2nd June 2016
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Motorcycles and their Riders
What is it about the motorcycle that makes us want to own it? Why is it the centrepiece of our material, secular lives? What's the attraction, asks Dennis W Lid...
The look, sound, power and control, the freedom, mobility and individualism, and finally the enjoyment that the motorcycle provides us are all part of the attraction to the two-wheeled beast. It is the same kind of natural enticement felt by the pony express riders of the early west. There is a sense of danger, speed, bravado, and uniqueness that accompanies the attraction. In addition, the skill, adroitness and finesse with which an adept rider handles the steel horse are akin to creating a work of art. Carving a safe path through traffic, keeping your line on a sweeping or tight curve and blasting through the straight-a-ways are indeed parts of the art form.
Then, again, there are individual rationales for the rider’s preference.
Such as the preference for sport bikes.
Or a preference for heavy cruisers.
For some motorcyclists, the bike is the latest present-day toy. It is either the biggest, most expensive cruiser with all the latest bells-and-whistles attached, or it is a personal pocket-rocket with which to enjoy the adrenaline rush. These riders relish the wind-in-the face, bugs- in-the-teeth raw image and performance of the latest model bike. They are always in quest of having the newest and the best bike available. It is part of their image. ‘Had, having and in quest to have,’ as Shakespeare would say, the latest and the greatest seems to be their motto. They usually change or update their bikes almost annually. You might call them bike junkies.
Then there are the hobbyists. These riders and owners usually have an eye for the classic motorcycle. They know a fine work of art when they see one. They buy, rebuild, restore, perhaps show it and, sometimes, even ride it. For them, the classic bike is an object of lasting joy. They hold it dear to their heart as a work of art. The time and effort spent in restoring the classic to its original condition and operating capacity is prolonged, laborious and endearing. The owner becomes obsessive about his possession - his object d’art. It is more than a motorcycle; it becomes a symbol of grandeur.
The exhibitionists, on the other hand, want to attract attention and express their individualism through their bikes. Some of the custom and full-dress cruiser riders fall into this category. Both they and their bikes are all decked out with the latest fashion, accessories and style notes. Uniqueness befitting each individual biker seems to be their goal in the way they have formed and outfitted themselves and their motorcycles. You will find them displaying themselves and their mounts along Main Street and in front of boulevard cafes. Their bikes are their self-impressions and expressions. If their looks don’t get your attention, their noise sure will. It’s impossible to avoid noticing them, and most often they provide a brief but enjoyable entertainment.
The touring group is another segment of the cruiser, usually heavyweight, set of riders and bikes. These are the ones who go on the long tours to enjoy the open road and elements. Bikes and riders are well equipped for such long-haul rides, which are made overnight or during a period of several days, weeks or even months. These folks stress camaraderie, comfort, dependability, safety and enjoyment on every moment of their long and short tours. You will see them on most of the highways and byways of almost every nation on earth. Befriend them when you meet them along the way. They are most often the salt of the earth.
The sport bike and rider is the next interesting category of the motorcycle tribe. His primary interest lies in acceleration and exhilaration. Yes, this rider loves the open road, the scenery, the camaraderie of like-inclined souls and both long and short-haul rides. He is at home on group tours and solo runs alike. To the sport bike rider there is nothing better than a twisting mountain road taken at speed to provide the adrenalin rush he thrives on. High speed autobahn or expressway sweepers provide an alternate form of satisfaction. Give him the slightest excuse to ride and he will do so at the drop of a hat. He will travel light, sacrificing a degree of comfort to remain flexible and ready for the adventure that lies ahead. If it’s on the edge adventure that you want, this is the way to go. Be advised - sport bike riding is highly addictive.
Endurance, spills and thrills are the domain of the off-road bike and motorcyclist. This is the realm in which one grooms one’s rugged competitive skills the most. There is nothing gentle about it. It takes all the internal fortitude that a rider has to compete in the off-road events of enduro, trials, cross-country runs, hill-climbing, scrambles, flat-track, jumping, motocross, etc. These take the greatest skill, stamina and courage that a rider can muster. As with drag racing and high-speed racetrack racing, off-road events are not for the faint of heart or the physically feeble. Oh, yes, and the adrenaline will flow here as well. You’re missing half the fun of motorcycling if you have not tried off-road riding and competitive events. They are special to the point of being extreme, and sometimes even bizarre.
For some people, motorcycles are a business to earn a living. Their motorcycle business is special as well. The manufacturers, bike dealers and specialists are the providers of our two-wheeled joy. Manufacturers produce a dizzying array of quality motorcycles of all types to satisfy the desires of their customers through dealers. Dealers sell and provide after sales service for those bikes for years to keep them in prime running condition. The sales and service of bikes and parts can be expensive, but they are also necessary. Some brands, like Harley-Davidson, BMW and others have even created a mystique or image that goes along with ownership of their products. As an owner, you become a member of an exclusive club - almost like a family - by virtue of owning the brand. Finally, there are specialists who provide performance accessories and special touches to enhance motorcycle performance and appearance. All of these folks support motorcyclists and attempt to fulfill their fondest dreams. We bikers simply could not get along without all of them, just as they can not get along without us.
There is another group of motorcyclists worthy of mention whose livelihood centers on riding the steel steed. This element earns a living by acts of daring and danger. They are the exhibitionists, the adventurers, the challengers, competitors and daredevils throughout the ages, the likes of Evel Knievel and his son who survives him, and all the others who race, jump, hill climb, drag or otherwise let it all hang out to earn the almighty buck in competition. Bless them all, past and present, for being the lifeblood of our sport, for bringing attention to it and making it known and liked. Their efforts and exertions yield improvements to our future metal ponies, and for this we thank them.Honda Saber: how sweet it is.
There is an appropriate quote to end this article made famous by a deceased comedian named Jackie Gleason that goes like this: ‘How sweet it is.’ That was his way of stating the bottom line to a pleasant experience. And our bottom line is this. For all of us, it is pure joy.
It’s the motorcycle.
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