To date, attempting to signal the direction of your intended turn whilst riding a BMW precipitated the following sequence of events: Horn honk; confusion induced wobble; signal in the wrong direction; confusion induced wobble; horn honk; turn while signaling in wrong direction; horn honk; signal in correct direction post turn; horn honk; continuing to signal; signal cancelled. But no longer, the company has finally brought its indicator switch mechanism in line with that of every other manufacturer.
We actually kid. While certainly unique, we never had a problem with BMW's old system and fear that it's fallen victim to the increasingly endemic Companies Listening to Old Fart Journalists Syndrome. You see, tasked with not only stuffing themselves with all the free food and drink they can fit in their surprisingly large stomachs, motorcycle journalists also find themselves needing to review multiple bikes after spending only a few minutes in the saddle of each. Afraid of actually criticizing the machines themselves for fear of loosing their access to those free meals, the old fart journalists instead find silly little niggles to complain about. The BMW indicator switches were one of those niggles. Just like iDrive, if you employed a small fraction of your brain's capacity, you could figure them out in about 30 seconds. But that 30 seconds of time was enough to spoil the day of many a crotchety old man, so now BMW riders will have to switch on their indicators just like everyone else.
Everything was surprisingly calm in my mind though, and the slow mo thing along with my MSF class (et al) training kicked in, and all I could hear in my mind was, “Escape route! Escape Route!”, as I pumped the breaks to avoid the back sliding out too far to keep control. I have large hard cases on my bike, and the lanes, filled with traffic, were tight so I was wondering if I’d even make the squeeze. Escape route or smash into the Jeep bumper! I heard in my mind. So I gave it a shot and committed to the lane split with a shove of the bike to the right, a bit freaked out that my back left case might catch on the stopped Jeep and hook me into a fall. What made it worse was the other lane to my right that I was about to split with was still moving at about 40mph and I wasn’t sure who or what was over there for me to swerve at or if they were going to react well to a bike inches from their mirror all of a sudden. I committed and split the lane.
Apparently there was a Corvette to my right, that had breaked hard when it saw me wiggle and slip my back end in an attempt to stop, and it gave me room to move to his lane. At least that’s what I noticed later, when I was splitting the lane oddly with no car next to me, assuming there’d be a car there. Then, as I tried to pull away in front of the ‘Vette and get back up to traffic speed and sorted out, there was no throttle response. Wha? Now what? Apparently I had stalled the bike…I guessed. Not sure how, but the bike was off I was coasting, now starting to slow everyone in my new lane. I went through the start up procedure, ignition off and then on, clutch in, push starter…ignition! Whew. The power was back and was back in the flow again. Admittedly I was a bit of a jerk in my stress and gave the evil eye to the Jeep as it passed me, his lane now moving, but a tinted visor helped keep my attitude in check . At first I cursed him for slamming on the breaks and stopping like that, but then realized I didn’t know what he stopped for, and ultimately it was my responsibility to prepare for it and assume the worst of cars on the road with me, on a motorcycle.
Lesson #1: We Are Responsible for Our Own Experience of Life
Sure, they'll cut you off, signal right then turn left, but it's you, the rider, that's responsible for your safety on the road. How far do you follow? Do you always signal? Is your helmet black or yellow?
Lesson #2: Everything Changes
Never assume the road that you ride to work on everyday will be the same tomorrow. New pavement, a dropped bucket of wet paint in the lane, or the worst time ever for your side luggage to come open, everything changes. It's how we deal with it that matters.
Lesson #3: Live a Real Life
Fear no ride. You live a real life because you ride. You chose to ignore all the "my uncle died on a bike" stories and enjoy it, even if there is a risk. Its risk that gives reward.
Lesson #4: Be Grateful
Wave at the guy that let you squeeze into the lane. Be happy that you noticed the smell of fresh bread being baked on the ride to work today, be excited that you enjoy your trip to and from work because you're on two, very fast, wheels.
Lesson #5: Be Detached
So what if that minivan flicked you off. No big deal that the Harley guy just passed you in the bus only lane wearing only shorts and sunglasses. It's his choice. Focus on what you can affect.
Lesson #6: All Is Well
All is indeed well. You live in a country that gives you anything you want, anytime you want it. There is nothing to complain about if you are an American. Our system gives you the opportunity to change it. In the end, all is well. Life is good.