2011 Kawasaki ZX10

bjn70972By Neale Bayly

Photos by Brian J Nelson.

“It’s got a petrol engine son.” I’ve always imagined the moment in the future when my grandkid is in my garage asking me what the weird looking two-wheeled machine is in the corner. After all, by then we’ll probably be heading to work on hydrogen powered smart phones, if there are any jobs left. I’ve also always thought I’d like that bike to be the pinnacle of development for the internal combustion engine. The fastest, meanest, most evil fossil fuel burning production motorcycle ever built.

Howling over the blind rise coming out of Road Atlanta’s turn five with the front wheel two feet in the air, the speed the new Kawasaki ZX 10R had reached approaching turn six was making the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Rolling off the throttle, skimming the brakes and clicking off a downshift, a light nudge on the bars had the bright green machine on its side as I pinned the throttle again. Repeating this procedure for turn seven, it was time to shrink behind the fairing and head toward the mother of all corners: Turn 9. Taken flat out in fifth gear, sixth if you are good enough, my onboard camera showed 176 mph on the digital speedometer on one pass. Making the hairs on my neck hairs stand up, I waited for my brake marker, squeezed the lever and started downshifting. This process is as mad as the acceleration that got this started, and I wondered for a moment if this might be the one?

First introduced back at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2004, Kawasaki’s Superbike has been evolving every two years, with a new model in 2006 and again in 2008. This year, however, the new ZX 10R has undergone a complete redesign for the first time since ‘04 and shares little with these previous models, as Kawasaki attempts to unleash the most powerful, sophisticated, intelligent superbike to date.

[singlepic id=112 w=320 h=240 float=left]It’s immediately apparent that the bike has some major styling changes and it certainly looks a lot sharper and leaner. Kawasaki is claiming the bike is more aerodynamic, presumably thanks to the new rounded edges on the fairing. The front air duct is moved lower to allow a smaller frontal area, and the tail section has been on an obvious diet. For those who will be riding on the street, it should be noted that it doesn’t come with a get out of jail free card. There are new line beam headlights, a nine-bulb taillight and LED-type turn signals in the fairing mounted mirrors. Also, the rear turn signals and taillight are attached to the fender for quick removal at track days.

The first thing I noticed about the new ZX 10R, apart from the obvious changes to its looks, was how light it felt. Sitting on the presentation model after the press conference, I was shocked when moving the bike from side to side. I have a CBR1000RR on test, and compared to the Honda, I wondered if the Kawasaki had some parts missing. Jumping in the saddle for my first session at Road Atlanta the following morning, the sensation was exactly the same, and a quick check of the specification sheet shows a weigh reduction of 22 pounds this year. This gives the Kawasaki a claimed weight of 436.6 pounds, which is very similar to the Honda, but it’s incredible how different the bike feels.

Starting with an all-new aluminum-alloy twin-spar frame, the weight bias has been shifted forward by reducing the rake angle 0.5 degrees and increasing the wheelbase by 10mm. The new design has a more direct route from the swingarm pivot to the steering head, and torsional rigidity has been increased by 7.4 per cent. Apparently this gives better rider feedback with increased cornering stability. At track day speeds, I’ve never really experienced problems on previous models, but talking[singlepic id=109 w=320 h=240 float=right] with the Japanese engineers I learned the new bike is significantly quicker around Kawasaki’s Autopolis test track than last year’s model. The chassis itself is now made from fewer pieces with less weld joints, and pivot area rigidity has been reduced. This allows the swingarm more flex for better corning, and this has been both lengthened and strengthened this year, while still managing to lose some weight. One of the benefits of this longer swingarm is the ability to alter the wheelbase for track use by up to 16mm. This can only be done with a race system installed, as the exhaust pre-chamber has to be removed.

