How do I convince my younger brother NOT to buy a motorcycle?
June 12, 2012 8:03 PM   Subscribe

How do I convince my younger brother NOT to buy a motorcycle due to safety and other reasons.

I have a younger brother who is about to buy his first motorcycle. He's 19 and have never driven one before. This will be his first one. He got his license and all without anyone's permission in the family. I really fear of him driving on those things as they provide no safety on the road. He doesn't have money to afford one so my parents are paying rest of the money. He has gotten everything he wanted and never said no. This is the first time I'm against him just because of the safety reason. He's still in college. Another thing is, we live in Western NY where we barely get 3 months of good weather to actually take advantage of riding a motorcycle. And second of all, we live in an apartment where we don't have a closed garage to store in winter times. He said he'll park it at his friend's garage. He's been stubborn with this and tried explaining him but he doesn't want to listen.
posted by Parh6512 to Travel & Transportation around Buffalo, NY (32 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
He doesn't have money to afford one so my parents are paying rest of the money.

I wouldn't talk to the brother yet - I'd start with the parents. As in, what are they thinking? Why are they subsidizing this project? Are they aware of the safety stats? Does it bother them that your brother's never driven one before - not even a rental?

They seem to be the ones funding the project, so they can greenlight it or shut it down and, if your brother wants to proceed, he'd have to fund this himself. Have you tried at all to share these concerns with them?
posted by Miko at 8:05 PM on June 12, 2012

He's an adult and can do what he wants. However, that doesn't mean that you, or anyone else, need to be helping him. Lean on your parents to withdraw their share of the money.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:11 PM on June 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: My brother gets upset when my parents don't want to buy him a motorcycle and for that reason, he stops talking to them and even me. He would not answer us properly.
posted by Parh6512 at 8:12 PM on June 12, 2012

my dad told me before i got my first bike that every motorcycle rider has a scar to prove it. i, personally, have a rather small scar on the side of my big toe: don't wear tennis shoes. in my opinion if you obey the traffic laws, motorcycles being so maneuverable, quick stopping and small, if you stay alert you probably won't ever have a problem. plus they are really fun. sorry, but i'm on your brother's side.
posted by goutytophus at 8:14 PM on June 12, 2012 [6 favorites]

I would stay out of this; if your parents want to give him the money for it, it's really up to them. Seems like that is sort of giving him permission? If he took a test and got his motorcycle license, he is aware of some safety issues and is covering the insurance issue.

The weather, storage, and your parents money are topics I would avoid.
posted by katinka-katinka at 8:16 PM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Lots of people ride motorcycles safely and responsibly. One of my best friends rode one as his primary mode of transportation through all of high school and college, and I would hardly describe him as reckless. His parents made sure that he had the right equipment and knowledge of how to safely navigate the road, and he was fine. He's had more problems on his bicycle than he ever did on his motorcycle.

You might have more success with this situation if you concentrate on making sure that your brother is also being safe and responsible. Helping him arrange for lessons would be a good place to start -- tell him that if he successfully completes the course, THEN there can be a conversation about helping him purchase a vehicle.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 8:20 PM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

You probably won't convince him not to want one, but maybe you can convince him to take one of those official motorcycle safety courses?
posted by inigo2 at 8:21 PM on June 12, 2012 [5 favorites]

How? You probably can't. No more than your parents were able to stop you from doing things that were dangerous. No more than your brother will be able to stop his child from doing so.

Brother, sister, parent, or whatever. Sometimes you have to let adults do what they want to do. Trying to stop them will have the same effect when people tried to stop you from doing something. Mainly that they'll want to do it that much more. They will take that more risks.

You might as well ask how can you get him to see that dating "x' is a bad idea.

Are motorcycles dangerous? Yeah, relatively speaking. Doesn't mean he is destined to be seriously hurt. There are far more people who survive their motorcycle stage.

Riding a motorcycle is probably far from the most dangerous thing he or you have ever done.
posted by 2manyusernames at 8:21 PM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Take him to the neurological trauma unit at the local hospital.

Wikipedia's article on motorcycle safety won't help, but it may make him think a bit more.
posted by blob at 8:21 PM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

I guess if you wanted to convince him not to buy a motorcycle, you could tell your parents to give him the cash they were going to give him towards the motorcycle towards something he wants more?
posted by katinka-katinka at 8:28 PM on June 12, 2012

I got a motorcycle at 19 during my second year of college. Trying to convince him not to because of the safety issues will not work. Your hope, in my opinion, is to appeal to him and make it about you. Ask him as a favor to you to delay getting it.

