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Wild Hogs Movie Sets Bad Example for Beginning Motorcycle Riders

By David Mixson

Mid-life, motorbikes and the open roads. What's not to like?

Wild Hogs -- starring Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence and William Macy -- is about middle-aged men trying to "find themselves" by taking a road trip on their Harley motorcycles.

  • Is it funny? Yes. If you liked City Slickers you'll most likely enjoy Wild Hogs.
  • Is it worth paying the extra money to see it on the big screen? Maybe.
  • Does the movie demonstrate proper motorcycle riding techniques. NO.

Beginning motorcycle riders beware.

Just minutes into the movie, the four members of the Wild Hogs motorcycle gang pull into a dangerous riding formation... riding four-wide in a single lane. This is extremely dangerous... leaving no room for mistakes. If one rider swerves to avoid an obstacle or moves out of their riding lane, chances are all four riders will crash.

When the Wild Hog Harley riders aren't riding in this four-wide formation, they ride in a two-by-two formation. Two riders share a single lane, and the other two riders mirror their positions following close behind. New motorcycle riders take note: the 'two second rule' applies to motorcyclists too.

Riding too closely to other riders is dangerous.

Picture this: the lead rider decides to stop on a 'yellow light'... while the rear rider decides to beat the light, and rolls on the throttle. The margin for error is extremely tight when riding closely.

Riding a motorcycle in a group -- while fun -- can be one of the most challenging aspects of riding. Mistakes not only affect you, but the riders around you.

It's simple: increasing your separation distance decreases your risk of crashing.

Also troubling for beginning riders, were the scenes showing adjacent riders giving each other fist hits (high-fives of sorts) while riding. If you've ever riden a motorcycle, you understand this wouldn't work in reality.

The rider on the left uses his right throttle hand while the rider on the right uses his left non-throttle hand to give the fist hit. When the rider on the left takes his hand off the throttle, the bike will slow. The bikes will pull apart very quickly (not a happy place to be) once the rider on the left takes his hand off the throttle.

Look closely during the early scenes of the movie and you will notice break away camera shots. The motorbikes were attached to props. There is, however, one high-five scene toward the end of the movie that doesn't use this trick photography. Notice how the bikes abruptly separate when the left rider takes his had off the throttle.

But wait, why am I discussing this high-five male bonding maneuver as a film editing trick. I should, instead, be telling you how absolutely absurd it is to attempt such a silly maneuver on a motorcycle!

When traveling down the road in your car, do you reach out the window and shake hands with the driver traveling next to you? Of course not. The bottom line is this: if you can reach out and touch the rider next to you, you are riding too closely!

Save the fist hits for stops at traffic lights.

Now for the most obvious shortcomings of the movie. So obvious that my non-riding wife leaned over during the movie and asked, "Why aren't they wearing helmets... that's a bad example." I agree!

Touchstone Pictures... What's up with those wanna-be helmets?

William Macy's character wore what can best be described as an old style leather football helmet. Other riders either wore nothing, or helmet variations that didn't offer any chin or face protection. Funny how the media hurled Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for NOT wearing a helmet, yet they glamorize the same thing in Wild Hogs. I'm confused.

Should you pay the extra money to see Wild Hogs on the big screen, or will Netflicks do?

If you want a good laugh... go ahead and pay the difference. But if you want to learn more about motorcycling and see how to properly enjoy the sport... look elsewhere.

David Mixson is a Mechanical Engineer who is passionate about helping beginning motorcycle riders.

Sign up for his free Motorcycle Riding Tip of the Week at MotorcycleMentor.com. The site was developed to mentor new riders who ride any type of motorbike: sport-bike, sport-touring, touring, scooter, cruiser, dual-sport or adventure sport motorcycles.


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