Motorcycles are dumb. They are a stupid invention. Of all the machinery ever devised, motorcycles are in the top 10 percent that make no sense.

They do however have one redeeming quality; they are capable of sliding between cars in traffic. Of course that is illegal everywhere except California (one of the few reasons to live in California).

OK, why are motorcycles dumb? To state the obvious, motorcycles have a deficiency of design. For starters, they only have two wheels and as a result they fall over easily when you put your foot in grease at stop signs and gas stations. They have no top, so you get wet in the rain and sunstroke in the summer. They have no sides so you freeze in the winter and roast in August. No matter how you arrange the windshield, bugs find a way to get through and bees sting you. You are sitting on a blistering engine so your crotch broils and your girlfriend will end up burning her pretty leg on the exhaust pipe.

Touring motorcycles are the worst. They weigh 900 pounds, will sprain your back moving them out of the garage and will kill you if you drop one and get trapped underneath. They also cost $30,000 and up. You could buy a hell of a Ford or Chevy for that kind of money and it would come with a Sirius radio, heater, air conditioner, adjustable seats, OnStar, seating for six, plus the dog and the cat, and still have plenty of room for all of their luggage.

A bunch of years ago a motorcyclist could say he was buying a motorcycle because it was cheap and got good gas mileage. That might have been true before Henry Ford invented the Model T but don’t try that excuse today. Oh sure, some motorcycles are comparably cheap and do get good gas mileage. Two hundred and fifty cc starter bikes get good mileage but that is a lame defense. Few of us have any interest in them. We want the big new Harleys with bags and fairings and all the chrome trimmings and if you can get much more than 40 mpg on one of those… I’ll kiss a duck. Want good mileage? For $25,000 a Toyota Prius gets 50 mpg and with it you can appear stylish enough to date a vegetarian, tree-hugging, hippy college girl who practices safe sex and doesn’t charge much for “free love.”

So, you want to go coast to coast on a motorcycle? Great. You are going to take your riding coat, chaps, rain gear, electric liner, two pairs of gloves, a hat, helmet, boots and shoes, an extra pair of jeans, leather vest with patches and pins, skivvies, a bag of miscellaneous crap and now you are out of room. If you take the wife or girlfriend she has the same stuff and you are “twice” out of room. And if you want to camp along the way with your tent, sleeping bags and a stove, now you are just being silly. So you consider a pull-behind trailer? Huh?

When it comes to motorcycles logic fails. They are emotional. You can try and be logical. You can read magazines, go online and find out all the specifications, Google the Internet for comparison articles, peruse every known piece of history that is available, make your best guess estimate on how you plan to use the vehicle and when you go into the dealership they don’t have what you want. So, what do you do? Modify your logic; go back over all the specifications, no, you do not. You have to own a motorcycle, lust overcomes you, so you make an emotional decision and buy the red one.

You sit down with the salesman and add tax, license, accessories, chrome widgets, a new coat and just those items alone cost more than a new car did a few years back. Oh, then you have to call your insurance man. You don’t even want to think about insurance because you have two speeding tickets.

There are over 9,000,000 motorcycles registered in the United States. Why would 9,000,000 people make a stupid purchase?

There is only one reason. Throw away all illogical nonsense about life style, all the ego enhancements, all the Brando histrionics, all the notions about being at one with nature and the joys of wind in your hair and there is only one reason to ride a motorcycle. They are fun!

They are more fun than anything. You can slide them sideways in the dirt, flat-track style, you can climb hills, you can race them a hundred different ways, you can ride them solo or with a group of friends, pack your best girl as a passenger or bring along the dog in a sidecar.

As previously itemized, motorcycles are the most basic of machines with their simplicities being liabilities. Conversely, their straightforwardness is also one of their most attractive qualities. They have two wheels, an engine, a seat and handlebars. You can see how everything works. The gas and air sucks in here and blows out there. Because of their Spartan appointments their power-to-weight ratio makes them faster than just about any car you can’t afford.

We all knew you wanted a motorcycle because it was fast. No one ever believed the rationale that you were buying a motorcycle because it was cheap and got good gas mileage.

To hell with logic. I don’t care if they are stupid. I like them because they are fun and I am sorry if you don’t get it. Anyway, isn’t fun enough?

I don’t want a Prius. Wouldn’t drive one if you gave it to me. It is an appliance like a refrigerator or a dishwasher. It just functions. It has no personality. An appliance has no soul. It is not a machine. A machine has individuality. It has character. A motorcycle is a machine. Traveling in an appliance is like being in a video: you sit quietly and watch yourself traveling. Traveling on a two-wheeled machine is the reality of movement and when you stop your feet actually touch the earth. I like motorcycles because they are machines.

Yep, motorcycles are dumb but more importantly they are fun and that is good enough for me.

And now… I’m going out for a ride.


  1. At last, someone has finally told the truth as to why we buy a motorcycle. Never mind that stuff about riding with wind in your face or smelling that cow pasture or the last skunk killed. we ride because we Want to. And yet, when I do ride, I always have in the back of my mind, is this the day some bird brain is Going to kill me, but yet we still ride. At almost 88, I can’t tell how many have tried.

  2. Power to you, man! I just turned 16 and I’m trying to convince my parents to let me get a motorcycle. I’ve been asking for months now! My grandma has an old 1971 honda sl175, but it was rusted beyond repair. It has been sitting there for a good 30 years at least. I couldn’t even get the engine cover off, the screws were rusted so bad! I’d be very thankful if you had some advice on how to convince my parents to let me ride.


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