yeah, I judge

IMG_0238I admit that I judge people.

Scooter people.  I hate ’em.

(Except for one of my Facebook friends & former coworkers, who I can tell is a conscientious rider, but hey, Charlotte is just the exception that proves the rule as far as I’m concerned.)

I’m not proud of it… well, not entirely, but there it is just the same.

It’s pretty simple why, and I’ll tell you.

Motorcycle people are, in general, pretty aware of other motorcycle people. When we park, we tend to leave enough room for another bike to get into the space with us and when we park in a space where there’s already another motorcycle (which, honestly, we will usually only do if we’re sure we know the owner of the other bike), we leave enough room to make sure the other rider can safely get out of the space. It’s not much more than common courtesy, but it’s important because it makes sure car drivers aren’t given another reason to hate us.  Seeing one bike per space just pisses people off, especially folks with those massive SUVs.

(Wow, I’m not making any friends here, am I?)

I have noticed, however, that scooter people (in general) are not like this.

Everybody knows I work from home now, but up until March of this year, I worked in a regular office in Arlington (and before that, Alexandria). Of course I rode my motorcycle to work as often as logistically possible and when I parked it at the office, I tried to take a space that a car either couldn’t fit in or that a car driver wouldn’t particularly care for (low ceiling, next to a pole, straddling a speed bump, that kind of thing).

In that same office building in Arlington, however, were several scooter riders.

There was more than one occasion where I came out after work to start my commute home and discovered my bike blocked into its parking space by one or two of these things. Blocked, I tell you! As in I had to physically move the scooter(s) to be able to get my bike out of the parking space. The first time, I figured the guy (or gal) was just in a hurry, so I carefully moved the scooter just barely enough to squeak by bike past it. The second time, I wasn’t as sure the scooterati was in a hurry, so I was … well, less careful but still doing nothing that would get me in trouble.

The fifth or sixth time I had to move this person’s scooter, I took the time to go back up to my office, grab a piece of paper, write “Please stop blocking my motorcycle in the parking spaces, thank you” on it, and squeeze that piece of paper into a crevice on the scooter.

I found the paper lying on the ground the next morning with the scooter once again blocking me into my space and this time, it had a bicycle lock run through the front wheel so I couldn’t roll the thing out of the way. Luckily I am strong and scooters are light, so I just picked it up and moved it – only this time, in a very hateful move, I carried the scooter 30 or 40 feet and left it in a very inconvenient (yet still accessible/viewable) spot.

You’d think that would have ended the parking lot standoff, but no. A week later, I found my bike once again blocked in by this scooter-riding knucklehead. After that, I started parking my bike at an angle across the front of the space I was in, basically preventing anybody from blocking me in – thus becoming the parking space-hogging dick I was trying to avoid becoming. I occasionally discovered the scooter in question parked behind me, but it never blocked me in again.

Fast forward to now. I live in an apartment complex with a parking garage. They charge $90 a month for garage spaces, but they allow motorcycles & scooters to park in the garage for free – they just ask that we either use a space a car can’t use or bunch together with multiple two-wheelers in one space.

Guess what’s happening.

It’s actually worse than just some insensitive prick blocking me in. The scooterati here park inappropriately in multiple places, and some of them even have left their broken-down scooters (leaking oil, gas, etc.) lying around like so much post-apocalyptic detritus.

I’ve witnessed reprehensible behavior on the part of scooter riders around here, including riding on sidewalks, running stop signs & red lights, and more. I’m not saying motorcycle riders don’t occasionally do those same things, I’m just saying I don’t SEE motorcycle riders doing them with any regularity.

It could just be that I’m getting all “GET OFF MY LAWN,” but this shit is irritating me to the point where all I want to do is kick these little bastards out of my way and get on with my life.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that no matter how big or small your two- (or three-) wheeled conveyance is, we all reflect on each other. When a swarm of sport bike riders attacks an SUV driver, that makes us all look bad. When an open-pipe bike gets revved for 2 minutes at a stoplight by its rider for no apparent reason, that makes us all look bad. When a guy (or gal) on a scooter acts like a dick in the parking lot, that makes us all look bad.  We have enough to worry about just getting from place to place without getting run over that the last thing we need is car drivers actively hating us for behavior they witnessed  that we weren’t even involved in!

Scooter, moped, bike, trike or sidecar – we all have to look out for each other.

If you ride a scooter, I’ll look out for you … as long as you quit blocking me in my damn parking space!!

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extolling the virtues of the S2

Yesterday was an entirely unseasonably cool late July day. The temps stayed in the 70s throughout the morning, barely peaking above 80 in the late afternoon. Just a glorious, beautiful day. I really wanted to go for a ride, but I was busy for much of the day with work, work and more work. I posted a Facebook plea to some folks to meet up for dinner because I was really just going stir crazy.

Last night, then, I met up with some friends – I call them my biker buddies, but we’re more “motorcyclists” than “bikers” I guess. In the world of people who ride BMW motorcycles, “1%er” means something totally different than it does to a Pagan.

Anyway.

It ended up that I was the only one that rode to dinner, and after we were done I decided to go for a ride. I couldn’t think of anywhere specific to go (for which I have been castigated by at least 2 friends), so I got the idea to just do a lap around the Beltway.

Lately I’ve been using my old helmet, an orange Shoei RF1100, far more often than my “good” helmet. The good helmet is really a GREAT helmet; it is one of the more recent models offered by Schuberth, their S2 full-face helmet. It’s super trick and very high tech.

The one I got from Schuberth NA came in plain, stark bright white. Not bad for safety’s sake, but kind of plain. Now it sports some orange reflective tape (lights up when lights hit it) in kind of a random, Eddie Van Halen-inspired design.

The reason I’ve been using the RF1100 so much this summer is because it’s simply more comfortable on super hot days. Compared to the S2, the RF1100 is a damned wind tunnel – it’s wide-open neck hole allows a ton of air and noise to get to the rider.

Past all its high tech awesomeness, the S2 is one hot fucking helmet in the height of summer. The collar/neck roll is very snug against the rider’s neck, which is great for cutting down on noise – and it’s even pretty comfortable once you get used to that feeling, of having the collar ON your neck. Even with the copious amount of air that flows through the top vent, the S2 is simply too hot to wear when the temps get above 85ish degrees. When I ride my R1200GS, the chin bar vent is useless – yes, it flows some air, but the attendant noise from the filthy air flow around the least aerodynamic bike in the universe is crushing. On a bike with good air flow – like a K1200RS – the S2 is a quiet piece of work, with hardly any additional wind noise introduced by opening the chin bar vent. As a matter of fact, when I use the S2 when riding the K12RS, I can often forego using ear plugs. On the R12GS, ear plugs are a constant necessity no matter the helmet.

Well, since it was so nice out yesterday, I decided to throw on that S2 for my dinner/Beltway ride. I hadn’t worn it for a couple months, so it was a really refreshing surprise to put it on and remember what a great helmet it is – amazing fit and finish, incredibly comfortable and when I wear it, I just feel totally safe.

Don’t get me wrong, I like my RF1100 & it’s the helmet I recommend to people that are looking for a good helmet at a decent price, but the difference between the RF1100 and the S2 is like comparing a high school musical to a Broadway musical. It’s not competency that makes the difference – it’s just a different level of professionalism at work.

I have to take a second here to thank Schuberth NA and especially Iron Butt Magazine – IBM will be running my review of the S2 in its Fall issue.

Shoei & Schuberth helmets

Shoei RF1100 on the left, with a Schuberth S2 on the right.