My wife is worried about me, post-motorcycle ownership. We’ve been together for 53 years and out of 52 those first years I was sans-motorcycle for about five years total. We were young, poor as the servants of church mice, and generally vehicle-less altogether for most of those five years. She still, occasionally, calls me her “motorcycle man.” But I’m not anymore and, likely, won’t ever be again.
On a May weekend this spring, one that was finally seasonably nice, our southeastern Minnesota small town was cursed by the pirates out in their full ear-shattering, trajectory-unstable gory glory (7 motorcycle deaths for the weekend). Even before the coronavirus lock-down began, more motorcyclists had died in 2020 on Minnesota roads than last year, which had the most motorcycle deaths in 24 years. The difference between this year and last is that motorcyclists—responsible riders who do the AGAT thing, can ride competently, and give a damn about their neighbors and communities—are staying off of the roads to avoid becoming a unnecessary load on the already stressed local healthcare systems.
That leaves the highways clear for the bikers and other posers who have none of those socially responsible qualities and couldn’t pass a comprehensive motorcycle license test on a tricycle. Those idiots are falling down and getting run over, riding off of remedial curves over cliffs and into ditches and trees, and even failing to manage competent stops and rolling through stop lights and signs into intersections where they get squashed like bugs. After doing pretty much everything wrong and ending up in a hospital and a wheelchair, the typical biker response is to start whining about “right of way” law enforcement.
Obviously, any complication created by other road users will entangle these idiots, Consistently, the worst drivers/riders/whatever are the goobers on trikes of any sort. The overwhelmingly worst of the trike bunch are on three-wheeled Harleys and the next worst are on three-wheeled Goldwings conversions. The Polaris Slingshot and Can-Am Spyder big spenders are slightly down from that first bunch in overall incompetence and, sometimes, even wear helmets and other gear, but those trike pilots are still are just hopped-up wheelchair trawlers and they generally ride accordingly. There was a perfectly good reason why three-wheeled ATVs were banned in 1988.
When I sold my Yamaha WR250X this spring, the kid who bought the bike commented on a parade of noise-makers going by our house as he loaded up the WR. “My neighbor has one of those Harley trike-things. She had a stroke a couple of years ago and it seems like a good fit for her. She’s pretty brain-damaged.”
“From the mouths of babes,” this 17-year-old pretty much summed up my attitude about three-wheelers and their riders. So, when my wife asked me, “Have you ever thought of one of those things?” My answer was, “Not while I’m still able to think for myself.” After that, who cares?
The reason, of many, for my distain for 3/4 of a cage is “Where could I go on that?” Seriously, what can you do on a three-wheeler that you can’t do on every compact car ever made? Worse, the Slingshot gets 18mpg and the Spyder is in the 30s territory.
Contemplating the current state of decline in both motorcycling and the United States in general, for a brief moment, I thought about Cyril Kornblulth’s The Marching Morons novelette for the zillion-th time since reading that story sometime in the late 50’s:
“The motor started like lighting a blowtorch as big as a silo. Wallowing around in the cushions, Barlow saw through a rear-view mirror a tremendous exhaust filled with brilliant white sparkles.
“Do you like it?” yelled the psychist.
“It’s terrific!” Barlow yelled back. “It’s—”
He was shut up as the car pulled out from the bay into the road with a great voo-ooo-ooom! A gale roared past Barlow’s head, though the windows seemed to be closed; the impression of speed was terrific. He located the speedometer on the dashboard and saw it climb past 90, 100, 150, 200.
. . . Watching them, Barlow began to wonder if he knew what a kilometer was, exactly. They seemed to be traveling so slowly, if you ignored the roaring air past your ears and didn’t let the speedy lines of the dreamboats fool you. He would have sworn they were really crawling along at twenty-five, with occasional spurts up to thirty. How much was a kilometer, anyway?
We’ve arrived, long before schedule, to Cyril’s predicted future. At least he did ‘t predict flying cars as compensation for being surrounded by the Marching Morons.