Tuesday, July 20, 2004


Street stunters: Motorcycling's great scourge

Q: What do you get when you cross a highly inexperienced, 18 year-old stunter with a cutting edge, 10,000-dollar hypersport motorcycle?

A: Why, you get lots and lots of road rash, of course -- along with broken bones, the occasional dead newby, and higher insurance premiums for everyone else on the road.

I always get cranky around the middle of summer -- or as I like to call it, the peak of squid season. It's that precious time of year when all the idiot parents of the world have either purchased, or allowed the purchase of, high-performance motorcycles for their bonehead teenage children. If they haven't already killed themselves by July or August, these little darlings have had just enough time in the saddle to start thinking they know how to ride. So with less than a thousand total miles of experience and no formal rider training whatsoever, our young squidlies suddenly decide that they are ready to perform skitches, wheelies, stoppies, nac-nacs, and all kinds of other complicatedly trite, outrageous stunts. These stupid tricks are accompanied by outrageously fast speeds, applied in all the wrong situations. All, of course, to be done on the street and with motorcycles that have the power-to-weight ratio of Trident missiles. The results, as I'm sure many of you have seen for yourselves, are often disastrous. In the process, there is plenty injury, death, and a mountain of totaled motorcycles, the repercussions of which are felt by every responsible rider on the street to one degree or another.

Someone please tell me, what exactly goes through the minds of parents who decide that it's a perfectly reasonable idea to buy their son or daughter a motorcycle that can reach speeds between 175 and 190 miles per hour? Hell, they haven't even had time to become experienced drivers yet, much less responsible, pro-active motorcyclists. I just don't get it. The first street motorcycle I rode on a regular basis was a 250cc single, and that was after years of mini-biking and dirt biking. What I wanted was a 900 Ninja like this one, but thank God my parents were smart. They would've literally laughed me out of the house had I seriously tried to talk them into letting me have such an outrageously powerful motorcycle -- and I knew it.

Today's literbikes, by comparison, make the old mid-80s Ninja look like a pussy cat. The newer generation of bikes is lighter and faster than ever before. For example, in the time it takes a top-of-the-line Porsche or Corvette to get to 60 mph, a new GSXR1000 or ZX10R has already exceeded 100. In fact, you don't even have to shift out of first gear to reach 100 mph on the 10R. The thought of one of these bikes in the hands of an inexperienced newby is a frightening concept, but is a daily occurrence.

I don't want to ramble-on too much with regard to this subject. You get the idea. Almost without exception, these kids have a "ride it like you stole it" mentality, and so far this season, I've seen their lack of reverence for the amenability that should accompany motorcycling cause at least a dozen crashes here in West Texas. What's even more amazing is that these kids have no concept of personal responsibility for their actions, always trying to blame their crashes on other factors besides their own lack of skill and poor decision-making.

"A stupid car pulled out in front of me and I crashed," says the squid, who was going 105 mph down a residential street. "It was the auto driver's fault."

These kids are the future of America. Lord help us.

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