In a biker’s world, living on two is far more than a hobby. It is just a simple fact of life. So it’s hard for die-hard riders to imagine that their way of life is steadily becoming a dying industry.
While manufacturers have been pushing the limits of technology to build faster, more advanced motorcycles, riders to pilot those bikes are moving further and further away out of the fear of going down.
With social media putting every off, down, and fatality in the palm of everyone’s hands, and DMV requirements to obtain an M1 license being easier to get than ordering a Starbucks, it’s no wonder that the public perception of a biker’s life is one of sure and imminent death.
So how do we show future generations that the sport we love is a lifestyle to embrace, not one to fear? To me, the answer is simple. If more riders embraced the mentality that until we are all Valentino Rossi, we have much to learn about how to ride a motorcycle properly, and learning how to be safe and confident on a motorcycle is far more important than how cool you look sitting on one. Then maybe, just maybe, we could revive the greatness that is bike life.
A huge draw to many bikers is the sense of community that comes with owning a bike. You’re not just purchasing a set of wheels. You’re entering into a world of shared passion, ridership, and unity, a lifestyle that turns strangers into immediate friends, and friends into family. But that also comes at a cost. Every rider makes a deal each time they throw their leg over their motorcycle, and that’s to do their best to survive that ride to ride another day.
But why then, do so few riders take the extra steps to receive education on proper bike mechanics and riding skills? It’s almost inexcusable given how many schools, track organizations, and race tracks that exist these days. But instead, the focus has shifted to a culture of how cool do you look on your bike instead of how skilled are you at riding your bike. And yet so much scrutiny exists within the community on whether or not certain riders are “real riders.”
I don’t ever like to sound like I’m lecturing, but I’m a huge advocate for riders seeking professional training and schooling and learning how to ride their bikes properly. I’d say the vast majority of accidents are caused by rider error or lack of know-how. It’s easy for us to chalk it up at just an accident or blame the distracted drivers, but the way I see it, my life is in my hands, and I have a responsibility not to let anyone’s poor driving affect my ride.
I also have a responsibility to younger riders to speak up when I see them doing things that is a danger to themselves or others. Fostering an atmosphere of safety and keeping our fellow riders safe is the key to breathing life back into our sport. Whether you ride a sportbike, a cruiser, or off-road motorcycle, my ask is this: if you see another rider doing something “unsafe,” offer some perspective to them on a better way represent their bike life. You never know, you might just save a life and this sport that we love so much.