Motorcycles - posted on November 22, 2015

Not wearing a motorcycle helmet

Cool biker without helmet on hospital bed

I always wear a helmet when I ride a motorcycle, even if it’s not the law. Just because something’s legal doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Take cocaine for example. I’ve never done cocaine not because it was illegal, but because I just knew it was just a bad idea, I didn’t give two-shits about whether it was legal or not. Some states don’t have helmet laws, which means that some motorcyclists in those states don’t wear helmets, because they’re not forced to. 

I had one guy justify his refusal to wear a helmet by stating, “If it’s my time to go, then it’s just my time to go.”

Bullshit. If you get hit by lightning, sure.  If a meteor comes screaming across the horizon and punches through your sternum at 50,000 feet per second, sure. If you narrowly escape an oncoming train, only to get mauled by a rabid Canadian moose that ignored all the other tourists at the B&O railroad museum to single you out… ok, it was definitely your time to go.  But if you have a 30 mph spill while riding your motorcycle, crack your head on the asphalt and die… that’s on you. If you’d worn a helmet, that fall wouldn’t even  have disrupted your day.   There’s at least a half a dozen times I could say might have been “my time to go”, but they weren’t because I was wearing a helmet. I launched off my bike at 45 mph and landed on my noggin on concrete, but I guess the fickle finger of fate wasn’t pointing in my direction at that moment because I’m still here. Amazing how a simple plastic shell and styrofoam, can alter the will of the universe. I rewrote history and derailed fate by putting a skull cozy on my head, just think what I could do with a grenade launcher and some elbow pads.

I don’t necessarily think that helmet laws should be mandatory, because I also don’t think that it should be illegal to shoot heroin or drink Drano; if you’re dumb enough to ride without a helmet, then you’re dumb enough that maybe we shouldn’t protect you from yourself. The more laws the government enacts to protect us from ourselves, the more we handicap natural selection. You might be able to bang a hooker and not catch an STD, but eventually your luck will run out so maybe a condom might be a good idea. I absolutely support your right to endanger yourself, but I’ll just think less of you for doing so.

There’s a reason someone invented the helmet, it didn’t just come out of nowhere. Head trauma is almost guaranteed if one crashes a motorcycle, and wearing a helmet has been proven to always increase the odds of surviving that trauma. A helmet has never caused a motorcyclist to get MORE injured from a crash. Also, it’s kind of difficult to look tough when you’re ordering jello with a mouth-joystick.  Permanent brain damage or death is a high price to pay just so the cute girl at Starbucks thinks you’re a rebel.

football helmetLet’s be honest, that’s what this is really about; projecting an image. It doesn’t fit with the outlaw renegade wild and free biker to wear a full face helmet on a chopper. Imagine Dennis Hopper or Peter Fonda in “Easy Rider” cruising across ‘Mericah wearing an astronauts helmet. It doesn’t fit the image. They even made fun of Jack Nicholson for wearing the wrong kind of head protection: a football helmet. Granted, a leather football cap from the 40’s isn’t going to do much in the event of a crash, but at least the alcoholic lawyer with nothing to lose had enough sense to wear something on his head. It’s telling that most irresponsible character in the movie still had more brains than the self-stylized freedom bikers.

Brain bucket or nothing at all, they both seem stupid and indefensible to me. I view it in the same category as the goth kid in Florida; he’s sweating his ass off in those black jeans and cape just for the sake of letting you know he hates sports. Paint your fingernails black, put on some shorts, and stop worrying so much about how you look. You’re just making yourself suffer needlessly just so other shallow people think you’re cool.

being goth isn't always a good idea

Maybe wearing protective gear doesn’t jive with the fantasy that you’re riding with the Satan’s Volunteers M.C., but you’re not actually in an outlaw biker gang, doofus. Unless you ride with a loaded 12 gauge strapped to your phallus and a crankcase full of cooked down allergy pills, you’re just playing make-believe, so drop the attitude. You’re no more of an outlaw biker than the waiter at TGIFridays is your new best friend.  (edit: If you actually are in a legit 1% biker gang that kills people, you go ahead and do whatever the fuck you want, in case you were waiting for my permission.)

These are usually the same guys that swap their handlebars for uncomfortable bursitis inducing ape-hangers, install chopper forks that steer like shit, and wear a Corona tank top that doesn’t actually behave like kevlar. They opt for form over function, looks over sensibility, and brawn over brains. These are the guys that want to know how fast you’ve taken it, how much you make in a year, and what’s your bench press max. They have to own the mostest, because they still care what other people think.

These are the comedians that always bring up the fact that they’re a comedian, the girls that flash their high dollar brand name clothing and jewelry, and the e-cig vapers that have to pull a massive cloud before they greet you. These people are weak. They need you to think they’re cool.  By contrast,the internally strong people don’t give a fuck what you think, because they’re satisfied in what they’ve done, who they are, and how they view themselves. They don’t need to impress you because they’re comfortable in who they are.

I don’t care how I look when I’m riding my motorcycle, I’m too busy enjoying the act of riding my motorcycle. I like to ride because it’s fun. I like to ride because it relaxes me. I like to ride because I can shut the world out for a few hours (or days) and withdraw into quiet thought, ponder things without the constant interruption of text messages, emails, phone calls, or my dog throwing a full can of tomatoes at me.

dog can of tomatoesI ride a motorcycle because I enjoy riding, not because of any secondary motive.  I don’t care how I look when I’m riding, because that’s not why I’m on the bike. If someone says they ride without a helmet, then there’s a good chance that actually riding the motorcycle is third or fourth down the list of reasons they own a bike. They like the image, they want a conversation ice-breaker at the bar, or maybe they like to parlay the tough guy aura into a little extra bravado when they saunter into Panera Bread for a soup bowl and sarsaparilla.  If someone’s bike is referred to as a “bar-hopper” then odds are they don’t wear a helmet, but definitely sport a leather jacket or t-shirt that lets everyone know whose chopper is parked by the hitchin’ post in front of the saloon.


I’m not a fan of posers, and when I see someone riding without a helmet, that’s what I see; a poser.  The dude hanging out by the ramps with an unmarred skateboard is a poser. The girl in the ski lodge wearing snow gear and make up, drinking hot chocolate for three hours is a poser. You don’t need Bolle goggles and matching Burton attire to drink cocoa, but you do if you want people to think you’re a snow bunny. It’s the same thing with hipster-nerd culture; actual nerds don’t look dress like “nerds”.  The more someone goes out of their way to look “nerdy”, the more likely they’re full of shit.  They’re posers.  The next time you hear a girl say, “Ohmigod… I am just such a total nerd! I’m like totally into a bunch of dorky things that are so nerdy!”  Call their bluff.  Ask them something specific. Make a Doctor Who joke or ask her about html code. Test her self-purported nerdiness, because she’s probably just trying to look cool.  Listening to nerd posers wiggle out of those questions is almost as entertaining as watching a helmet-less biker stall and drop his bike in front of Starbucks.

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