Kawasaki has also changed the suspension this year. A Showa Big Piston Fork (BPF) is now used. It’s still an inverted 43mm unit, but no longer uses a cartridge inside the fork legs. This reduces the number of internal parts used and therefore weight is reduced. With the ability to use a much larger main piston, damping pressure is also reduced, while the force remains the same. Compression and rebound damping changes are made at the top of the fork, while preload adjustment is made at the bottom. One of the biggest benefits is “enhanced composure under braking.” I’m not sure if I could directly feel this, but did notice every time I approached turn 10A after braking from extremely high speed, it felt I could have left it later.[singlepic id=119 w=320 h=240 float=none]

The rear shock and linkage are now placed above the swingarm, which frees up space for the exhaust pre-chamber. It also allows the shock’s top link to be mounted further from the swingarm pivot, which improves frame rigidity and chassis balance. Featuring a piggyback reservoir, it has both high and low speed compression damping as well as the usual rebound damping and preload adjustment. Another benefit of its position is reduced heat from the exhaust system. The only changes I made to the rear shock were to add some preload to help keep the front end more connected with the floor under hard acceleration, and the changes we made greatly improved the ride.

Riding a bike of this nature and keeping the front end on the track wil be a problem to some degree, so you’ll be pleased to learn an Ohlins race-spec steering damper is used. Often lofting the front end around the track, it greatly helped my confidence how quickly any headshake was dealt with and there was little drama when the front wheel reconnected with terra firma.

Visually the brakes look the same this year, but there are some subtle changes to improve their performance. Coming bolted to new 3-spoke wheels, which are listed as 11 ounces lighter, the 310mm waver rotors still have four piston Tokico radial-mount calipers grabbing them and they now have four individual 30mm pistons. The previous model used pairs of 32mm and 30mm pistons. How this affects things I’m not sure, but I do like the initial bite and feel at the lever during trail braking. There are no complaints about overall stopping performance either, as it’s more than I’ll ever need. Rear brake remained unused during our day, but for those interested, it’s a single 220mm waver rotor with a lightweight single-piston caliper. None of the bikes we tested had ABS, but this will be an option by the time the bikes are available for purchase.

One of the big questions is the new ZX 10R’s power output. With BMW raising the bar in liter bike horsepower levels, expect the Kawasaki to be at the same level around 180 plus horsepower at the crankshaft. European models are closer to the magic 200 number, and a version of the bike with a full exhaust system and race ECU we rode, produced this sort of horsepower. Whatever this turns out to be, the Kawasaki is actually producing, it is wicked quick and has more than enough power for most of us mere mortals.

The engine is completely new for 2011 and designed so that this power is accessible across the rev range. During the test, as much as the phenomenal chassis package, first class brakes and highly sophisticated electronics package dominated most of our off track conversation, it’s the way the Kawasaki puts power to the ground that is most impressive. During a stint on the Yamaha R1 at Road Atlanta, to get my best lap times I changed from the full power mode as the throttle was just too sensitive in the tighter corners. Not so on the ZX 10R, with the predictable power delivery it was easier to ride. Talking with Kawasaki’s tuner extraordinaire, Joey Lombardo, it was obvious from the glint in his eye this is something he is really pleased about from the new ten.

Starting at the top of the motor, new chromoly steel camshafts open and close the four valves per cylinder.  These were previously made of cast iron, so presumably they are lighter as well as having less friction. Intake valves are larger, while the exhaust valves remain the same and tappet sizes follow suit. These have been redesigned to work with the higher lift cams and have a smoother surface this year and increased oil retention. All of this intense attention to detail is mind boggling to me, and amazing how much work and effort is needed these days to extract more power from production engines. Therefore it’s no surprise that the intake and exhaust ports have been redesigned to increase the volume and to reduce engine braking.

