Over half of new motorcycle sales in the United States are cruisers, thanks mainly to the huge influence that Harley-Davidson has on the US motorcycle market. By sheer volume alone then, cruisers dominant motorcycle crashes, injuries, and fatalities.
Add into the mix motorcycle “fashion” leather, “the bitch fell off” t-shirts, and massive biker rallies where bikes and booze are mixed together like a good Jack & Coke, and you have a risky culture predisposed to incident. These are the same guys that cry about personal freedoms when it comes to wearing their skull-bucket helmets, and the results perhaps speak for themselves.
With Hollywood latching onto the one-percenter motif, it seems the proliferation of the classic “biker” stereotype has no end in sight. To be sure, this is how motorcyclists are portrayed on the big and small-screens — the single biggest interaction the motorcycle industry has with the public at large — which has a huge influence on the “cool” perception that draws riders to brands like Harley-Davidson, Indian, and Victory.
#2 Street Bikes
Rice rockets, squids, organ donors….there are a variety of names for people who travel on city streets by two-wheels. To make matters worse, sport bikes are reaching over 200hp now, straight from the factory.
Add into the mix a demographic that is constantly treating city streets like their local race track, and it’s unsurprising that local police departments are always setting up motorcycle-only checkpoints, giving grief to riders for simple infractions, and viewing the motorcycle population as easy revenue-generation opportunities.
For their part, street riders have helped advance science’s understanding of the human brain, with their being no shortage of head injuries coming from riders whose talent was outweighed by their ambition on public roads.
A 1,000cc sport bike for your first motorcycle? You better finance that purchase son. T-shirt and sandals on the freeway? Feel the wind on your hair, you rebel. Lighting up a stretched chrome Hayabusa at a stoplight? Absofuckinglutely. Stunt Life 4evah boi??! OMGWTFBBQ!
#3 Adventure Tourers
Motorcycles suited to both long highway stretches, as well as where the sidewalk ends, adventure-touring is the new fetish of the Baby Boomers who actually went to college.
Sipping their high-calorie caffeinated beverages, talking about being the 1% in a “winning at Wall Street” sort of way, and walking into low-hanging fixtures with their modular helmets constantly flipped-open, the ADV crowd is perhaps the most vulnerable motorcycling demographic to factors that exist outside actually riding a motorcycle.
Heaven help the 12 riders each year who actually take their 600 lbs two-wheeled sofas off-road. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has no statistics about adventure-touring fatalities, but our hearts go out to the families whose children will have to grow up only knowing their fathers by the trust funds they left behind.
The one small consolation we can give is the knowledge that while these men likely expired, trapped under the massive hulk of their machines, they did so looking fabulous in their OEM-branded four-season gear…and their hands were comfortably warm, while they grasped onto the handlebars in their final moments.
#4 MX/Enduro Motorcycles
The dangers don’t stop just because the tarmac does. Off-road motorcycles bring their own unique challenges to their passengers, on top of the already existing dangers that come with two-wheeled locomotion. Traveling through single-track trails at velocities well outside what evolution prepared us for, dirt bikers undertake a gauntlet of obstacles, like nature’s booby traps of tree branches and rocks, which can snap bones like high school boys do bras.
For the psychopaths who intentionally loft their motorcycles off jumps, pretending like God intended man to leave terra firma, a new range of dangers exist. Let’s put it this way, any “sport” where you need to wear a device that keeps your neck from breaking in half should probably be outlawed, along with the greenhouse gas emitting two-stroke machine you rode in on.
That brings in a whole new host of environmental issues, which sees off-road riders emitting tons of pollutants each year and causing incalculable amounts of erosion to the public lands, which they treat like a personal playground.
It’s no surprise that off-road vehicles areas are constantly dwindling in number — America is likely one snowy plover away from a complete shutdown of the OHV system.
#5 Retro / Café Racers
It seems that motorcyclists can’t troll the internet for five minutes without running into a hipster motorcycle video that features a garage-built café racer and french-press coffee pot. Fueled by struggling artists, who need only a friend’s couch, a dozen or so “participation” trophies from their youth, and a $40,000 RED camera rig, the cafe racer scene is alive and well in the United States.
In some ways, it’s a good thing. The renewed interest in the Honda CB350 has helped empty junkyards around the nation, designer-label flannel sales are through the roof, and Vimeo is finally a sustainable media site (not really).
The real danger comes though when these hapless “builders” actually try to ride the machines they’ve created on public roads. You can follow the yard sale of vintage motorcycle pieces from one dive bar to another.
Since riding any retro or café motorbike has become a de facto two-wheeled homage to Grizzly Adams, we haven’t seen people fear the beard this much since baseball’s 2010 World Series.
We’d like to give special recognition to the folks at Rolling Stone for helping frame the format of what is being widely considered “the worst piece of journalism” ever committed by a serious publication.
As we have seen in the motorcycle space as well, there is a growing trend of click-bait headlines, list-type articles, and self-edifying quizzes from established, proper, and previously reputable media outlets.
We hope in time that the remaining legitimate journalists will treat a good “Top 10” et al posting similar to how comedians treat a good “Aristocrats” routine: a complete and total joke for a captive audience.