Buying a Motorcycle in Europe

Mar 10, 2018

RAY: A listener sent in a few basic facts for a puzzler.

TOM: And let me guess. You've embellished and obfuscated?

RAY: Of course. He said, "Some years ago, I was in the service stationed overseas. While I was there, I decided it would be fun to buy a motorcycle, the intention being that I would drive it while I was stationed in Europe. When my tour of duty was over, I would ship the bike back to the United States.

"While I'm at the motorcycle shop, the owner, recognizing that I'm a serviceman, says, 'You're going to ship this back to the States when your tour is over?'

"And I say, 'Yeah, as a matter of fact, I am.'

"He says, 'There's something you'll have to change before you can drive this thing in America.'

"I ask him, 'Can I buy this thing from you?'

"He says, 'No, I don't have one -- but you'll certainly have no trouble getting one when you get home.'

"The question is, what did I have to change on this bike before it would be legal to drive in America?"



TOM: This is either going to be brilliant or bo-o-o-gus.

RAY: Well, I happen to have --

TOM: I have to say, I have been thinking about this.

RAY: Well, that's always dangerous.

TOM: That's dangerous.

RAY: As luck would have it, I read this email ages ago.

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: And a friend of ours, Mark Nichols, has a buddy, Hayden, who's --

TOM: Yeah?

RAY: -- from England and bought his motorcycle there, just like this guy did.

TOM: Yeah. Well, I have already narrowed it down to England.

RAY: He didn't buy it in Germany or France.

TOM: I already, I already knew that.

RAY: He buys his motorcycle in England and --

TOM: And he had to buy a different mirror.

RAY: A... no. You're close.

TOM: Not a different mirror?

RAY: No, and I asked him, "Did you have to change the headlight?" And he says "Yes, in fact, I did because the Brits drive on the left-hand side of the road, and the reflector in the headlight is aimed to the left."

TOM: Oh.

RAY: So that, if you're driving straight down the road, and traffic is coming toward you, and you're driving now straight down the road in America, your headlight --

TOM: It's going to be --

RAY: -- will be blinding people as they approach you because the reflectors in American headlights aim the beam slightly to the right for right-hand driving.

TOM: Wow. See, well, I didn't know that.

RAY: Well.

TOM: I didn't, and I decided it had to be the mirror and had to be England. But then, I didn't like that answer because there are plenty of motorcycles --

RAY: And you were ready to pounce on me. I can see the bo- just forming on your lips.

TOM: It was. But I, no, this is fine. Even though it may be bogus, you're not sure anyway.


Get the Car Talk Newsletter