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Monday, November 14, 2011

"The Way the Big Wheel Spins"

Take a minute and think back to your younger days before you were allowed to drive.  What was your first set of wheels?  For many, that first taste of the open road was embodied in the Big Wheel.  The Big Wheel was a sweet bike to start with.  A low center of gravity meant those three wheels stayed glued to the road as long as you didn't overpower the plastic front wheel.  The low slung cockpit made the sensation of speed feel illegal.  The child sized motor only needed to be fed with Kool-Aid and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  You could go anywhere on that thing, even to your friend Timmy's house down the end of the block.  That was the life... for awhile.

Inevitably, things like growing became an issue and the Big Wheel just didn't fit anymore but it was a great way to cut your teeth before your first real bike...

For many that real bike is a Huffy, Schwinn, or something similar.  Others later move on to bikes with names like Harley, Triumph, or Suzuki painted onto their gas tanks.  A few regress back to their infantile state and find some justification to buy a trike.

Now, don't get me wrong.  It's not that I dislike trikes.  I, in fact, loathe them!  This distaste for the three-wheeled motorcycle mutants started after properly learning how to ride a motorcycle through the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course.  The course drains more brains than the Playboy network.  Seeing a trike only tells me that the rider doesn't possess the skills that are necessary to ride a two-wheeled motorcycle proficiently.  Yet, he's in love with the image and so-called lifestyle of a biker.  In other words, he's a poser.

Seeing as most trikes are modified cruisers or touring bikes, sportbike riders like myself didn't come into contact with them much and I liked to keep it that way.  It stayed like this for awhile until Bombardier released their Can-Am Roadster in 2007.

Now, there are people who believe that cornering a sportbike is just as easy as turning a set of handlebars.  Not saying that all sportbike riders know about edge grip, threshold braking, or a proper line but most have some idea about counter-steering which can't be said about Can-Am riders.  This leads to a potentially hazardous situation caused by Bombardier.

The newest commercial for the Roadster shows a group of like-minded individuals riding through meandering roads when a voice over says something about being able to take the motorcycle license test on the Roadster.  A motorcycle is a single-track vehicle which has completely different handling characteristics compared to a trike or car.   In a country that stresses everything must be done faster, it wouldn't be surprising for people to use this shortcut to get their license very quickly without learning how to handle a motorcycle.  When it comes time to ride a motorcycle, the consequences would be disastrous.

So what are we getting at here?  To paraphrase Neil Peart of Rush, stop "playing the game, but not the way the big boys played."

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