Friday, February 27, 2009

One more time.

Several people seem to have mistaken where the target is on this exercise. One, in particular, has been vocal about his disapproval of me all along. There may be others who have the same idea and just haven't expressed it. This is in no way, shape, or form intended to be any sort of self defense. Mainly because I vehemently deny that there's any need for it. Consider this post to have two purposes.

Firstly, it's the same principle used with expectations. Every one of our instructors, for example, has the right to be told clearly and precisely what the expectations are for them and then to be given the chance and help to meet them. Once the staff are satisfied they did their best to clearly outline the expectations, the instructor then stands or falls on their own. While there is certainly no employer / employee relationships involved here, I want to make sure I clearly stated my position. After that everyone's on their own in regards to what they do with it.

Secondly, it's a matter of respect. I've been asked a direct question. I'm going to answer it out of respect for the purveyor of the question. The end result may be that we agree to disagree and that's perfectly fine with me. I'm quoting the comment below. This is not intended to be a call-out type challenge. For clarity, though, I'm including the comment as it appeared earlier. Agent 22, you made a public comment and I'm providing a public answer. The answer was too long for a comment so I gave it it's own space here. There's no pictures or fluff in this post. Let's get down to it and I'll try to be as succint and precise as possible.

Agent22 said...

have you ever heard the phrase "don't hate the player, hate the game"?If you really want to do something instead of write about it get a law change by writing your congressmen and petition.i mean, are you really doing so much by telling people what they probably know?So please don't blame the scooter rider, yes i agree they should wear all gear and take classes,blame the lawmakers.I am in the military and it is mandatory to take the MSF class and wear my gear at all times on my scooter.when I lost control in the rain one day ,I was very glad I had on all my gear also.Personally I see more motorcycle riders with no helmets than scooters.I don't understand why this is focused just towards scooters...please explain, I'm sure they are not the only ones guilty of being unsafe on 2 wheels.

Agent 22,

It seems clear that my transmitter and your receiver aren't exactly tuned to the same frequencies. It's also clear that you are offended because of it and that is coloring your comment, here. This is an effort at fine tuning the signal.

Although, I can't resist a friendly little jab to start with. It seems your vitriol towards me is an expression of hating the player and not the game. The same thing you accuse me of. Let's take a bit to more clearly illustrate what "The Game" is here.

The target here is not "scooter riders". The crosshairs are aligned squarely on people who exhibit a certain attitude. Their choice to ride a scooter is an expression of that attitude. For reasons I'll point out in a bit, motorcycles do not generally fit their needs. That's the reason I refer to scooter riders and not motorcycle riders. I know this might be a hard distinction for some people to make. We all have different perspectives. It's hard for me to totally understand your platform because I don't live your life. Similarly, it's hard for you to totally understand the perspective of a long time motorcycle safety trainer and advocate. To help out, I'm asking you to look at this from the perspective of people and not machines.

Again, not offered in any sort of conciliatory way, I state my awareness of the multitude of scooter riders who take riding seriously. You and your peers are examples of these yourselves. I applaud your use of gear, the time spent in training, and the sheer fun you seem to have, judging by the comments on the forum I saw about "mods" to the scooters!

Yes, there are motorcycle riders and scooter riders alike who shun gear and training. I've been around the block a time or two. You should give me credit for knowing what's what. I'm aware that a lot of people started riding for economical transport. It either worked or it didn't. When it worked people either went on to a shifting motorcycle or bought a bigger scooter. Whatever their other attitudes about gear and training, or their success level, they shared this one attitude.

"For whatever reason I choose to ride, I am entering the world of motorcycling."

Ok, keep an open mind and bear with me here.

The people I've been posting about do not ever have that thought. They want cheap, uncomplicated, transportation. Period.

That's why scooters become an expression of their attitude and motorcycles don't. No, you can't write everything in stone. Here's why I make that statement, though.

New scooters, as a whole, offer a lower initial purchase price than new motorcycles. This satisfies the economy part in a way motorcycles don't.

Small displacement scooters, as a whole, offer much higher fuel mileage than new motorcycles. This again, satisfies the economy part in a way motorcycles usually don't.

Yeah, I know a Ninja 250 satisfies both the purchase price and fuel economy part but they scare the crap out of these kind of people.

Scooters, as a whole, are more convenient for people to ride as regards places to put purses and grocery bags. You have to buy bags for a motorcycle while scooters have under-seat storage.

Here's the big one. Scooters don't need to be shifted. If I only had a dollar for everyone I've heard say they don't want to worry about that shifting stuff. It's so much simpler on a scooter. Again, the choices of motorcycles that don't need to be shifted are getting bigger but you know the current situation in that regard. Scooters at any price fill that need in a way motorcycles currently do not.

