They call ’em cagers, they call ’em fools, they call ’em… well they don’t call ‘em Stacy or Jane. It’s about the car drivers and the way the car culture is evolving. They are called these names by the two-wheeled community and for a good reason. But, I drive cars too. Am I also a fool?
For indulging my daily needs of transporting my body back and forth, I use services of almost every vehicle known to the modern man. And I don’t mean just daily commuting to my workplace. Of course I don’t take a bus or a train for a joyride, but I do like taking a drive in a car on a low-traffic hill road now and then. And that is the beginning of my worries.
It seems to me that a lot of new “drivers” are getting out on the mountain pavement in their cars, and the trend seems to be all but increasing. Why is that? I think I might have the answer. For my joy riding sins, amongst the various motorcycles and bicycles, I use an ’84 Porsche 924 beater. It’s underpowered, unsafe, uncool, and probably a few more things starting with –un. It’s the wrongest possible car for such activities in today’s performance-crazed world. But it’s a true driver’s gem! It makes you involve yourself into the driving process so much more than any other contemporary car would. In order to keep the speed up to a level, you really need to know your driving. You can’t afford dropping in speed too much because there just isn’t any power there to bring the speed back. There are also no brakes to help you stop, so you really need to learn how to pick your lines. It’s small and light and, when put in motorcycle terms, it’s an eighties 125cc two-stroke – no power to waste and no brakes. But it knows how to reward your skills! If you can drive it fast, that means you really know your stuff. There are no electronics to help rectify your poor judgment or to help you put the power to the ground – again, much like in the motorcycle world.
The pain is painful, and it hurts. In order to avoid painful situations, in modern cars you get things like ABS to help you brake better, you get traction control to help you not explore ditches on the side of the roads. You also get stability controls, robotized gearboxes, airbags, seatbelts, heated seats, cruise controls, parking assistants, clever suspension and a million other things to keep you out of the organ donor chart top ten. And most of all – you get bad drivers. Because car electronics filter almost all of the driving sensations that a driver should feel, a lot of bad drivers has emerged through the last few decades. The car has evolved into a household appliance and, just as I’m bad with doing the laundry, there are a lot of car users that are bad with driving. And they don’t know it! Car electronic gizmos subtly keep them from killing themselves so they never experience what is really going on. Step on the brakes as hard as you can? Sure, nothing bad is going to happen. Step on the gas as hard as you can? Sure, nothing bad is going to happen. The cars are too safe these days. Contemporary grocery-getter is equipped with more power under the hood than a supercar from thirty years ago. Sounds wrong?
Things like tamed power do not exist in the motorcycle world. Except it does! In the last decade or so, motorcycles have gotten ABS, traction control, airbags, wheelie control, power control, you name it. So, what’s wrong with getting some safety? Safety electronics have turned car drivers into senseless zombies behind the wheel. The added security factor of all the built-in features makes the car drivers not think about the driving process. If we translate that situation into the motorcycle world, are we going to get a bunch of riders with a false sense of their riding abilities?
Riding a motorcycle is a pure skill of man working together with a machine. If you put the electronics into the equation, you’ll get a very capable motorcycle with a man clinging on top of it, slowing the motorcycle down. And although the latest Aprilias, Ducatis and Kawasakis are indeed excellent and very capable motorcycles, are they the true rider’s motorcycles? Geeks have flooded the car world because the cars are just too easy and too safe to drive nowadays. Should the same happen with motorcycles? This text is in no way endorsed by Suzuki. (They are the only ones with a completely rider-aid free liter bike.)
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