Both bikes and times have changed so much.
Two-Wheeled Wisdom is an AMA motorcycle safety video dating all the way back to 1965. It’s a bonafide time capsule, and one I almost typoed as “time campsule,” because my fingers apparently know more than my brain about what I just watched. It’s definitely kind of campy, and quaint in the way that many safety videos of the era tend to be.
Whether you watched these videos seriously in school, or grew up making fun of their perceived ridiculousness in school, or are watching them now on YouTube and wondering how on earth we made it this far, this video is a sight to behold. It isn’t just times and attitudes around motorcycling that have changed—it’s some of the tips in this video, too.
For example, take stopping distances. Those were always going to change, because braking technologies, electronic rider aids, and a whole host of other factors have changed markedly between 1965 and 2020. If you take a quick peek at the MSF’s Experienced RiderCourse instruction cards, you’ll see the multiple factors that course teaches that comprise your Total Stopping Distance.
Perception time and distance, reaction time and distance, and braking time and distance are just the basics. Add in additional factors like having a passenger on the bike, and it’s clear that one simple answer does not cover the wide variety of circumstances that present themselves. Motorcyclists who are riding now will instantly spot why the actual safety information in this video may not be as applicable today as it was 55 years ago.
Still, if you’re watching it simply as an historical and cultural artifact, it’s an entertaining way to spend eleven minutes of your time. If the opportunity presents itself, try to use the phrase “motorcycle-mounted minions of the law” in a sentence later on.