There's a few more small ones, but those are the really salient points. Only scooters satisfy the needs of the people I'm referring to. That's why I say scooters are an expression of their attitude. In case there's been too many words between there and here, let me restate.

The target is not scooter riders. It is people with a particular attitude and buying scooters is an expression of that attitude.

You ask why we don't push for more legislation. Some of that is being done quietly. There's a good chance this legislative session will end with motorcycle training being mandatory for anyone who wants a motorcycle endorsement in Oregon. Some legislation is good, but having too many rules doesn't really prove to be effective.

For example, it might also come out that the fine for riding without an endorsement will go up from a little under two hundred dollars to seven hundred. How many people will that really deter? I'm sure, if you weren't a little steamed at me, that you'd agree education is infinitely more effective than making a bunch more laws.

Which answers your other question of why I wrote about it. I want riders, scooter mounted or otherwise, to understand the situation and then help educate those they see around them that could use a little help. My posts were an effort to lay the groundwork from which these people are operating. Understanding where a person is right now goes a long ways towards helping them get where they need to be.

I personally don't give a crap if a rider considers themself "one of us" or not. I mean, geez, WE don't even agree on what that means. What I do care about is that no matter why they ride, or what they ride, they need good gear and training. Their decisions need to be based on education, not ignorance. Believe me, thoughts of gear and training really haven't entered their minds, sometimes. If, after someone takes the time to share a little wisdom with them, they choose to ignore it, so be it. Now's it's on their head and not ours.

Which brings me to the end of this post. Sir, I thank you for your service to our country and to us as its current citizens. I applaud your serious attitude towards gear and training. I respect the fact that you sign your handle on your comments and confront me mano-a-mano. I hope you can see where I'm coming from and try to share wisdom with new riders of all kinds. I'd even kind of like you to keep reading and sharing comments. People who share opposing viewpoints in a postive way add to the richness of us all. On the other hand, I really don't give a damn whether you agree with me or not. I just want to make sure the disagreement is on your head and not mine because I failed to make myself clear.

Miles and smiles,



Steve Williams said...

Maybe you need to put a bullet point list in your posts. Or at the beginning a bold-face italic statement of goals and objectives so we don't miss the point.

Keep in mind that people like me read your blog right after I wake up in the morning and all that text is a little overwhelming for me. *grin*

Seriously though I have talked with one or two scooter riders who take offense at the range of subtle and not so subtle insults and misconceptions pointed their way. They may see the one you are referring to as one more stereotype. And with all stereotypes there is probably a little truth behind them.

It's a tough argument --- scooter riders whose attitude is... You've followed my attitudes (largely influenced by you) on Scooter in the Sticks. Am I the norm? A freak? A typical scooter rider? I think when you try to pigeonhole any group -- bikers, wingers, photographers (they're all serial killers and perverts) you run the risk of offending someone regardless of the truth of any subset of the group. And they will just be difficult if not impossible to reach.

You do a good job pinpointing your particular target but it is still easy take offense I suspect especially if one has already been painted with the broad brush. So you just may not be able to get on the same frequency with some readers because of some fundamental differences in the way they believe stereotyping takes place.

You stereotyper you.

My scooter is waiting for me to go for a ride and is pissed that I am on the computer. I haven't had a shower yet after a late night. (For an old coot that is anything after 11 PM) and I have not gone outside to see what the drop below freezing has done to the rain soaked roads.

But hopefully I will be departing on my SCOOTER which is not all that economical and cost as much as a KLR. And is a far superior (I hope) choice.

I'm all awake now. I need to brush my teeth.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

kz1000st said...

I think that sometimes you should remember that, just like scooter owners, MSF facilitators have a certain mindset too. I've been riding for 47 years and yet I've had MSF people tell me that I should take a class to "hone my skills". After all the years and 180,000 miles on the road I'm honed enough thank you. I've ridden motocross, trials, field meets and Timed Road Runs.
I'm all for training, I'm glad my wife took your course and passed. I have a friend who failed because the people couldn't help her with clutch management. She went on and passed a Road Test the old fashioned way and is doing well. The lessons she learned in class may be sticking more than the frustration she experienced on the range.
I think that you should keep that in mind. At this time training requires riding a shift vehicle, so it's "Sink or Swim". My wife thrived because she drives a 5-speed car, my friend never drove a shift car in her life. You people at MSF want universal training? Supply CVT vehicles for scooter owners. People in cars don't have to pass road tests in 5-speeds, why should ALL two wheeled vehicle owners pass a training course on a Rebel?

irondad said...