Continuing on this fastidious diet, the pistons have lost 3.5mm from the bottom of the piston skirt, and 0.14 ounces in weight, as Kawasaki’s engineers determined it served no purpose, other than increase engine temperature. They even reduced the width of the piston rings, the oil ring now 0.3mm shorter to reduce weight. With the new engine red lining at 14,500 rpm, compared to last year’s 13,000 rpm, less reciprocating mass screaming up and down is very important. These lighter piston rings have lower tension as the cylinders are bored with a dummy cylinder head in place, which makes for a more precision fit. Compression ratio is now 13:1. The connecting rods and crankshaft have been strengthened to deal with the higher loads, and there is a new secondary balancer that allows lighter handlebar weights thanks to less vibration.

The crankshaft is located higher with the input shaft now located above the output for improved mass centralization. The way the bike feels and how fast it transitions from side to side through the chicane at the top off the hill after turn two, shows Kawasaki has done a fantastic job with this. It still puts power to the rear wheel through a six-speed transmission, but this baby is now a cassette style that can be changed without draining the oil. For racing purposes, there are seven different gear configurations to choose from.

With more air making it to the air box through the newly positioned air intake duct, it\ has been increased to 2.4 gallons and the surface of the air filter increased by 48 % for better breathing. Further weight has been shaved with a smaller fuel injection ECU, which is now located inside the air box to help with mass centralization. With a massive 2.2 ounces being saved, I would think visiting the potty before getting on the bike might help more, but I guess it all adds up. There is a bank of new 47mm Keihin TTK47 throttle bodies with larger oval sub-throttle valves. Twelve hole injectors spray fuel evenly and it’s no surprise to learn these injectors have lost some weight also.

Once the mixture of fuel and air is burned, it passes through a new three-piece exhaust system. After learning about all the ounces lost here and there, this is like a biggest loser contestant dropping 2.6 pounds. Made with hydro-formed titanium headers, these pipes connect to a large pre chamber under the bike as part of the mass centralization program. This allows the ZX 10R to use a smaller muffler, and you can remove this pre chamber and fit a race exhaust without the need to change the headers.

While it’s obvious Kawasaki has put a massive amount of development into every area of the new ZX 10R, the electronics package the bike comes with has been creating the most buzz. Calling this all-new traction control system S-KTRC (Sport Kawasaki Traction Control) this highly advance package has been developed in Moto GP racing. It has three modes you can choose from, as well as the ability to disable the system completely. For my first session, I put it in TC3 and worked through to TC1. The system can be disabled if you wish, and unlike the BMW S1000RR, you don’t have to go under the seat and plug stuff in to do this.

What was interesting to me is technology might be marching ahead at high speed, but there’s no software to download into the brain to immediately accept this fact. Telling myself the wheelie control wouldn’t allow the bike to flip over backwards, I spent the first sessions testing the system ans trying to make myself keep the throttle wide open during wheelies. This just didn’t compute in my aging brain, and it was some sage advice from Kawasaki’s Jeff Herzog that fixed the problem. “Just ride it like a normal bike without traction control and electronic devices and let them do their stuff.”

Back out on the track in full power mode, with the traction control set on position one, it suddenly all made sense. Riding the way I always do, my laps times fell and my comfort levels rose. Jeff said that due to the predictive nature of the traction control, it’s hard to feel it. “Trust me, it’s working” he told me, after following me for a few laps while filming some video. I can’t say I could feel it, but as the day wore on my drive off the corners was way stronger without any spinning or drama, so it was certainly doing its thing.

The new system reads your throttle inputs and makes predictions accordingly. Rather than wait for the rear wheel to spin and cut power, multiple sensors read gear position, engine acceleration rate, wheel speed and amount of tire slippage to predict traction loss. Some wheel slippage is good, so the system reacts quickly and smoothly reducing power at these moments to ensure the bike is still making rapid forward progress. The S-KTRC monitors these conditions 200 times per second and adjusts the ignition for a seamless response to whatever situation it is encountering. There is a level meter on the LCD panel, but exiting corners hard on the gas on a bike making close to 200 horsepower my attention was always elsewhere, so I never saw how this worked.

