Fact Check

Motorcycle Helmet Self-Sacrifice

Did a motorcyclist on a bike that had lost its brakes give his helmet to his girlfriend, saving her life?

Published Jul 9, 2005

Updated Nov 10, 2011
 (Getty Images/Stock Photo)
Image Via Getty Images/Stock Photo
A motorcyclist on bike that has lost its brakes gives his helmet to his girlfriend, saving her life at the cost of his own.

This tear-jerking tale of teen love and traffic tragedy began appearing in our inbox in February 2005. Often titled "What is Love?" or "The Meaning of True Love," it remains unattributed at this point, its author unknown to us.

A girl and guy were speeding over 100 mph on the road on a motorcycle...

Girl: Slow down. Im scared.
Guy: No this is fun.
Girl: No its not. Please, its too scary!
Guy: Then tell me you love me.
Girl: Fine, I love you. Slow down!
Guy: Now give me a BIG hug.
-:- Girl hugs him -:-
Guy: Can you take my helmet off & put it on yourself? Its bugging me.

(In the paper the next day): A motorcycle had crashed into a building because of brake failure. Two people were on it, but only one survived.

The truth was that halfway down the road, the guy realized that his brakes broke, but he didn't want to let the girl know. Instead, he had her say she loved him & felt her hug one last time, then had her wear his helmet so that she would live even though it meant that he would die.

The story appears to be a work of fiction in that we've been unable to find any news stories of such an accident. (Mind you, the lack of details such as the names of the people involved, the approximate date of the accident and so much as a rough idea of which city or even country it happened in make searching for information akin to looking for a needle in a haystack.)

Numerous folks who know far more about motorcycles than we do have pointed out that most (if not all) bikes have two braking systems which are independent of one another, so it would hardly be likely for both to fail at the same time. Even if they did, a motorbike that has lost its brakes can be brought to a stop through downshifting (gearing down) or even through turning off the engine (although the fact that a brake-less bike traveling at high speeds can be safely halted doesn't necessarily rule out this account, because panic could cause the driver to think he had no other option but to crash into something).

As the narrative has passed from one person to another, it has picked up a coda that has since become part of what now gets forwarded:

Love is not selfish so
Love is not being happy
it is to make happy to whom you love
even if you are unhappy with it."So take five minutes out of your time to tell someone you love them because you really never know if this is the last day of your life.... Hope everyone realizes and feels what true love is...

Another coda, one less often seen, reads thusly:

No one really knows what tomorrow holds in store for you, you might not live to see the next day and sometimes you have to tell someone something but run out of time to do so. So take five minutes out of your time to tell someone you love them because you really never know if this is the last day of your life.

These end notes explain the moral of the tale, that it is important to frequently reassure the folks who are important in your life that you love them. While you won't catch us preaching against the value of constantly repeated expressions of affection in successful relationships, the premise of the story about the helmet-less swain is flawed — failure to utter "I love you" does not mean you risk your nearest and dearest's not knowing such information if you were to suddenly expire.


2003 Motorcycle Helmet Safety Fact Sheet (CyberDriveIllinois.com)
Srikameswaran, Anita.   "The Beat Goes On."
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.31 March 2002   (p. H1).


Last Updated on Nov. 11, 2022

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