By on January 25, 2013

Many years ago, I was bombing my Zoke-Z1-equipped Klein down a trail in Ohio’s Caesar Creek park when I took a wrong turn and found myself heading towards a farmer’s field. I saw a flash, a glint, in midair fifty feet ahead of me and I jammed both brakes, coming to a heaving halt an arm’s length away from a brand-new bit of barbed wire strung across the trail, presumably at the farmer’s property line. It was at about the right elevation to catch me across the chest, but it would have caught a child at the neck.

Lacking a tool with which to cut the hazard down, I twisted up two large branches in the wire so it would be obvious to the less attentive then went on my way, my general contempt for man’s inhumanity to cyclist freshly reinforced. When I quit racing bikes and started focusing on cars, I figured I’d never see anything like that again. It would appear I was wrong.

Stringing barbed wire across roads is now Officially A Thing. It’s damaging PT Cruisers in Michigan. It’s terrifying pensioners in the UK. It’s cutting pedestrians in Pakistan.

The concept of booby-trapping or attacking random motorists is far from new; it’s been around as long as the car itself and will likely remain well into the future — but the nature and frequency of such incidents offers some insight into how motorists are viewed by the general public. The current recession has put a lot of people on foot. If (let’s not kid ourselves… as) that situation continues, it won’t be long before some genuine populist aggression starts to stir, however passively it might manifest itself.

Of course, where there’s a populist will, there’s a capitalist way. Perhaps BMW will bring the “wire-cutter” Roundel into production:

In the meantime — eyes up, and watch the behavior of cars ahead of you. But you’re doing that anyway, right?

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30 Comments on “If They Made A Movie About This, They Could Call It “Wired For Death”...”

  • avatar

    Something similar to this is a REAL ISSUE in Brazil.

    It’s quit common for children to have “kite battles” where the kite string is coated with glue/broken glass. The kids battle and try to cut the other ones string. The losing kite often ends up in trees, power lines, etc with the glass encoated “tail” hanging down.

    I first learned about this when I went to ride a motorcycle in Brazil (dual sport — the most common type there it seems) and it had a large metal pole on the front handlebars with a curved hook on the end. The bike that was lent to me was a relatively powerful Falcon N400.

    I asked my wife wtf this thing was and she said it was to keep from getting decapitated by glass coated kite strings. Hopefully the hook would snap the kite string if there was one I couldn’t see while I was riding.

    I kid you not.

    • 0 avatar

      For added protection there are some helmets that you can fit a metal plate to protect the throat area. See, no biggie, protect yourself, it’s only kids playing!

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks Marcelo, I didn’t know that!

        I actually brought my own gear when I went out there (leather jacket/gloves, US Dot/snell certified helmet and boots). Both Americans & Brazilians I talked to told me the US snell/dot helmets are better than what is sold in Brazil but technically illegal since they don’t have the proper sticker….

      • 0 avatar

        Hey Robstar!

        It’s true. You have to have the INMETRO sticker. As is you’re running the risk of being ticketed. But it doesn’t really matter. The important thing is that you be protected.

        Many times I1ve thought of owning a bike. I always chicken out. Potholes, bad equipment, crazy insurance, and yes, kites. It’s an adventure, that’s for sure.

        Be safe!

  • avatar

    “presumably at the farmer’s property line” — can you elaborate?

    • 0 avatar

      The farmer marked his property line with fencing, using barbed wire.

      Barbed wire was originally intended to keep cattle off the fences, and it was cheap and strong.

      There is even a barbed wire museum in Spearfish, SD…I checked it out on a fishing/camping trip. Just walls and walls of barbed wire.

      • 0 avatar
        Felis Concolor

        I have no idea how many unique types of barbed wire have been patented, but I’m certain it’s somewhere in the hundreds at least.

        They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To Dept: A quick search pulled up numerous vendors of barbed wire toilet seats, but they are of the unimaginative single type variety. Back at the upcountry farm property, our toilets had seats featuring a score of unique barbed wire types embedded in the Lucite lid and ring.

  • avatar

    If your property has any kind of visible trail access you will get constant trespassers on bikes and quads. A bit unnerving when that trail comes over a hill that you were using as a .223 backstop at the time. Beyond that they steal stands, rut up the trails when the ground is soft, poach deer, and leave their garbage such as empty oil cans behind.

    That doesn’t nearly justify putting decapitating wire up and potentially going to prison to me, but I can understand how someone might be tempted to.

    • 0 avatar
      johnny ro

      +1 for good fences.

      Near me people push up a dirt berm to block an unwanted trail, or use concrete lane barriers, or chain link. Or the town does it.

