There are a lot of things in the world that need changing, but these motorcycle-related ones are the things that take precedence. Though I have not yet officially thrown my hat into the ring as a GOP presidential candidate, I think it’s safe to say I speak for all humanity.
10. Lane-Splitting needs to be legal in all 50 states
I can’t believe the AMA and the Motorcycle Industry Council and all those groups who purport to represent motorcyclists and the motorcycle industry aren’t all over this. Instead, the AMA spends a large chunk of its dwindling treasure helping battle helmet laws in an ongoing crusade to make us all look like morons. If I didn’t live in the only state in the Union where I’m able to put one over on terrible traffic thanks to my motorcycle, I seriously don’t know that I’d bother to own a streetbike. Sure, everybody in the other 49 states is against lane-splitting, but they wouldn’t be if they were actually informed as to its benefits for all involved. Hello, I thought that was what lobbyists and trade groups were supposed to do for us? Inform and enlighten the public for our benefit. Imagine how many frustrated commuters in America’s gridlocked cities would jump on motorcycles, just like thousands of us have been doing in California and around the globe since the dawn of traffic, and how many 60-mpg Honda NC700Xs would be sold as a result.
9. Tax Credit for miles traveled by motorcycle
Once the Lane-Splitting Proclamation is passed, or even better concurrently, there needs to be a graduated tax credit for those of us who relieve congestion, go easier on the infrastructure, and reduce our carbon footprint by traveling via motorcycle. A progressive schedule makes the most sense; the kids on the Ninja 250s and things with the best fuel mileage, like Honda NC700X, should get the biggest credit. And motojournalists should get the biggest one of all; in fact, as proselytizers, like churches, maybe we should be tax-exempt? This would be a great thing for the AMA to pursue instead of a Universal Do-Rag Amendment.
8. TV race commentators need to be downsized
Okay not all of them maybe, but the screamers, the spitters, and the ones who seem to get paid by the word. I mean, now that the MotoGP bikes have gyro-mounted hi-res cameras all over them, and HD super slo-mo cameras in every corner, do we need two or three guys shouting at us that they’re neck-and-neck going down the front straight? Are these guys left over from a time when people listened to bike races on the radio? I was watching one GP where they lost the announcer feed for a minute or so, and all I got was engine noise and onboard video. It was bliss. I’d like to watch nearly the whole race that way. What more do you need than that and the graphic down the left side of the screen telling you who’s where? A little announcing is great; tell me about the tires, tell me about behind-the-scenes drama. But I can see with my own eyes that it’s a right old battle going right down to the wire with neither man giving an inch. Give me engine noise! and on-board HD! and stifle yourself, Edith.
7. Electric Urban Motocross
An on-going joke between my boy and I, as we began the two-hour drive many Saturdays to ride our bikes at Lake Elsinore MX Park or some Godforsaken place, was the huge vacant lot alongside the 55 freeway five miles into our journey, “There’s where we’ll build our MX park!” Anybody who ever tried to make such a thing happen, of course, was immediately shot down over noise and emissions.
Electric motorcycles aren’t there yet for many street riders due to lack of range, but they would appear to be ideal for MX, where nobody can ride for more than 20 minutes at a time without dropping dead, or more than 20 miles, tops, in a day. Orange County, CA, where I live, is pretty congested. But there are still plenty of big vacant lots that could make great Electric MX parks. With no noise or emissions, what’s left for the neighbors to complain about? Dust? Hello, water truck. Here’s another case I don’t understand why the AMA and MIC are not all over? You want people to be safe, lifelong motorcycle consumers? Get them before they grow teeth. Where is my KTM Freeride? Where’s my Electric Grom?
6. Federally mandated Cruise Control and Heated Grips
Really I only think heated grips should be mandatory, but you should always ask for more than you want in order to get anything at all. Heated grips are a genuine safety thing and should be as common on motorcycles as heaters are in cars. When you get caught out in unexpected bad weather and your fingers get all cold and numb, you can’t control your motorcycle. The unit cost would be tiny if all bikes had them. Yes, I know you love your heated grips but resent the government telling you you must have them. This would be for the benefit of all the morons not nearly as smart as you. Cruise control I just like, and feel my will should be imposed universally.
