Like so many things that people are very passionate about and spend lots of time thinking about, there are a whole bunch of myths that become repeated over and over. Now, thanks to the internet, the problem is even worse. As I said before, there are a lot of these myths and we can’t address them all. I’ve tried to pick out the ones that I think are the most important to debunk.
“Loud Pipes Save Lives”
That’s such a popular saying that it adorns jackets, T-shirts, and bumper stickers. But is it true? Ironically, it seems that bikes with louder pipes crash more often than those without. I’ll let you speculate why that is.
Anyway, it’s unlikely that motorists are going to hear your bike’s exhaust note, and having a loud exhaust is fatiguing to both riders and everyone else. You’ll get a far better result from wearing loud clothes than having loud pipes. Wear high visibility stuff, is what I’m saying.
I really think a lot of these myths (like the loud pipes one) exist as a way to justify things that bikers think are cool. So since a certain breed of bikers like to ride without a helmet you’d expect there to be a bunch of helmet myths, and you’d be right.
Basically there are a couple and they boil down to the fact that it’s MORE dangerous to wear a helmet. Some people say they break necks, and some people say that they reduce visibility or that they don’t make all that much difference in an accident.
To that I say bunk, bunk, bunk. I don’t recommend that you search the internet for “crashes without helmets” (seriously, don’t), but you can take my word for it – wear a helmet.
Lay It Down
There’s this old idea that if you are going to crash, no matter what, it’s better to just lay the bike down and scrub as much speed as possible. I don’t know if this was ever true on old bikes with crappier brakes, but you better believe that the best way to scrub speed from a modern bike is to keep it on its wheels and apply the brakes. Speaking of which . . .
ABS Can’t Beat Skill
I don’t know if it’s pride or whatever, but there’s this idea that a good rider can brake better than ABS on a bike. Some people may even avoid buying a bike with ABS because of this idea. It’s nonsense though, tests have shown that ABS outperforms even very highly experienced riders. Even on a perfect, dry surface.
The “Just One Beer” Myth
I’ve said my piece about alcohol and biking all over this site, but there’s a pernicious myth that just one beer won’t have any effect on your riding. Given how much focus and concentration a bike demands over and above that of a car, even one beer can make the difference between getting home safely and not making it at all.
Race Tires on The Road
Racing riders use slicks, so if you put them on a road bike you’ll ride faster, right?
Look, racing tires are part of a total, finely tuned racing machine. They are designed to provide maximum grip within a certain temperature range and to last for only so long. On the road you’ll never get them to the temperature where they start to grip. So instead of making you faster you’ll be crashing. Luckily you won’t be crashing far from where you left, so an ambulance should be there quickly.
Radars Can’t See Bikes
One of the main ways to make yourself invisible to radar is to reduce your cross-section. So bikes are much smaller than cars, right? This must mean that the cops can’t read how fast you’re going, surely?
Not so fast dude. I mean that literally. I don’t know if this was ever true, but modern LIDAR equipment can pick up objects much smaller than a bike. So if you want to speed you’ll get ticketed, and rightly so.