September 20, 2019
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Most Motorcycle Sayings Are Just Stupid

Most activities have expressions and sayings that are associated with them. For instance, in golf, there’s the line “never up, never in” to describe a timid putt that

bud-bylinefails to make it to the hole. In cooking, there’s the old favorite that “a watched pot never boils,” which can be traced to English author Elizabeth Gaskell. She used it in her 1848 novel “Mary Barton.” Did you know that?

Motorcycling has more than its share of lines and many of them are often found on patches and bumper stickers. Some make sense. Some don’t. And many are just plain stupid. Here are some motorcycling sayings that fit the “stupid” category…

“Yes, it’s fast. No, you can’t ride it.” Seriously, would you ever ask to borrow a stranger’s bike to take for a spin? While I’ve had people offer me their rides, and I’ve offered my bike on occasion, it’s usually only friends who exchange motorcycles. Never strangers, and you’d certainly never loan a bike to a non-rider who asks, “Is it fast?”

I’d have never ridden a vintage Moto Guzzi Eldorado or a vintage BMW R50/2 were it not for loans from a friend, and he never would have loaned them if he wasn’t sure of my skills. In the case of the Beemer, my friend could said, “No, it’s slow. Yes, you can ride it.”

“Keep the Shiny Side Up.” I used to like this line back when I started riding. It’s a bonding sentiment, a departing wish for the exiting rider to stay upright and not crash. Now it just sounds hackneyed, and with more matte paint jobs on bikes and more black 1-IMGP7901components, is it even accurate anymore?

“It’s Not The Destination, It’s The Ride.” It’s another example of a positive sentiment that’s been ridden into the ground. Aren’t most of our lives too packed with things scheduled to do that there’s no time for frivolous rides to nowhere? Yes, we enjoy the wind along the way, but we usually have an end point in mind.

“It’s The Same Wind.” This is a variation of the theme that it doesn’t matter what you ride, just the fact that you do ride. Whether you’re riding a Honda Rebel or a Ducati Diavel, the sensation of riding is the same. I’m of the belief that it is better to ride a slow motorcycle fast than a fast bike slow (another cliche), and that’s why my garage is filled with small, slower bikes. No matter what you ride, the skill set is the same … and so is the experience. Judge this claim to be true even if the phrase is tired.

“Ride It Like You Stole It.” Another lofty sentiment that’s total baloney. Squids not withstanding, the easiest way to injure yourself on a motorcycle is to ride recklessly. Most of us really ride like we’ve spent so much money on our bikes that we’ll do everything possible to keep them unblemished, right? If “Ride It Like You Stole It” is total baloney, so is…

“Loud Pipes Save Lives.” While physics doesn’t seem to support this widely-held 1-IMGP9666belief in some quarters, one thing is for certain – only self-centered jerks attach excessively noisy exhaust pipes to their bikes. Loud pipes tick people off, other riders and non-riders alike, and hurt the overall image of riders.

A memorable episode of “South Park” really nailed it when the animated kids came up with a new definition for the word “fag” to describe a biker with loud pipes. Of course, there’s the push-back line…

“Loud Pipes Risk Rights.” That’s the claim of those who dislike loud pipes and who suggest that they entice legislators to create laws against after-market exhausts. Does this debate really matter? Such laws are a joke because they’re rarely enforced.

“15 Grand And 15 Miles Don’t Make You A Biker.” True, but with a caveat. This is put-down of posers; those riders who spend tens of thousands of dollars on chromed-1-Harry's Place IIIout cruisers and then only ride to the coffee shop or greasy spoon. The again, 15 grand and 150,000 miles doesn’t make you a biker, either. High mileage doesn’t necessarily equate to high skills when it comes to riding. There are loads of riders claiming “I’ve ridden for 30 years” who don’t know what counter-steering is or the proper use ratio between the front and the rear brake.

“Four Wheels Move The Body, Two Wheels Move The Soul.” Geez, I once owned a Mazda Miata that moved my soul more than some bikes that I’ve owned. I’ve also owned some cantankerous, unreliable bikes that made me do some soul-searching as to why they were still in the garage. Chalk this one up as exaggerated bunk, too.

“All The Gear, All The Time.” Not stupid. True.

“You Never See A Motorcycle Parked In Front Of A Psychiatrist’s Office.” Maybe. Maybe not. But maybe you should.

“Live To Ride, Ride To Live.” C’mon. This has “marketing ploy” stamped all over it. I’ve never heard anyone actually say this. Yes, riding enhances life because of the sensations and the feeling of freedom, but “Ride To Live” is a stretch. “Eat to Live” works, though.

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Since 2010, RIDE-CT & RIDE-NewEngland has been reporting about motorcycling in New England and portions of New York.