~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Cool Factor

Everyone, whether they admit it or not, wants to look at least a little cool on their bike. We all know deep down in our little gasoline powered hearts that we do not look like Steve McQueen on his Triumph 650 or "Chino" from the movie "The Wild One" but we do hope we don't look like a complete noob paddling away from stop lights or dropping the bike in our own driveway.

About four weeks ago now the Mrs. took our one and only car and headed off to points East and South to visit with relatives living and dead (she's into genealogy). That left me with the Kawasaki 900 as my main transport and the wife's all white Honda Helix "chick scooter" for grocery runs. With the Helix's rear storage compartment and the big top box I can get a lot of ice cream, Hostess Twinkies, and TV dinners home from the grocery store while the official cook is gone, way more than the Kaw will haul.

Being astride the all white Honda scooter makes me feel a bit old...and well, dorky. I gave up trying to be cool long ago but no one wants to look or feel dorky. I suppose it goes back to my formative years as a motorcycle rider when only the school nerds and dorks rode "step through" scooters while we "real motorcycle guys" rode 80cc Yamahas.

In the here and now there are several other 250cc Honda Helixes (Helices?) around our little town, all ridden by gray haired old men. At this point in my life "old" is anyone more than a day older than I am. I admit that riding around town on the Helix does not fit my self-image as a "motorcycle guy" nor boost my testosterone level.

photo by whisperwolf
I was heading through town on the all white girlie scooter when some bad hombre on a chopped down, matte black with pinstripes, ape hanger'd Harley complete with dual fishtail pipes, an old style foot clutch and jockey shift, blew past me. He was decked out in his best ratty black jeans, wife beater t-shirt, no helmet, and packing a sidearm in the open.

I rolled up behind Mr. Bad Hombre in the turn lane to wait for an opening in the traffic and as I putt-putted to a stop he messed up with the foot clutch of his mean machine, stalled the engine, and almost dropped the bike.  >wobble, tip<  foot shoots out to catch it before he tumbles over like a total noob. 

After he regained his balance and started to move out I saw him take a quick look back right at me. I tried not to smirk. Yeah Mr. Bad Dude, I saw you, you messed up your cool right in front of the bespectacled old guy on a chick scooter, one of the "citizens" your whole bad boy bike and outfit was supposed to impress.

I'd have thought nothing of the incident if it was a guy on a Gold Wing or an Electra-Glide or most any bike because everyone messes up once in a while, but when riders, be they faux bikers or sport bike squids, try so hard to put on their "look" and "attitude" then any slip up just comes off as funny.


D. Brent Miller said...

Nothing dorky about riding around town on a white Honda Helix, unless you look like Chino or that bad ass guy riding the Harley, and carrying a side arm--I guess that's legal in Arizona. Just be glad he couldn't read your mind! --Brent

Mr. Motorcycle said...

Now that's funny. Looking cool is cool, and at the same time not nearly as important as not looking dorky.

mq01 said...

i love this. great post..for so many reasons. i'll hope that maybe some day that dude gets over the "ego" and just rides. he may find the joy or bliss of the ride is really far more fun.

mrs rc said...

If you debate whether or not the plural of Helix is Helices...you might be a dork! (LOL)

Truly funny story!!! Poetic justice served.

dave said...

ummm.... since I just dropped the Goldwing in the driveway and felt like a complete idiot I think I know both sides of this story :)

Jac Brown said...

I think the plural of Helix is Helix. Yes, I'm a dork.

Taking this a step further, my friend John is currently working on tuning up the suspension of an electric scooter. The question is, does the fact that the scooter is electric make it more cool or less cool? I will say that he has run into some pretty cool bike guys working on the project.

Canajun said...

Good story. Isn't it funny though that whenever we do do something "dorky" the first thing we do is look around to see who saw us?
The we pick up the bike, or restart it, or whatever.

Doug Klassen said...

Brent, Open carry is legal in AZ although you don't see it much as it seems to attract unwanted attention these days. If a person is convicted felon they can't own a gun at all so if they are carrying in the open then they must not be a convicted felon, ergo they ain't that bad a dude!

Mr. MC & friends,

I admit to looking dorky on the scooter and maybe sometimes off the scooter or on the bike or just sitting at a computer for hours working on blog stuff and pictures. Some of us (many of us) have a streak of dorkiness in us (Jac...) and fighting it too much only makes it more obvious.

It was an odd moment of motorcycling philosophicalness when looking dorky on the scooter made me glad because it made the guy on the bike trying to look cool realize how foolish he looked. Ponder that too much and you could hurt your brain.

Jac, electric vehicles are never cool. They just aren't. Engine noise matters even if it's just the 400 RPM idle of an old BMW boxer twin.

I do appreciate the utilitarian nature of the scooter though. I put quite few miles on the Helix and it's no substitute for a bike but it's a nicely engineered machine and I appreciate that aspect of it.

As for scooters being cool, they should be at least 30 years old and made entirely of metal or have Steve McQueen sitting on them or perhaps a Supermodel or better yet a me with a Supermodel.

For the record, I've dropped bikes in my own driveway and in my own garage once. Everyone has their off days and as Canajun noted, for some reason the first thing we do is see who was watching. If it's a friend that dropped his bike then we should reach for a camera.


FLHX_Dave said...

I have no delusions about looking cool on my bike...as a matter of fact I can't decide as to whether I look like a complete idiot or not. Either way...I don't care. I just do what I wanna do and if you don't like it...well, you know. I true bad-ass will dump his bike, stand up and laugh it off and take a bow. Get his ass back on, if possible, and ride around the corner so he can cry!

You just are who you are Doug and honest, I respect that. You just say what's on your mind. That's what makes you a badass.....Oh yeah, I would like to look cool on my bike by the way, just never figured out what that was though.

Rick said...

Very funny. I ride an '02 Sportster and so (sometimes) don't even get the respect from my fellow Harley riders. I like your blog. I found like surfing for some motorcycle work, for a piece I'm for a friend. Thanks for sharing.

Popular Posts

Search This Site

"When my mood gets too hot and I find myself wandering beyond control I pull out my motor-bike and hurl it top-speed through these unfit roads for hour after hour." - T.E. Lawrence

An Important reminder from the past:
"I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." - James Madison