Addicted to novelty since 2001

Who’s the Bigger Asshat, the Harley Rider or the Hummer Driver?

This is one of those bitchy, bloggy posts that I try not to write. But heck, I’ll make an exception.

I’ve started listening to a lot of audio books. Because Lord knows that I don’t want to be alone with my thoughts, I listen to my iPod whenever I leave my apartment on foot.

As it turns out, you have to listen a lot more carefully to the spoken word than you do to music. If you miss five or ten seconds of the bridge of, say, Madonna’s “Holiday”, it’s no great loss.

Miss ten seconds of Aristotle’s Poetics, on the other hand, and you’re hosed.

As such, I’ve become more sensitive to urban noise. Harley Davidson motorcycles are among the worst perpetrators. I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t realize until a few years ago (I think somebody pointed it out on this site) that they don’t have to make that much noise. The Harley rider is intentionally making a spectacle (and thus an asshole) of himself.

It’s a little ironic that Harleys are associated with being tough and thuggish, when really they scream “please, everybody, look at me! I’m desperate to be the centre of attention!” When I see Harley Davidsons on the weekend, I always assume that the drivers are, in fact, accountants and lawyers playing their own peculiar and expensive game of dress-up. It’s really only another small step to full-on drag.

I was walking home tonight, and a Hummer drove passed, followed soon after by a Harley. It made me wonder, who’s worse? On the one hand, the Hummer is an eyesore, occupies an absurd amount of road, and consumes gasoline like an F-18. On the other hand, the Harley fractures eardrums for several city blocks.

Who do you think is the bigger asshat? And, incidentally, does “Holiday” actually have a bridge?

UPDATE: A commenter points to a couple of interesting articles on ‘the noise level saves lives’ issue: “Loud Pipes Save Lives” or The Madness Behind the Myth and Loud Pipes MAY Save Lives – Another View. Here’s a quote that makes my point better than I can, apparently from a motorcycling enthusiast:

I have to wonder how many others, like myself, really enjoy hearing those cars with the mega-bass audio systems turned up so loud that our stomachs churn or the sound of trash trucks emptying the dumpster at 6 in the morning? Noise pollution effects everyone. Saying “I’m just doing my thing” just doesn’t cut it, not when “doing your thing” violates others right to peace and quiet, there is no right to make excessive noise! And what about the image that excessively loud motorcycles project? When the actions of others have a negative impact on my rights to enjoy motorcycling, that gets my goat up and it should get yours up too.

And a quote from the second, which is a reply on the other side of the argument:

. A policeman’s widow says her motorcycle cop husband talked about how the use of lights and sirens did not stop people from “missing” him. How would he know if the sirens worked – what did he see (or not see)? Many riders with loud pipes can recall instances where drivers made “near misses”. But all this does not refute the idea that loud pipes may have averted accidents. What do you measure or see when a driver does NOT make a lane change, or NOT pull out from a driveway in traffic, or NOT open a door into a rider and his ride — because he/she heard loud pipes? We cannot measure in these cases what does NOT happen – but this does not change the reality that it did NOT happen.

147 Responses to “Who’s the Bigger Asshat, the Harley Rider or the Hummer Driver?”

  1. Screaming Eagle

    My Harley is LOUD!!!

    So in the morning I push the 700lb FXSTC Softail Custom uphill from my alley to the street, around the corner, then coast downhill. Then I fire it up.

    During the day, off residential streets, I indulge. It’s music to my ears. And in my experience, I can get a driver’s attention by blipping the throttle.

    I track my fuel consumption religiously. 25 mpg city, 50 mpg highway. My total average is 33.9 mpg.

    I can also attest to the “babe magnet” factor. I’ve been riding for over a decade on all sorts of bikes. Didn’t buy the Harley for attention; I just outgrew the Honda sportbike and wanted something to cruise on. I gave over 20 girls a ride in the first month, which is probably more than asked me on all my other bikes combined. I have since lost track. It really is a good ice breaker.

    And by the way, an F-18 consumes no gasoline. (probably JP-5)

  2. bubba.

    lordy screamin…. did the girls know fore hand that there was a “customary charge” for Harley rides???????

    and nemo or nimrod….before “peggin” some ride with a can of soup not the smartest thing to try.

