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What goes up ...

Published:Saturday | May 5, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Tony Deyal, Contributor

It is said that the reason so many people buy BMWs is that it is the only vehicle brand name they can spell. Some wits then play with the initials and you get 'Brings Me Women', 'Bavarian Murder Weapon' and 'Big Money Waste'.

However, BMW as 'Beautiful Mechanical Wonder' and 'Best Motorbike Worldwide' might have been the reason that Henry Wolf bought a 1993 BMW motorbike, but it is another play on the BMW brand name that brought him grief. In his case, BMW meant 'Bothered My Willy'.

Henry Wolf, a California man, said he changed the seat on his motorbike and bought an after-market 'ridged' seat which sells for about US$200 or more. These are supposedly more comfortable than the standard motorbike seats. They can be customised for the user and some come heated. Mr Wolf did not say if his seat was heated, but even if it was, the heat seems to have been transferred to the wrong place.

Mr Wolf claims that after a four-hour ride in 2010 using the 'ridged' seat, he developed a case of priapism, or long-lasting erection. The condition is named after the Greek god Priapus, who is normally depicted with a huge erection. He is the protector of livestock, vegetable gardens and male genitalia, though not in that particular order. Statues of Priapus were common in ancient Greece and Rome, standing in gardens or at doorways and crossroads. To propitiate Priapus, the traveller would stroke the statue's penis as he passed by.

For those of us unable to avoid the Cialis commercials, priapism is what they warn you about when they say to contact your doctor if you have an erection that lasts more than four hours. Of course, if it lasts two years, you contact your lawyer, which is what Mr Wolf did.

Wait first

However, like the Cialis commercial, let me give you a warning. If without reading the rest of the story, you feel the urge to run off and buy a BMW motorbike with a ridged seat, wait four hours and then decide.

After two years of priapism, normally considered an emergency medical condition, Mr Wolf has sued BMW and the seatmakers, Corbin-Pacific. Claiming that both the design of the bike and the seat were responsible, Mr Wolf wants to get back his lost wages and medical expenses, and to be compensated for emotional distress and 'general damage'. Mr Wolf's lawyer, Vernon Bradley, said that Wolf "has been experiencing continuing problems since his motorcycle ride and is now unable to engage in sexual activity, which is causing him substantial emotional and mental anguish".

The lawsuit is as unusual a case as Mr Wolf's experience (I would have said 'hair-raising', but that would not be accurate). There are doubts whether Mr Wolf was on the up-and-up or wanted to get as big a raise from BMW and Corbin-Pacific as he claimed to have got on the bike. Perhaps, as one wit said, he wanted to take the two companies for a ride. Others said he was crying wolf.

High court matter

BMW claims that the bike itself was not the problem, and it doesn't see why it should be saddled with the lawsuit. A few people are even commending Mr Wolf for taking a stand on such an important male issue. Clearly, it is a High Court matter, and everything is still up in the air.

It seems that if motorbike seats affect your sex life at all, it is more like a downward than an upward spiral. A blog, 'All About Bikes', notes that there have been several instances alleging erectile dysfunction as a result of narrow motorcycle seats, and this appears to be the first case where a medical condition with the exact opposite effect has been alleged.

Michigan Institute of Urology's Dr Michael Luts said there is no medical data to support Wolf's claim. He cited evidence that riding a motorcycle for an extended period of time typically works against the body's ability to achieve sexual arousal. Dr Luts explained, "It's been long known that compression of the neurovascular supply to the penis - if it's compressed for a period of time, whether it be on a bicycle seat or some other device - it can actually cause prolonged numbness of the genitalia." Dr Luts says that not only men, but women can also get numbness in that region if they're compressing those nervous structures to that region of the body.

One of my friends who had seen the story of Henry Wolf asked pointedly, "What's his problem?" Of course, the last time I spoke to him about a corporal punishment problem in a Trinidad school where a woman was reportedly suspended for spanking kids, his response was, "There are some men who pay good money for that."

You also pay good money for any erectile dysfunction problem, so if you're tempted to go out and buy a BMW bike, you better think long and hard.

Tony Deyal was last seen saying that most motorbike problems are caused by the nut between the handlebars and the saddle.