Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Motorcycle Myths Debunked!

5 Motorcycle Myths
from Discovery.com

Since their invention, motorcycles have garnered a certain amount of allure and fascination from both riders and non-riders alike. Throughout motorcycle history, some myths have continually popped up, adding to the appeal (and sometimes the fear) of these motorized bikes.

Some of the myths spring from a little bit of truth, while others are just completely made up. Over the next few pages, we'll take a look at some myths that come from movies, some that have been passed on from person to person and others that just don't seem to make any sense at all.

So, keep reading to learn about five motorcycle myths that we feel need to be set straight once and for all.

Harley-Davidson Built the First Motorcycle

Not true. Harley-Davidson motorcycles are known all around the world, but some mistake William Harley and brothers Arthur and Walter Davidson as the inventors of the motorcycle, when the credit should actually be going to a German by the name of Gottlieb Daimler. In 1885, Daimler attached Nicolaus Otto's four-stroke internal combustion engine (invented in 1876) to a bicycle frame and created the first ever gas-powered motorcycle.

For fans of steam-powered transport, Sylvester Roper could be credited with the first pairing of a steam engine with a bicycle 18 years earlier, in 1867. But both Roper and Daimler went on to focus their attention on making automobiles, while Harley and the Davidson brothers focused their attention on motorcycles. In 1903, the Harley-Davidson Motor Company was officially launched, and although not the originators of the motorcycle, their impact on motorcycle history is just as momentous

Elvis Presley's Bike was Sold to Jay Leno for Millions

This tale usually begins with someone finding an old, beat-up Harley on the side of a dirt road in a small town. There are several versions of this myth, which may be one of the reasons it stays alive, but the story loosely goes like this: For just a few hundred dollars, a guy buys an old Harley-Davidson motorcycle that needs lots of work. Neither the owner of the bike, nor the purchaser knows the history of the bike. The new owner does a little detective work and learns that this particular bike once belonged to Elvis Presley.

In one version, Jay Leno buys the bike for about $1 million from the man who paid several hundred for it. In other versions, Harley-Davidson buys the bike for several million. In either case, both Jay Leno and Harley-Davidson have said that the story is false. This story is so prevalent that on Jan. 22, 2000, after Leno received calls about the story for several months, he made an announcement on his late-night talk show that the story simply wasn't true.

No matter what version you may hear of the story (some even include James Dean), all major parties have had their share of denying the myth and trying to settle the public's persistence that this story is true.

Sticking a Pole Through Motorcycle Spokes Will Send the Bike Flying

Blockbuster movies always do a good job with special effects, but they also spur many myths about what can plausibly be done. In "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," Nazis chase Harrison Ford on motorcycles and in order to get away, he sticks a wooden flagpole through the spokes of one of motorcycles chasing him, which causes to the motorcycle's wheel to immediately halt and sends the motorcycle (and driver) flying into the air.

Although a great special effect, the idea that sticking a pole into the spokes of a moving motorcycle will cause it to fly into the air is simply not true. In an episode of the MythBusters, Jamie and Adam tested the myth with a moving motorcycle and a dummy. When they used a wooden pole, similar to the one in the movie, the moving motorcycle simply broke the wooden pole and the bike fell over. Next, they tried a metal pole to test the myth more completely, which resulted in the motorcycle skidding on the pavement and then falling over. They determined near the end of the episode that explosives were used to cause the bike to fly into the air, which they then successfully recreated.

Evel Knievel Rode Only Harley-Davidson Motorcycles

Evel Knievel will forever be known as one of the most famous motorcycle stunt performers of all time. His career spanned several decades, earned him world records and caused him about 40 broken bones throughout his career. One of the myths surrounding this legend is that he only used Harley-Davidson motorcycles to perform his stunts.

Like all the other motorcycle stories we've mentioned so far, this one isn't true either. Although Knievel did have a contract with Harley-Davidson during part of his career, his first jump was actually with a Honda motorcycle. His 350cc bike took him over two mountain lions, a box full of 100 rattlesnakes and sparked his stunt-riding career — in addition to peaking some interest in his Honda motorcycle dealership.

Knievel also rode a Norton 750 Commando, a Laverda/American Eagle and a Triumph T120 Bonneville throughout his career, the latter being the one he crashed on at his famous Caesar's Palace jump. His most famous bike, though, and possibly one of the reasons why so many people perpetuate the myth, was the 1972 Harley-Davidson XR-750. This bike was used in some of Knievel's most famous jumps and is now located in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

Wearing a Helmet Causes More Neck Injuries than not Wearing One

With all the mention of motorcycle stunts in this article, we had to mention this myth that's been around for years. A study done by J.P. Goldstein claims that if you're in an accident on a motorcycle and you're wearing a helmet, you're more likely to have a serious neck injury because of the added weight to your head.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), this is simply not true. The NHTSA has found that helmet use reduces the risk of fatalities for motorcyclists by 37 percent and more than a dozen studies have found that the results of Goldstein's research were simply not correct. A study conducted by the Annals of Emergency Medicine in 1994 on more than 1,000 motorcycle crashes, found that wearing a helmet does, in fact, reduce the risk of head and spinal injuries.

Wearing a helmet may seem like a no-brainer for most riders, but this is one motorcycle myth that has kept some riders from taking advantage of the safety that helmets can offer.

Story courtesy of Discovery.com and written by Christopher Neiger
See the original story HERE!

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