Could a Motorcycle Be the Right Choice for You?

 Could a Motorcycle Be the Right Choice for You?

Display Suzuki GSX at See See Motorcycle Coffee, shown to all coffee enjoyers that walk into the store. Thor Drake established the company in Portland in 2009. Photo by Joseph Howitt.

Motorcycles have always been associated with the dangerous, fearless and daredevil members of our society, as per the preconceived image of them being two-wheeled death traps. In most modern day media, motorcycles are given a narrative of a certain edginess, and danger associated. It’s hard not to think of these stigmas when watching a show or a movie, and the stereotypical leather jacket, Ray Ban-wearing character shows up on their motorcycle. However, including the popular reappearance of mopeds, two-wheeled motor vehicles are making a comeback, at least in Portland, Oregon. It might be time to consider purchasing one. 

There is definitely a narrative in Hollywood about motorcycles, whether it be through pictures like Terminator 2, Mad Max, Lara Croft in Tomb Raider, or even Anime such as Akira. These famous bikes have been associated with high octane action films, because of the perceived danger. However, that is not always the case in real life, as most riders could also enjoy a Sunday ride down the street. People also choose to ride motorcycles due to the low emission levels and the fact that it’s a more practical mode of transport suited to their lifestyle. Many riders understand the risks that are present, but still choose to ride because of the enjoyment. Bikers almost always take precaution; as of today, it is extremely rare to see a motorcyclist without their full protective gear, being mostly composed of helmets, heavy jackets and knee/elbow pads, ensuring a lowered chance of injury if they were to fall or crash. 

When thinking about who should get motorcycles, what about younger people? The median age for motorcyclists was 50 years of age as of 2018, according to a study done by the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC). The lowest number registered in an age group were high schoolers, for obvious reasons, as for years motorcycles have been wildly unpopular among youngsters. In Oregon, the minimum age for obtaining your motorcycle license is 16 years old, the same as a car. 

Under the Motorcycles and Scooters section in the community agreements in the 2021-2022 Franklin High School student handbook, it states, “These are motor vehicles and must be licensed and insured. They should be registered in the Vice Principal’s office.” To get to the bottom of why this is, I investigated the rules surrounding student parking and if there were any exceptions if the student had a motorcycle. Vice Principal Scott Burns answers my questions about this mystery: “There is no student parking on the facility. The passage in the student handbook most likely refers to any case of a student parking somewhere they are not allowed, and the school being able to know [what student the vehicle belongs to].” If that is the case, why is it mentioned? Maybe it is to encourage students to get their own motorcycles. Of course, that is a stretch, as Franklin has not had a lot of students owning these vehicles, however that is able to change. 

Places like See See Motorcycle Co. and their coffee shops around Portland, including one on Sandy, are very friendly to fellow riders. They supply coffee to Portlanders no matter the vehicle they choose to drive. Anywhere in Portland you can find motorcycle parking, and it’s easier to ride through those narrow, neighborhood streets on a motorcycle, rather than having to pull over and let another car pass, on the off chance that you will have to experience that awkward ‘wave at the person and put it in reverse to let them through’ situation. Although riders can’t weave in traffic like they can in California, it doesn’t make that much of a difference. With that being said, I do not suggest anyone ride on the freeway due to a rise in motorcycle crashes on busier roads. 

Why should high schoolers get motorcycles? Gas prices are cheaper, (right now that is a very welcomed idea), less area to clean, and you are almost always guaranteed a parking spot, so you won’t have to park 5 blocks away from the front of Franklin, due to the unfortunate parking situation at our school. You can’t deny, it looks cooler than other modes of transport as well. There are risks to take into consideration as well, as there are in any vehicle. Because there are no airbags to protect the driver, they are considerably more dangerous than a car. However, if you pick it up quickly, you won’t have to worry about crashing, rather other reckless drivers. “First of all, motorcycles do cost less and get better gas mileage, therefore making it easier for the day to day expenses associated with transportation. Because the motorcycle requires the driver to remain focused on the road in front of him or her and to keep both hands on the handlebars, there are fewer distractions to deal with,” states Ed Anderson, a writer for The Medium, an online news website. This is a good point, as there are zero chances for the rider to have their phone out to distract them from the road.

Motorcycles have been given a bad rap by many parents and adults, however the majority of riders are over 30. It’s time that younger people take the consideration into their own hands, and give motorcycles a try, as it could end up being your favorite way to get around.

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