This page is loosely maintained by our Phantom FAQmeister. Any comments on taste in general, complaints of poor taste, lack of taste or too salty or other requests, are too bad as he ain't a gonna listen to you. All of the answers here have been carefully researched and thoughtfully developed. If there occasionally appear to be disconnects between the question and the answer, the probable source is that we had good answers that just didn't have decent questions so we had to improvise. Also we did a couple of cut and pastes that were disconnected and we are still debating their proper realignment. Nonetheless, most of what is here is true at least some of the time. Some is true darn near always. And the rest you really don't want to know about. In fact, you might be better off just clicking the [Top] link above and getting out of here early.
WARNING: There might be a serious question somewhere among the following.
Webmaster note: The Phantom FAQmeister, for reasons that will soon become obvious, desires to remain anonymous. It has to do with an executive board decision that stated "....in the absence of a substantial body of real questions from history, our best strategy would be to brainstorm a bunch of questions and then assign answer-writing [of the FAQ] to the least qualified or other appropriate individual." As reading on will validate for you, the candidate selection was consistent with the board's intent. His/her identity obviously has to be concealed for the good of all. (No, this is not the webmaster in drag.)
FAQ Table of Contents
Our Collective Wisdom (condensed edition)
Q1. Isn't the club mostly just a bunch of geezers who spend all their time lugging from one diner to another to drink coffee?
A1. Yes, except for the women, punks, squids, campers, dual-sport riders, high-mileage tourers, commuters, rally trash, cops, racers, thirty-somethings, collectors, trials riders, wrenches, gen-Xers, canyon carvers and dudes. (Did we leave anybody out?)
Q2. Do you have to ride a BMW to be a member?
A2. Yes, but any vehicle with two or three wheels and an engine over 90ccs is considered an honorary BMW for purposes of fulfilling this requirement.
Q3. Is it true that club officers put Harleys down all the time?
A3. No, club officers have nothing against Harleys. Some of them have even owned Harleys. Many members in good standing own, or have owned, Harleys. Some have even ridden them. Certain club officers, however, have had the poor taste to notice that jerks that buy Harleys continue to be jerks. Some cool folks ride Harleys, but owning a Harley won't make you cool, nor will it necessarily make you a rider.
Q4. Is there a difference between being a motorcycle Owner and being a motorcycle Rider?
A4. All the difference in the world.
Q5. Is RCB affiliated with any other BMW clubs?
A5. Yes, we're not picky; if they will admit to sharing the same interest, we're cool with them. Beyond that we are a chartered Chapter (#210) of the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America (BMW MOA) and chartered Chapter (#104) of the BMW Riders Association (BMW RA).
Q6. Are any RCB members also members of other clubs?
A6. Yes. And in no particular order, we're members of Airheads, NorCal, Central Cal, RA, MOA, AMA, Mickey Mouse Club, Price Club, Kiwanis and other esteemed organizations.
Q7. Are there any requirements for attendance at club events before joining?
A7. No, you must have mistaken us for NorCal BMW.
Q8. Are there any requirements for attendance at club events after joining?
A8. The only requirement for attendance at club events is that members should attend events if they hope to have a good time and not otherwise.
Q9. Where do all the profits go?
A9. [We'll get back to you on that when we stop laughing.]
Q10. Do you have an annual rally?
A10. Yes, no, and sorta. We don't run any major events like NorCal's 49er Rally, but some time ago we helped out with Central Cal's Fall Beemer Bash. We do hold numerous events throughout the year, including monthly campouts (most riding season months), day rides, picnics, and safety training. Some of us also snatch donuts every Saturday after breakfast.
Q11. What about Breakfast?
A11. OK, I'll have the Hickory Skillet, eggs over easy, coffee. Try to arrive somewhere between 7 and 8 am any Saturday for the weekly breakfast at Susie's Country Oaks Cafe, in Roseville at 1000 Melody Lane, just west of Riverside. Once a month, the first Saturday of the month, the weekly breakfast turns into our monthly club meeting.
Q12. What are the benefits of membership in RCB?
A12. Health Plan, Dental, Vision, 12 paid holidays, three weeks annual vacation, oodles of sick leave, free parking and day care. Some restrictions apply. (Restriction #1: None of the above are offered to club members or officers.)
Q13. What is the club's position on helmet laws?