I only had that bike for two years, but it was well worth it. Also had a bike for one year in Chicago. The riding season is actually about 7 months there and I suspect in the Buffalo area as well.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:37 PM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

He is an adult and has every right to buy a motorbike if he wants to. His parents are adults and have every right to buy him one if they want to. Almost every person that rides a motorbike does so without injury and, in any case, trying to convince a 19 year-old not to ride a motorbike for safety reasons is as productive as banging your head against a wall.

The best thing you can do is convince him to at least wear a helmet. Ideally, get him to wear full protective equipment every single time he gets on the bike.
posted by dg at 8:40 PM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

You probably can't talk him out of it, in fact if he's being so childish about it trying to talk him out of it will make him more stubborn. Maybe talk to your parents, if they want to cave at least try to convince them to put the stipulation on that he will wear a good quality helmet, gloves, boots and leathers when riding, the sight of people on motorbikes with no helmets and in shorts and flip flops has scared me so much since moving to the USA.

My brother does volunteer firefighting/rescue in a small country town in Australia and he has been called out to more car and bike crashes than I can count. He said the thing that surprised him the most is just how much difference leathers and a helmet can make. Major life saving differences.
posted by wwax at 8:42 PM on June 12, 2012

My brother gets upset when my parents don't want to buy him a motorcycle and for that reason, he stops talking to them and even me. He would not answer us properly.

I'm sorry, but your brother needs to grow up. He's nineteen. If he "can't afford" a motorcycle, he can get a loan. If he can't afford a loan, he doesn't need a motorcycle. In footing the bill, your parents are only enabling and encouraging this behavior. They need to stop.
posted by xedrik at 8:55 PM on June 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

My brother gets upset when my parents don't want to buy him a motorcycle and for that reason, he stops talking to them and even me.

I'd be more irritated at his methods for getting what he wants than I would be concerned about what he wants. I'd also be grumpy with the folks for falling for it. Though not grumpy enough to interfere. But that's me.

I think trying to separate a 19 year old boy from his dreams of a motorcycle is pretty much a fool's errand. You don't want him to do it because it's dangerous. Think perhaps there is a chance he wants to do it because it's dangerous? If so, the likelihood that you will loose this one is extremely high.
posted by space_cookie at 8:57 PM on June 12, 2012

I agree with you. Motorcycles and convertibles are just... not worth the risk. Sure, it's possible to ride one safely -- but it's the OTHER drivers on the road that will kill you. You've got NO protection on a bike and I think it's just wreckless and stupid. (that doesn't mean I will never get on a motorcycle, but I sure as hell would not buy one and ride it regularly)

Anyhow, explain to him and your parents these risks and the impracticality of owning a motorcycle in your area. Does he expect it to be his primary form of transportation, and does he realize how impractical that would be if it is?
posted by imagineerit at 9:00 PM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

It sounds like the decision is up to your parents, and they seem supportive and ok with it, given the fact that they're paying for his motorcycle. That leaves you the odd one out on this.

Plenty of people your brother's age have a motorcycle. This isn't some major transgressive act. Rather, it falls into the category of most sorts of youthful follies. He'll get over it and move on to something else, eventually.
posted by deanc at 9:02 PM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

You probably can't stop him getting a bike but either way he should take some lessons from a good school and practice on a closed track. Get him around people who ALWAYS wear PPE (helmet, leathers, gloves, boots) and in a motorcycle culture more geared towards good solid riding skills than flashy bikes and you'll go a long way towards making him a safe rider.

Also buy a reasonably sized bike for his size and skill level.
posted by fshgrl at 9:11 PM on June 12, 2012

Seconding the trip to the neuro intensive care unit. I visited one a few times while my SO of the time was a nurse. It was utterly chilling that, in all likelihood, the people laying in those beds were having the worst day of their lives.

But honestly, a nineteen year old guy is unlikely to be swayed by this sort of thing. You really do feel invincible and have essentially no grasp of the odds.
posted by Mercaptan at 9:15 PM on June 12, 2012

As someone who's only had a motorcycle for over a decade, the only way you're going to get him to not get a bike right now and remain his friend is to help him get a car. It may only delay his motorcycle riding, but that's good because 19-year-old guys are idiots.
posted by lamp at 9:18 PM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Help him get a job with an insurance company processing accident claims?

