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When Motorcycle Journalism Serves as a Sign of the Apocalypse

I used to think Hell for Leather was, in many respects, a cool blog. It doesn’t really provide much in the way of product testing, but it is updated frequently and offers a unique perspective on developments in the motorcycle industry.

What I saw today on the site, however, went beyond the “edginess” I previously enjoyed at HFL. It entered the realm of stupidity. Worse yet, it encourages the most juvenile, selfish behavior in our sport, and even annoints the participants (who display little or no skill on a motorcycle aside from being able to hold the throttle wide open in a straight line) as riders “highly respected throughout most of the motorcycle community for the risks they take”.

The “highly respected” activity? Pinning the throttle on a BMW S1000RR on the Long Island Expressway for miles and miles (doing a GPS-verified 192 mph), while dodging cars at a closing speed of more than 120 mph. Here is a link to the story and video at HFL. For those of you unfamiliar with “closing speed” in this instance, as an example, this jackass comes through your rear window at 126 mph while you are sitting still . . . killing you and your wife and your children. I may not be “most of the motorcycle community”, but this doesn’t get any of my respect.

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MD Readers Respond:

  • I stopped reading Hell for Leather a long time ago. This article that glamorizes the dangerous actions of an intensely stupid person and then claims this makes him highly respected by the majority of motorcyclists is exactly why. HfL doesn’t speak for me and never will. Mike
  • I agree the guy is an idiot. I also think that Motorcycle Daily shows off stupidity too in bike reviews and such, when you post so many photos of your riders popping wheelies, which is also irresponsible riding. – John
  • I wanted to complement you with your comments regarding the Hell for Leather site and the video of the BMW S1000RR at night on the LIE. I think that the video is a fraud though for the simple reason that nothing he passes in the video, cars, street lights, oncoming traffic, and the dotted lines on the road go by that quickly. It’s at night and even though it looks terrible when you look at the speedometer. I don’t think the idiot would be that stupid. All it would take is a piece of wood or debris do cause a problem. :) I’ve ridden fast myself during perfect weather with no traffic amd lots of sunshine and can tell you I think the video is a total fraud.

    I have 33 motorcycle sites bookmarked and your’s is the only site I visit daily. In my opinion yours is the best. :) Motonutz……

  • At 1:00 he is in 5th gear very close to redline and doing 165. That is absolutely MPH, not KPH! Chris
  • I agree that the author may have taken the comments about respect slightly out of context, but the original story does imply that most bikers respect this kind of behavior, and I think Dirck is right in pointing out that that is absolutely not the case and riding like this gives bikers in general, but especially sport bike riders, a bad name.

    My buddy on his Hayabusa and I ride 150+ sometimes, and it is quite a feeling. I never buzz cars though – by which I mean, I only go that fast when there’s no one else on the road. If I’m passing a car, I’ll slow down, and will rarely pass a car with a “closing speed” greater than 40mph or so (100 on my bike vs a car going 60). Still a lot, sure, but I think that shows a lot more responsibility and respect to other drivers than for example, any cager making a lane change without using their blinker.

    And for those that think the speed must be in kph, maybe you need a reality check. Did you count the gears, did you see him apply full throttle through 4th, 5th and 6th? And you think on a 200hp bike, he’s only going 120mph? Maybe you haven’t heard of the S1000RR, but it is basically the fastest bike in stock form available today. You do know those super and hyper bikes are designed to go 200MPH+, or well over the 300kph from the gentleman’s agreement. – Matthew

  • Dirck you are spot on .. However, I guess I am becoming numb to whole speed thing. You can watch a hundreds of these things on you tube. I used to preach to people to wear helmets preferably full-face helmets. I would show them pictures of my helmet after a wreck etc. I finally figured out motorcyclists are risk takers compared to the rest of humanity. Also among motorcyclists there is a spectrum of risk takers from the folks like me who ride with full gear and obey the traffic laws to the extremists who ride without a helmet or wear flip-flops and shorts to those who go 100 mph+. It doesn’t do any good to show these extreme risk takers the consequences of what happens when sh_t happens cause they don’t think it is going to happen to them. Dirck you are spot on unfournately I don’t think extreme risk takers want to hear logically arguments. Paul
  • Just want to voice my support for MD and all its writers. Ignore the
    childish tantrum that Wes emailed in – the idiots of the world will
    never manage to find fault within themselves. Also pretty hilarious
    how he cries for you to make a publication “worth a damn” when his
    site barely ranks above MD on Alexa. I guess he’s admitting that his
    own site isn’t worth a damn. Keep raging against editorial
    disingenuousness Wes, maybe one day you’ll look mirror and realize
    what a hypocrite you are. Brynn

  • From your 2010 R1200GS first ride article:
    “King saw it differently, apparently intent on keeping his 85-mph
    average, CHP be damned. Slicing and dicing through traffic with a deft
    touch and smooth riding style, he never put a wheel wrong, never caused
    a car driver to jam on the brakes, never provoked a waved finger, index
    or otherwise. Nicely done, Perry, but surely we’d run afoul of the
    gendarmerie at some point in all this high-speed cutting-and-thrusting.”

    Not 192 per hour but slicing and dicing at 85 is hardly responsible
    riding that would command the respect of the non-motorcycling community.
    You really glamorized this guy and followed his wheel all the way. At
    what speed does cool acceptable recklessness turn into stupid recklessness?