  3. bubba.

    oooooooooooo and Dave… you meet the nicest folks on honda’s …. you two may have hit it off real well and moved in together then one of you woulda needed a muffler for your discharge chute………

  4. Brad

    All the Harley haters are shitheads that drive the BMWs and cut everybody off car or bike because there to busy on thier cellphones

  5. Brad

    Go hug some trees and leave me and my bike alone.

  6. knucklehead

    Your rebuttals to the people who insult you in thier comments comes off as “I just want to understand you”. Bullshit – your post insults Harley riders and Hummer drivers from the title on. Who’s the bigger asshat? You are. I spent less time picking out the drag pipes on my chopper than you did on the lame assed color scheme on this nerd show you call a blog. The next time I see some pathetic sack walking down the street listening to an audiobook on his iPod I’ll be sure to tweak the throttle a bit and make him jump. ROFLMAOWTF!!?1!

  7. loud pipes

    Darren, I’m willing to bet you and your boyfriend have never even ridden a motorcyle before. You should give it a try. Go buy yourselves a pink electric motor scooter to ride to your girly man bar on. Be sure its electric so it won’t make any noise or polute the air. And cadillac, don’t apologize to “twinkle toe darren”. He deserves what you said because he is obviously an uninformed idiot. Darren if you don’t understand the motorcyle culture don’t insult the good warm hearted people who ride them with your “asshat” comments. You made a good word for yourself. And that’s “asshat” Its people like you that need to get out of this country because it is a free country and you obviously don’t know anything about freedom. Get your head out of the gutter “twinkle toes”. This is America and not the country that you and your boyfriend came from which is probably a communist one. You are a low life asshole and thats all I have to say. Have fun on your pink electric scooter with your boyfriend. Harley riders are much better people than you could ever even dream to be.

  8. John

    The article was in Nature (not Time) and the exact quote was: “A motorcycle with a broken silencer crossing Paris in the early hours can wake up a quarter of a million people.” with no reference to an actual assessment.

  9. HatetheHarleyasshats

    F*** the asshat Harley riders that are taking over Milwaukee this weekend like a bunch of roaches!!!! I dare you to think that you and your drag queen fat ass girlfriend/boyfriend/wife who is hanging their fat ass off the back of their bike to cut me off or think you have the right of way, because I will put you under my car. Harley riders go home!!! Freedom of speech that asshats!!!

  10. lovetheharleyasshats

    Dang, You aren’t in a bad mood are you HatetheHarleyasshats. What did bikers do to you to make you so upset with them. They are good people. When you see a thousand roring harleys riding down the road that is usually a charity ride to raise money for cancer patients and disabled children in need. You probably think they are a bunch of people that are up to no good but your wrong. They are far from “roaches” and that’s pretty low down to say you would put them under your car when they are probably on there way to save a life by participating in that charity event, but what you said doesn’t suprise me because you are obviously an illiterate individual. What is “Freedom of speech that asshats”. If you can’t write you more than likely are too stupid to ride a bike so don’t talk shit about them in this blog. Go out there and say that to their face you coward. You won’t like the outcome if you live to see it. Get your gay lover Darren to help you with your grammar also. And don’t be so jealous just because your dumbass can’t ride a bike gay boy. And to all you harley riders. Let freedom reign and keep them pipes loud to make gay shitheads like the one above live a short stressed out life!

  11. Dave in Vegas

    “I think the biggest fucking asshats are the wannabee fast and the furious street racers listening to their ground pounding stereos talking on cell phones”

    I agree 100%. The solution is to get yourself a big rock and throw it at them when they drive by. Just tell them you were trying to get their attention. =)

  12. Iain

    You are playing an old, old game here. Pick a divisive issue, point at the perpetrators as suffering from penis-envy, get those hits, and build a constituency. The newspapers are full of “opinion” columnists (S. Keen, Edmonton Journal) who share these substandard ethics. Did you actually put any effort into this or did you just fiddle with sentence structure in a relatively lazy attempt to mask your plagiarism?

