On the Couch - Volume 2
by Dr. Joe Abbate #43F
He who borrows, soon finds sorrows. He who does not have to borrow, leads a care free life. Well, who ever it was that coined these phrases, more than likely was not a vintage motocross enthusiast.
One of the finest things about vintage as opposed to any other type of racing is the camaraderie and help we give each other at the race and often times when we are not attending races as well.
Borrowing tools, helping out with parts and items like this is often common, and for that matter, none of it would need to take up any space at all in this column, however, what about when you borrow a complete motorcycle?
I’m not so sure I have ever read anything about the subject. I’m sure lots of guys have borrowed and loaned bikes to guys, and didn’t get them back in exactly the same condition they went out in. I have no idea how it all works out for them, but I’m sure the borrower made some restitution, or, the lender simply said, “not to worry, could have happened to me on the next ride out”.
As I type this, it’s beginning for me to take on a feeling of a trial. We have 2 parties, the borrower, who is going to end up the defendant and the lender in turn being the plaintiff. You have to have a judge here now don’t we? Let see….someone stately, with an aura about them, somebody who has vast knowledge of dirt bikes, and all things motocross. For some reason Rick “Super Hunky” Sieman enters my mind. Just picture Sieman, sitting behind a work bench, his gavel is a Maico 501 rod with the piston still attached.
As a lender, you have to think that something could go wrong, as the borrower you can only hope it is nothing more than perhaps a broken lever, a minor scrape or a tweaked fender.
I would think, to loan someone a complete bike, you have to know them well, after all, you’re not going to turn over your bike to just anyone who asks, although it did happen to me. So lets continue on the premise that this is a good acquaintance or a friend that asks you to extend yourself.
I’ll first discuss a real life situation that happened to me, and my long time friend Jerry Cantone. This was during the Legends race at Southwick in 2005. When I heard Gary Jones was going to be there, I offered to let him ride my 1974 YZ 250. I didn’t know Gary Jones from a hole in the wall, or a hole in a piston for that matter before that day. I didn’t discuss anything with Gary about anything breaking before he rode the bike. During practice on Friday (the race was Saturday) the pipe on the YZ cracked at the mount to the frame. I removed it, got in my truck with Jerry, found a welder dropped it off, went to a nice restaurant, where we ate and drank excessively, picked up the pipe, went back to the track, and Gary raced the bike the next morning without a problem, nothing else broke. It’s more than likely the pipe would have cracked on me in the near future. Either way, I would not ask anyone at that level to replace anything they broke, but that’s just me. I’m certain any one of my friends would pay for any damage. I think it is a little different when you offer someone a bike, as opposed to when someone asks to borrow it.
Jerry also let someone ride his bike that day, it wasn’t a vintage bike, it was an 04 RM 250. The racer was Billy Liels who was a factory rider in the 1980’s. Jerry had a simple discussion with Billy before he took the bike, which went like this: “If you break something, I only ask that you replace the part”. Billy agreed, rode the bike, no problem at all, nothing broke and we all went home happy.
It’s difficult to lay out parameters of what is right and what is wrong on this topic. There are many unforeseen events that can take place on a racetrack to pin point any of it for certain.
If it were me personally, no matter what, if I was on the bike and it broke, I would at a minimum pay for the parts to fix it weather or not the owner of the bike wanted me to or not.
Hypothetical situations and rules of Thumb:
You ask a buddy if he has room on his trailer for your bike, he says sure. He loads the bike, drops it on the way up the ramp, causing some damage, cracking a side panel. I don’t believe you think about asking him to fix it. He did do you the favor of transporting the bike. All I can recommend is if it is possible, when asking someone to transport a bike for you, is to load it yourself.
Never, EVER borrow gas from a guy who rides both a two-stroke and a 4-stroke bike when you only ride a two stroke. No matter how many times you ask him, somehow, you will grab the wrong can. This will lead to your two-stroke seizing, or your 4-stroke bike smoking more than Morton Downey Jr. (RIP)
I did a little research on this topic as well, by taking a poll on a local message board. Everyone agreed, if you borrow it, and it breaks, you should pay for it. In one instance, one person responded with not only fixing it if you broke it, but when you return it even if it isn’t broken, the bike should be cleaner than when you borrowed it.
I submitted a few real life situations and two hypothetical, (although the wrong gas story in a borrowed bike is true, the names have been omitted). I also presented answers from unwitting message board readers. I now present to you, the upscale- above average intelligent- readers of McCook Racing my final thoughts.
In my opinion, from this day forth, to all borrowers or lenders of motorcycles there are only two written rules:
Rule Number 1: When borrowing a motorcycle, the borrower before riding will discuss with the lender what he is prepared to do in the event of a mishap leading to a broken part and or complete engine failure regardless of any circumstance. In the event nothing is broken, upon the return of the bike, the borrower will return the motorcycle in question, as clean perhaps cleaner than before he borrowed it, and show a gesture of gratitude with any of the following:
- Beer (A case would suffice)
- Food (Take the lender out for something to eat, inform him before time it’s “on you”
- Oil. (Not gear oil either you cheap bastard, pre-mix oil, several pints, and make sure it’s the brand he uses)
Rule Number 2: Refer to rule number 1