Uneasy Rider: Justification, Exaggeration and Outright Lies

Uneasy Rider November 2014. Photo: Angelica Rubalcaba.

Photo: Angelica Rubalcaba

I’m really excited that we’re finally printing the results of our helmet testing project—we’ve been working on this thing for a long time, and readers that contributed helmets had started to ask when the results would come to light. “The Truth About Helmets” starts on page 18—let us know what you think.

We here at CityBike owe an extra-special, hearty thank you to Thom Parks and Rafael Ramirez at Bell Sports for taking big chunks of time out of their busy schedules to help us with this project. We also owe happy high fives to everyone who donated helmets to the project. We quite literally couldn’t have done it without you, so thanks again to all y’all.

This background work for this article was substantial, spanning several months, and this project demonstrates how serious we occasionally get here at CityBike, chasing the idea of “truth.”

As motorcyclists, we often engage in various adjustments of the truth. These range from the relatively harmless fibs of “optimistic” weight and horsepower figures to more serious stretches, like when we justify hauling way too much ass on back roads because there’s no one around, but then bitch about picking up a “performance award” or complain about subpar road surfaces, as if—along with life and liberty—motorcyclists’ inalienable rights should be augmented with a free pass for the high speed pursuit of happiness. Let’s not beat around this particular bush—we riders do often act like we own those roads.

Cyclists? Damn them, always in the way! Cagers? Damn them, always in the way too! “Why can’t everyone just get out of my way so I can ride? I’m working on my lines, man!”

Recently, I’ve noticed a new flavor of justification cropping up a lot more frequently around lane splitting, the idea that splitting at high speeds is A-ok if it’s done smoothly or politely. Seriously.

Never mind that the data we have clearly illustrates the increased risk and consequences of this behavior, never mind that splitting too fast feeds the “he came out of nowhere!” complaints of drivers, and that the increased volume of this gnashing of teeth leads legislators to think about scoring points with their constituents by going after easily marginalized, poorly-organized motorcyclists. “It’s cool man, I’m splitting smoothly. Drivers understand.”

Right. Because that’s exactly what drivers bitch about when they complain about splitting. Not that some joker was blipping the throttle on his under-muffled Hog, or that bikes seem scary fast when they materialize inches from the driver side window at a 20+ MPH delta—if we’re somehow polite when splitting the haze of the morning commute at 70+ MPH, everyone’s good.

But that kind of civilized justification pales in comparison to the idiotic mischief exhibited by ass-clown stuntaz who recently YouTubed a video entitled, “Cop Chases Bikers Then Biker Makes Cop Leave.” The video shows a pack of squids shooing away a lone bike-mounted CHP officer, and then celebrating with wheelies, presumably before they went home to their parents’ houses to watch Torque again and brag about their skillz on Facebook.

I doubt these anonymous (at least for now) snapperheads are rolling with the intellectual capacity to come up with a justification for their actions beyond something like “Yo, we showed that pig what’s UP, bitch!” But this video remains an unfortunately close to home (the video was shot in the South Bay) example of motorcyclists riding with zero concern for short or long term consequences for all of us—selfishly justifying unconscionable assholishness, and posting the video online.

We riders do ourselves a grave disservice when we walk away from opportunities for real talk about this stuff, when we ignore obvious, indefensible justification and unconscionable bullshit, as if things will just keep on keepin’ on as they are now. Every one of us represents all of us every time we put our helmets on.

Anyway, enough of the lecture, right? Let’s ride.

This column originally appeared in our November 2014 issue.

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