Testing the power modes, the most restrictive setting “L” cuts the Kawasaki’s power to 60%. This would be great for learning a track or in the rain, but it’s no fun when you’ve experienced the bike in full power mode. The middle setting, “M” is a variable mode that cuts power to 75%. It does allow you to have full power on full throttle opening, but it still made the bike feel somewhat strangled to me. Position “F” is full power and the setting I used the majority of the time. With the Kawasaki’s brilliant power delivery and sophisticated traction control, there just seemed no need to use any other settings.

At the end of the day, looking over my lap times with Joey Lombardo, the story showed steady improvement all day and a high degree of consistency. While I didn’t break any lap records, the impressive thing was how easy the new Kawasaki made it to run these times, while being so exciting to ride. It’s such a complete package from the way it flicks into corners, deals with heavy braking, and then allows you to accelerate off the corners knowing the traction control is there to help you. It sounds like an absolute demon when you have it up close to the rev limiter and is my pick of this year’s liter bikes as the easiest and most fun to go fast on.

Priced at $13,799, $14,799 with ABS, the new Kawasaki ZX 10R is available in the Lime Green tested here, or Ebony. It’s a stunning machine to look at, and incredible to ride. With the possibility of 200 horsepower with the addition of an exhaust system and the race ECU, the only question I have left is whether this is the one my grandkids will find in my garage, as it’s hard to imagine a production sport bike better than this new Kawasaki.

Victory Throttles into 2011

Riding through the slot canyons around Gateway, Colorado, with the headlight of a good friend occasionally blinking in my mirrors, I’m once again reminded that I belong to a small tribe, at least when compared the number of people there are in the world who don’t ride. Realizing how incredibly fortunate we are to experience the thrill of a new landscape from the saddle of a motorcycle, I down shift the big V-twin beneath me and dive into the next series of bends. Reacting to the change of pace, my buddy adjusts his speed, as I also realize that the Victory motorcycles we are riding belong to a relatively part of this tribe in the big picture of the motorcycle industry. This makes the large presence and awareness they have already established for themselves since their introduction in 1998 all the more remarkable.
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Having arrived on the scene with their bikes being touted as “the new American motorcycle,” Victoryquickly began winning awards. Their 1999 V 92C took Cycle World’s “Cruiser of the Year,” with numerous awards to follow. Building on this success, “Fuel your passion” is now a new tag line at Victory to accompany the fifteen new models they have on offer in 2011. As we thunder alongside a breathtaking vista of deep river canyons and towering mountains, I’m having no trouble figuring out what it means.

Also, riding through some strange times in the motorcycle world with our current economy, it’s interesting to note the success Victory has been achieving in growing the brand. This is not so surprising, when you realize the Victory Motorcycle Company is headed by Mark Blackwell, the motorcyclist’s motorcyclist. There are few more qualified in our industry, and this is easily recognizable in the quality and versatility of the machinery and choice of machines he oversees. With the fat 250 tire models excluded, the have ridden put a premium on the ride experience, with great handling, braking and strong, useable power allied to superb fuel delivery. Realizing that while I’m not a fan of big tire bikes, many people are, and the Victory models certainly do a much better job than others I’ve ridden with this configuration. American Iron Horse has to be the worst offender, with Suzuki’s M109R coming a close second for honors in the most difficult to ride category.

With fifteen new models to potentially ride in one day, it seemed like a daunting prospect at first to give them a decent evaluation. But with all of the line up sharing the same basic 106 cubic inch, air-cooled V-twin engine, it actually wasn’t such a tough job. Starting with the one bike I know from the Victory line up, the Vision Tour, I learned this, the Cross Roads and the Cross Country actually have what is called the Stage 1 engine package. This gives the touring range engines milder camshafts and a lower maximum peak of 92 horsepower. With 109 lb-ft of torque, it’s man enough for the job, and I’ve made many a happy mile in the seat of a Vision in the past.