    Yes, I ride a Harley-Davidson. I ride a BMW and a Husqvarna as well. All are un-modified, all are maintained, all are quiet, and all are Transport Canada approved.

    No, I am most assuredly not playing a “peculiar and expensive game of dress-up” as you mistakenly believe. What I’m doing is living my life and letting you live yours. I won’t make the mistake of trying to justify my legal behavior to you or anyone else for that matter. You do not appear to have the intellectual capacity necessary to override your bias.

    You didn’t happen to notice that the Google Ads running across the top and down the sides of your worthless ‘article’ are focused on selling loud pipes did you? No? I do believe it is YOU who are part of the problem. Nice job.

  13. Iain

    I quote: “…we traded our little Chevy Metro for an enormous, 18-year-old Dodge Ram 150, complete with cab on the back.”

    Huh? You operate an 18-year old RAM pickup yet call Hummer drivers asshats?

    Nice job.

  14. Slick'n

    Darren, I went through one of your advertisement listings at the top of this page and got linked to ( and got a great deal on some Vance and Hines Pipes. There super loud. I couldn’t even get that good of a deal on ebay. Thank you Darren.

  15. Ktown

    Geez. What a bunch of foul mouthed I’m better than you pricks. Somebody’s got some serious “I’m undereducated and mad that somebody else is more educated and makes more money than I do” mojo. Not all Harley riders are asshats, I’m kind of surprised people like this even know to type or how to use a computer ;P Quit riding like retards and maybe you’ll stop getting near sideswiped.

  16. Unknown

    Wow way to sterotype everyone, and show a good maturity level. I’m not a harley owner…yet I ride a Honda and I am still suprisingly offeneded by this tripe,.I’m assuming that everyone in the blog here is adult, i’m honestly suprised to see name calling like this, I havent seen anything like it since grade school. but anyways despite what peopel say, the loud pipes save lives thing, is only partially true, mainly becasue you do need to be heard while driving, motorcycles are alot smaller then cars, and alot of car drivers are very inconsiderate nowdays, but of course there is no reason to be excessivly loud either, me personly I installed an airhorn on my bike, its loud, but its not going constantly, this is a great way to produce a sound to wake up those drivers cosntantly gabbing on cell phones, endagering not just bikers but other car drivers aswell. so please peopel theres no reason to hate on HD riders or bikers in general or act like children. In my experiences the poeple i met who didnt liek motorcycles, were actaully intolerent and narrow minded, i hope for your sake that you people arent like that, riding a motorbike, is a great culture, and I hope those of you who havent tryed it , you would see what its like for us, walk a mile in our shoes

  17. Ryan

    I live in a small town in Northern Ohio and have noticed that there is a “GOOD OL’ BOY” system. Police protect the right of every loud Harley rider and screw over every crotch rocket, rice burner, etc. I remember reading on the front page on the local newspaper. “Bike Week Invades Town”, it explained how bike week increase revenues for local businesses and what a blessing it was. It also showed how the police were involved with the riding too. The funny thing was the just below this headline was a smaller story, still on the front page mind you. “Town to crack down noise pollution” I not making this up, they we pointing their fingers a teen with car stereos, crotch rockets, modified car exhaust and car horns. I agree there should be limit to how loud something is, but damn… How is a stereo or a crotch rocket anywhere as loud as a modified crackle of an exhaust? I don’t believe for a minute about the “louder the exhaust the safer I am” line. The majority of motorcycle related deaths in the US are caused or helped along by riding drunk. In all honesty, if I hear a extremely loud Harley I’ll do everything in my power to cut you off on the highway. Not to hurt you, but just to piss you off as much as you piss me off.

    Mike Reply:

    Wow, attempted murder because of a muffler. You sir, are a piece of work. I have had 2 wrecks while riding my motorcycles in the last 30 years. Both were being hit from behind on the same motorcycle… a japanese bike with quiet factory exhaust. The last time I was traveling at 70 mph and was literally run over by a young man who didn’t see me. I have no idea if hearing me would have prevented the wreck, but I don’t see how it would have hurt anything. My current motorcycle has a slightly modified exhaust but is still neighbor friendly. The cruiser type bikes for some reason don’t seem to have tachometers so it helps a rider if he can hear the engine running over the sound of the wind noise. I don’t ride a motorcycle to piss you off, although after reading your post I must admit that I am pleased that it does. I ride because I enjoy it in spite of people like you, and the fact that I get 55 miles per gallon is pretty sweet too. To spite what you think, I don’t hate you, you just are a shining example of someone who is afraid of living and seeing other people being what you could never be makes you ashamed. I don’t blame you. You have my pity. I sincerely hope that we meet some time out on the highway. Please have a nice day.

