Top Ten Strangest Motorcycle Stories of 2012

Dennis Chung
by Dennis Chung

Earlier, we looked back at some of the most notable motorcycle news stories of 2012, ten tales that helped define the motorcycle industry this past year.

It’s probably safe to say that none of the items in this top ten list will do that. This is a compilation of some of the strangest, dumbest, and funniest oddball stories we’ve seen this year.

Here’s to a great 2012. We can only hope 2013 will be just as entertaining.

In 2011, Ray Biddess, a reverend in England, established a Guinness World Record for the world’s fastest motorcycle hearse with a converted Triumph Rocket III clocked going 114.1 mph.

This year, that record was broken by the Faster Pastor, Paul Sinclair, another English clergyman, and his converted Suzuki Hayabusa. Sinclair posted a speed of 117.6 mph to claim a new speed record for a motorcycle hearse.

The people at Guinness have yet to verify Sinclair’s claims so officially, the record still belongs to Rev. Biddess.

Our take? Let’s settle this matter with a drag race!

Motorcycle racing series change their rules all the time. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. And sometimes, they just leave you scratching your head.

This year, the World Superbike Racing championship announced new rules designed to make a stronger link between its racebikes and the production models they’re based on. This includes mandating 17-inch wheels, but also the use of fake headlight stickers.

This isn’t a new idea. NASCAR introduced the same fake headlight regulation years ago, also to make its racecars resemble stock vehicles.

On the one hand, we do understand why manufacturers would want their racebikes to look like the regular models. After all, they are in the business to sell motorcycles, not to race them. And headlight shapes are one of the first things people notice.

But it does look silly. We haven’t seen the 2013 WSBK version of the BMW S1000RR but we can imagine how its asymmetric headlight stickers would look. For WSBK teams the new rule also takes away space that would otherwise have been used for sponsors.

There was a time when Maverick Viñales was best known as being a racer on Paris Hilton‘s 125cc Grand Prix team. After the jokes died down, it became apparent that Viñales had quite a bit of talent. Viñales’ stock began to rise this season after he won five of the first nine races of the 2012 Moto3 championship.

Things began to sour during the second half of the season between Viñales and the Blusens Avintia team however, leading to Viñales ‘ surprise decision to walk out on his team. The announcement came ahead of the Sepang round. Viñales travelled to Malaysia with the team but was missing from practice.

In a statement on, Viñales said team did not provide enough in the way of development in the second half, making the team feel, in his words, like a “second division team”.

What Viñales glossed over was the fact this “second division team” helped him sit second overall at the time in the championship with a mathematical shot at overtaking eventual winner Sandro Cortese for the Moto3 title. With a name like “Maverick” this kind of behavior probably shouldn’t have been a surprise, but that doesn’t make it any less dumb.

Soon after his protest Viñales realized he still had two years remaining in his contract with his team, not to mention sponsors who are paying him good money to show up and race. Viñales returned and apologized to his team, his sponsors and to his fans.

Viñales would race the remaining two rounds and finish third overall. His five wins were tied with the champion Cortese for the overall lead while Viñales held a sizeable 92-74 advantage in overall laps led during the entire season. Not bad for a rider on a “second division team”, eh?

The picture pretty much tells the story. A runaway bus in Russia crashed right into a multiline dealership, causing significant damage to the building and an untold number of vehicles inside.

The brakes had reportedly failed and the bus’ driver was desperate to bring the vehicle to a stop. Police arrived on the scene to block off other traffic and eventually the bus came to a stop through the window beneath the giant Yamaha sign.

Where’s Keanu Reeves when you need him?

We know what you’re thinking. The only thing that would have made the bus-crashing-into-a-motorcycle-dealership story better is if the bus was a sexy Lamborghini instead.

Well that’s exactly what happened a month earlier somewhere in Italy, north of Milan. The driver of a Lamborghini Murciélago lost control while approaching a curve. He lost control and the expensive car careened into a row of motorcycles parked outside a BMW dealership. The Lamborghini bounced off the bikes and eventually came to a stop in the middle of the road, but not before destroying nine display models, and customer-owned motorcycles.

The total damage was estimated at about 500,000 euros.

Coincidentally, Lamborghini happens to be owned by Audi, and both are part of the Volkswagen family including the recently acquired Ducati brand. Volkswagen, of course, is one of BMW’s biggest rivals. After this incident, we’re pretty sure a couple more Beemer fans have developed a big hatred for Lambos.

It’s always nice to hear a story about a Good Samaritan coming to the aid of a motorcyclist following a crash. Not so nice is when this Samaritan turns out to be less than good, volunteering to wheel a crashed bike out of traffic, then riding off with it while its owner lies on the ground with serious injuries.

Glenn Hawkins crashed his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R trying to avoid a bicyclist who had suddenly stepped in front of his path. Hawkins slid to the ground, braking his collar bone while also cracking two ribs and puncturing a lung. As he lay there, a passer-by offered to move the Ninja … and didn’t stop until he was long out of sight.

“I came off my bike and skidded along the road. When I got up I said ‘where’s my bike?’ and I was told someone had stolen it,” Hawkins tells the Daily Mail.

