How my Honda Rebel made me a Better Person

The Honda Rebel after I put it back together (again)

I’m not entirely sure when it happened, but there’s been a definite change for the better – my Honda Rebel has made me a better person.

My Honda Rebel has made me a better driver

I’m not sure this can be said about all motorcycles; certainly there’s a lot of bad drivers on motorcycles out there. However, in my case, the Rebel barely goes 80 mph when it’s running well, and only hits 85 mph when it’s going downhill and running well. It’s not a speed demon, by any count. However, I generally cruise at 70 mph just fine, with some throttle space left over. Anyone that’s ever driven (or ridden) on the expressway knows that the speed limit just isn’t enough for at least half of the drivers on there, so sure, I get passed a lot.

What made me a better driver though is riding as if I’m invisible. If, in my head, I’m constantly thinking that nobody can see me, and that everyone will act as if there’s an empty space where my bike is, then I can prepare for people merging into me, riding my tail, or slamming their brakes in front of me. On city roads, people “don’t see me” so they pull out of their driveways in front of me on a regular basis. But I planned for it, so I’m doing fine. I can’t always count on good planning to save me since even good drivers get hit, but I’m doing all I can.

I’ve become more patient

Waiting for parts has made me a lot more patient, since waiting on parts is something that I have no control over.

I can fix stuff now!

Cylinder of the Honda Rebel, doing repair on it

I’ve had lots of help from both Shelley and Leona in how I’ve learned to fix things, but I don’t leave home without my tools, and I know that I can fix just about anything that goes wrong with my bike, now.

When I started charliesbrokenbike.com, I didn’t imagine that I would have a hard time thinking up all of the things I’ve fixed. It was a simple list, right? Not a whole lot, just every dang thing on the bike at one point or another. But often, when I think about one part that I’ve fixed, I then follow that train of thought to a second, third, and sometimes fourth (or more) related item that was fixed, also!

I have a larger grasp of the cost of things

Having to make the decision to repair or replace parts has given me an idea of the real cost of things. For example, I can see what something costs new (such as a flywheel), what it costs used from eBay, and how long it would take me to repair something by hand (such as my brake caliper).

I still get sucked into the “well, if I’m fixing this, I might as well replace that,” giant sinkhole of thinking. Not everything needs to be fixed right away, though there’s plenty of folks who will disagree with me. Case in point: I’ve ridden with a bent brake rotor from the beginning.

really value quality health care

As someone who has been frequently un- or under-insured, the consequences of an accident have constantly been on my mind. Currently, if I get hit by a vehicle, I have to hope that they are insured, because otherwise I’d be seeing just how well I’d be able to get up and walk away from the accident. The costs involved with hospital-based care are astronomical, and thankfully I haven’t had to experience it firsthand.

4 thoughts on “How my Honda Rebel made me a Better Person

  1. Leona

    Stockholm Syndrome. 🙂

    Seriously though, Bikes are good teachers. Mine have taught me logic, and a holistic approach to diagnosing problems. I have also learned a healthy respect for engineering. One of the best lessons though, is that you really CAN rely on the kindness of strangers. Thanks to the internet, we are there for each other’s advice, distance be damned.

    • Very true. And Stockholm syndrome! You’re funny!

  2. Nice way to think about things, Charlie. I also believe that “riding” has made me a better “driver.” That belief came to me as I was taking the MDF Basic Rider Course last Spring. Riding opens ones eyes to things that drivers do and don’t do that can lead to an accident – motorcycle involved of not. I do have a better awareness of motorcycles on the road.

    • Thanks, Bill. I think that my riding skills definitely helped when I was driving vans filed with people when my job sent me to Boston! I don’t know if you’ve driven there, but the kind of awareness one develops on the road, on a motorcycle, definitely increased my alertness. Or maybe I’m paranoid! 🙂

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