      On LI, Kings Park, early 1970s, a high school friend was semi-decapitated on his dirt bike, down near the dump, it was a mantrap someone did for fun. The others low sided and then stood there helpless.

    • 0 avatar

      In New Hampshire – which, admittedly, is more backwoods than farm country – this is dealt with using fences and posting your property as being off-limits.

      Where I grew up, there was only one incident like this, in which a snowmobiler was killed by an intentionally-obscured felled tree in a teenage prank… most property owners either leave it to the cops or just walk out with a shotgun and suggest that you go away.

  • avatar

    Big rubber bands can send the same message without inflicting bodily or property damage. Hell, a few strands of properly strung thread will get your attention.

  • avatar

    Just how long does it take to moderate a comment?

  • avatar

    Saddened thinking of all my old “parking” spots being closed off to future generations.

  • avatar

    I had heard that wire strung across roads in order to thwart biker gangs during the ’60s led to the popularization of ape-hanger handlebars on choppers; not sure if this is true but it makes for an interesting story.

    Also the Nazis used this dirty trick to wound or kill GIs riding in open jeeps during WWII.

  • avatar

    Reminds me of the scene near the end of The Great Escape movie, where Steve McQueen ‘wires’ a German soldier to get his motorcycle.

    I’m shocked that people do it today for entertainment.

  • avatar

    I broke many a derailleur hanger at ol’ Ceasar Creek. Never ran across the barbed wire though.

  • avatar

    In my sportbike days in S.E. Pennsylvania one curve was occasionally coated with oil. Not all locals liked us ripping through the area.

  • avatar

    One of my friends was killed on his dirt bike a couple of years ago when a property owner strung a chain across a trail that had been used by cyclists, hikers, dirt bikers, snowmobiles, etc. for years. No ribbon or any sort of warning, just a chest-height piece of chain. Hit him in the chest, slid up, and cut his neck. Right in front of two other friends. Such a horrible lack of judgement on the man who put it up.

    • 0 avatar
      Volts On Fire

      If your friend was trespassing on someone else’s property – even if people had been doing it “for years” – you receive no sympathy from me.

      There seems to be no regard at all today for not infringing on what rightfully belongs to others. The more persons who insist on disrespecting others’ property, the more we’ll see solutions exactly like this one.

      • 0 avatar

        Nice sentiment, I should bury landmines in my front yard to keep out runaway dogs and kids playing catch. That’ll teach ’em.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s bullshit. I hope the property owner faced some consequences for that. I understand not wanting people to trespass on your property but he should have put ribbons, no trespassing signs, etc to make sure people know they are trespassing. No sympathy? Come on man…

      • 0 avatar
        Volts On Fire

        I’m going to take an educated guess that the landowner had probably tried less extreme measures to stop bikers from riding down the trails on his property. I’m going to take an equally educated guess that those more civil efforts didn’t work.

        Because, see, some people feel entitled to what isn’t theirs…

        By the way, I’m hardly a libertarian. I don’t think the vast majority of the unwashed masses of this country are especially worthy of many rights they already have.

      • 0 avatar

        That sentiment is immoral. Period. I understand the frustration regarding trespassers, but killing obstructions are wrong.

        That said, careful about condemnation of the property owner. He could be morally innocent (although legally liable). If the legal culture of an area was such that trespassing went unenforced, trail obstructions are often placed by a (trespassing) 2nd nearby property owner. The 2nd property owner sends the (brutal) message to trespassers AND escapes liability. It’s a win/win for the 2nd property owner and a lose/lose for both the primary property owner and the dead/maimed/injured trespasser.

    • 0 avatar

      The property owner is definitely liable on that one under the law (as opposed to “in libertarian paradise”).

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah, but… I farm about 1700 acres, some of it mine but most of it leased. Every city feller that has a 1/2 acre yard with a house on it seems to own a four wheeler or a gator and to feel that they have a God given right to ride that machine on any land that doesn’t have a house on every available flat spot. The Sheriff says they don’t have time to try to catch trespassers because they might miss some scofflaw driving 61 in a 55, so what should I do. Take my tractor to the subdivision on the golf course and ride thru the city folks yards. The cops would probably take that more seriously.

  • avatar

    I would have taken it one step further and came back the next day with wire cutters. What an a**hole.

    And I trump your Z1 with the XC400 (drilled forks for lightness!) on my Bridgestone MB-1, back in the day. Never made it to Caesar Creek, but we frequented the Poto up in Pinckney when I was a more adept rider.

  • avatar

    Is that a Commodore at :59 in the movie clip? It’s Volvo-type headlamps are making me confused. When they show the back it looks like a Vauxhall Carlton.

    Side note: I love how when the S-Class runs over the tire spikes there’s a nice bit of flame. Now I know why there’s always a fire when I get a flat.

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