There’s no fixing stupid and, although some of us would never own up to it, we have all done some pretty dumb things when riding motorcycles. Here are a few memorably dumb things that I've personally done on or with a motorcycle.
A few years back, I was cleaning and lubing the chain on my Gixxer. After cleaning one section, I would roll the bike forward a foot or so in order to access the part of the chain wrapped around the front sprocket. What I didn’t consider at the time was that my kickstand automatically goes up when the bike rolls forward. So after the second or third push, as I squatted back down to continue the cleaning, the bike tipped over. In an attempt to get the leverage needed to catch it, I tried to get underneath the bike as it fell, resulting in the thing coming down on my leg. Brilliant.
A couple of years into my riding career, I started to become pretty comfortable on my back wheel. I’d just figured out the whole balance point thing and had gotten my clutch wheelies down to a T. So I was doing my best to demonstrate my newfound skills to the world any chance I could because clearly, I’m a really well-adjusted and intelligent person.
On this one fateful day, I was merging onto the freeway when two young ladies in a Porsche passed me. Obviously, not showing off my super sweet wheelie skills just wasn’t an option, so I popped a big clutch wheelie, held it for a few seconds, and then brought it back down. I’d used my rear brake to land wheelies at lower speeds, but doing it at freeway speeds is different. The front wheel came down way too hard, and, though I somehow managed to remain upright, looked like the complete and total idiot that I was. Lesson learned. Namely, don’t be so dumb.
I feel this entry doesn’t require an explanation. They’re incredibly easy to do, admittedly look sorta cool, but are objectively a really, really dumb thing to do. Like wheelies, only bad things will result in attempting burnouts. Having said that, if you’re interested in learning how to perform this questionable trick, then we got you covered.
Photo: Ayana Fragoso
Here’s the scenario; I’m approaching a red light at a crowded intersection. After safely filtering to the front of the cue, I pop up into neutral and wait for the signal to change. When it does, I drop into first, begin accelerating, and here’s where things get dumb.
Instead of landing in second when I attempt to shift up, it catches in neutral, resulting in the engine revving loudly, as I slowly roll along, holding up the traffic behind me that I just cut in front of. From the guy behind me’s perspective, I just got in front of him and am now rolling along at 10-15mph revving the hell out of my engine for seemingly no reason, in what must look like a misguided and unprovoked attempt at a show of force or intimidation.
It was maybe three or four hours into my first long distance trip on a sportbike that I realized what a terrible idea my choice of vehicle truly was. I always heard people complaining about their ergonomics, but it never really bothered me until that point. I just figured I was young and more resilient. By the end of my six-hour journey from LA to San Francisco, I was in agony. My back, wrists, and neck were all aching. The best part was when it dawned on me that I still had another six-hours of saddle time in front of me on the journey home. A dumb choice all around.
Unlike the other items on this list that I’ve learned from, this is something I still catch myself doing. Almost every time I go to get groceries, I greatly overestimate the amount I’ll realistically be able to carry home. This often leads to items wedged into my dash, shoved down my jacket, under my seat—anywhere I can squeeze in an extra item or two. Having multiple bags slung over each arm, with a baguette and/or frozen pizza sticking out from the top of my overstuffed backpack is pretty routine for me, and it's pretty dumb.
Photo: Daniel Palmer
Back in 2015, I had a friend in town visiting who wanted to go to a local flea market. She had never been on a bike, so I thought it would be fun to take out the Ninja 636 I had at the time. The ride there was pleasant but uneventful. We walked around, she bought a handful of random stuff, mostly clothes and jewelry. At some point on the way back, the duffel bag my passenger had on slid in front of the undertail Muzzy exhaust, melting a softball-size hole in the synthetic material, and giving the newly-purchased contents of the bag an escape route on the freeway.
When we got home, the bag was empty. It never occurred to me to maybe mention to my passenger to steer clear of the exhaust and make sure her bags didn't touch anything.
When I first moved to the East Side of Los Angeles, I spent a few months looking for seemingly fun local roads to ride via the bird’s eye view provided by Google Maps. One day, I noticed that just behind Dodgers’ Stadium are some wonderfully windy roads stretching up and down a large hill. Being only five minutes from my house, I rode over and was delighted with what I found.
After the third or fourth time riding the same road, my confidence had grown and I was going “a bit faster”, especially during the uphill parts where my braking power was multiplied. As I neared the top of the hill, an LAPD patrol car rolled into sight, heading down the hill. Turns out the police academy is also located on that same hill behind the stadium, so maybe not the best set twisties to tackle.
When I first started riding, I went out and bought the cheapest complete, running motorcycle that was available on my local Craigslist at the time. My first gear purchases were also of the low price-driven-variety, leading to me buying some very cheap gear. Not inexpensive; cheap. In less than a year’s time of wearing my cheap gloves every day, the oil in my hands started eating away at the gloves until there were holes big enough to see my palms, despite the pair never seeing a slide. I can only imagine how little protection they would have provided had I actually gone down with them on. Buying super cheap gear is super dumb. Don’t be dumb guys.
Photo: Tim Huber
After spending almost two years on a 125cc scooter and a CB350, I finally pulled the trigger on my first sportbike, a 1999 Honda CBR600 F4. I got the bike from a couple of guys off Craigslist who gave off a very shady vibe and who’d been using the 600 as a stunt bike. Consequently, the bodywork was beat up, but the price was right. I factored a new cheap set of plastics off eBay into my purchase price, so I bought it. I rode the bike for a few months before I ordered new bodywork for it, and then waited a few more months for it to arrive from China.
A few weeks after it got here, I decided it was time to tack on the new bodywork, so I broke out the tools and started removing the fairing, then the belly-pan, then the ductwork, then finally the tail. When I removed the final screws and lifted the section off the bike, I could immediately sense that it felt strangely heavy. Duct taped to the inside of the tail of the bike, a bike that I had registered to me and had been riding around on for months, was a large quantity of what appeared to be methamphetamine. It then dawned on me that had I been pulled over, and the meth discovered, me saying something along the lines of, “Oh no, that’s not mine officer,” or, “I had no idea that was there I swear,” probably wouldn’t have been sufficient to get more out of that one.
If you purchase a motorcycle from a person who looks shady, chances are they are, so make sure you thoroughly inspect your purchase.