  18. Ryan

    Another quick thought just popped into my head. Maybe the loud stereos are just being used to cover up the horrible Harley crackle.

  19. Victor

    Harley all summer, Jeep Grand Cherokee all winter.
    There are worse things.
    When a thumper stereo and a Harley are sitting together at a red light, you’ll hear the stereo. When an ambulance comes, the Harley rider will hear it and pull over. Just hope you are not in the ambulance when the thumper child delays it.
    I’m sorry if I passed you on the highway, and my pipes made you miss part of your phone conversation. I hope you got your pizza ordered.

  20. crewzzer

    It’ not only Harley Davidsons that are loud it’s also the Japanese cruisers as well, and thier loud for a reason loud pipes saves lifes, It’s for the stupid car drivers out there who can not hear a motorcycle comming or even see one for that matter

  21. simon

    Have just read the above with interest. I ride loud Harleys in the uk where we have fairly strict rules about noise (and everything else for that matter). I got back from taking my wife to work half an hour ago and I’m still shaking. I was driving up a steep hill approaching a junction and a van driver started to pull out in front of me. I took evasive action and stopped, eventually he stopped as well. I allowed the driver to pull out (gestured him to do so with my hand). As I pulled along-side him he apologised for pulling out on me and said that he’d heard me and that’s what made him pause and look. I’m sorry if my loud bikes annoy some of you (and I’m not going to pretend I ride for environmental reasons or anything other that I just love doing it) but I feel completely justified in making a noise if it makes people aware that I’m there. There is currently a reccomendation that headlights are permenantly on “To increase other road users awareness of your vehicle” So making a loud noise isn’t going to do that too? Going right back to the start of this post… something about having your talking book interupted – get real what is important here? missing a bit of the story (that you can easily hear again) or avoiding a traffic accident? If you don’t like bikes tough, just come out and say it don’t make excuses.

    cg Reply:

    The Harley rider is the bigger asshat. Stupid, low IQ, self-centered wannabe tough guys with loud motorcycles craving attention. We need to pass noise laws like they have in the UK. These scum have no right to force the rest of the world to put up with their noise. Loud pipes have nothing to do with saving lives, because ALL VEHICLES would have loud pipes if that were true. Loud pipes are about ego and stupidity. F&#k Harley riders, may they all become road kill!

    David Shaw Reply:

    people like you are the reason guys like me are given bad names. you probably dont know anyone who owns a Harley. therefore you have no idea what the people riding them are really like. Why dont you get in your probably Honda and drive it off a bridge

    firebrand Reply:

    As a side note, I should add that I have been a MOTORCYCLIST (not scumbag biker) for better than 32 of my 53 years on this earth. I raced WERA /AMA for 15 years on road circuits. That said, you can say what you want to about the obnoxious DB level saving your ass, but the fact is, it aint so. Here is what saves lives. Slow the hell down, and learn to be a defensive rider. Loud pipes do one thing, and do it well. They make people hate you, disrupt the peace, and make you look like an ass. Grow up.

  22. firebrand

    Harleys. One of the worlds greatest ashole attractants. Bikers are pathetic in so many ways. Silly ass facial hair that’s a cross between bum and filthy cowbow. the gay pride “uniform” with fringe chaps, leather vests proclaiming how dangerous they are, chains (for bondage??) and and boots, all in emo black. The nasty whorish woman in spray painted pants, looking like she just crawled out of a dumpster after a night of hooking, even if she’s 50 years old…The shit attitude and belligerent demeanor. Foul language in public, and a desire to be seen like spoiled children. They are a scourge on society, and care for no one but themselves. The obnoxious motorcycles without benefit of an exhaust system is unacceptable and the lot of them should be fined out of existance by the police. My disgust for them is without bounds.

