September 19, 2006


For motorcycles.


bill said...

I'm more interested in the inflatable crash suit. More like the Kourier suit from Snow Crash.

Tibore said...

"Worldwide Riders... sells vests with protective bladders that inflate as riders are being ejected from their motorcycles."

There you go!

Well, okay, it's not exactly the same thing. But it's a start!

And, re: Snow Crash - Yeah, but Kouriers were engaging in seriously risky behavior. They'd 'poon cars and be at the mercy of wherever the driver was towing them. They definitely needed some serious protection. Of course, nothing'd ever save you from the Magic Hoover Poon.

And while I'm hugely deviating from the original subject: Wouldn't a MagnaPoon be the most awesome thing in the world to have?

HaloJonesFan said...

The article claims that motorcyclists won't want to buy these because they don't like to wear helmets. This is remarkably dense. The reasons for not wearing helmets don't have anything to do with a safety aversion! In fact, I'd expect that motorcyclists would love to have an excuse to not wear a helmet...

corporate law drudge said...

My friend, the ER Doc, calls motorcyclists "organ donor wannabees."

Kirby Olson said...

You could just have a spike pop up and finish them off so there's no lingering by the side of the road (reduces pain overall), and also no hospital expenses.

Or you could just have people who want to buy a motorcycle be taken down the steps so that the owner can "get medieval" with them, like in Pulp Fiction.

People who ride motorcycles are asking to be killed.

You could just ask the farmers to shoot them on their way to work like they did in the film Easy Rider.

It all amounts to the same thing.

Cyanide, the 20 gauge, whatever.

Any noose that fits.

Eli Blake said...

You guys are full of it.

First, on the comment about helmets-- some motorcycle riders don't like to wear helmets. Others do. You are guilty of a broad generalization.

Second, the rest of you are frankly sick. Ignoring the fact that motorcycles have fewer accidents per mile than cars, your attitude towards motorcyclists is disgusting.

They are human beings who are choosing not to travel using the same gas guzzling monstrosities that you drive. And for that you want to drive spikes through them, shoot them or give them cyanide?!?

If these same suggestions were leveled at, for example, people in wheelchairs or black people or Catholics it would be considered hate speech.

If you don't want to ride a motorcycle yourself then don't ride one (I don't, by the way-- but a lot of my friends over the years have been bikers-- and no, that doesn't mean gang members either; One of my colleagues here at the college who teaches the same subject I do is also a biker.) I find some of your ideas to be sickening and hateful in the worst possible way.

Derve said...

I saw news video of a few weeks ago, with the crash test dummies. Hard to believe it could work until you see it.

This shows the dummy crashing into a car that pulls out in front of it -- with and without the bag. I remember them saying it can protect from deadly neck snap and head injuries in some types of collisions.

Eli Blake said...

One modification and an apology.

Having read through the comments again, I see that the ones I found offensive were pretty much all under one poster, "Kirby Olson."

My apologies to the rest of you.

quietnorth said...


I agree with your comments that motorcyclists are generally nice people-I do take issue with the loud pipes habit many of them enjoy-and the rest don't object to. You are only pretending to be "one with the world" when you are polluting the sound environment for the rest of us.

Kirby Olson said...

Come on, I was just joking.

My first clear memory when I was four or something was sitting in the station wagon while some guy on a motorcycle was coming to the crossroads in Warminster, PA just north of Philly, when he hit the car in front of him, cleared the car, and landed on his head. He wasn't wearing a helmet.

It was really neat because it was as if I saw the whole thing in slow motion as he cleared the car, landed on his hand, and then proceeded to cartwheel down the highway touching almost every point of his body in some kind of acrobatic dance in which his back became increasingly flexible until he finally ended in a broken heap some hundred feet from where he began his dance of death.

I swore to myself that I would never get on such a contraption, and asked my mom for another cookie.

Since then with one exception everyone I know who has ridden a motorcycle has been seriously injured including two high school friends who have been paralyzed from the waist down.

I hate to be cynical, but it almost seems like motorcycle riders must have a death wish.

If so, I propose the Easy Rider open season remedy. If not, then I apologize, but at least motorcyclists should use their brains and put on helmets.

Me, I would rather just be shot with a twenty gauge (or even an 8 gauge) than get on a motorcycle.

But hey, it's a free country! People do have the right to make themselves into projectiles at 65 mph against a hard surface. It's guaranteed in our laws! I would be the last to take it away: it's under the spirit of "pursuit of happiness."

Different strokes, folks.

Derve said...

"Loud pipes save lives."

I agree with you quietnorth, but those riders believe if other vehicles can hear them coming, they are safer.

There's an awful lot of inattentive drivers out there, and I suppose if you've had a close call...

Mathew said...

Kirby - Sorry to hear about your experience with motorcyclists. As someone who knows, literally, about one hundred of them, none of whom has been seriously killed or injured in the 8 years I've been riding, I have to say your experience is unique and tragic. While I can't blame you for your attitude, try to think about how those of us who make it a point to ride carefully and safely (like me and the one-hundred or so riding friends I have) view your comments. They really are offensive, derogatory, and hateful.

