Random Ephemera

8 Odd Things I Noticed When I Bought a Motorcycle

Buying a motorcycle for the first time exposes a person to a huge new world of experiences - Some directly related to the act of riding a motorized, two-wheeled vehicle on roads shared by sometimes terrible drivers rolling through town in huge metal boxes, and others involving motorcycle culture in general. So what can a motorcycle newbie expect when they ride out of the dealership on a new bike? Let's take a look.

8. You Will Hear Lots of Horror Stories About Riding Motorcycles.

One of the first things almost anyone contemplating riding a motorcycle will hear from someone - a spouse, parent, friend, or family member is how dangerous riding a motorcycle is. Sometimes these dire warnings come from near strangers upon hearing you ride a bike (or want to). The worst of those warnings will come with a horrific anecdote or two, like "Remember when the Anderson kid hit the back of that truck and got his head chopped off?"

And it's true, riding motorcycles can be a dangerous activity, especially while navigating busy Houston streets. More on that shortly. But after a point, hearing about how dangerous something you are set on doing can be just gets tiresome. Any responsible new rider should accept that riding motorcycles can be dangerous, and then take as many steps as possible to make his or her riding safer. But yeah, be prepared to hear lots of horror stories, and the suggestion that you will surely die a fiery death mangled into pulp from lots of people you know. On that note...

7. You'll Quickly Realize That Lots of People Drive Poorly.

I don't think it's a controversial observation that a lot of people here tend to drive like irresponsible idiots, speeding 20 miles over the limit, swerving in and out of lanes, while texting or talking on their cell phones. Safely maneuvering though an environment like that can be a challenge, especially for someone without a lot of experience on two wheels. Intersections and traffic situations that seem perfectly safe from within a car start to look alarmingly dangerous on a motorcycle. The change in perspective can be huge.

Motorcyclists routinely encounter terrible drivers on the road, and it tends to make a person cautious. Pulling alongside a huge truck with a bunch of dents on one side? My mind always assumes that person keeps hitting stuff, and I immediately try to put distance between myself and him. And when you know that a bad encounter with a car and a motorcycle is probably worth a trip to the hospital instead of just a mild fender bender, it tends to change a person's perspective.

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Chris Lane is a contributing writer who enjoys covering art, music, pop culture, and social issues.