  23. zarita

    If you need all that noise “to be seen” I dont want to think about regular bicycle riders. Since they don’t have such an irritating noise it means all of them are gonna get killed by cars?
    What an stupid thing to say.

    David Shaw Reply:

    what ?an? stupid thing to say? seriously before you go trying to downgrade someone, learn grammar.

  24. Extragum

    I dont think harley riders are bad people. But i think what darrens saying is the idiots who flaw it down suburban streets at 6 in the morning are annoying. If your on the highway harleys arnt that annoying. And they don’t sound good by the way guys, only the people who like harleys like the sound. Its not like a nice v8 exhaust its some shit blop blop blop sounds like a lawn mower under water or something?

  25. Arcey

    Harley riders are BY FAR the biggest asshats. The loud pipes don’t bother me at all though. It is their smart elic attitudes that piss me off. I’ve ridden Japanese motorcycles for 40 years in probably 25 different US states and it is the same everywhere you go – gangs of helmetless tattooed hair stylists and librarian, ahem, “bikers” with stupid ape hanger handlebars and 500 pounds of bolt-on doo-dads all dressed up for halloween in May and impersonating Peter Fonda in a low-budget 1960s biker flick while giving any normal person on a ‘serious’ motorcycle dirty looks and smart remarks.

    I’ve met thousands of wonderful bikers from Oregon to Florida, but I can’t count the times some Hell’s Angels “wanna-be” on a Harley has insulted me or been an asshat in some other way. I might also mention that in all those years and about 250,000 miles, I have never had a single unsolicited disagreement with someone on any other make of motorcycle regardless of it’s country of origin. This is strictly a Harley Davidson phenomenon – and it appears to be getting worse.

    I know there are some decent people who ride Harleys – about 10% in my extensive experience – so I’m only talking about the other 90%. curiously, the ‘real’ outlaw bikers I have met on my “rice burners” have been very respectful and easy to get along with. It is the impostors who inherited money in their thirties and then ran out and got their first bike and a costume, uh… I meant some riding gear, that will run their pie holes or give you those al-too-familar ‘smell-of-$h!t’ looks. I have very nearly had to pistol whip a couple of them over the years – seriously. Only my God given graciousness and uncanny ability to feel pity even in the face of a moronic jerk who truly deserves a beatdown saved them.

    SO, you normal 10% of Harley owners, I know it will next to imposible, but please keep trying to change the general public’s image. It can’t hurt. The The rest of them can take a flying leap.

  26. Nature Lover

    Harley owners with loud pipes and all the stupid chrome crap they litter their bikes with gets my vote.
    The same type who wants everyone to pay attention to them like a 16 year old girl.

    Harley owners with stock pipes dont bother me.

  27. wow

    If all you have to do is bitch about loud bikes. Line yourself up for retirement living because thats where you belong! Get a golf cart and go live in nicholodean land.

  28. David Shaw

    I ride a Harley and with aftermarket Vance and Hines straight pipes. it deafens myself just idling. I wouldnt have it any other way. Your just jealous that you dont own one. I could care less who sees me its not about that its about the feeling you get when you sit on raw horsepower and take off. Hummers are for rich queers with small penis’s. Harleys are for men. I will never not own a Harley and if someone doesn’t like that its loud. Well thats reason enough for me to kick it down a gear or two and really hit the throttle. Maybe you should ride one before you go complaining about it.

  29. Crf450fasterthanu

    Loud pipes take lifes. My penis makes noise when my wife screams. I ride and I hate the sound of HD’s. They are not cool. If you think they are, well so does my dentist.

    Joe Brown Reply:

    Some of us don’t live in the city and walk to work. Some of us don’t like the smog and 10 million people. You are painting with a wide brush, not everyone can be thrown into the same bunch. Some of us don’t ride at night or have loud bikes, we ride on nice days through the twist and turns in the mountains where there are few people. We ride after work just so we aren’t sitting on the couch getting fat like many. No different than taking the boat out to wake board or surf. It’s a hobby and something else to do to live and enjoy life .

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