Saturday, August 18, 2012


I'd swear it's 1994, because people are still using the term "crotch rocket"

As the summer of 2012 begins its downhill stretch toward the beckoning autumn, I look back on the rides, rallies, races, and runs of the past few months mindful of one very irritating observation: People are still using the term "crotch rocket" when referring to sportbikes. Seriously, it's time somebody made this an issue, and I humbly volunteer.

Call this a pet peeve of mine, but anytime I hear the term, it strikes me as the moto-equivalent of a racial slur for some reason. I know it shouldn't be such a big deal, but it is. To understand my angst, bear in mind that -- as a guy who's been riding sport motorcycles since the early 90s -- I remember the days when that term was strictly derogatory in nature. It was right up there with equally mean monikers such as "Jap crap" (with its combined negative cultural connotation) and "throwaway bike", which alluded to the presumption that sportbikes were made of plastic and therefor disposable. It was a pejorative, and signified only contempt.

 Anyone who used "crotch rocket" in a sentence back then usually followed it up with gushing comments about the quality and superiority of American bikes, the importance of buying products made in the USA, the evils of importing, Pearl Harbor, etc. It was a losing battle for sportbikers, and for a good long while, we kept to ourselves.

In the early 2000s, however, things started to change for the better. Bikers on American and metric bikes of all kinds started riding and hanging out together a lot more. We all started to lay down our prejudices and learned to sincerely appreciate each other's preferences, passions, and bikes. Then something truly wonderful happened: The odd Harley guy was soon adding a sportbike or two to his stable. Likewise, the sportbiker was adding a Harley. These days, it's not uncommon to see all manner of motorcycles at rallies like Sturgis, Laconia, and Daytona, and motorcycling as a whole is better off as a result.

Still, that damn term prevails. And what's worse, it's being used ubiquitously by a younger generation of motorcyclists who are themselves riding sportbikes. It has become normalized and accepted. Seriously? Is that where we are? For crying out loud, even if you're too young to know what a reference to Pearl Harbor even means, the term still has the word "crotch" in it. I mean really, it's simply an ugly thing to call a motorcycle.

Yeah, yeah, I know; I'm being the mean old man who stands out on his lawn and yells crazy outbursts at confused passers by. I really don't mean anything by it. I'm just doing a little venting. But still, you damn kids keep the hell off my driveway, and stop calling sportbikes "crotch rockets".