I fully appreciate the dangers of riding a motorcycle, and the responsibility that goes along with it. Unfortunately, there are a number of riders who don't. These are also the same riders who rarely seek proper training or instruction. These are the ones who end up cartwheeling headless down the pavement. I don't have much more sympathy for them than you do, but I'm not about to suggest that they had a death wish, or somehow deserved to die for choosing to do something they enjoyed, as you are.

Motorcycling, to me, is the greatest escape from the real world I know, and it's because of the way I ride. While navigating traffic, 100% of my attention is on the task at hand, which leaves exactly 0% for worrying about how my girlfriend pissed me off that day, or all the bullshit work I have waiting for me when I get back to the office. It's this escape that makes motorcycling special for me. Some people escape to their music, some people escape to their knitting, I chose to escape to twisty country roads on a piece of rolling italian artwork.

But I suppose this is all hot air. We have a saying about you cagers (those of you who are trapped in your cars and all)... If I have to explain, you wouldn't understand.

Eli Blake said...

Kirby Olson,

I'm glad that you were joking, please understand that I don't find jokes about murdering people to be funny, tasteful or acceptable.

I've got a friend who lost a leg in a motorcycle accident and I also know a man who died in one (though I couldn't say he was a 'friend'-- he was the bully who used to pick on me in elementary school.) I also witnessed a motorcycle accident in which the victim was literally forced off the road by a car. So yes, it happens-- though I've also known people who died in car accidents and bicycle accidents and other kinds of accidents.

If the device described reduces that number, then that's good news.

Theo Boehm said...

As someone who put in 100,000 miles on motorcycles by the age of 25, I don't know where to start. Obviously, a lot of nice people who would visit this blog never do anything riskier than eating sushi, and can't understand why anyone would.

Let me explain.

First, buy or check out of the library a copy of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. Read it. It's an unusual and personal exploration of the qualities of experience, all set in the structure of Goethe's Erlkönig.

"Wer reitet so spät durch nacht und wind
Es ist der Vater mit seinem Kind...."

(Get the Fischer-Dieskau CD. Deutsche Grammophon 457 747-2. Everybody should have a copy.)

Anyway, not only is there a lot of not-quite-Zen and Goethe in there, but some of the best writing about motorcycles ever. As someone who made a serious hobby of restoring (and riding) old motorcycles, I can tell you that Pirsig does quite a job getting inside the experience. He uses simple examples that everyone can understand, such as how to make an aluminum shim for a handlebar clamp from an old beer can, but what he conveys is spot on.

His analysis of riding is the other essential point. The basic thing about motorcycle riding is that you are in the landscape as you travel, not an enclosed spectator as in a car, but actually a connected, often vulnerable part of the world you move through.

As regulars here know, Ann recently took a long road trip to San Jose, passing through some spectacular desert landscapes on the way. She wrote:

"...Mostly, I drove in bright, hot sunlight, but a few of those blinding storms hit me. One made the temperature -- around 100 all day -- suddenly drop to 67. But I was inside the car, with the windows up and the air conditioning on. I was just reading the numbers on the dashboard.

I'm in love with the beauty of the western landscapes. But at the same time, I know that without the car, this place would be frightening and dangerous. I delighted when the ground went from green to brown as I drove west, and the land went from gentle hills to gigantic, ragged rocks. But it is only because there is so much land like Nebraska and Iowa that I'm in a position to see these desiccated landscapes as beautiful...."

This nicely describes the experience of being a spectator of one's travels. As Ann suggests, the car surrounded her, catered to her comfort, protected her. This allows the detachment she felt, the comfortable detachment that allows something that would be "frightening and dangerous" to become an asthetic experience.

As someone who has ridden across similar landscapes on a motorcycle (L.A. to Santa Fe several times), I can tell you that those trips were not like driving an Audi. Those rides are still vivid in every detail all these years later, but for very different reasons. Things were not frightening and dangerous; they were just there. You can feel the heat, you breathe, you smell, you chew the heat--and the grit and the diesel fumes and the insects. You feel every piece of gravel, every gust of wind blowing sand across the road, the rattlesnake you just ran over, the tumbleweed blowing across the highway you missed but caught a piece on your saddlebag.

You love the throb of the engine. You literally love it. It's your power. You are the engine. Ride across the desert at night . The air in a high desert at night is a liquid. The stars carpet the black sky. Then they end in a ragged line somewhere out there. They end at a mountain top, but you can't see the mountain, because there are no lights. You can feel the mountain, though. You can just feel it. You could never feel it in a car. Do you know what a mountain 40 miles away feels like in the desert at night? I do. I've been there on a motorcycle.

If you ride a motorcycle, you have to accept that you will fall off. Learn how to do that. I have scarred elbows and knees and a crown on a broken front tooth. You will fall off.