For 2011, Victory has made changes to the gearbox to quiet things down. Fourth and sixth gears have been worked over to reduce whine, and drive train lash has also been drastically reduced. After our day of testing, there was too much daylight and incredible scenery left for me to pack it in, so I jumped on a cruiser and headed out to shoot some photos. Paying particular attention to the gear whine, I was surprised how much noise there was and wondered why it wasn’t noticeable during the day. Well, I’ve never been the sharpest tool in the shed, so it took a while for the small, shriveled pea floating around inside the cerebral nut basket to register I was riding last year’s model. Enough said.

Visually there are few noticeable changes to the Vision Tour, which I personally think is one of the coolest looking motorcycles ever made, except new blacked out passenger handholds, redesigned muffler tips and new tubular handlebars. It does come standard with anti lock brakes this year though and will set you back $23,699. If you want something extra special, there is an Arlen Ness version, which is simply stunning to look at and retails for $27,999. As a top of the line luxury cruising motorcycle, the Vision Tour comes with all the bells and whistles, from capacious lockable storage to a fully integrated sound system and more. While I didn’t put any transcontinental type mileage on the new ’11, I did put enough miles on to remind myself why I enjoy this, comfortable, mile-eating motorcycle so much.

The Cross Country is a stylish bagger, with a large full handlebar mounted fairing that comes with a fully integrated audio system like the Vision, an MP3/iPod hook up and optional Satellite radio. It feels instantly lighter and more maneuverable than the Vision, but with a choice of hard bags or soft saddlebags, or the new accessory color-matched trunk you can make it perfect for long haul journeys. Comfortable and smooth, with a 4.8-gallon gas tank and cruise control, the Cross Country is going to easily live up to its name.

Braking is the same as the Vision, with a pair of 300mm dual discs up front using four piston calipers. A single 300mm disc is used in the rear, and unlike the Vision the system is not linked. Settling the bike well into corners, solid and predictable handling is certainly one of the Cross Country’s strong points. While it uses the same frame, forks differ from the Vision’s 46mm conventional units by using the same inverted 43mm units found on the Cross Roads. A single air assisted shock in the rear makes changes for passengers and luggage not only easy, but also as precise as you want to make it. Coming in a choice of three colors: Solid Black, Solid Imperial Blue Metallic and Two-Tone Pearl White and Vogue Silver. The base model is on showroom floors for $17,999. You can, of course, get a highly individualized Cory Ness version for $24,999, which comes with a host of Ness chrome and billet accessories, the cylinders diamond cut, a pair of beautiful sculptured billet wheels, custom suede seat and a Sun Set red custom paint job.

The Cross Roads itself comes standard with cruiser control and no fairing, although you can have the same lockable hard bags or soft saddlebag option as the Cross Country. Part of Victory’s Core Custom Program yhat allows the customer to choose their own color from a choice of Solid Crimson and Solid Black. They can also specify whether they would like the accessory windshield, different handlebars and either the soft or the hard saddlebags. There is the optional color matched lockable trunk from the Vision and Cross Country. This comes on and off the bike in seconds and requires no tools for this operation. Able to hold two full-face helmets with room to spare, it has two speakers for the passenger as well as a comfortable backrest. Added benefits are the high mount tail light, and if you want to accessorize it further, you can add a passenger arm rest kit and pick up a liner and a cargo rack for more luggage carrying capacity. It’s this attention to every detail that is so precise that really impresses me with the whole Victory experience. You can simply set the bike up exactly the way you want it before you ride it away from the dealership. Retail on this baby starts at $14,999 and there is a highly customized Cory Ness version for $24,999.

In the cruiser department, you have a mix of bikes centered on three models: The Vegas, the Kingpin and the Hammer. The Vegas Jackpot is one of the bikes that has a 250 series rear tire and a very skinny 90 profile, 21 inch front tire. Retailing for $18,999, it comes with a cool black and white paint job, with a glamour girl on the side panel. The bike is a real looker, but loses points from me for the rear tire and the very busy digital tachometer. Never settling at any one place, even when I tried to keep the throttle steady, it would need to go if I owned the bike. The engine is a peach though and with the same faultless fueling it has a little extra power thanks to the Freedom 106/6 Stage 2 engine, which gives a total of 97 hp and 113 ft-lb of torque. It also uses the newly revised six-speed transmission and a host of customizing options at time of purchase.