A13. The club's position is we're a riding club, not an advocacy group; check out AMA or ABATE of California if you are looking for representation in the corridors of power. My position is your choice of helmet is a pretty good indicator of how highly you value your mental acuity. Under current California law, every rider has the right to verbally proclaim to the world that "My brain is worth all the protection a yarmulke can offer." (Technical note: this word processor, unlike me, actually knew how to spell yarmulke.) But I fully support the rider's First Amendment Right to also proclaim "My brain is not even worth the protection a yarmulke can offer." There are quite a few other, uglier threats to motorcycling than helmet laws.
Q14. What are the rules for group riding?
A14. Rather than "rules" we have a sort of evolved collective wisdom that seems to work well to keep us from losing too many people on rides. Mostly it's common sense, but there are things you don't always think about that are worth considering. Maintain safe spacing and ride your own ride. There are no bonus points for arriving at a destination before the Ride Leader.
Q15. How fast do groups typically ride?
A15. Posted speed limits are observed at all times (as in, "By golly, there's another speed limit signpost. I'd better be sure not to run into it - Some of those suckers are anchored pretty well in the ground"). There is no pressure to ride like anybody else. So it is possible some people might be wicking it up a little more than others, particularly in the twisty parts. As a group we all respect the rider who knows his/her skill level and rides accordingly. "Riding your own ride" is mandatory.
Q16. What kind of BMWs do members ride?
A16. We have the whole variety pack: from /5s to K1300GTs, and everything in between: airheads, oilheads, flying bricks, Funduros - tourers, sport tourers, dual-sports, bare-ass boxers, and even (gasp) cruisers. Actually, there might be some /2s hidden away somewhere, but we don't see them often anymore. (If the reader is not sure what all these terms mean, come to breakfast some Saturday, ask some questions and maybe, just maybe, you'll be lucky enough for somebody to bore you to tears with techno-babble. But you'll have to bring it on yourself by asking for it.) We also see members on Ducatis, KTMs, Hondas, Harleys, BSAs, Triumphs, Buells, Kawasakis, (and probably on Yamahas and Suzukis too, I just don't remember seeing any of these lately). It is always interesting to see what people show up riding on a Saturday morning or Wednesday night.
Q17. So what is the deal with Wednesday nights?
A17. Technically, the Wednesday night supper run is not a club event. it is organized (a gross overstatement) by a few club members to go for an evening ride to some not-too-distant dinner destinations. See the RCB Rides and Destination Forum for details.
Q18. What kinds of occupations are represented among the members?
A18. Well, most of us hold lucrative senior positions in criminal syndicates specializing in the manufacture, distribution, packaging and sale of methamphetamines, but quite a few of us moonlight as business owners, nurses, programmer/developers, bureaucrats, technicians, active-duty military, architects, middle-management scum, doctors, salesmen, peace officers or even lawyers. We proudly count many hard-core unemployed among our members, but some of them masquerade as "retirees" or "consultants." Nobody has admitted to being a politician in my hearing lately, but we'd take 'em if they wanted to ride with us. (Right, gang?)
Q19. Is the club prejudiced against people who prefer motels to tent camping?
A19. No, most of us are old enough or busted up enough to understand the appeal of sleeping in beds. On the other hand, some of us can't resist jerking the chains of those who think sleeping in a state park or KOA is an extreme sport. (Actually, now that I think of it, there are vague recollections of some pretty extreme in-tent sports when I was much younger, a-loaf-of-bread-a-jug-of-wine-and-thou kind of things. We'll just quietly leave it at that.)
Q20. How do you decide what is the right kind of jacket or riding suit to wear?
A20. Your best bet is to talk to riders who do the kind of riding you want to do mostly. Come to breakfast some time (any Saturday morning) or a club ride and see what people are wearing. If anybody is going to try to sell you on a type of clothing, I guarantee he/she will be pushing something in the synthetic family.
Q21. Aren't leathers really better?
A21. Better than what? And no, because most of us are more or less four-season, more or less touring riders. That means we ride when it's cold, when it's hot, when it's wet (or when all of these happen in succession on the same trip). Leather tends to lose on at least two of those fronts. Leather is wonderful stuff - It's perfect for track racing (when comfort doesn't mean anything) and for rides on dry days in the spring and fall, to say nothing of impressing [insert slang term for whatever you want to impress].
Q22. Which is better -- K-bike, Oilhead or Airhead?
