Negative peer pressure is alive and thriving in motorcycling as it always has and probably always will be. Do you have a coping strategy?
Some say peer pressure does not exist in motorcycling because riding is about not fitting in. It’s about being the wild loner.
If that’s the case, why are there so many motorcycle groups where they ride the same type of bike or wear the same type of gear?
Despite the fact that we ride in a protective cocoon of leather and fibreglass helmets, motorcycling is still largely a social activity.
Anti-social motorcycle clubs
The problem is that some of these social motorcycle clubs and groups can become anti-social.
Every week we see new videos on social media of packs of riders performing wheelies, stoppies, burnouts and other illegal and anti-social behaviour on public roads.
Thankfully it’s worse in the USA and Britain than in Australia, although we also have our problems.
Anyone who joins these known anti-social ride-out groups is conscientiously asking for danger and there is not much that can be done about that except to leave it to the police.
But riders can still suffer from negative peer pressure riding in social motorcycle groups.
Even in these groups, there can often be someone who will tease other riders about being slow, their inability to ride long distances, wide chicken strips, a lack of overtaking or a rider’s inability to perform a wheelie or burnout.
No one wants to look like the chicken in this situation, so riders tend to give in to this pressure – however jokingly applied – and that’s when accidents happen.
Having the guts to not bow to peer pressure can be difficult, even for some mature riders.
So we went to psychologist and rider Sharon Ledger for some general advice on coping with negative peer pressure.
“Peer pressure is a normal part of forming relationships,” she says, pointing out that there is both negative and positive peer pressure.
“We join groups for a sense of belonging but we can then experience pressure to conform with the group’s norms,” she says.
“That’s why it’s important to join a group that has the same values as you.”
Sharon suggests that if there is an element of bullying in the group, positive peer pressure can be used to change their behaviour.
“Don’t be a bystander to bullying behaviour. Take a stand and show that it is not acceptable. You can put pressure back on a bullyby using positive peer pressure.”
Sharon agrees with these four basic tenets of dealing with ever pressure:
Make your own decisions. Do things that make you happy and make those decisions on your own;
Plan a response;
Avoid places and situations that make you uncomfortable; and
Choose positive friends.
We took that advice and applied it to motorcycling.
How to avoid rider peer pressure
Here are our five tips for avoiding motorcycle peer pressure:
Throw out the bullies. If your social club has someone who bullies others about their riding, have a quiet word to them, suspend them, send them to the back of the pack or throw them out. Don’t let a bully ruin your social club.
Go to a track day. If you are feeling too much pressure to ride fast, suggest to your friends that they do a track day instead. They let off steam, they are are fun and they can improve your riding skills. They will also help get rid of those “chicken strips” in a safe and legal way. But make sure you leave your racing behind at the track.
Volunteer to be tail-end Charlie. If the pressure to keep up is too much, become the tail rider. Carry a tool kit and first-aid pack and learn to administer first-aid. That will lift your respect within the group.
Own your individuality. Dress differently and/or ride a different bike to the rest of the group. Be proud to be an individual. People will respect you for that and leave you alone. If not, see tip number 1!