David Hough is a longtime motorcyclist and journalist. Over 30 years, his daily motorcycle commutes through city traffic provided an ongoing stream of experiences from which he wrote articles about riding skills and accident avoidance tactics. His work has appeared in numerous motorcycle publications, but he is perhaps best known for the monthly skills series “Proficient Motorcycling” in Motorcycle Consumer News.
Hough first started riding a motorcycle in 1965 as a straightforward mode of transportation for his daily commute. But his natural curiosity about all things mechanical made him wonder about the behavior of two-wheelers. He realized that, “riding motorcycles involved not only mechanics but also the dynamics of how to control them.”
In the mid-1970s, while working full-time in the Flight Training Center at Boeing, Hough started writing about his riding experiences and occasionally contributed to Road Rider, a small Southern California magazine. He also offered safety tips at local motorcycle club meetings and taught several "road survival" courses. When the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) came into being, he became an MSF-certified instructor.
The “Proficient Motorcycling” column debuted in the May 1984 issue of Road Rider, after editor Bob Carpenter asked Hough to write a six-part skills series, which he intended to publish every other month for one year. Hough didn't want to label it as a safety column, because he didn't think people rode motorcycles to be safe. But he figured readers might rise to the challenge of becoming more proficient.
Hough wrote that his original commute to work aboard a motorcycle, “extended to a 40-year passion. I absorbed more than a few lessons about motorcycle dynamics and experienced the joys and challenges of long-distance touring, group riding, foreign travel, three-wheeled motorcycling, off-pavement riding, fighting for motorcyclists’ rights, rider training, and, yes, writing about it all.”
When Road Rider magazine was reborn as Motorcycle Consumer News (MCN) in 1991, the “Proficient Motorcycling” column continued without skipping a beat. Even when Hough retired and trained his replacement, Ken Condon. “Proficient Motorcycling” is still a popular feature of the magazine, and is often cited by rider-training professionals as the best single source of riding tips and advice ever written for both novice and veteran riders. Riding a motorcycle can be a dangerous activity, but reading “Proficient Motorcycling” can significantly reduce those risks by teaching people how to ride more safely and smartly.
Books by David Hough include: Street Strategies: A Survival Guide for
Motorcyclists; Driving A Sidecar Outfit, a manual on learning to drive a motorcycle/sidecar combination; Proficient Motorcycling: The Ultimate Guide to Riding Well; and More Proficient Motorcycling: Mastering the Ride.
Proficient Motorcycling is a winner of the American Library Association’s Gold Seal Award. Hough is also a two-time winner of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's National Award for Excellence in Motorcycle Safety Journalism. He is a retired chief instructor of the Sidecar Safety Program, and quite possibly the only journalist in the world with sidecar training experience. He is credited with educating legislators on the realities of motorcycle safety and assisting in the creation of corporate and public-sector safety programs in the United States and Canada. Many colleagues testify of Hough’s selfless desire to bring safety information to riders everywhere. One letter in support of Hough’s Hall of Fame nomination stated: “This lifetime of effort is not profit-driven. There are no trophies at the finish line, no accolades from a grateful community. Dave’s work is one of genuine concern for the safety of his fellow rider.”
"By the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame giving me this honor, it's good for me and I appreciate this recognition, but it's bigger than that," Hough said. "It's honoring all the people who write and teach about motorcycle skills and safety, as well as the dealers in the sport who make safety awareness an integral part of selling a motorcycle."
Hough is also an artist, photographer and world traveler. He continues to attend and present at motorcycle events and currently has three motorcycles in the garage, including a BRP Can-Am Spyder three-wheeler. At the time of his induction into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, he and wife Diana resided in Port Angeles, Wash. Their son, Dan, is a motorcycle enthusiast and commutes to work by motorcycle in the Washington, D.C., area.
Hough was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2009.