Most of the time, age brings wisdom and youth, impatience and the feeling of invincibility. As much as I love to ride my motorcycle, I was lucky to not be seriously hurt when I first started to ride. My guardian angle must have been looking over me, knowing that I’d like to enjoy many years of fun riding.

In reflection the biggest bonehead mistakes I ever made on a motorcycle were probably all in the first year of riding when I was 19.

Bonehead Motorcycle Mistake 1: No Training – When I knew I needed to ride I didn’t know anyone else that rode so I just went a bought a motorcycle, a Yamaha 650 Special.Yamaha 650 Special Motorcycle I bought the bike new from the dealer and they never asked me if I had a motorcycle license, I didn’t, nor did they ask me if I’d ever ridden. Thankfully they delivered the bike to my house by van and dropped it off. That’s when the fun began.

It was a snowy day, but I couldn’t wait to ride. So I read the owners manual and got on the bike. I practiced shifting gears, learned where all the controls were and then once I had mustered up the courage, I fired it up. Carefully I placed it in first gear and let the clutch out, unfortunately way too fast. The Yahama took off like a shot with me hanging on for dear life.

The first ride was all of 50 feet, that’s how far the snow drift was from where I had started. I went face first into the snow drift and bruised my pride. But I did what every good rider does, I picked up the bike and got back on.

In hindsight I was a complete moron. I never should have taught myself to ride, I did it all wrong. I should have taken professional motorcycle training, which I did when I took up riding again in 2003. By that time I wasn’t such an idiot and knew that if I was going to ride safely I need to learn to ride, right. If you are looking for a motorcycle riding class I’d suggest that you contact your state driver licensing agency and ask about motorcycle training classes or visit the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and look for a local course.

The good news is that I wised up and realized that I was being a fool for not having a motorcycle license and decided to sell the bike, which I did, for cash. Now that’s not remarkable, what is remarkable is that I met the buyer on the steps of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, DC. He gave me the cash and I gave him the keys.

Bonehead Motorcycle Mistake 2: Riding With No Shirt On – Before gravity and a few calories, who the hell am I kidding, many calories, destroyed my toned teenage physique, I had no shame it walking around with my shirt off on a hot summer day. One day it was a scorcher and I was just taking a short ride over to meet some friends, with a little stretch on the highway. I figured it was hot so a short ride without my shirt on would keep me cool.

As I was cruising along at 60 MPH the strangest thing happened to me, something I never would have predicted, a flying beetle hit me in the left nipple. I damn near lost control of the bike, the pain was intense and immediate. If you’ve never been hit in the nipple at 60 MPH, trust me, it is an experience you don’t need, or want, to have.

Bonehead Motorcycle Mistake 3: Standing Up On a Moving Bike – Do you know that bike builder Indian Larry who died while standing up on his bike in front of a crowd? Well I used to stand up on my bike at times. I could easily balance on it as it sailed down the street. What was I thinking? What a stupid thing to do. I could have easily been seriously hurt or killed like Indian Larry.


Bonehead Motorcycle Mistake 4: Trying to Be Cool – So there was this group of high school senior girls on a field trip at this local park on a early spring day. They were standing at a traffic circle waiting for the school bus to pick them up.

I spotted them as I headed towards the circle and wanting to look as cool as possible, as a teenager myself, I was more concerned about looking hot on the bike as I went around the circle in front of the girls. While I saw the girls clearly, what I didn’t see was the sand left on the road from some late winter sanding.

I’m not sure what was worse, dumping the bike, scratching it up and bending some parts or sliding to a stop on the asphalt right in front of the girls.

“Are you alright?”, one of the girls said. Physically I was okay, emotionally my ego was substantially bruised.

It was a great lesson in getting my priorities straight and a lesson I’ve never forgotten.

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One Response to “Don’t Do This On Your Burgman: The Four Dumbest Things I Ever Did on a Motorcycle”

  1. Some of these things simply need to be refreshed so more people will view them. We should all try to learn from the experience of others. Its far less personally painfull if we can.

    Art H