The Hammer and the Hammer S also feature this level of engine tune and the 250 series rear tire. Victory says they are “at the intersection of sporty styling and cruiser muscle” and with twin discs up front, an inverted fork and removable seat cowl, they certainly have some sporting attributes. A performance exhaust is available, as are lower controls, grips and covers. The standard Hammer retails for $17,999 with the S model coming in a little higher at $18,499. There is also the Hammer 8-Ball which is a more base line, blacked out version with less frills for $14,499.

The rest of the Vegas family of cruisers restored Mr. Happy to the saddle as they come with a 180 series rear tire and a cool custom looking skinny 90 series 21-inch tire up front. The best selling motorcycle of the Victory line up, and probably the best known, it’s a distinctive looking bike that works really well over a wide variety of road conditions. Wide pull back handlebars, low seat and custom quality paint give it the right look, and with the basic 8-Ball starting at $12,999, it’s the lowest priced Victory of the bunch. You can spend up to $18,999 for the Zach Ness version, and there are a number of accessories available like performance exhaust, windshields etc, at the time of purchase for all the Vegas line up if needed.

Last but not least, and one of the bikes I put the most miles on during our test, the Victory Kingpin. With the larger fenders, inverted fork and eighteen-inch wheels, it has a distinctly different look to the others in the range. With the best handling package and the same silky smooth engine response, it was my favorite to ride. The seating position is pure cruiser, but not at the expense of any comfort, as the floorboards were nicely placed and the wide bars sat me upright without feeling strained in either direction. Base model 8-Ball starts at $12,999 and the straight Kingpin, with a choice of Solid Crimson and Two Tone Imperial Blue and White, hits $14,999. Clean, quiet and efficient belt drive is used as with all the models here, and like all Victory motorcycles it’s an extremely tight, well thought out package in every respect.

Heading home from Colorado, it’s clear Victory is extremely serious about their motorcycles and how to keep building on their success. The amount of options available for someone purchasing a new machine are bordering on the overwhelming, although I’m sure very exciting as you set about making your new bike just the way you want it. What started out as a confusing prospect, turned into a simple distilled realization that it doesn’t matter which of the new Victory models you choose, you are clearly not going to be disappointed.

Paris Hilton Sponsors Motorcycle Race Team

So, the obvious question is “who cares?”  Spoiled rich brat, (with an incredible looking artificially enhanced rack) is spending some of her daddy’s money on motorcycle racing.  Snooze fest huh?

Well, yes and no.  Paris’s most recent project, a 125cc MotoGP team, is dubbed SuperMartxe VIP by Paris Hilton. Its headquarters are in Barcelona, Spain.    According to the blogsphere, Spanish motorcycle heroes Sergio Gadea and Maverick Vinales form the nucleus of SuperMartxe VIP. Technical surveillance falls to mechanic Rossano Brazzi, who has worked with a number of famous racers like six-time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi.

Truthfully it’s a slow news day and we might have posted something about vintage Harley-Davidson oil leaks if it had a picture like this attached.


California Makes it a little harder on Motorcycle Thieves

home made pig tail used to quickly bypass the ignition switch and steal a motorcycle

California’s noise legislation overshadowed this piece of good legislation for motorcycle owners that begins January 1.

Starting New Year’s Day, a new law authored by a San Diego County assemblyman will enable police to arrest anyone carrying a type of makeshift device used for stealing motorcycles.

The legislation targets so-called “pigtails” – homemade ignitions that can allow a crook to start a motorcycle in as little as 20 seconds.

As of Jan. 1, possessing such a device will be a misdemeanor, and anyone caught with one could get up to six months in jail and be fined $1,000.

About 1,100 motorcycles were stolen in San Diego County in 2009, with insurance claims for the losses averaging $9,000, according to the Regional Auto Theft Task Force.

