We tend to fall back on stereotypes if we see certain types a lot in movies, TV, or even the news.
So, what are the most common stereotypes about motorcyclists? Below we’ll debunk several of the most common motorcycle myths.
Myth #1: Bikers wear leather to look cool.
There’s no denying that Marlon Brando looked cool in his leather jacket in The Wild One (1953), so much so that he is credited with popularising the look. Sure, for some bikers, looking cool in a leather jacket might be a perk, but it’s not the main reason that bikers wear leather. Bikers wear leather jackets (and sometimes leather pants or other leather gear) to protect their body while riding. Leather is tough; If you’re ever in an accident and go flying off your bike, it will really help to protect your skin from damage. So that’s why you’ll see motorcyclists decked out in leather in the summer, even when it seems way too hot to be wearing leather. They’re not wearing it to look cool, but to be smart. And with more drivers of all types on the road during the warmer months, they can’t afford not to be smart — their chance of getting in an accident is a lot higher.
Myth #2: All bikers are outlaws.
Another popular myth is that all motorcyclists are outlaws or rebels. This also happens to be a popular myth for poker players, too. This particular myth — that all motorcyclists and poker players are outlaws, and are perhaps one and the same — has certainly been made worse by portrayals in movies and on TV. For example, take a look at The Wild One (as mentioned above): Because of Brando’s portrayal, many people started to associate bikers with rebelliousness. But this isn’t true of every biker — it’s just one portrayal in a movie.
With this myth there’s also the assumption that most bikers are in a gang, particularly a gang of outlaws. This also is not true. This myth likely started to gain traction due to widespread news coverage of motorcycle gang incidents over the years. When people read about a particular incident or two, they start to assume that all motorcyclists engage in criminal behavior or are rebellious. This belief that all bikers are outlaws can be especially harmful to bikers because non-bikers might (consciously or unconsciously) behave more recklessly around them on the road. And who is more likely to get hurt in that situation? A biker.
Myth #3: Bikers don’t drive (or like) cars.
Just because a biker loves riding their motorcycle doesn’t mean they don’t also own a car (or that they only care about their motorcycle). Before they had a bike, they likely had a car and mostly drove around this way. Sure, some motorcyclists might only own a bike. But many of them likely have a car to get to and from work. Or if they have a family or young children, they’ll need a car to get around.
In relation to this, many bikers dislike not the cars themselves, but the drivers behind the wheel. Many car drivers don’t behave appropriately around motorcycles, and they can increase a bikers risk of getting hurt. As mentioned, when a car behaves recklessly around a biker, it’s not the driver who will get hurt — it’s the biker. In that way, many motorcyclists might feel more resentful of drivers, but that doesn’t mean they’ll flat out refuse to drive a car because of that. In fact, their awareness of risky driving will likely make them safer drivers when they do drive.
Myth #4: Bikers don’t care about safety.
Many people believe that bikers must have a death wish for riding a motorcycle in the first place because motorcycles are a more dangerous mode of transportation. Sure, there are reckless people in every area of life, and there are certainly reckless motorcyclists. You’ll see them not wearing helmets or leather, or disobeying traffic rules. But this is by no means the norm. Just because bikers are generally engaging in a more dangerous activity doesn’t mean they don’t care about their safety. They ride because it gives them life — not because they don’t have respect for life.