Steve W,
My, what a lot of words to comment on how my posts have a lot of words! ( grin )

I don't know how you compare to other scooter riders. I don't hang out with scooter riders. The vast majority of my riding is alone or with a select few fellow instructors. I identify with long distance riders. Which poses an interesting question based on your comment.

Sccoter riders seem to have quite the social network on forums, etc. They readily identify with each other and consider themselves part of that group. I believe you belonged to a Vespa forum, didn't you?

There's Harley riders and the HOG chapters. Then we have the Gold Wingers. Around here there's a fairly active sport bike group composed mostly of squids. I mentioned the long distance riders who hang out together. There are other examples. You'll notice there's very little interchange among the groups.

So here's the question. As it pertains to motorcycles, how much are we "victims" of stereotyping and pigeon holing? How much do we readily pigeon hole and isolate ourselves instead?

Just food for thought. Thanks for stirring up the brain cells!

Take care,


irondad said...

Thank you for stopping by and sharing your comment. You bring up some good points.

For the record, I am no longer an MSF instructor. TEAM OREGON and the MSF went their separate ways a few years back so we no longer have a connection. However, I know what you mean.

First,the shifting versus non-shifting part. We are providing scooters at some of our sites to facilitate training for scooter riders. The students are also encouraged to bring their own scooters to take the course on.

It's easy to get hung up on the automatic versus shifting thing. I realize that being able to use a scooter can remove an intimidation factor that may hold a rider back from taking training in the first place.

The really important part of training, though, is the mental awareness and strategies along with being able to properly execute accident avoidance maneuvers. I'm sure you agree that these things transcend any lines represented by the machines themselves.

Our goal as trainers isn't to make training as easy as possible in order to see how many riders we can get out there buying new motorcycles. Riding is serious business and is something to be stepped up to, as it were. There are certain things a student has to be able to master. Admittedly, some instructors aren't as good at this as others. Or, sometimes, it's just not the student's weekend.

So we're looking to remove obstacles to taking training in the first place, not to dumb down the training itself. It can seem like a fine line, I know.

As to your experience, I salute you. I would be the last to disagree that you are an experienced rider. Here's a little insight into why an instructor may be encouraging you to come hone skills, though.

Medical people agree that the brain and nerve endings work together to put motor skills in place. That's why some things seem to come "automatically", that is, without having to really think about them. This is where we need our accident avoidance skills to be. Maximum braking, swerving, etc., need to just "be there" when we need them.

Medical people also agree that if a motor skill isn't used very often, it gets put on a back burner, so to speak. There's only so much storage space so recently used motor skills remain close at hand while less frequently used skills get more buried deeper.

That's the key to training, even for experienced riders like yourself. I don't expect an answer, but how long has it been since you actually practiced maximum braking without skidding? When was the last time you did a really hard swerve at a higher speed? It might be that your motor skills for those actions are buried more deeply due to the elapsed time since you physically did them. Your brain knows what to do, but it might take a little longer to dig up the proper nerve impulses.

Since most riders don't do these things regularly and just think it will happen if needed, we encourage people to come take a refresher. It's mostly about moving the proper motor skills back up to the immediately accessible storage area, not about teaching you something new.

If you are doing these things regularly, I doubly salute you. You're doing something the vast majority of riders, no matter their experience level, don't do.

Hope that makes sense.

Take care,


Lucky said...

Far too much explanation wasted on scooter riders who are, after all, complainers, wussies and totally beneath us motorcyclists.

Yeah, I'm kidding.

One of the things that really frustrates me is when people seem to completely miss the point of my posts. At first I thought perhaps I needed to improve my writing, but after much contemplation, I think it's that people will understand what they want to understand.

Which is damned frustrating when you genuinely want to help someone out.

Anyway, keep spreading the good moto-word!

Giest said...

Dan, I seriously have to applaud you. This series of blog posts has been one of the most fascinating blog reads I've had in quite some time. I think you've done a fantastic job of getting your point across and an even better job at stirring the pot and getting people to think about, what really is, a serious issue.

Keep it up...the blog posting, that is...ahem...

Always reading, always riding, but barely commenting :: giest

cpa3485 said...

Dan ,
This has been a great series of posts. Thanks very much. I feel like I have moved a little farther on my journey to being a better rider.

