Tim Luckhurst: We may be bald, fat and posh, but we're not morons

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The Independent Online

The Motorcycle Action Group has fallen into a trap. It is true that Britain is home to a growing phalanx of born-again bikers, and that a few of us lack the judgement to ride a carousel.

But MAG president Ian Mutch adding his voice to the growing chorus of criticism levelled at us has increased the risk that new, restrictive legislation will be imposed to the detriment of all motorcyclists.

It is easy to understand why MAG's membership harbour doubts about the new forty-something brigade. Many of us are weekend bikers who have never considered using our bikes as economical means of daily transport. A few of us do squeeze, inelegantly, into expensive racing leathers and ride at ludicrous speed down roads in Yorkshire and the Highlands.

Given that our reaction times have receded almost as fast as our hairlines, it is hardly surprising that some do come to unfortunate ends. But the minority who still believe they can emulate Giacomo Agostini is tiny, even if they do read magazines that nurture their fantasies.

Most born-again bikers are, like me, people who gave up riding only because the demands of jobs and families obliged us to use cars. Affluence has given us the chance to return to a hobby we love. We have been horrified to discover the morass of regulation and restriction that has been imposed on motorcyclists in the intervening years. Since I first rode a motorbike at the age of 17 in 1980, teenagers have been forced off real motorbikes and on to buzzing, impotent things that lack the tyres and acceleration to escape danger.

The reason that modern bigotry is not directed at young motorcyclists is that there are too few of them to be worth stigmatising.

The delusion that motorcyclists' vulnerability to bad driving by others is the biker's own fault has been used to make a series of very bad laws.

MAG should understand what those who launched the attack on middle-aged men riding sports bikes really believe.

These rural luvvies object to all motorcyclists. They think we frighten tourists and lower the tone. MAG should recognise their threat. Safety is their excuse for demanding more of the type of restrictions that have already crushed the joy out of riding a motorbike on British roads.

Any biker who grants credence to the exaggerations of the new anti-motorcycling lobby is a fool. Bikers have a common enemy. It is over-regulation encouraged by the unique British prejudice that uses the vulnerability of two-wheeled travel as a weapon against those who ride motorbikes.

By pretending otherwise, MAG is coming perilously close to creating a replica of the prejudice which once saw all motorcyclists lumped together as "ton-up boys" and Hell's Angels.

We born-again bikers may be fat, bald and posh but we are motorcyclists too. Most of us just want to cruise along with the wind in our face. Very few of us are morons and those that are will be dealt with by natural selection.

As any experienced biker knows that progress has a proven capacity to weed out people who are not safe on two wheels.