5. Air Conditioning
Look, if they can find a way to make your phone a camera and a Walkman and a GPS and a thing not to answer all at once, don’t tell me somebody can’t come up with some sort of helmet/jacket combo that circulates chilled air around your scalp and torso when you’re sitting there in parade mode on Main Street. Or lost in Death Valley on your KTM. And I’m not talking about some ungainly spaceman apparatus either, I’m talking NASA-grade nano-conditioning the size of a small parrot perched on your shoulder or a pack of Marlboros on top of your helmet. If it’s going to keep getting hotter, this needs to happen. And it’s a request I make for all mankind, since we MOites can just continue clinging to the Pacific Coast if nobody smart is going to get on the stick.
4. Heated Seats on Everything
So sue me, I was having a hard time coming up with ten things. If you’ve ever frozen your butt off on a cold ride, though, you’re right there with me. And anybody who’s ridden more than a couple seasons has done that. I was on a BMW R1200CL in Wyoming one early morning on the edge of hypothermia when I remembered it had a heated seat. Three minutes later I commenced a near-religious experience as the warmth actually travelled upward into my soul, eventually meeting up with the heat forthcoming from the BMW grips somewhere around my heart. Again as with heated grips, if you’ve priced an electric blanket lately you understand the unit price to incorporate this on all but hardcore sportbikes and things would be really very small.
3. Photochromic faceshields need to be available for all, with liberty and justice
It’s a bit baffling how you can buy an entire Bell Qualifier DLX helmet with a Transitions faceshield for $229.95 at bellhelmets.com, but the Transitions shield by itself is $119.95. Shoei is supposed to have a photochromic shield for its RF1200, for around $150, and a couple other smaller helmet makers offer them. Why doesn’t everybody? Photochromic glass was developed by Corning in the 1960s, and came into widespread use in glasses during the leisure suit era. Having your shield lighten by itself as the sun goes down is about 20 times easier than lugging around a spare shield and changing it. This can only be a conspiracy by the makers of faceshields which must come to an end. And while we’re at it, where are the prescription inserts we should be able to stick inside the shield, negating the need to wear glasses?
2. Immediate Moratorium on Spaniards in MotoGP and Brits in World Superbike
We can let MotoGP slide since Rossi is back in the championship saddle and Ducati’s Italian Andreases are in the top six, along with an Englishman. Actually, since there are four Italians and four Spaniards in the top ten, maybe we should ban all new riders whose languages are unintelligible to us red-blooded Americans until such time as worldwide parity is re-established; ie., an American or two in the mix. How has this been allowed to happen? Can we blame Obama?
The main driving force behind the need for #8,”TV race commentators need to be downsized”, is that World Superbike has really been British Superbike all season; Dorna’s just about worn out its scratchy old 78-rpm God Save the Queen recording, since a Brit’s won every race. The announcers’ giddiness has surpassed bovine methane emissions as a leading cause of climate change. At least Nicky Hayden will be there next year, but he’s going to have his work cut out for him on the bike Jonathan Rea could seldom even ride onto the podium. How about this for hardball: No more Coca-Cola or Kentucky Fried Chicken for the rest of the world till we get satisfaction.
1. Supercross fans need to evolve and support AMA Flat Track and MotoAmerica
Personally, I never did get the big Supercross attraction, but I played along for years because my kid dug it until he reached adolescence and they serve beer. All that flying through the air seems like an orthopedist’s dream to me. All the bikes are the same, just different colors, and so are most of the riders. Supercross, though, has always been the cash cow when it comes to American motorcycle racing, packing big stadiums.
It would be the right thing to do for more Supercross fans to cross over to AMA Flat Track, a series that lately is all kinds of interesting, with Ducatis (including one with Troy Bayliss on it), Kawasakis, Triumphs and Yamahas bringing the heat to the old XR750 Harleys that ruled the series for far too long. Not to mention a husband and wife, Jared and Nichole Mees, battling it out in the top ten. Heck, the GNC2 support class is even populated by the same bikes the Supercross guys ride. From Flat Track, it’s a short hop to roadracing, or at least it used to be. And a resurgence of American roadracing talent is what we need to make America great again. Pretty soon it’s morning in America. Hello.