IMHO for those of you new to the internet, means In My Humble Opinion. Which means, this is just what I, John Burns, think after toiling in the motorcycle fields lo these many years, and hearing the same hoary old truths bandied about as gospel for most of them. Feel free to disagree, modify and critique as needed to suit your own belief system and stimulate rational discussion.

  • BDan75

    10 for 10. I think the first one actually IS actually a myth for cars (I’d put my driving skills at the legal limit up against the average sober 75-year-old any day), but agree that it’s not a good idea on bikes. Not that I’ve ever, ya know, tested that out or anything.

    #1 is heartbreakingly true. It’s too bad I’m not into middle-aged dudes…my ZRX attracts them like flies.

    • Doug Erickson

      if i swung that way, my guzzi would bring me a lemon party or three every time i stop for gas. 🙁

    • Tinwoods

      Which is exactly what everyone who drinks and drives (or rides) says, despite the mountain of research from decades of studies.

  • Old MOron

    So I’m remembering, years ago, you participated in some sort of “alcohol and motorcycles” experiment. Repeated runs on a timed course, with repeated drinking for each run. How does your memory of this play into “Not one drop”?

    • john burns

      Seems like I just got better up until quite a bit beyond 0.08 bac, which is quite a bit more than one glass of wine, but to acknowledge that fact is akin to endorsing NAMBLA apparently. So we must not do either!

    • Ian Parkes

      I have to say – although it’s long enough ago for the memory to play tricks – if I had just one beer before riding the local tight bendy roads I could at least keep in contact with two mates on Bol d’Or 900s on my GS550, sparks flying – until the bends lengthened out. Without the beer, they were gone. Of course I’d put in hours of diligent training on the alcohol front, which probably helped.

    • B.Hoop

      I did my best-wheelie-ever on my RZ350 after a couple beers. My reaction time slowed enough for me not to chop the shit out of the throttle when the front end came up…

  • Born to Ride

    I can only think of one instance in my adult life where being a motorcyclist got me a date, and probably not even because I think the chick “digged” me anyways. A motorcycle ride just ended up being the venue because she was the adventurous type. Every time I show up at a social gathering on one of my Ducati’s, it is always dudes that come up to me and ask me all about the bike. If only it were true…

    • WestSiide

      “How fast does she go?”…. I hate that fucking question.

      • Born to Ride

        Haha and it is undoubtedly the second thing uttered after “awesome bike”.

      • fzrider

        I love that question. I have two canned answers. ” Faster than I do”. Which pretty much ends that line of questions, or “It only registers 160…so I don’t really know”.

    • Zach

      It’s more effective for the 2nd or 3rd date. She’s on the back of the bike, excited, holding on to you, heart rate up and then you’re back at your or her place. The only thing more effective (besides, you know, a personality, good looks or money) is a puppy.

      • Born to Ride

        Oh the date went fine, some might even say great. But the point I was getting at is that the girl clearly had interests in me that did not stem from my being a motorcyclist. At the time I actually had a puppy, an adorable puppy, who has now grown into a 100lb woodland creature killing machine.

      • Born to Ride

        Oh the date went fine, some might even say great. But the point I was getting at is that the girl clearly had interests in me that did not stem from my being a motorcyclist. At the time I actually had a puppy, an adorable puppy, who has now grown into a 100lb woodland creature killing machine.

      • Born to Ride

        Oh the date went fine, some might even say great. But the point I was getting at is that the girl clearly had interests in me that did not stem from my being a motorcyclist. At the time I actually had a puppy, an adorable puppy, who has now grown into a 100lb woodland creature killing machine.

  • Ser Samsquamsh

    One glass of wine or a spoonful of Robotusin and there’s no way I could handle a motorbike safely.

    • 12er

      Its my two wheeled sobriety tool

    • Have you tried both? Maybe they’ll cancel each other out.

      • Ser Samsquamsh

        Tried it, doesn’t work. I’m happy to have served in the cause of science though.

  • Sayyed Bashir

    “If they really meant it today, they could program it into the bike’s ECU and not let you rev past 5000 rpm until after 500 miles”. On the KTM 1190 Adventure R, the shift warning light comes on at 6500 rpm if the odometer has less than 620 miles.

    • Johnny Blue

      Also my 2011 BMW S1000RR came with a restriction programmed in. It wouldn’t rev past 9000. Restriction removed at the first service (1000km). It might just be BMW’s scam for getting your first oil change at their dealerships.