California has the nation’s highest motorcycle theft rate. In the first 10 months of 2010, more than 5,000 motorcycles were stolen statewide, resulting in roughly $45 million worth of insurance claims.

“Although not everyone in the state rides motorcycles, the cost associated with the theft of sports bikes impacts all of us, since those costs are often passed on to auto policyholders as well,” said Assemblyman Martin Garrick, R-Solana Beach, author of the legislation.

Current law bans the possession of burglar tools such as “slim jims,” shaved keys and bolt cutters, if law enforcement can establish the intent to use them to break into or steal a car, truck or SUV — but not a motorcycle.


When NOBLE Takes Over Your Life

By Scott Cochran, Editor
I was tempted to dig through the morgue where we keep our back issues to see how many times I’ve written an editorial on helmets.

But then I realized this rant isn’t about helmets, it’s more about  pushing back against the “nanny state” that is attacking our personal liberties with legislation designed “for our own good.”

At least that’s the position of the National Transportation Safety Board is taking.

Calling for all 50 states to enact mandatory helmet requirements for motorcycles, Christopher Hart, Vice Chairman of the NTSB (A Federal agency with little or no Congressional oversight) said that motorcycle fatalities have doubled, while total traffic deaths have declined, and that riding a motorcycle without a helmet is a “public health issue.”

I’m throwing a BS flag on that one Mr. Hart.

There’s nothing inherently dangerous to the non-riding public if a motorcyclist opts not to wear protective gear.   It’s not contagious or likely to cause innocent bystanders harm.

However, let me state unequivocally that if you choose to ride without a helmet or protective gear, you are not exercising good common sense.

But, for full disclosure, there have been times when yours truly has ridden without a helmet. I don’t make it a habit, but it happens.

So, it’s not the wearing of the helmet that I oppose, it’s our Federal government (which represents us) using its power to force individual states to usurp personal freedoms, and use taxpayer (our money) funds to accomplish the agenda.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety claims the public pays when motorcyclists go down without helmets. “Only slightly more than half of motorcycle crash victims have private health insurance coverage. For patients without private insurance, a majority of medical costs are paid by the government.”

With the passage of Obama Care, everyone will be covered, but premiums of non-riders will increase to cover motorcycle accident victims.

Can you see the logical conclusion to this agenda?

If your activity causes my health insurance premiums to increase, and the government subsidizes health insurance, then it becomes a “public health issue” and government has an obligation to regulate it, or ban it outright.

What disturbs me the most is not what the NTSB is doing, but the absence of any outrage among civil libertarians over this.

Society, (aka The Government) does not own my body. It does not own my thoughts nor what I generate from my thoughts and actions.

As an adult I am (and rightly so) free to engage in various forms of self-destructive behavior.

I can smoke or drink alcohol to excess. I can eat whatever I want as much as I can afford and refuse to exercise. I do not have to visit a doctor or a dentist. My teeth can rot out and my body fall apart if I so choose.

I can ride horses and climb mountains without the first piece of safety gear. I can operate a chain saw without a minute of safety instruction. I can go for a swim in any river or ocean without having to wear a flotation device, and I don’t have to know how to swim.

I can have casual sex with as many strangers as I like (and risk contracting AIDS) without having to wear protection.

All of these activities are inherently dangerous to my personal health, so what’s different about riding a motorcycle without a helmet?

Not much, if you think about it.

The sad fact is that If we remain complacent, and do not defend personal liberty, no matter if it affects us or not, most of what active, fun loving adults enjoy will be banned as “too dangerous” by some new alphabet nanny agency. Most likely the National Organization for Boosting Life Expectancy or NOBLE in gov speak.

One day future generations will look back and wonder how the world survived with idiots smoking in public, sweet tea, fried food and motorcycle riders who rode without ballistic armor, airbags and full face helmets.

Sadly, they’ll never know what they missed.

Ride safe and always take the road less traveled.