When I got my first bike (Yamaha 80cc), I was 15 years old. By the time I graduated from high school, I was riding a nicely restored 1951 FLH full-dress Harley, rigid frame, rocker clutch, tank shift, the whole deal. It was seriously wierd in my time and place, but it was a bit of a chick magnet (eat your hearts out, Cambridge types). Along the way, I acquired a '56 Triumph T110 in pristine condition (a joy in every way), a '58 AJS (scary junk), a '65 BMW R69 (yawn), a '63 BSA Gold Star (seldom started without a fight), a '73 2-stroke CZ 400cc with a sidecar (my bit for the environment), and many others.

I sold everything when I moved to Massachusetts and have never ridden since.

quietnorth said...

"His analysis of riding is the other essential point. The basic thing about motorcycle riding is that you are in the landscape as you travel, not an enclosed spectator as in a car, but actually a connected, often vulnerable part of the world you move through. "

theo boehm;

I was impressed with this part of the book as well. Its just that this "being one with one's landscape" only an illusion for those motorcycle riders who modify their mufflers to be loud. You are not "connected" to the environment if you are roaring through it, except in the way that a person stealing a wallet is connected to his victim.

I have in mind a canoe trip I took through the otherwise pristine lower Wisconsin River this summer. The sound of racing, revving, roaring motorcycles on quiet rural roads belied the idea that loud pipes are there for safety.

Derve said...

The sound of racing, revving, roaring motorcycles on quiet rural roads belied the idea that loud pipes are there for safety.

Once you modify the exhaust, you can't switch to quiet for rural rides. Sure they like it loud too. Often illegal, and gives bikes a bad name. But what can you do except accept?

Try Boundary Waters if you're looking for absolute quiet. 4-wheelers, snowmobiles, loud motorcyles -- there's more and more of them on the trails and roads now. If you're up and out early though, or pick more remote rivers or paths, you can enjoy your fun even with the more noisy around.

quietnorth said...

I liked the Boundary Waters, but I am not conceding all of the quiet places in Wisconsin to people who like to make noise for noise's sake. But my main point was that motorcyclists who say they are feeling "one with the environment" are deluding themselves if they have noisy mufflers.

Derve said...

Point well taken, quietnorth.

I've read on your blog about efforts not to concede too much to the snowmobilers where you're at. I really don't like the idea of overpowering nature either, sometimes just seems inevitable. Also you're right, I checked it out. That line about loud pipes have been proven false in studies.

quietnorth said...

Thanks for the article, Derv;

The author was being very honest!

Theo Boehm said...

As you can probably tell from my list of old motorcycles, I’m no fan of off-road bikes. I am also no fan of loud pipes, although I'm convinced a certain amount of noise is indeed a safety feature. I was nearly killed on my whisper-quiet BMW by an idiot who pulled right in front of me. He had no idea I was there. BMW riders have many such stories.

Dirt bikes have chewed up far too much landscape, especially in the Mojave Desert, where damage could last for centuries. What I am talking about is riding motorcycles on already established roads. The basic environmental impact is there, so what does it matter that another vehicle comes along? Don’t like the noise? Wait a minute.

A lot of this is a matter of style. In my opinion, motorcycles that are all tarted up with full fairings, radios, GPS systems, huge carriers, giant passenger seats, 6-cylinder engines, etc., and now air bags, are not motorcycles, but 2-wheeled cars. This sort of motorcycle tries hard to insulate and surround you like a car. The charm of classic touring bikes is that you are out there with the basics and an engine. You and the road.

By the same token, badly-tuned, inefficient, loud choppers are more urban display totems than motorcycles. What to do about them? There are noise regulations and all sorts of laws relating to modified vehicles.

There are occasions where you are riding cross-country, and a touring bike won’t make it. I have no problem with bikes intended for this kind of travel, as long as the riders aren’t gratuitously tearing up the landscape and the motorcycles are no louder than they have to be. A good example of this kind of touring is in the film The Long Way Round with Ewen McGregor of Star Wars fame and Charley Boorman. They ride from England to New York across Eurasia and North America on a couple of BMW’s. Well worth watching for the huge range of local color across three continents. Again, the participants are in the landscape and with the people everywhere they go.

I went kayaking on a quiet pond in Concord last Sunday. I was indeed close to nature. It was quiet and peaceful. But it was an experience of a totally different kind from going 75 mph on a desert road at night. If you ask me which got me closer to the planet, to the actual face of nature, to our place in the universe, I would say in a heartbeat, that desert road.

Kirby Olson said...

Ok, I never thought that bikers would be so sensitive.

I take back all I took.

Drive safely!

Kirby Olson said...

I personally would rather marry Anna Nicole Smith and try to raise children with her than get on a motorcycle.

The airbag reminds me of a condom.

I just think people should try to do less risky things, but I can appreciate that people do like to take risks.

I'm just not one of those people. I can also appreciate how a risk could focus the mind, etc. and take your mind off other things.

I'm all appreciation: as I was at the spectacle of the collision. I love choices! It's such a great country!