Cool Ride

David Carr

Bikers brave weather to enjoy motorcycle passion

Many riders store their bikes during the winter months. Here Zaki Hazou rides his motorcycle on one of the last days before it became cold outside. The cold weather and snow can create hazardous conditions.

Credit: Steve Schirra

Sixty-five to 70 degrees. The glowing sun is peaking from behind white, fluffy clouds. A mild breeze rustles the trees. This describes the perfect day to ride a motorcycle.

Days like this seem to be a thing of the past as winter descends on the area. However, some die-hard motorcyclists will be out riding every chance they get – that is unless there is snow on the road.

“If it’s cold, you can bundle up,” said Zaki Hazou, senior criminal justice major. “But if there’s snow, you’re going to have a problem.”

Hazou said he can handle the colder temperatures as long as it’s above 40 degrees and the road is dry.

Many Kent State students, and even faculty members, are avid motorcycle riders. While some may put their bikes away when November hits, others keep riding until the snow is too much of a hassle.

Hazou has been riding since he was 16. He said he and his friends were originally only interested in Crotch Rockets, which are sportier motorcycles designed for speed, racing and tricks.

Junior technology major Jimmy Smith said the Crotch Rocket is like the sports car of motorcycles. He loves riding because he has complete control of a motorcycle, unlike a car.

“They’re just the best – they handle like nothing else,” he said. “You’re completely connected to the road. When you drive a sport bike, you just move and the whole thing moves with you.”

Smith said he also has a truck, but uses it as little as he can because he loves riding.

For now, Smith said he plans to stick with Crotch Rockets. He may move to a Harley Davidson when he’s older, he said.

Hazou said he plans to continue riding motorcycles, but does not like cruiser bikes, such as the Harley, at all. He prefers a Crotch Rocket because of the power and capabilities of the bike.

Christopher Geiger, who has been selling motorcycles for more than three years at State 8 Motorcycle & ATV in Cuyahoga Falls, said this is typical for people in Hazou’s age group.

Geiger said that buyers ages 18 to 27 typically prefer sport bikes, while buyers older than 35 typically prefer cruiser bikes. Geiger said those in between the ages of 27 and 35 typically buy an even mix of the two.

“Sport bikes aren’t the most comfortable bikes,” Geiger said. “They’re more for speed and adrenaline. Cruisers are more comfortable, and you can enjoy the ride and the scenery.”

Faculty member emeritus David Deutsch agreed. He prefers the larger bikes because they are more comfortable to ride for longer periods of time.

Deutsch said riding his motorcycle helps him get rid of stress. He said he also enjoys the scenery and the fresh air and scents – especially the spring flowers.

While the cooler temperature may not discourage Hazou or Smith from riding, Deutsch said he will be putting his motorcycle into storage and switching over to his truck for now because he rides primarily for enjoyment.

“In the past I’ve ridden my motorcycle past Thanksgiving,” he said. “I ride my motorcycle everywhere when it’s nice.”

Contact transportation reporter David Carr at [email protected].



Motorcyclists’ continue to enjoy thrill of riding despite close calls, injuries

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s records for 2004, there were 134 fatal motorcycle crashes in Ohio, and 98 of those killed were not wearing helmets.

Many riders have had a close call, an accident or know of someone who has been injured on a motorcycle.

Sophomore marketing major Heather Markle said it is stupid for anyone to ride without a helmet.

“A lot of people say they are comfortable enough with themselves to not wear a helmet,” she said, “but if I didn’t trust myself on a bike I wouldn’t be on it. Other people are a different story. I don’t trust other people on the road.”

Zaki Hazou, senior criminal justice major, said he has “met his guardian angel” many times. He said he almost smashed into the back of a Buick in front of Family Video on state Route 59.

“There was this old lady driving a Buick, and she just slammed her brakes,” he said. “Next to me there was a PARTA bus, and I really felt like I did not have an exit route.”

Junior technology major Jimmy Smith was injured while doing a trick on his motorcycle called an “endo,” which is where the rider grabs the front brake and rolls on the front tire.”

It kind of flopped over sideways (on me) and pushed me for a while,” he said. “It probably wouldn’t have been so bad if I had my (protective) jacket on.”

Hazou said because motorcycles take up less of the lane, drivers of cars often have a hard time seeing them through their blind spots. He said cars sometimes just pull into his lane, forcing him to make evasive maneuvers.

“For just one second, you’ll feel like your heart stopped,” he said. “You feel like you want to get off your bike. It’s really scary.”

Hazou said that feeling doesn’t last long.

– David Carr