Monday, December 17, 2007


Hope for the AMA?

At long last, it seems the much-needed winds of change are starting to blow at the AMA.

It was major news this December when new AMA head honcho Rob Dingman started cleaning house at AMA headquarters, getting rid of longtime AMA fixtures Greg Harrison and Bill Wood. The firings led to a series of outraged employee letters, emails, and other attempts to promote the removal of Dingman from power -- most notably the resignation of former AMA president Ed Youngblood from the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Ambassadors and Promoters Committee.

Now Dingman has responded publicly via the AMA website, and I have to say that -- despite his tactics -- I'm pretty much in support of the new guard's efforts, at least as an active AMA member and otherwise casual observer. Here are a few examples of why:
"Earlier this year, I was named chief executive officer of the AMA. Honored as I was to be entrusted with the leadership of the AMA, I quickly came to realize that I had returned to a much different organization than the one I had left just eight years previously. The AMA’s core mission had become diluted because it had taken on more than it could reasonably accomplish. Today, the AMA attempts to be a rights protector, publisher, member services provider, sanctioning body, promoter, entertainment firm, event management company and sports sponsorship and marketing outfit. The AMA has never had the appropriate resources or infrastructure to be all of these things."
Finally, somebody gets it. I can only suspect at this point that Mr. Dingman is a regular reader of the Superbike Blog.

He goes on to say:
"Success in the AMA’s racing endeavors has proven elusive because the AMA has mingled its role as sanctioning body with its role as series promoter. This has confused and frustrated the motorcycle racing community and as a result, the AMA has regularly found itself at the center of racing controversy. This has caused the motorcycle industry not to support the AMA to the degree that it could. This lack of support has impeded the AMA’s ability to grow to its full potential and has therefore kept the organization from being as effective as it could be executing its core mission: pursuing, promoting and protecting the future of motorcycling."
Say what you want about this guy, but he's right on the money. The AMA has been a disgrace as a sanctioning body over the past several years, and Dingman's point is a significant part of the reason why.

I'm all for giving Rob Dingman a real shot at rebuilding the AMA, and if removing the people who turned it into an institution, rather than an organization, need to be removed to accomplish that task -- more power to him. My continued involvement as a member pretty much depends on it.

Friday, December 07, 2007


Just for fun, here's a ridiculous ZX9R turbobike

I'd wager this bike has well over 200 horsepower. Necessary? Nah. Greatness? Yep.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


The number-one reason female riders fail: Husbands

Search your favorite motorcycle forum and you'll find the article topics, usually worded as questions:
What kind of bike should I get for my wife?

Tips on teaching the wife?

Where's an empty parking lot near [location] where I can give my wife riding lessons?
Invariably, these posts are quickly filled with gaggles of responses from married motorcycle dudes from all walks of life, each sharing loudly his alpha-male advice and experience on what's best for a woman rider who's just starting out -- most of which is totally wrong.

Never do the actual aspects, wants, or interests of the female in question ever come up in the conversation -- and the responses are generally always the same. It's get her this bike or get her that bike. Have her do this or have her do that. Blah-blah-blah.

Then three months later, you see this topic:
Selling the wife's bike!
This type of thread is also filled with typical, predictable content:
"She just doesn't get it."

"She's not strong enough to control the bike."

"She won't listen to me."

"I'm afraid she's gonna get hurt, so I'm selling her bike."
And so another female rider, one who could've potentially enjoyed a lifetime of happy riding, is forever frightened and intimidated out of the sport -- all because her knucklehead husband felt like he had to be master over the process. Most times, she was on the wrong bike, had been given poor instruction under condescending duress, and was otherwise set up to fail.

Well listen up, machomen of the world. Your wife doesn't need you in order to pick out a bike and learn how to ride. At all. In fact, according to Motorcycle Safety Foundation stats, she's more likely to fail under your wing than under anyone else's. If you really want to help her, back off and:

1. Let her take the MSF RiderCourse on her own, and then get professional, private instruction thereafter if needed. The fundamentals taught in the MSF curriculum are more complex than many realize, and are absolutely essential for a beginner to understand. Besides, judging by many of the self-described "experienced" riders who've taken the basic course from me over the years, many husbands don't know enough about the fundamentals to be teaching anyone anyhow. So leave it to the pros, instead of filling her head with incorrect techniques and bad habits. Statistically, she'll also learn better if she's being instructed by someone other than the person she must ask ten times to take the trash out.

2. Let her pick her own bike. Not only is it a big part of how someone falls in love with motorcycles, it's also essential for confidence and safety. Just because you ride a sportbike (or cruiser or whatever) doesn't mean that's what she must ride. She'll instinctively pick her motorbike just the same way you did, by fit and feel, and by the emotions the bike gives her.

3. Let her practice and/or ride by herself if she wants. What makes you think she can't have a productive day practicing in the parking lot down the street or going on a toy run just because you don't happen to be there? She needs to discover the spiritual beauty of motorcycling, and chances are she won't ever have that commune if you're hawking over her every moment she's in the saddle.

Oh, and conversely, one last thing: Just because she likes being a pillion doesn't mean she wants to be a pilot. In several different chapters of my time as an MSF instructor, I've had a female student who told me, "I don't want to ride my own bike, but he sent me here because he's tired of always hauling me on the back of his." Most times, that's a formula for either failure or disaster.

Grow up, guys. You ain't that great.