  • Jeff LaLone

    I agree that there’s no need for all the gear, all the time, I will never, EVER ride without a full-faced helmet.

    When I was probably 10 years old, my brother and I were riding around on our YFM80 ATV’s. We were riding along in probably second or third gear (well below 35 mph on those things!) when he abruptly stopped in front of me. My quad ran into his, and I got launched face first into a drainage culvert.

    The impact broke my face shield and chipped the face guard on my helmet.

    When my wife started to show interest in hopping on my bike, I wouldn’t let her buy an open-faced helmet.

  • SteveSweetz

    Regarding #4, when I took my MSF class they had two different models of bikes: Suzuki TU250 and Kawasaki Eliminator 125. The teachers assigned the bigger riders to the Suzukis – and I was not a bigger rider.

    The Suzuki has a 25.5° rake vs 34° on the Kawasaki; the Kawi of course also had feet forward cruiser riding position vs feet under standard riding position on the Suzi.

    Everyone on the Kawis had a much harder time with the figure 8 box. I had quite a rough time with it myself. After I got my own first bike, a Suzuki GS500F, I took it to the MSF lot on an off day to see what’s what and had no problem with the box. Now whether that was due to the little bit more experience and confidence I had at that point or whether it was due to the bike, I can’t really say for sure, but I’ll still blame being put on the cruiser anyway 🙂

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Try doing the key-hole shaped test for getting the Motorcycle endorsement on your California drivers license on a full-sized Harley. You ride between two narrow lines without putting a foot down, turn the bike around within a very small circle (just big enough for the bike) without putting a foot down, and ride back out between the two narrow lines without putting a foot down. I did it the first time around, but I already had 50,000 miles of experience on the bike.

      • Born to Ride

        I was a week from being 18 when I got my license, so MSF was mandatory and I didn’t need to ride the “Key-hole”. But before I found that out, I was dreading taking that test on an SV 650. Kudos for passing first try on a Harley. My mom used to work at the DMV and says that most riders that attempt it on Harleys do not pass on their first go around, and many reattempt it on a 250cc loaner bike from the local dealership.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          The good thing on a Harley is that you can ride it very slow. Secondly the low center of gravity helps. While making the turn the main thing is to not to let the bike fall over, so keep a little gas on. I didn’t know anything about the “key-hole” test when I took it. If I had thought too much about it, I would have failed.

          • john phyyt

            With a little rear brake for control; Oh wait, some ; American RBW bikes cut fuel when you touch the brake. Can’t use it !

          • Sayyed Bashir

            The 1986 Harley I used in the test was not ride-by-wire. It was fuel-injected, but the throttle cables controlled the butterfly valve. Regardless, you don’t use the brake, only the throttle. You just need good throttle control.

  • dbwindhorst

    Oh, now you’ve done it.

  • Doug Erickson

    no “loud pipes save lives”? you coulda just linked to the wikipedia article on the doppler effect for that one, with maybe a note that by the time a sound reaches a receiver, the emitter (and in this case the receiver) has already changed position.

    • TK4

      Loud valves and clutches save lives, don’t you know anything ? Sheesh…. 🙂

  • yavvee

    Agree with the ATGATT part. That is a very ideal and impractical advise. Meaning bullshit

    • Born to Ride

      Depends on your definition of “All The Gear”. To me, All The Gear means pants, boots, gloves, helmet, and jacket. Which isn’t all too unreasonable if you are 100% comfortable in a pair of levi’s and leather boots like I am. And sometimes I go without the jacket if I am just riding into town and back on a hot day.

      However, if your definition of “All The Gear” implies that I should don the full leather track suit, knee sliders, Alpinestars spine protector, and RACING boots for a trip to walmart for a bag of chips and a gallon of milk… Well then sir, I too call shenanigans.

      • yavvee

        Agreed, and that is practical. But whenever I have heard ATGATT, it almost always means riding jacket, riding boots and leather gloves.

        • Born to Ride

          Boots I understand, I don’t want to clomp around in my A-Stars either. But, what’s wrong with leather gloves? And given the choice, why wouldn’t you grab a riding jacket which is tailored for riding comfort?

          • yavvee

            Right, imagine yourself wearing full gauntlet leather gloves and an armoured riding jacket to the supermarket. And yes, riding jackets are tailored for riding comfort and more importantly, protection. Not for small trips to the market or going to the office!

