Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Motorcycles

There are two prevelant objects in Quebec that really defy logic. The logic being that the summer and warm weather are in short supply. The first object is swimming pools. If you fly over Montreal you can see that there are swimming pools in about half of the backyards. For me, it doesn't make sense because you can really only use them three months out of the year if that.

The other prevelant object is motorcycles. It seems a natural progression from the massive number of bicycles, but given the cost difference, I'm surprised you would invest in something that can used during less that half of the year. The upside is that it is cool enough for you to dress properly with the helmet, leather jacket, and pants (or chaps). But still it seems odd.

One interesting thing about motorcycles here is that as opposed to the crotch rockets that are popular in Chicago, the more traditional types are what is popular here. Both the laid back Harley type bikes and the more traditional types.

And another thing that really caught my attention is the number of women who ride them. If my observations are correct, the number of female riders almost matches the male riders. And that ratio applys to both traditional bikes and the Harley type. I find my reaction interesting because for some reason seeing a woman on a motorcycle seems to give them an aire of empowerment. I'm not sure if that is (and I hope it is not) a superficial impression, but that empowerment is very attractive and sexy.

7 comments:

mare said...

to dress properly with the helmet, leather jacket, and pants (or chaps).

I almost never see bikers (m/f) wear those leather garments, but typically only jeans and a T-shirt. On the highway, where a simple slide could cause such a bad case of road rash that it might become deadly.

Frank said...

I've actually noticed the opposite. I have been reassured how often I have seen people in full gear. Not to say there aren't many who are not. (Wow, a triple negative.)

Back home it was rare to see someone with the correct attire. In summer, most people would be in shorts and a t-shirt with no helmet. I understand that it's a thrill to ride like that and it's more comfortable in summer. But it comes with a huge huge risk.

My father's partner refers to bikes as donorcycles since she's seen the aftermath in the emergency room. I don't like that blanket characterization, but there are an awful lot who don't seem to care for their safety.

Raoul said...

The ratio m/f is mainly due to boomers.
Suburban boomers had enough cash and room to have a pool and 2 motorcycles.

The ratio is this way mainly because it's a couple activity. (harley type)


For the apparel: I was used to better protections in Europe. The harley type often have some leather clothes, but that's often mainly for the cool factor I think. For crotch rockets, I often see both. (t shirt or complete full racing type jacket as in Europe). The roads are very different. Many only ride on weekends. Low speed etc.

In the US, I think we see more of less (no helmet, no nothing) because individual freedom is more important. Do not forget also in QC the insurance (SAAQ) is public funded, so we are able to have stronger rules. In the US, you are more responsible for your own trouble if something happens to you.


I am also pretty surprised with the number of pools vs potential use. It simply defies logic. Is that because we have plenty of (free) water? There are plenty of lakes around Montréal, but most of the time it's private land (around).

I think in the US common neighbourhood pools are quite common in some areas. Not the same thing. But You get increased safety and lower costs.

Raoul said...

For the helmet thing: I forgot to mention. In the US many states do not make helmets compulsory simply because of the heat. One often must have sunglasses though. (for Insects)

Frank said...

Thanks, Raoul.

For at the older Harley types, at least the ones I know, they do wear the leather for protection. They've had enough experience to know it's for their safety. They also love the long weekend rides. Usually on curvy and hilly country roads. Leisurely rides with scenery. I saw some out in the Eastern Townships last weekend. I'm sure they're in the Laurentians also.

Private pools were rare in my inner city neighborhood. So we would go to the pools at the public parks. I spent a few summers going there regularly.

I don't think the abundance of pools is due to easily available water. Mainly because pools don't need to be refilled often. Rain and snow seem to refill it more than enough.

The other thing is that since pools are popular, so is swimming. It's one of the most popular sports here along with golf and hockey.

ultramarathon biker chick Mom said...

When I started riding 3 years ago, I was emphatically directed to the Motorcycle Safety Course as a prereq for riding. Our state, North Carolina, requires a book and riding test now to get a license - also we have a helmet law. Taking the course also gets a discount on insurance. Our HOG group will not allow members to ride on group rides without proper attire: helmets, boots, long pants. During our very hot summers, few ride with coats but some still ride with gloves.

As for women riders, our Ladies of Harley group has 77 members and grows every month. When I started riding, according to Harley stats, 10% of riders were women. That was 3 years ago and it's now at 37%. Harley has seen the light and is now making some bikes more women friendly; lower seats, pull back handlebars, easypull clutches, even detachable purses. Garage nites for women only are being sponsored with wine and cheese and instruction on how to pick up a bike on your own without pulling your back out.

The younger women who ride are graduating up from dirt bikes and have well paying jobs (I only know Harley riders). The older ones like me are graduating off the passenger seat...

Frank said...

Thanks, mom. Much of whatt I know about the motorcycle culture in the US is from what you have told me. That and what I remember seeing on the streets of Chicago. Your type of riding is more in line with what I see up here. Many older couples taking long rides in the rolling hills. I guess it is the difference in city riding that I noticed.