Steve, you mentioned stereotyping and as I have thought about some of the recent conversations, I have discovered that I am guilty of that as well. I was talking to my scooter dealer last week and he mentioned to me that he has sold a number of 50cc scooters to DUI people that have lost their regular driving licenses. I don't know about you but that scares me a bit. I have no lost love for people that have lost their driving privileges due to DUI problems. I think that conversation with the dealer helped give me a negative bias toward people that drive small scooters. But it is not really fair for me to feel that way. I have never felt that I was talked down to here on these blogs and I appreciate that very much, yet I felt guilty about having the feelings that I was so consciously trying to avoid.

Then last night on the way home, a bitterly cold and windy ride of about 30 degrees, another two wheeled rider and I exchanged waves. There were no other idiots like us out at that time, and for a brief moment we connected our identities together. It did not matter that I had a scooter and he had a notorcycle, or vice versa. All that mattered was that we were sharing the same experience together, and actually enjoying it. What a great feeling it was.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Irondad:

No good deed ever goes unpunished.

I hope you have learned your lesson for trying to improve communication between different kinds of two-wheeled riders. What I got from your two posts and clarification comments was that people who regard scooters solely as appliances for transportation, without any of the passion for the ride itself are probably:

• missing a lot in terms of reducing risk of personal injury by not wearing the appropriate gear

• increasing the risk of accident by not familiarizing themselves with how the laws of physics that dictate the operation of their machines

• introducing a social wedge to the two-wheeled religion by refusing to acknowledge their place in it

• reacting like my former wives when reminded of these inadequacies.

(Please note effective use of bullet points as described by Steve Wiliams.)

All good points, supported by your analysis of scooter acquisition costs, which builds upon the “transportation appliance” interpretation. Yet it must also be noted that there is an equally healthy percentage of “motorcyclists” (people who ride motorcycles), who fall into the first two categories, substituting testosterone for training and protection.

The more subtle point in your essays (that no one wanted to bring into the open) is that the world is full of unpleasant individuals (assholes) and some of them ride scooters or motorcycles.

There is no cure for asshole-ism. No amount of well-intentioned advice, videos, or classes will make a dent in it. Too bad. Just imagine how effective congress would be if they could take a pill for this condition.

I suspect that your concern is that the shift-less aspect of scooters, coupled with their lower purchase prices and operating costs, will open the door of opportunity to a greater number of indivisuals who will never share a passion for riding nor pursue its finer points.

Did I get this right?

I think people should take your observations for their face value, extracting the pertinent information that applies to them. I, for one, appreciate your effort. For the record, I like all kinds of two-wheeled vehicles and scooter riders, particularly girl scooter riders, between the ages of 36 and 42.

With deep understanding and sincerity,

Jack Riepe
Twisted Roads

Bryce said...


as per your reply to Steve Williams:

"You'll notice there's very little interchange among the groups.
So here's the question. As it pertains to motorcycles, how much are we "victims" of stereotyping and pigeon holing? How much do we readily pigeon hole and isolate ourselves instead?"

And me in reply says, probably a hell of lot more than we either care to notice or admit.

Oh we admit what bothers us to urselves, however we don't broadcast our feelings to all and sundry. Your blog is maybe a broadcast of your feelings, however suspect it is more a broadcast of observations combined with your feelings.

That noted. I find people who ride tend to segregate themselves initially by the steeds they propel, and secondly and I suspect more importantly by the people they meet propelling those two wheeled steeds.

If accept the above then the divisions can continue. By age, other interests, how they ride or don't and what their interests are.

Example from my own world. When I went from a BMW to a Gold Wing (with two years in between with no machine)found the Gold Wing people were just as pin-headed as the BMW people. In fact probably moreso.
And it didn't help at the time my two best motorcycle friends drove
Harley-Davidson machines. Now there's a group who are die hards. My point is what you ride as a motorcycle
tends to be almost a pre-judgment of how you will act.
Sophie, a polite sport rider, and cross between a Goldwing and cruiser.
Elvira, probably piloted by a squid or somebody who thinks he is shit-hot and can out ride you and
make you look like a proper ass because your other personna
on Sophie haven't got the guts.

Sound odd yet people are judged first by their machines and then by who is perched on them, like your aforementioned stool pigeon??

Dave said...


I can understand wanting teaching on manual bikes for you M
There is a subset that if it wasn’t for CVT they wouldn’t be riding.
My self an my friend Bill fall in to this subset.

A few years back I fell off a ladder trashed out my left hip an knee an had some nerve damage.

Straddling a standard motorcycle is far from comfortable an shifting is real interesting when
You don’t have a lot of feeling in your left foot.

Bill lost his left leg below the knee his car got tee boned by a drunk.
So CVT is the only game in town for us.
Last summer Bill road down to Texas on a kymco people s 250 from Ohio.