          • Born to Ride

            You lost me. My plain vented gauntlet gloves are by far the most comfortable in my collection. And I don’t like the way most casual jackets bunch up while in the seated riding position. If the shoulder and elbow pads are uncomfortable for you in your jacket while off the bike, you should buy a different jacket or simply take them out.

            Like I said, if its really hot out, I’ll ditch the jacket for short trips, but I hate the feeling of bare hands while riding. Must be from crashing my dirt bikes as a kid with no gloves on and picking pebbles out of my palms.

      • Tim Sawatzky

        To me it’s all about what kind of personal risk you are willing to take. I’ve lost a lot of skin in a pedal bike accident when I was a kid, and I wasn’t doing nearly as fast as a motorcycle in the city. For me, gloves are a must, I do a lot with my hands, and guaranteed that’s the first thing to hit the ground in a low speed incident. I find wearing a motorcycle jacket into a store or to work not a big deal, so I always wear it. And I have a pair of leather boots that are comfortable, casual looking, but will protect me and give stability if I ever put my foot down in unexpected gravel.

        Stats show (from a Motorcycle safety course that I took) that most accidents happen near a persons house (apparently we tend to stop paying attention in familiar territory) and most motorcycle injuries involve legs/ankles and hands/elbows. The place with the least amount of accidents is the freeway (although with greater consequences when they occur).

        But it’s really about risk assessment, you have a much higher chance of accidents in the city at lower speeds (if nothing else because of other stupid drivers) so I choose to ride prepared so that I don’t lose skin that I’m very fond of. I’ve never had to test my equipment, but I had a brake failure once that made it pretty close and re-enforced my belief in being prepared.

  • Archie Dux

    Everybody should learn on a Grom.

  • Archie Dux

    Everybody should learn on a Grom.

  • Archie Dux

    Everybody should learn on a Grom.

  • John B.

    The one piece of conventional wisdom I struggled with was the admonition to start off on a motorcycle with a small displacement engine. I became a motorcyclist to take long epic trips, and small displacement motorcycles perform that task rather poorly. At the same time, I made a commitment to ride safely. Nevertheless, I did not want to buy a small displacement bike to learn to ride, and then trade it a few months later for a bike that could better handle the long haul.

    After much contemplation, I bought a Kawasaki Concours as my first bike, and then spent a bunch of time learning to ride it before hitting the open road. I would get up before sunrise on weekends and ride to vacant office parking lots to practice the drills from the moto safety course. It worked out for me, but I’m not sure I would recommend other new riders start off on such a heavy and powerful bike. The bikes John recommends would probably be the smarter choice.

    As for alcohol, I would say alcohol and other drugs affect people in dramatically different ways. For some people, a drink or ten seems to have virtually no effect on their mental and/or physical faculties, while other people become impaired at the first sniff of alcohol. Thus, the safe advice is simply to admonish people never to drink and ride, which is the rule I follow.

    Recently, I attended a fundraiser for the Heart Association my friend who had a heart transplant hosted. I spoke with the surgeon who performed the transplant surgery on my friend, and he told me that whenever a patient admits to consuming 5 or more drinks a day, that patient NEVER has coronary artery blockage. He/she may have other serious health and/or familial problems, but never blockage. The surgeon doesn’t recommend abstainers become imbibers, but believes alcohol consumption in moderation improves overall health. This surgeon quickly become quite popular among the event attendees, who invariably distorted his advice to justify overindulging in alcohol.

  • Jelocity

    All great points but number 1 really hit home for me. Never have I had a girl come up to me and ask about my bike. But then again I have primarily ridden dual sports so that may be the problem…

  • Michael Fitzpatrick

    Whenever I hear a rider say “I had to lay ‘er down”, I know I’m dealing with someone who doesn’t know their (bruised) ass from their (broken) elbow. Just smile and nod and change the subject…

  • TK4

    Well, there’s 5 minutes I’ll never have back again. Blinding insights, uh no….

  • J. R. Boedeker

    I’ve owned sport bikes, standards, and cruisers. Totally right on #4: Cruisers are NOT easiest to learn on. Standard (or at least more upright) all the way. Plus, I like to be able to stand up on my pegs once in a while.

  • dominatr37

    In todays day and age there is no excuse NOT to wear at least a mesh jacket and sliders style pants on every single ride.