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A few things just hit me. Believe it or
not, I had a great revelation when someone played
the Stones on the Juke Box. Wild Horses was
playing and it caused a massive flashback to the
days of my youth. (Yes, I am that old. 37,
if you must know.)
Picture this. Its mid September, 1974.
The place, the FDR Drive in Manhattan. Its
a Friday night, its hot, and Im sitting in
my VW beetle in rush hour traffic, trying to
leave Manhattan and get home.
Whew, that really dates me! Anyway,
the Stones are on the radio (AM) and its, you
guessed it, Wild Horses playing. As Im
sitting there, my pistons swelling in that old
air cooled lump, Im sweating gobs, I hear
the most gawdawmighty sound -- like nothing from
this planet -- rushing in from behind me.
Suddenly, a massive machine rushes past
my window -- the rider was splitting
lanes --- on a Kawasaki Z-1. This monster
was outfitted with some aftermarket exhaust.
It shrieked! Id never
seen one of these beasts before. It was an
I couldnt get over the way the riders
feet were placed slightly rearward from the norm.
The handlebars were flat and low, hunching the
rider forward. The rear wheel was humongous
(by '74 standards) and... it was a woman rider in
control. Here she was astride the behemoth
from Hell. I could see her
quite clearly. She was very attractive. (I
miss open-face helmets.) I marveled at her
abilities to keep this snarling monster doing her
I was in love. With the bike as well as
the woman. To see her calmly piloting this
seething cauldron of unimaginable power! Words
escaped me then. They still do now.
Back to 1994.
As the Stones played on, I got to thinking
about riders and machines. A year or so
ago, my brother-in-law took my Kaw for a spin
around the block. Hes 6 5
tall and tops 200 lbs. He makes the bike
look like a moped. I, on the other hand,
look right at home on it. This got me off
on another tangent. Were all
different. Wow, big revelation. But
wait, this gets better. I started thinking
about insurance companies and their perception of
If I were a 350 lb. dude and bought a 250
Nighthawk, besides being out of my mind, Id
also be overtaxing a totally anemic machine.
Conversely, if I were 90 lbs. and bought a
ZZR-1100 (thats a ZX-11 to you colonials) Id
be pushing the envelope as well! One size
does not fit all although insurance companies
would like to think so.
Motorcycles are less like automobiles and more
like clothing. In an ideal world, insurance
companies would look at an individuals
weight and stature as well as the machines.
That is not to say that normal or smaller persons
shouldnt ride bigger machines. Its
just that bigger people need bigger machines.
It is ludicrous to think that 350 lb. Joe
should be out and about on a Honda CB 125. Yet
the insurance companies would charge him probably
about forty bucks a year for basic coverage.
Lets say Joe goes out and purchases a Honda
Magna 750. That bike could at least pull
him along. The insurance company would
probably hit him for at least $250 for
basic (just liability.)
Which bike would you rather have Joe taking
down a nice long hill? Do you think
the CBs wimpy little brakes could stop
twice its gross maximum weight before they
melted? Which machine would be a safer,
saner choice for Joe?
The insurance companies wouldnt
think so. Theyve just
discriminated against an overweight person.
He has to pay more for his insurance because he
cant possibly use a smaller displacement
The reverse scenario is not true. A
smaller person (within reason -- you didnt
see any Harley dealerships in Oz, did you?)
can have the intelligence and skill to pilot a
large machine. Remember that woman on the
Z-1? For the normal and smaller
persons, a sliding scale for displacement and
skill (lack of accidents and tickets) could still
Do you think this is impossible? Probably.
The insurance companies would never think up a
way of making their prices fairer. Or would
they? Right now we all enjoy discounts for
Motorcycle Safety Foundation training. We
get a break if we have anti-theft devices. Ditto
for clean records.
O.K., is it possible? Still, probably
not! If things were made fairer for
overweight riders, then one could accuse the
insurance companies of discriminating against us
thinner folk! People do get so sensitive!
The agents would have to do something more
than just write a policy and take the money.
They might have to actually look at you. They
might make eye contact! God forbid, they
might have guilt pains and have to go into
another profession! So until then, three
hundred fifty pound Joe with twenty years
experience and a clean record, MSF
certificate, et al, will have to pay more to
insure his Magna than Dick Squid with his learners
permit, pointy license and TW200 will.
Nice and fair, what?
So, Wild Horses ended on the juke box and my
twenty year time warp started to narrow, wind
down and fade to black. Through the haze of
my memory I heard that Kaw moaning through its
four into one pipe and saw the southern end of a
north-bound early superbike with its petite
rider, hindquarters pushed to the rear as she
leaned forward to the bars.
I had one last beer for the night and toasted
the memory from a summer a long time ago when a
girl (who could be now approaching fifty) zipped
by and removed my heart with a bit of
countersteer and a flick of her wrist.
READ THE PRESS
is Published by Bedside Books, an imprint of
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2003 Harry G. Pellegrin
God We Trust
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