Of the numerous expressions, mottoes, proverbs, colloquialisms, etc., related to motorcycling some can be inspirational, such as “When life throws you a curve, lean into it,” while others – “Loud pipes save lives” – simply foolhardy.
Like political campaign slogans, with enough repetition a truthiness becomes attached to said expression, regardless any factual data. A retort to the loud pipes claim has emerged: “If loud pipes save lives, imagine what learning to ride that thing could do.”
In our best Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance fashion we selected 10 axioms of wisdom and arranged them in a somewhat chronological order of appearance. From novice motorcyclist to grizzled old biker, here are some expressions a motorcyclist can live by.
10. Four wheels move your body, but two wheels move your soul.
The initial attraction to motorcycling inflicts people for various reasons and at different stages in their lives. But once someone experiences the elation of riding a motorcycle there’s no denying the nearly spiritual effect it has. Answering the pedestrian question of why you ride can be summed up with another biker expression: If you have to ask, you wouldn’t understand.
9. You start the game with a full pot of luck and an empty pot of experience. The objective is to fill the pot of experience before you empty the pot of luck.
Accidents, as the name implies, can’t be planned for. Motorcycling offers the thrills and excitement of a video game but with real-world consequences. Never stop learning. Always be prepared and see #8.
8. All The Gear All The Time (ATGATT).
This really should be self-evident. It may be hot outside, but proper riding gear can be the difference between dusting yourself off after a crash or a trip to the hospital. A little sweat is always preferable to enduring a month of pain while your skin heals from road rash!
7. Most motorcycle problems are caused by the nut connecting the handlebars to the saddle.
Don’t be this guy. How do you think he’d fare if a deer suddenly jumped into his path of travel? Your safety is your responsibility.
6. A bike on the road is worth two in the shed.
Affording a lot of motorcycles is a great thing. Never riding those motorcycles is not.
5. Yes, it’s fast. No, you can’t ride it.
Always decline a ride request if the person asking to ride your motorcycle doesn’t own a bike of equal or greater value and performance.
4. Hold it WFO until you see God, then brake.
Popular among racers, trackday riders, canyon carvers and bench racers, WFO stands for Wide F#%kin’ Open. Or, if you’re in polite company, Wound Flat Out.
3. Live to ride and ride to live… you don’t stop riding because you get old, you get old because you stop riding.
A combination of two biker slogans with some scientific merit. It’s been proven that health and quality of life degrade when geriatrics stop participating in activities.
2. Saddlebags can never hold everything you want, but they do hold everything you need.
Motorcycle travel means packing only the essentials and improvising everything else. Knowing what to bring and what to improvise comes only from experience (see #9).
1. The older I get, the faster I was. There are old bikers and there are bold bikers, but there are no old, bold bikers.
Another combination of two complementary idioms. To be old and wise, one must first transition from being inexperienced and foolish. Even Evel Knievel, after breaking 433 bones, learned this lesson. Being young and moving fast is easy, knowing when to let others pass is a much harder lesson to learn.
• Does this bike make my butt look fast?
• Asphalt, the world’s fastest tattoo remover.
• Three quarters of my wages were spent on motorcycles, beer and women, the rest I squandered
• There’s two kinds of riders: Those who have crashed and those who will.
• Keep your bike in good repair: Motorcycle boots are not comfortable for walking.
• Ride, eat, sleep… repeat.
• Remember when sex was safe and motorcycles were dangerous?
• I don’t feel like going for a ride today, said no motorcyclist ever.
• Ass, gas or grass, no one rides for free.