Get an eyeful of this looker. My friend James’ bike knocks out an impressive 33HP from a measly 125cc two stroke engine. I asked him what it’s like to be a deaf motorbiker in London. Does it matter that you can’t hear the traffic? Not at all, he said…. you have to keep an eye out for traffic anyway, and assume everyone else on the road is a nutter.
Central London Fun
His bike is so noisy that he mostly hears the engine’s roar which reverberates around his helmet - this is why a lot of hearing bikers wear ear-plugs! James likes to turn his hearing aids right down, so he can still hear a little, but cut out the squealing he gets from the compression inside the helmet. I remember doing this too, when biking in County Derry - eventually I just took them out as they were uncomfortable with the tight fit of the helmet, but it’s safer to wear them when on the road. James does hear sirens when on the bike but he will probably have seen them before he hears them. He says, on a bike you are not so much relying on sound but SIGHT to keep you alive… it’s all a game of constant observation! It’s all about constant lifesavers - a life saver is a final observation taken by looking over your shoulder immediately before committing to any possibly dangerous maneouvre such as a left or right turn or other change of direction, joining a moving stream of traffic, or overtaking a slower vehicle. Sensibly, safety is a priority with James. He wears all the leather gear, boots and gloves, even on a sweltering hot day.
He has found that other drivers treat him better without his L plates, they don’t try to race him from traffic lights. This is helpful! As when the road is wet, white lines, man-hole covers, potholes, and even undulating roads are very scary when putting the power down, as the rear-end of the bike squirms all over the place - not much fun! He has to be much more observant of the road surfaces than he would be in his classic car (but more of that another time!).
There is an organisation called Deaf Bikers (Hi Mike & Mags!) where bikers can meet up for drinks and go on weekend biking breaks. What’s it like to ride at night, I wonder? Something like this …