I am on the side of the folks saying "don't bother -- you probably can't anyway and, besides, he's an adult". But, having said that, when I processed accident claims, a fender bender with a car meant someone was trying to get the company to pay for back massages to treat whiplash. A similar low speed hiccup on a motor cycle meant the ER staff were picking gravel out of the guy's road rash or the guy needed surgery for a broken bone that would not mend, etc. I have also seen second degree burns from the exhaust pipe.

I am unlikely to ever get on a motor cycle. However, others in the department owned and rode motorcycles. So no guarantee it would make a difference.
posted by Michele in California at 9:28 PM on June 12, 2012

Wow, I really feel your concerns here. My husband wanted to get a m/c, but he was put off after three days of lessons and failing the licencing test at the end. I was so relieved! Does NY require simply passing a written test to get a m/c licence? I'm confused since you say he's never driven one before.
posted by Calzephyr at 9:36 PM on June 12, 2012

If he can't afford a motorcycle, he probably can't afford the gear that would keep him alive on one. That shit is pretty expensive and sometimes is more expensive than the bike, but it's cheap compared to the cost of a skin graft.

If he didn't take a Motorcycle Safety Foundations course before he got his license then he really should before actually purchasing the bike. Not only do you get a discount on your insurance, it teaches you simple things that you use every single day you're on the bike (and even when you're driving a car, I've noticed) and those skills help keep you alive as well.
posted by tmt at 11:09 PM on June 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

Talk to your parents about withholding the money for the bike until your brother has finished a motorcycle safety course and passed the necessary tests for his full license. The motorcycle riding school that I went to provided suitable motorcycles for beginners to learn on and to use for the tests. Your brother would have no need for his own bike until he's finished the safety course. If he hasn't lost interest by then, he'll have developed some fundamental riding skills and have a much clearer understanding of the risks.

You could talk to your parents about ponying up for good safety gear too. If they're already going along with this, they should go all the way. A proper full-face helmet is crucial. That, and at least a pair of gloves and an armored jacket. Pants and boots too would be ideal.

I get your concern, but I really do think your best bet will be to help your brother be as safe as possible on a motorcycle, rather than try to prohibit him from riding at all. The riding bug bit me when I was 19 too, and it never left.
posted by keep it under cover at 2:17 AM on June 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

One of my sons went out and bought a motorcycle on his own when he was 18. I went back to church after not attending for many years:-) Luckily he was a safe driver, had fun. never had an accident, sold the thing a few years later much to my relief. Of course he did not ask us to pay for it, did it all on his own from his part-time job, and although I was very worried there really was nothing I could do. This was many years ago. He did get the helmet and safety gear to go with it. He also has better than average reflexes and athletic skill, passed the car driver's test after one lesson!

Today, I would second the parents holding out for his taking the safety course, and you can get him a good helmet and insist that he wear it. And pray if you do that.
posted by mermayd at 3:21 AM on June 13, 2012

If he talks to you about this at all, listen to what he says. Listen to understand what he likes about the idea, not to find a vulnerable chink in his rational armor. You're not going to argue or pressure him into doing what you want. The more disrespect you show for his choices, the more he will hold on to them.

I bought my first bike at 19 (for $200 in a Denny's parking lot... good times), and heard no end of other people's opinions and grisly stories. Those stories and opinions only confirmed that what I was doing was significant, daring... qualities I *liked.*

Your parents are really making this problem much worse by financing it. The expense is one of the downsides of bike ownership that a less than affluent 19-year-old is most likely to actually care about, and they're insulating him from it. They're making the whole package much more attractive.
posted by jon1270 at 3:30 AM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

Get a life and stop interfering in your brother's.

All I'm hearing is ignorance and prejudice. I suspect that that is all your brother is hearing too. No wonder he isnt listening. 'Unsafe', 'problem', 'dangerous', 'much worse'. You'll never have ridden a bike then?

"He has gotten everything he wanted and never said no." Sounds like this bike just a focus for sibling jealousies.

FWIW if you really want to help him then get him some decent biking kit. This will help him do what he wants to do in the safest, most supportive way possible.

