250cc are pretty lame. Even those cheap Chinese bikes sold off of trailers at swap meets can survive a decade of 1000-2500 miles/year use and abuse. However, I know a lot of you can’t maintain your self-image on a small motorcycle. So, In the interest of providing a public service for those who desperately want to imagine they are different than the average biker, I’ve compiled a short list of reasons why you might need a bigger, faster motorcycle.

  1. “It’s the end of the world as we know it.” This is the best reason I know of for buying a liter bike (and I don’t mean one of those girlyman big-twin dingleberrys, but a real liter bike like an R1 or a GSX-R or a CBRR) is that your doc has given you a couple of months to live and you have decided to be shot out of a cannon instead of squeezed through the tube of our screwed-up medical system. There is no better way to splatter yourself all over a wall or launch yourself from a cliff than from a 200mph motorcycle.

  2. An alternative to the above scenario would be that NASA has confirmed that QE2 is going to collide with Momma Earth and we’re all gonna die in a couple of weeks. Might was well grab that bull by the handlebars and let ‘er rip for one great, last high-speed chase. Of course, the cops will be busy with other stuff so they might not want to play along. Still, you can do a lot of damage with a 200HP, 200MPH motorcycle while the rest of humanity is trying to tuck it’s head between its legs.

  3. Everybody hates you, nobody loves you. It’s either eat worms or buy a fast bike, put on a wife-beater, some flip-flops, baggy shorts, a snazzy biker mask, and go out and collect some serious road-rash scars and hope for pity sex from the nurses.

  4. You’ve been evicted from Mom’s basement and, with no place to go and no possible future, you’ve decided that prison is the only place to spend your “productive years.” Rev up that R1 and take if for a ride down Highway 61. The cops clocked you at 160mph and you’re on your way to jail for a good long time in the showers. Hope they still do Spanish Rice on Thursdays.

  5. Your girlfriend dumped you, your dog died, your pickup blew a piston, and you lost your job. Like #1 and #2, you have nothing to live for and need a fast, guaranteed way to end it all. Pick a mountain road and drop the hammer. They’ll be picking up the pieces for years. That ought to teach that old girlfriend a lesson. (#3, #4, & #5 are suspiciously similar, but so are the usual justifications for buying more bike than you can ride competently.)

  6. You have a beautiful new house with an impeccable 4-car garage and nothing to put in two of the stalls. Like Jay Leno, money is pouring out of your orifices and you need someplace stupid to spend it. The smart thing to do would be to buy vintage guitars, diamonds or gold, or really large and ugly “art.” The second dumbest thing you can do is to buy a liter crotch rocket and ride it. The smart move, out of some pretty dumb options, would be to drain the fluids from however many bikes you choose to buy and treat them like artwork. Put them on stands and make them highlight of the garage portion of your house tour, “And this is my race bike collection. I’m waiting for the fuel systems to be remapped and new hand-wrapped race tires.” Dumb Rich Guy Alert: the first dumbest thing you can do is to drag home a trophy wife.

  7. You and the wife push the industrial meat scale’s needle toward 650 pounds and no small bike will haul or support all of that pork. A big twin with a pair of chaise lounges perched on top of a low-slung, noisy, underpowered motor will be barely enough to put you and your honey into motion. Stopping is a whole ‘nother problem, but why worry when you’re looking so cool? (Yeah, I realize this “reason” is justifying a “girlyman big-twin dingleberry,” but some of you are going to buy them and not ride them. I might as well concede to reality.)

  8. You are a banker and you need something really heavy to hold down all of that fraudulent paper you’ve been generating since 1981. If the paperweight is big enough, you hope the IRS will never ask to look under it. I recommend a HumVee for this application. They are heavier, harder to move, and cheap as dirt. However, an Electro-Glide is a close second.

  9. You want to build the world’s fastest ski lift. You don’t really care about the whole motorcycle for this application, just the power plant and gearbox. With 200HP and the capability of rev’ing to 12k, you can launch skiers into the sky like down-encrusted cannon balls. I say “Go for it.”

  10. You are a real racer, not a poser. You have graduated from a couple of years on a 250, moved up to a 650 twin or 600 four, and you are ready to race with the big boys. Pull off the lights, safety-wire the fasteners, pick a number, and get ready to spend the whole trust fund because you’re going racing! (In case you’re not paying attention, this is the only good reason to own a race-replica motorcycle.)

Of course, buying a smaller, easier-and-more-fun-to-ride, more fuel-efficient motorcycle would make a lot more sense for the majority of riders, but when has recommending practicality been an American marketing tactic? I realize that most of my ten “reasons” are suicidal. With a firm grasp on our 0.01% of traffic being 14% of total road fatalities, riding a motorcycle of any sort appears to be self-destructive.

At the core, I’m serious about this. If you are one of the majority of riders, you have no need, business, or fashion justification for a race bike wannabe. It doesn’t make you look cool, younger, skinnier, smarter, or richer. The riding and general public just assumes you’re on the monthly installment plan and will probably turn the bike back to the loan company the first time you drop in your driveway and skin up your unprotected knees. The best you can hope for is to be ignored until you go away. The rest of us will go riding on our practical, efficient, fun small bikes and generally be ignored by the rest of the world. We like it that way.

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