by bj max
Bike droppings, not to be confused with George %#@##* Carlin’s book, “Brain Droppings”, has plagued motorcyclist since old what’s his name first strapped a gasoline engine to a bicycle back in whenever. Motorcycles, like drunken sailors have a tendency to fall down when not leaning against something or being held up by someone. Everybody, even the experts, drop their bike on occasion. Evil Knievel, probably the best known motorcyclist of all time, made a pretty good living dropping motorcycles so it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
I remember the day we bought our first touring bike. It was a second hand piece that had been in storage for three years and the paint and aluminum were faded and dull. But underneath that tarnished exterior was a beautiful motorcycle and a little wax and a lot of elbow grease produced dramatic results. I slaved over it all day sweating and polishing, and by early evening Cinderella had been transformed and was ready for the fancy dress ball.
But where do I take her? I don’t know. The supermarket maybe. That’s it, chitlins are on special. I’ll ride down there and pick up a mess of ’em.
In the early evening dusk the neon signs and street lamps reflecting off the perfectly polished bike made it dazzle with Technicolor brilliance and man I was lookin’ soooo’ cool as I cruised by the neat little shop fronts of the mini-mall. The market was on the far end and as I rolled up I pointed the nose of the bike toward the curb then made a tight right turn, planning on a smart reverse into the parking slot nearest the front door. I also wanted to make sure everybody got a good look at the cool guy on the cool bike… they did.
With the handlebars locked full right, the front tire slipped on the gritty pavement and before I knew what was happening, Joe Cool bit the dust. Yep, busted my butt right there in front of God and everybody. As I lay in that heaping pile of embarrassment I had a much clearer understanding of Sir Isaac Newton’s law of gravity. I concluded that light and heavy objects do indeed fall at the same speed because I distinctly remember hearing bone and plastic crack simultaneously. I also discovered something Sir Isaac failed to note in his studies. The lighter object bounce’s higher.
I love tinkering, especially with motorcycles so it’s just natural that I would enjoy installing my own accessories. To me that’s as much a part of this sport as the riding. But sometimes, as you well know, things don’t always go exactly as planned.
At a rally a few years ago I saw this really neat set of aftermarket crash bars. They looked way yonder better than my stock bars so naturally, I just had to have a set. The guy that owned the bike said he had mail ordered ’em from J.C. Whitney. So, first chance I got I called up Mr. Whitney, sent him a sack-full ‘a money and a few days later the Big Brown Truck pulls up to my door. I crossed my fingers and prayed that this particular delivery would be Santa Claus bearing my shiny new crash bars and not the African hydrangea my wife had special ordered.
Do you remember that feeling you used to get on Christmas morning when you were a kid? Trembling with excitement you slip out of bed and sneak into the living room with your fingers crossed hoping against hope that Santa had not forgotten you even though you knew you had been a mean little B&emdash;&emdash;-d all year long. You remember? Sure you do. Well I get that same feeling all over again when that Big Brown Truck shows up at our house.
Sure enough, this shipment was indeed my shiny new crash bar reinforcing my faith in the power of prayer. I dropped whatever mundane chore I was involved in at the time (I think I was removing a tree that had fallen through the roof during a storm the night before) and pulled the bike onto the center stand. After about an hour of dissembling the back half of the motorcycle, I was ready to install the new bar.
After loosely bolting the port and starboard sides to the bike I raised the new bar into position to the point where it bolted to the saddlebag frame. In order for the bar to be strong enough to support the weight of a 900-pound bike, there had to be tension on the bar. This was accomplished by forcing the mounting bracket over an existing bolt in the saddlebag frame. To do this I had to push with all my might to get the hole in the bar to line up with the bolt and it wasn’t easy. I struggled and strained but I just wasn’t man enough to push that bar over that bolt. Finally, in a last desperate attempt, I placed my right foot against the wall and with all the strength I could muster, I gave a mighty heave. The next thing I heard was the pop of the centerstand slapping against the underside of the motorcycle. I watched in horror as my beautiful motorcycle rolled forward about two feet then, with a sickening “crac-kkk”, fell over on its side.
Now I’m usually a pretty cool character, as long as things are going my way. But when they don’t, my normal sweet tempered demeanor quickly dissolves into a raging, tool slinging, cat kicking fit. I’ll bet there’s five hundred dollars worth of tools in the weeds out behind our house, the result of accessory installations gone wrong. But there is an upside to this unpleasant behavior, for unlike most shade tree mechanics, I always know where my tools are. If I need a half inch box end wrench, I just fire up the weed eater and go get it.
There are any number of things that can lead to a dropped bike. Gravity, of course, is the first thing that comes to mind and one might argue that if Newton had never discovered the stuff the problem might have never come about. But you know how some people are they just can’t leave well enough alone.
There’s no doubt that the gravitational pull of the Earth is a leading contender for the cause of this irritating occurrence. Inexperience is another. Just common everyday stupidity, as you have seen, has led many a motorcyclist to fall flat on their donkey. Another probable cause could be El Nino. Yeah I know, it never occurred to me either till just this minute. Again, you ask, how in the name of Willard Scott could El Nino cause somebody to drop a bike? Well in the first place, all the experts, it seems, blame everything else on this cyclical atmospheric condition, from floods and drought in one corner of the world to stock market fluctuations in the other. So if this calamitous weather pattern is really responsible for so many unusual events, then it makes sense that it might also be the cause of this most recent outbreak of bike droppings.
But after several hours of careful and meticulous study, I’ve finally come to the conclusion that most bike droppings can be directly attributed to, are you ready, Saddam Hussein. Yessss that’s right. The Old Bugger hisself’. He’s the real reason my once perfect motorcycle has literally been destroyed by dropping the thing two, three, four times a week.
But how you ask? You did just ask that, didn’t you? Well, every time I pull up to the pumps these days I take one look at the price of gasoline, drop my jaw, drop my bike, bust my butt and break even more expensive plastic. And Saddam is the jerk that’s now leading the charge to raise the price of crude. I’ve written President Bush a letter informing him of this most recent threat from the Iraqi leader and asked him to call an emergency meeting of the Joint Chiefs in order for the US to meet this challenge head on. Don’t laugh good people, this is serious stuff we’re dealing with here and it needs to be addressed now. And if we don’t nip it in the bud it could escalate to the point that, in the future, none of us will have motorcycles fit to ride nor butts fit to kiss. Ya’ll think about it.