    We all ride crazy once in a while, but crazy on public roads seems to be
    the holy grail of a good part of moto journalism – try it you’ll like it. Sherman

  • This HFL article is yet another instance of self-centered ignorant twits on
    motorcycles.

    I am all for freedom and expressing yourself and the anti-establishment
    escapism offered by a motorcycle.

    However, perpetuating negative images of motorcycling and motorcycle riders
    does not endear us riders to the general public. Having a motorcycle blow
    past you at more than 100 mph faster than you will be a very lasting image!

    Unfortunately, the general public votes and when the next vote comes to
    limit superbike horsepower or close off yet another road to motorcycles
    (motorcycles are banned from many toll roads and bridges in New York) or
    close off yet another off road area, the public will be quick to vote
    against us “lunatics on two wheels”.

    Thanks Wes for doing your part to reduce the freedom you are so greatly
    trying to express. Good Job! George

  • Clearly New York City’s public school system has turned out a couple
    more winners. Kudos.

    The most impressive part? Finding a stretch of the LIE you can ride
    above the speed limit without bending your rims. I’m still trying…

    And I agree with a previous post – that definitely was NOT MPH… he
    was passing people at an “indicated” 170 and it looked like those
    motorists were doing better than 100+. As a track day rider, I know
    what 140 feels like and looked an awful lot like that 190 … Lou

  • I guess I didn’t realize that a back alley shop in Brooklyn represented most of the motorcycle community …

    Disappointing to see the response from Wes, thought the guy was cooler than that. I enjoy your site and visit it daily. Keep up the good work. Cheers. George

  • Excellent journalism on your part for exposing the pathetic state of some bike websites like “Hell For Leather”. The type of riding they condone is the main reason that responsible motorcyclists suffer high insurance rates and a bad public image.
    The mentality of the editor who responded to you and crowed about how a “screw you” attitude attracted him to motorcycling is indicative of someone with an abysmal lack of understanding as to what motorcycling is all about.
    To put it simply, the Hell for Leather website screwed up and then tried to bully you into letting them off the hook when you called them out on it.
    What you did was the right thing.
    The attitude alone of the person who responded for Hell for Leather put paid to my ever bothering to access their website.
    Maybe Hell for Leather will “grow a pair” and admit their mistake but I doubt it.
    Good work on your part, and thanks for giving David Edwards a place on your website! Mike

  • My wife and I drove to SD and back last week, noticing freeway signs
    asking that I, as an auto driver, watch for motorcyclists. The six
    motorcycle riders that passed me during the trip from Santa Barbara
    were all in tennis shoes and t-shirts…….the bike of choice:
    noisy R1′s or equivalent; my personal fav…..the guy with the pink
    mohawk and short pants. Ya, I’ll watch for these a.holes as they
    throw a tarp over them in the middle of the I-5…..Bruce

  • I’m with you on this one. While I love speed, I believe there is a time and a place to open it up. In traffic is NOT the place. I’ve saw too much of this and had to deal with the the public relations effects. Brian
  • Congratulations on joining the 21st Century and discovering that you
    can link to other sites!

    Since I’m unable to participate in the Motorcycle Daily conversation
    (monologue?) I’m hoping this telegraph will suffice.

    Hell For Leather doesn’t subscribe to the view that presenting a
    singular image of motorcycling as the sole preserve of elderly white
    men in any way represents the diverse world of motorcycling nor does
    it serve it in a positive manner. While media outlets like yours are
    busy kowtowing to the motorcycle industry’s boring will, an entire
    generation is missing out on the two-wheeled experience. Do you think
    stories of yet another fine wine-fueled junket or another badly
    written press release are really what riding a motorcycle is about?

    I don’t know about you, but it’s the danger, adventure and anti-
    establishment, screw-you attitude that attracted me to bikes in the
    first place. Pretending that a significant element or risk, self
    determination and often stupidity doesn’t exist in motorcycling is
    simply putting your head in the sand.

    As for “highly-respected,” I’m simply reporting fact. Pass up a press
    launch and come down to any back alley shop in Brooklyn and I’ll show
    that to you. Maybe you’ll discover that the people who buy bikes
    aren’t identical to the people who sell them.

    It’s funny, we actually agree that these guys are stupid. But, maybe
    by acknowledging this facet of the motorcycle world and creating an
    open discussion around it, we’re actually allowing other people to
    come to the same conclusion. Ignoring something has never made it go
    away.

    Ultimately, this is one of many diverse stories that we publish each
    day. Singling it out as representative of our overall editorial voice
    is disingenuous, unrepresentative and sensationalist. Instead of
    attacking us, grow a pair and start putting out a publication that’s
    worth a damn. Wes

  • Well respected?!?!? My arse! This guy is a complete pinhead. Scott
  • i strongly suspect that bmw reached only 192 km/h, not mph. that would
    be 119 mph. not so amazing, but still fairly stupid. should be obvious by the speed the lines and cars go by. -Jiiim

  • “Despite creating an incredibly negative perception of all motorcyclists among the general public and the police, these specific riders are nevertheless highly respected throughout most of the motorcycle community for the risks they take.”

    If you are going to quote another website at least do them the justice of quoting in context. This is elementary journalism Dirck, you should have known. Although, it sure is easier for you to stir the pot when you misquote and exagerate huh? Nathan