After reading your blog
Lets see you commute to work during week ride for the fun on the week ends

In-between you load up your ride up like a pack mule

You sir just mite be a scooter rider (grin)

Dave aka oldf

American Scooterist Blog said...

Good grief, this really isn't complicated. Dan is trying to help everybody who rides because its beneficial to ALL in the end.

But the fact is, type-o-bike is one of those knee jerk reactions which seems to couch itself in the same response to public discussion of religion and politics. Only with us, you know immediately what the person is on and you assume what type of rider that makes that person. But the response is pretty much the same as what we all tend to think internally of the opposing views of politics.

Iron, people are stubborn. No amount of cajoling is going to change us. When someone buys a scooter to save gas, chances are that mindset is chiselled into the inner sanctum of a very thick skull. "They" think, That's all this 50cc thing is, and that's all this 50cc thing will ever be.

They don't care what you say because they didn't come by their gas saver with any interest in being part of something other than what they think is a solution. Either they believe they're helping to save the planet or they're saving their bank account's bottom line.

I think the majority these people are a momentary blip on the radar. They came into riding as a knee jerk reaction (to fuel prices) and they'll quit just as quickly if the prices fit their idea of what's reasonable to pay. Hopefully this year most of them will be driving used Honda CVCC's.

I sometimes wonder about a strange correlation I'm discovering in this discussion; that the simplification of the tool breeds a complacency in its use. As though an auto-bike is becomes an appliance instead of a small motorcycle. Conversely, a riding course teaches much, yet I'm coming to the conclusion that some of these folks think they've got it all once they "pass" the course.

You have to Want to learn. Otherwise its practically a coincidence that you apply something you were taught. Even then it takes an individual's personal level of creativity and forethought to either not get into a bad situation or be able to think and react their way through and out of it.

There were no safety courses when I started riding. My German mother told me the only way I could keep a bike was to get a dirt oriented model and bomb around the woods on either side of the neighborhood until I could ride out of anything without going down. Let me tell you, this advice from a woman who never slung a leg over a bike in her life. I still ride dirt when I can. Those skills of riding gravel, wet leaves, mud and rain soaked manicured lawns apply amazingly well even today. I also know its something I have the privelege of being able to do which not many others can nowadays.

Whose got woods on either side of the neighborhood anymore? Yet we still have to learn those skills.

I think its great msf courses now fill a void most people who learn to ride will never have the opportunity to experience anymore.

But I also recognize that with freedom comes a level of personal responsibility. I don't think the average person realizes that until the lesser (or worst) scenario is experienced. Ho oh then we learn don't we.

We can't save us all. We're no one's parents but to our own children.


Dave said...

oops That should read wanting to teach

An Steve I shold add that

you allso fall in to a subset
of riding in weather concisions that has John Q public an a lot of two wheel riders shacking there heads

Not to worry you are in good company (grin)

irondad said...

Thanks. You, too. Keep the faith.

I'm honored by your words. Thank you for taking the time to offer your comment. Yes, I'll work on keeping anything up I can.

Perceptive comment. Isn't it amazing how much of our perceptions are based on input from third parties? I try to make my own judgements but have to admit to guilt in falling short.

Mr. Riepe,
I am thoroughly chastised for having tried to do something useful. From now on I will stick to trivial matters and strive to become as good as you at using bullet points.

As to your question, I'm not sure. On the surface I say I don't care as long as the riders learn to do it correctly. Maybe deep down, though, I feel like they might be cheapening my passion. Not that I don't like cheap passion, mind you!

I try to stay objective unless I state up front that I'm venting. I agree with, and am okay with, the segregation. We're all more comfortable hanging out with those who share the same interests. As long as nobody thinks they're better than anyone else. We should all be willing to cross the lines and help each other out.

oldf Dave,
I am sorry for the injuries you and Bill suffered and the lasting effects. You and he are both examples that the passion for riding isn't dependent on whether the motorcycle shifts. It proves what I said, that it hinges on the person's attitude.

Thank you. You totally get it here. I'm letting your commnent stand on its own. You say it quite well and I'm not going to take away from it by commenting on your comment!

Take care,


Baron's Life said...

Wow a whole lot of horse manure to achieve nothing...
That training is important is a given.
What you ride is not important as long as you have a handle bar and 2 wheels.
I ride both motorcycles and scooters and lemme tell you... I enjoy them sweat.

irondad said...

Baron's Life,
Some people's roses are other people's manure. Interestingly, some really great roses can grow out of manure.

Take care,


Baron's Life said...

Hi Dan,
You are absolutely right and corrected I stand.
I should have thought it through more carefully.