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Lane splitting - Real Heroes Bring their Lunch

Discussion in 'General Motorcycling Discussion' started by Kaer, Dec 22, 2005.

  1. http://www.bikernet.com/news/PageViewer.asp?PageID=414

    Real Heroes Bring their Lunch
    Written By George Hanson, Photo By Wrench

    It would be easy to assume motorcycling’s bona fide heroes have established their bravado on the tracks of the world. A safe notion, further validated by attending a race or perusing any related publications. Popular media has historically depicted the go fast sect as conquerors of all things two wheeled. The truth is, motorcycling heroics are everywhere and sometimes right next to you on your way to work.

    Sure it takes serious guts to run WFO on the banks at Daytona, but let’s see any of racing’s superstars do it surrounded by giant SUVs piloted by coffee slurping, cell phone yakking commuters.

    Yes, my friends we are speaking of the much maligned and in many states illegal lane splitters. These are men and women with an unpretentious goal, to get to work quickly and inexpensively. Why, you ask would they be elevated to the lofty ranks of two wheeled heroes?? If you have ever run through the tail light tunnel, you already know what it takes and the dangers that await. For those who have not, it can oddly enough, be summed up with a movie analogy. Although, I’m not a Star Wars Zealot, the second episode showcased some very useful imagery. Access your movie scene archive and pull up the land speeder scenes with Luke zipping through the heavily forested Ewok planet.

    Lane splitting is much like that, only the trees are moving around and have big mirrors hanging off of them. Just picture yourself riding through a narrow corridor surrounded by undulating walls, sharp objects and the occasional, slammed in your face door. Maybe that makes the lane splitter more chump then champion, but then again, he just got to where he was going in half the time, with a third of the fuel and hasn’t a notion of what a parking problem is.

    Similar to their trophy-seeking brethren, the splitters are not just people on bikes going fast; they tend to have unique personalities and machines. If you are a regular commuter, take a break from your mocha, half cafe, latte and observe the cast of characters streaming by. Like most of us, you see a lot of the same nameless faces five days a week without taking note of the real person behind those handlebars. Each one of these brave commuters is the proud member of a unique sect of the motorcycling community.

    At the bottom of the lane splitter hierarchy is the new guy. Easily identified by his fresh from the dealership paper plate and crispy clean riding gear. Smart new guys ride cautiously and are apt to have a terrified, hanging-on-for-dear-life style. The careless new guys tend not to last much more than their first bike payment. Keep an eye on the bikes flowing past. The new guy will be there and each day he will improve and each new guy means one less car on the freeway.

    Next rung up on the splitter pecking order is the young sportbike guy.

    Attrition is pretty high with this group, as they are burdened by the unfortunate combination of youthful daring, and a bike capable of 160 miles per hour.

    Look for them to be hunched over their racer replicas in full leathers toting a backpack of street clothes or quite possibly lying on the ground looking forlornly at the aforementioned machine. From here, we leap up a few steps to the rat bike commuter. Here’s a guy who has little regard for fashion, modern machinery or even routine maintenance. Generally seen on a sullied ‘80s era cruiser, with a lunch box precariously strapped to the back. He is considered by many to be the bravest of the brave and usually has the most seat time of any faction. Imagine, at one point he was the new guy, or maybe survived being sport bike guy, but these days riding is just a means to an end. He is also one of the very few riders willing to don rubber based riding gear and brave adverse weather conditions.

    Then there are the big twin riders. The man’s man of lane splitters. An assemblage of riders comfortably commuting on $20,000 chrome plated tractors. For them, the hindrance of a lumbering 800lb bike is overcome by the exhaust note warning that can part traffic like Moses parted the Red Sea. Although, the slightest hint of bad weather, and most of this group tends to abandon their two-wheeled steed. As of late, this clique of bikers often coincides with the new guys. Nothing like watching an inexperienced motorcyclist on a 36-inch wide bike plowing down a 40-inch wide undulating channel.

    They typically develop their skill at a fast pace or return to the safe haven of a warm Lexus.

    After the big twin enthusiast, the group tends to splinter into much smaller factions. There’s giant touring bike guy, occasionally seen wedging his leviathan of a bike through the mystery lane like unchewed food through a resistant esophagus. Then there is enduro guy who has the line of sight advantage of a tall bike coupled with drawback of skittish knobby tires.

    The rarely seen vintage bike guy is replete in period correct gear and a bike that is better suited for display then the rigors of commuting. Also a rarity is wild custom bike guy. This sect is actually a derivative of big twin guy but warrants his own category by the shear brazenness of riding a $40,000+ motorcycle in such hostile conditions. On the other end of the cc scale is the seldom-spotted small bike guy. Here’s a rider who eschews the bigger is better thinking of many splitters and instead straddles a bike that barely meets the minimum cc rating for freeway travel. The lightweight and quick handling of this machine is soon forgotten as its motor is forced to live on the very edge of self-destruction. Let us not forget the often-disparaged elephantine scooter enthusiast. Talk about brave, this guy not only rides the motorcycle equivalent of an over inflated lawn chair, but does so taunted by the jeers of his fellow splitters.

    Now we come to the top of the heap. These are the very best of the best of the lane splitting clique. The riders who are using the right tool for the job and have the experience and presence of mind to use it well. They are the journeyman of the splitters and most often seen on a late model Dyna or sport-touring bike bedecked with side bags and wearing a knowing grin. Lacking the flash of the leather clad groups and rarely taking the risks like the younger ones, this elite band of commuters gets the job done without any vacillation or concession. The motor cop also falls into this category as many of them commute to and from their daily riding duties on the company bike. Quite a few of them spending upwards of 200 miles a day on a bike.

    The Uber commuter does not ride for the glory or the fame or even to impress the opposite sex, they do it to get from point A to point B in the most efficient manner possible and they do it in the tail light tunnel. For that, they and anyone else willing to consistently ride the mystery lane are indeed the unsung heroes of motorcycling.

    --George Hanson
  2. Love it! :LOL:
  3. Great Stuff :D
  4. Brilliant!!! i loved the comment about the lexus...

    if your gonna get hit, its gonna be a lexus (or a vw with an 11 year old girl driving)
  5. saved that one :)
  6. great stuff :D :D :D :D
  7. But what about the Chapel st/Acland St lane splitting hero who does it on one wheel with shorts and a singlet and a pillion on?
  8. great stuff, thats a keeper
  9. "Now we come to the top of the heap. These are the very best of the best of the lane splitting clique. ...

    and most often seen on a late model Dyna or sport-touring bike bedecked with side bags"

    Yeah, I'd be the best lanesplitter in the world if I had a 3 foot wide bike. :LOL:
  10. he didn't mention the often-described girl on a scooter, or don't they split lanes?
  11. haha he missed a fair few categories but still a good read i guess :)
  12. Excellent stuff, I almost feel proud to wear rubber.

    Interesting reference to a minimum cc rating for freeway use.