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Two-wheeled stratification


I don’t get folks who ride a certain sub-set of motorized two-wheelers.

It’s a generalization, I know, and maybe even a stereotype, but riders of the class of Motorbike Lite seem just a little … off …to me.

Occasionally, I’ll get the secret motorcycle wave (I’d show you, but then I’d have to kill you) from fellows aboard their Harleys and Hondas and Ducatis and such, but, for the most part, bikers ignore cyclists. Hogs blow past without so much as slowing down. Cafe racers nose-wheelie by. Vintage sidecars (with a dog riding shotgun!) sputter past, and the pilots — perhaps preoccupied scanning the road for the evil, dangerous cagers — don’t seem to notice little ol’ me pedaling along.

But the folks astride the next step down on the evolutionary scale are a different story.

I’m talking about the people on scooters and mopeds and even motorized bikes, who, with almost disturbing regularity, seem obligated to pull alongside and engage me in conversation like we’re long-lost besties.

I don’t get it.

Rarely does a motorist drive next to me and start to chat me up. Maybe there’ll be a brief visit at a stoplight, or some particularly witty fella will spout some platitude as he breezes past. Though drivers might be cursing a blue streak inside their plush cabins, infrequently will one actually engage me, especially on the fly.

But all the time the pilot of a scooter or moped will sidle up, match my speed and launch into some lengthy discourse about the weather or road conditions or the quest for spiritual fulfillment.

Just the other morning, 1:30 or so, I was riding home in relative silence. Spinning up a hill not far from my house, I heard the unmistakable whine of a tinny moped motor, then watched as a headlight bounced across a lawn, over a sidewalk, over a curb and into the street where, you guessed it, the handlebar turner pulled next to me, throttled back, then greeted me with a throaty, “HOW’S IT GOIN’, MAN?” I replied, “Fine, thanks,” before he “roared off” into the darkness.

I think perhaps it stems from a lack of identity.

Folks who ride bikes generally are referred to as cyclists, and some get a little uppity when they’re called bikers instead (though, curiously, the off-roaders are mountain bikers, not mountain cyclists). Biker, of course, is reserved for riders of motorcycles.

But what do you call the people who fall in between? Scooterers? Mopedophiles?

It’s hard to pigeonhole folks without an appropriate moniker, so they motor about in some sort of two-wheeled purgatory, not quite as dorky as cyclists and not quite able to hang with the cool kids and their crotch rockets.

Or maybe they’re just happy to find the one class of road-user slower — and more universally reviled — than they are.


RoeDapple 5 years, 10 months ago

What I don't understand is the high rate of theft with the buzzin' b@sterts! Who wants 'em? Maybe bikers and cyclists who are tired of tolerating them . . . ?

Andrew Hartsock 5 years, 10 months ago

Good question, Roe, though my teen daughter recently informed me she has no real interest in learning to drive (yay!) but wants a scooter (facepalm). She thinks they're "cool."

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