The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame selection committee has a relatively straight-forward job. It selects potential candidates, debates their merits, and votes whether to enshrine them in the Hall. Something went wrong with the process this year, resulting in some embarrassment for the Hall and a review of how candidates get chosen.

It all started back in April when the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame released a list of 26 candidates who were nominated for induction for 2012. The list included several good candidates including Derek “Nobby” Clark, a championship-winning race tuner who has worked with the likes of Mike Hailwood, Kenny Roberts and Giacomo Agostini. This marked the first time the Hall released a shortlist of candidates. Previously, the Hall only announced those who were eventually selected.

Months later, the Hall began announcing those who had been selected for the Class of 2012. On June 11, the Hall announced Clark had been chosen, releasing a full press release with quotes attributed to Clark about being selected.

All seemed well until June 30 when the Hall announced there was a mistake and Nobby Clark was mistakenly advanced by a subcommittee to the final ballot for voting from the entire selection body. Clark received enough support from the overall vote but because he wasn’t supposed to be on the ballot, the Hall decided to rescind his selection.

Many of Clark’s supporters disagreed with how the whole episode was handled, with SpeedTV personality and Hall of Fame member Dave Despain writing to the Hall saying Clark was being unfairly blackballed and asking for himself to be removed from the Hall. This led to fellow Hall of Fame members Roberts, Dick Mann and Charles Falco to also ask to be removed.

Seeking to make things right, the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation said it would hold a supplemental vote to decide whether to induct Clark with the 2012 class. Seeing as how Clark received enough support in the initial vote, it was no surprise the supplemental vote decided in favor of inducting Clark.

In November, Clark was finally inducted to the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame alongside the late president of KTM America Rod Bush, off-road racer Ty Davis, former Supercross Champion Jimmy Ellis, female motocrosser Sue Fish, motorcycle restorer Brian Slark and “Airborne Al” Wilcox, the longtime AMA racing flag man who passed away in 2011.

The AMA and the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation later formed a task force to review the Hall’s selection process and suggest changes.

Two men in Mexico faced terrorism charges after their motorcycles backfired, causing a large crowd of people to stampede, believing the sound was gunfire.

Juan Ramon Munguia and Enrique Trevino Rivera faced charges in the incident which took place during an Easter celebration. Police say accounts from witnesses disagreed on whether the loud exploding noises were intentionally caused. A guilty conviction could lead to sentences of 5 to 20 years in prison.

Video footage of the incident (below) shows hundreds of people attending the festivities in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, fleeing in panic or ducking for cover. Several people were injured in the incident as vendor stalls blocked off many routes, funneling the crowd into a tight space.

The charges may seem like an over-reaction at first glance, but with the country’s high crime rates, it wouldn’t have been a surprise to those in the crowd if the noises were from actual gunshots. There have been several incidents in recent years of gunfire during large public events such as soccer games and concert, and in 2008, eight people were killed in a grenade attack during an independence day celebration in Morelia, Mexico.

A motorcyclist in British Columbia, Canada, faces charges after a video was posted on YouTube of a Yamaha R1 allegedly going 299 kph (185 mph) in traffic on the Trans-Canada Highway.

The video, included below, was uploaded by a user going by the name “Joe Blow” on April 8. Eyewitnesses report the incident was filmed on April 6 at around 4 pm PST. Using video evidence, police tracked down the alleged rider.

At first, police only had enough evidence to seize a motorcycle believed to be the one used in the video, and issued tickets carrying fines totaling CN$1,449 to the R1’s owner, who authorities say is the mother of the rider in the video.

Several months later, police gathered further evidence from eyewitness accounts, leading to dangerous driving charges against Randy George Scott, who police said had 27 prior traffic offenses and had his license suspended five times (including the motorcycle learner’s permit he had when the video was said to have been filmed).

Scott is now awaiting his trial, set for October 2013. As for the impounded R1? B.C.’s Civil Forfeiture Office auctioned it off for $4,651.

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By far the strangest story of 2012 is that of Henry Wolf, a BMW rider in California suffering from a painfully serious condition known as priapism. What’s priapism, you ask? It’s a condition where a man’s penis maintains an erection that would not go away.

Wolf made headlines around the world after filing a lawsuit against BMW and seat makers Corbin-Pacific, alleging a four-hour ride on a BMW motorcycle in 2010 resulted in a severe case of priapism. Wolf is seeking damages for general negligence, product liability and emotional distress. He seeks compensation for wages lost, medical expenses and general damage.

Of course, that “general damage” is likely higher now, as Wolf will now be recognized around the world as the guy with the persistent, painful erection.

The case is now going to trial, with a jury set to hear evidence on June 17, 2013. BMW has requested a meeting for an out-of-court settlement while Corbin-Pacific has requested mediation.

Dennis Chung
Dennis Chung

Dennis has been a part of the team since 2008, and through his tenure, has developed a firm grasp of industry trends, and a solid sense of what's to come. A bloodhound when it comes to tracking information on new motorcycles, if there's a new model on the horizon, you'll probably hear about it from him first.

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