Motorcyclist Magazine’s March/April 2019 Crime Issue Preview

The biggest crime is not picking up a copy

March/April 2019 Crime Issue
March/April 2019 Crime IssueJeff Allen

Our best stories and biggest learning opportunities often have the taint of criminality about them. I'm as guilty as the rest of you of making mistakes, but when we went on social media last month asking what Motorcyclist readers had got away with, we expected tales of bald tires in tight college years, or forgetting to replace oil in the trusty Honda after draining it. Maybe a few would cop to a little excessive speeding in the sunset of its statute of limitations. We did not expect the lot of you to be a bunch of miscreants, running from the fuzz, doing showy wheelies in front of them, and otherwise attracting their attention. But then, we have stories of our own, and we wouldn't have created our crime issue if we didn't.

When I was young and stupid our town motorcycle officer was a motocross rider, a roadracing fan, and probably the only person in 50 miles who could tell me exactly how illegal an Aprilia RS250 Cup bike was to ride on the street. “Conspicuously so” was the answer. That scarcely muffled two-stroke racket and lack of a headlight, turn signals, license plate, and liability insurance are enough to scare most law-abiding motorcyclists out of riding a racebike through town. But I was gambling, hoping the motorcycle oblivious population would ignore the curtain of blue-tinted smoke brewing up around the bike while it idled away at the only stoplight between me and one of the best mountain roads in the country.

Those were the thoughts that ran through my mind as the BMW-riding deputy rolled up to the red light on the opposite side of the intersection, followed by a meditation on how a flat-broke college student would manage to pay off the impound fees on a buddy’s precious machine.

My stunt was all the more galling because a good ride is so liberating that we already feel like we’re getting away with something. Every time we drag a floorboard in a corner, filter through a traffic jam, or pull up the front wheel, there’s that little thrill of mischief. It’s one of our shared sport’s great unifiers, and one of its slipperiest slopes.

Take Rony Leibovitz on page 56 of our crime issue. An avid motorcyclist, Rony went searching for bigger thrills when riding couldn’t take the edge off. He found them robbing banks. A stint in jail is what it took to restore balance. Or look to the example of Honda’s CRF450L. A class long kept off-road by the Japanese manufacturers, the 450L traded a number plate for a license plate until we shoved it right back on track on page 40. Even the self-branded 1%ers among us are tugged to the poles and back, as the Mongols are on page 35, fighting in the courts for their iconic club logo.

The crime issue is stacked with tales of criminality and close calls, but for our cover, we turned to one of the finest middleweights on the market, the 2019 KTM 790 Duke, to answer a question we might have all had at one time or another: Can a talented rider on a fast machine get away from the cops. For me, an escape from the law and all its resources was a fantasy long nurtured by Southern California's ubiquitous and perpetually televised high-speed pursuits. Did my fantasy come to fruition? You'll have to pick up an issue to find out.

The deputy across the street? He had me cold, but all I got was a scolding shake of the finger. The allure of mischief is strong with all motorcyclists, even the ones dedicated to upholding the law. There’s all that and more in the next issue.