A22. I thought I was ready to buy a BMW and then one guy said I really should get an airhead, then another said I was crazy to buy an antique design and should go for the modern K-bike 4-cylinder. Just about when I was ready to plop my money down, another friend piped up that if I didn't go for an R1200 I was missing out. What should I do? How do you decide? I can only afford one bike.
Ride them all. Visualize what you are really going to do with the machine. Follow your heart and don't be swayed by people who feel some kind of need to make you do what they did, and thus to justify themselves. If you are a good wrench, you might get a lot of satisfaction from doing all your own work on an Airhead. If you like the power, feel and road-handling engineering of an Oilhead (R1200, etc.), go for that. If you like the K-bike performance and feel over the twins, particularly if you are leaning toward luxo-touring, there you go. If anybody says you are crazy to buy a particular type of machine, he/she is an ass, and your most intelligent course of action is simply to walk away. (There is one exception to this world-class rule of thumb - If somebody says you'd be crazy to buy what he/she has, find out exactly why. That advice might be useful.) In the G/S crowd, I see some guys getting off on R1200GS's and then there is the R100GS crowd that apparently could well afford an upgrade, but don't seem to do that. Why? If you like what you have, why jack around?
Alternately, you might genuinely prefer the simpler technology of the R100GS. You might feel that the R1200GS is too goddamned heavy to be taken seriously offroad. Maybe half your innumerable accessories wouldn't be compatible with the newer machine. You might be able to afford an upgrade mainly by knowing better than to covet all the latest gadgets. Some people actually believe in using it up before throwing it away (or even before trading it in).
Q23. Why don't you guys sponsor a Rally? You have to be the only club in the universe without one. Are your members "Rally-challenged"?
A23. Why don't *you* sponsor a Rally? It's a lot of work. The mission, charter and purpose of RCB is to enjoy riding, not to prove organizational skills or flog its members' time and energy. And if we are the only club in the universe without one, as you suggest, that is sufficient reason by itself. It would be a pathetic little universe with so little variety as to be limited to cookie-cutter club calendars.
Q24. I am really interested in international travel, adventures by motorcycle, long trips, etc. Are there any others in the club that have that interest? Any trips planned?
A24. There are folks in the club who've ridden in Mexico, Central America, New Zealand, and Europe, but there is no upcoming gig actively in discussion at the moment. Some members have gobs of experience riding abroad, thanks to military duty. Occasionally we've had members who have left the country rather abruptly and haven't returned as of yet - We've never known exactly why. Anyone?
Q25. How do I know when it is time to replace a tire?
A25. OK, kids, it's time for a quiz. Which do you think is the best time to replace a tire?
The correct answer is: F. When I am preparing for the inspection at Track Day. BEEP! Thank you for playing. Vanna has some nice parting gifts for you!
No, really, what are the visible signs a tire has had it? Oh, you really want to know when you should replace the tire? There is a range of opinion as to the critical signs a tire needs to be replaced. Let's look at some popular trigger events:
Q26. Are cell phone talkers trying to get you? Or, why do so many drivers (and absolutely every female driver under 30) find it necessary to talk on the mobile phone while pulling away from the curb? Why can't they finish the bleeping call before getting in motion?
A26. The three most common and deadly delusions in contemporary life are that a) I can multi-task without sacrificing performance, b) my time is precious because I am so busy, and c) I need to be in touch with somebody at all times or cease to exist as a social entity. Put these fundamentally absurd notions together, and you can be sure it would never occur to a lot of people not to use the phone while pulling out into traffic. Why these bizarre delusions afflict young women more than others is hard to explain. My guess is that girls are just a little ahead on the cultural-garbage learning curve, and within a generation or two every driver will be as distracted and ungrounded as the Heathers, Ashleys, and Britneys. As always, assume that everyone out there "sharing" the road is drunk or deranged, and you'll be right most of the time.
Q27. How far over the posted speed limit can I "safely" go?
A27. The traditional rule of thumb "two-thirds the posted speed times pi over the square root of 2" is no longer recommended (76% of licensed riders and 98.8% of unlicensed riders can't solve this anymore even with a calculator). The contemporary rule of thumb, as everybody now knows, is 10. Unfortunately, nobody knows if this means 10 percent, 10 MPH or maybe 10 KPH. For safety and simplicity, we recommend you use the average of these values, to the nearest three decimals.
Here is an example:Posted limit: 65. Speedo error: 8% high. Using the average, you can probably avoid a ticket going 78.877 on the speedo. Simple, right?