1. Full face helmet. Make sure it fits him comfortably. That means him trying it on.
2. Armoured waterproof textile jacket. Modern textiles are great even if leathers look better.
3. Armoured waterproof trousers.
4. Armoured waterproof leather gloves.
5. leather boots.
posted by BadMiker at 6:28 AM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'm going to assume, since your folks are footing the bill, he's probably going to get some over-powered "superbike." As BadMiker said, make sure he's fully armored.

And as BusyBusyBusy said, ask him to sign his organ donor card.
posted by Marky at 9:15 AM on June 13, 2012

See if watching a few squid videos will cure him of his desire to ride a m/c without the proper training or gear or on a too-big bike. Seriously, he does not want to be that guy! (cause it's embarrassing if you don't die!)
posted by vespabelle at 10:25 AM on June 13, 2012

Did your brother get a motorcycle permit or a motorcycle license?

In New York state, you can get a permit after passing a very easy written test. With a permit, you must have another licensed rider within 1/4 mile of you at all times you are on a bike.

The New York State license test is a pain. If your brother successfully passed this, he has acquired some solid basic skills somewhere. Because getting a license is difficult (you must go to the DMV, with a car, motorcycle, and licensed motorcycle rider, plus the test is not easy) many riders in New York keep their permits for years and ride alone illegally. I strongly suspect your brother only has a permit.

Your best bet for slowing this process down is to talk to your parents about putting additional conditions on the money they are giving him for the bike. Can you convince them to hold off on giving him the money until he has gotten a license and full safety gear? Once he factors in the cost of gear and training (for me, this was about $800), he may decide he wants a used car. Or he may really want a motorcycle, but you can feel comfortable as an older sibling that you've done everything you can to ensure he's safe.
posted by psycheslamp at 12:05 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I used to teach people how to ride bikes. Every time I thought I'd seen it all, someone would find some inventive new way of screwing up. It's normal to mess up, the important thing is to 1.realise that you mess up (unfortunately this wisdom is incompatible with 19 year olds) and ready for it.

It seems that you have a very negative attitude to your brother, but I'm assuming that you do, at heart, want to support him help him. There are a few things which you can do which will hugely help him.

Training/experience is essential. Being put in a (relatively) safe situation where you can make mistakes and learn from them gives you a great start for dealing with road driving. Training courses are great, particularly the ones I used to do , but it sounds like things are different in the US.
Probably the best learning experience for actually riding a bike is riding off-road. Trails or Enduro is great; the bike is sliding around, you have to very quickly grasp the essential bike control skills which will, on the road, expand your available options. This is also the kind of thing that your brother will probably enjoy and learn from.
There are 'track days' and track courses but, frankly, this is only really of benefit to a more advanced rider, and one who already knows the limitation of road riding...

The kind of bike which your brother is buying is also important. I'm fairly sanguine about beginners getting on big bikes, but 'sports' bikes can be quite challenging. If it has 4 cylinders and a full fairing (and far too many RRRs in its name) then it'll probably have a very peaky engine which, although exilarating, requires a certain kind of focussed (fast) riding which isnt ideal for learners. Encourage him to get something typically with less cylinders, or without a fairing (the slipstream kind of naturally limits your speed).

Both these things will help prevent an accident.

Good gear will reduce the consequences of an accident. There's an awful lot of stuff around, so here's some general points;
-it's better to have all the kit, even if it's cheap, than one bit of expensive kit. Eg; textile jacket and trousers is better than leather jacket, no trousers.
-get waterproof stuff. Apart from anything else, the imminent threat of getting wet will encourage him to wear it more than the vague threat of an accident.
-make sure it fits well. It needs to be snug, slightly too tight if anything.
-Get armour. Shoulders, knees, back, knees, knuckles minimum.
-priority is; helmet (full face) essential! Jacket and gloves, trousers and boots.
-Everything should be proper bike stuff, except boots; these can be leather, supporting the ankle (ie higher than walking boots) with a stout sole.
-take your brother to the bike shop with a shopping list, dont let him fritter any money/vouchers away on tat.

A friend who started biking last year spent £500 on training, £2500 on a bike and £500 on kit.

I understand your concerns, and your prejudices but you should be prepared to change your views. Bikes are not as dangerous as you think, they are just very different. They are also a great portal to mechanical engineering, a very close society and a very rare kind of freedom. This could be a good opportunity to spend some time with your brother and to understand him better.

posted by BadMiker at 5:44 AM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

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