Disclaimer: Doing long division problems in your head while riding has been shown to be equivalent to a BAC of about 0.08, so what this means in reality is that you will probably be pulled over on suspicion of DUI, rather than just for speeding. Using an abacus while riding is also not recommended (wind can introduce calculation errors).
PS: Police are not obligated to obey rules of thumb. Besides, randomly variable negative reinforcement is a great way to derange target subjects.
Q28. Do radar detectors really work?
A28. Yes, they really work at telling the officer you had the intention and forethought of breaking the law and avoiding detection - A sure way to make an impression on him or her. Radar detectors are also somewhat effective against old Barney trolling while dozing, assuming you cut the throttle faster than he wakes up. As a means of protecting yourself against an alert, aware, trained officer using the radar for verification? Not a chance.
Q29. Is it OK to use the "motorcycle passing lane?"
A29. Traffic regulations of approximately zero states recognize the existence of the motorcycle passing lane. For some silly reason, every state and province persists in understanding the double yellow line to mean no-pass for everybody. Very retro.
Q30. How far over the suggested speed (shown on yellow signs) can I go through turns?
A30. Assuming a) there are no obstructions past your line of sight, such as critters, cages driven 10 miles below the limit by guys wearing hats, flaming wrecks, etc., b) there are no road-traction factors like oil slicks, cow flops, gravel, edge traps, and such in the turn, and c) you have superb, track-tested, high-speed riding skills, then you should have no trouble going fast enough into turns to discover that at least one of your assumptions is false.
Q31. What should I be doing about the terrorist threat?
A31. As concerned citizens, we riders need to take measures to minimize the impact of global terrorism. What lends real reach to terrorists is not their action, but our fear. Our fearful reactions to threat, real or imagined, are far more crippling than any potential deeds of the bad guys. Thus, it is our duty as citizens (as opposed, say, to CIA operatives) not to react at all, to keep on doing what we would have done. Which, in our case as riders, is ride! So quit moping over the stupid, color-coded Homeland Security Advisory System ("Today, we want you to have elevated anxiety, but maybe tomorrow it will be guarded, or high, or severe, for reasons only we know and can't tell you." Talk about random negative reinforcement conditioning!) and get out there and ride.
Yes, you. Yes, now. If you are not riding your motorcycle (and if you were, you would not be reading this), you are aiding and abetting Osama Bin Laden and his plan to obliterate Western Civilization. What are you waiting for? Get out on the road and shame the Devil. Besides, where are they more likely to strike? Your cubicle at MegaGlobal Corp headquarters on the 29th floor of the Acme Building or a Forest Service road 19 miles northwest of Dogpatch Junction? Spread out, people!
Q32. What is there to do at motorcycle rallies?
A32. The rally is an pretext for motion, my son, not a destination. It is the calm at the center of the whirlwind, or at least it would be if they would turn down the amplifier blasting Bob Seger at the Beer Tent a little. The [fill-in-the-blank] County Fairgrounds is not a freaking theme park What did you expect, anyway? Be grateful for a few square meters to pitch your tent and someplace else to return the beer you drank. BTW, the basic, fair-dinkum answer to the question is - Spend money freely and talk rubbish loudly.
Q33. Why do so many people ride aimlessly around the rally grounds without a helmet?
A33. Other than because there is not all that much else to do (see the previous FAQ) , the answer is that they either want to get cool or look cool. They're doomed in either case.
Q34. Which Harley is the best starter bike for me?
A34. This depends on whether you actually intend to ride it, or just park it in your garage and push it out on weekends as driveway art. If the latter, follow your heart and buy the model that will make you think you look really cool. If the former, follow some common sense and delay the Harley purchase until you have a few thousand miles of riding behind you, preferably on something a few hundred pounds lighter.
Q35. Is it true motorcycle riding is good for the soul?
A35. True! Have you ever seen a motorcycle in front of a shrink's office?
Q36. What would Jesus ride?
A36. Probably a VeloSolex. What, you thought I was going to suggest your 800-lb. 'Wing" or perhaps a cream-colored Heritage Springer Softtail - You're on pretty thin ice there, theologically speaking. Of course, so is the question. But that doesn't seem to stop anyone anymore, and the Phantom FAQmeister doesn't want to be found deficient in gratuitous blasphemy compared to his fellow mullahs or elected officials.