Friday, November 25, 2011

'ARE MOTORCYCLES OVER?'

From the New York Times, Nov. 6, 2011, by poet (and motorcyclist) Frederick Seidel (and I encourage your comments on his article...):
The image accompanying this NYT article is 'Crossing the Ohio River', Danny Lyon's iconic photo of a Chicago Outlaw, from his seminal 1966 masterpiece 'The Bikeriders', which is still available in reprints.
"ARE motorcycles passé? Are they sort of over? I ask as a rider of two-wheel Italian beauties that go very fast, gracefully streamlined subsonic technology from the Ducati factory in Bologna. I own two sport bikes and two racers. I ride racing motorcycles on the street. One of my motorcycles is capable of nearly 200 miles an hour. I write prose about motorcycles. I write poems about motorcycles.

So I ask with some authority. Are motorcycles — even superb and lovely Italian motorcycles from the land of Donatello and Bertolucci — being replaced as love objects, as arm candy, by other more contemporary show-off desirables?

Electronic ones. Mostly made by Apple.

The iPhone 4S, the iPad 2, the 11-inch and 13-inch thin, light MacBook Air computers — these are the sleek gorgeousness young people go on about, have to have, and do have, in the millions. These machines, famous for the svelte dignity of their designs — and of course, far less expensive than a motorcycle — are a lens to see the world through and to do your work on. It’s their operating speeds that thrill. Young people cut a bella figura on their electronic devices.

Now, of course, it is not just the young who buy Apple products. I lay emphasis on the young, particularly young men, because they are the ones who might otherwise be buying motorcycles, and aren’t, at least not at all in the numbers they did before the economic downturn. The great recession was disastrous for motorcycle sales around the country, especially, it seems, for sport bikes, the ones that perform with brio but have no practical point to make. In other words, they are not bikes to tour on, they are not a comfortable way for you and a companion — wife or partner or friend — to travel to work or to a distant campground. You can do it, but it’s not ideal. Young riders were not buying motorcycles of any kind, and especially, it seems, not sport bikes.

Or, to say it another way, it’s as if the recession induced a coma in all the potential new motorcyclists, and in so many of the already experienced motorcyclists, from which they woke changed, changed utterly, and found themselves standing in line outside an Apple store, patiently waiting to buy the latest greatness.

They are buying a slice of what Apple does — and how it does it — and how it looks doing it. They are buying function but, just as important, they are buying glamour. The device enhances the buyer’s sense of self. It helps the person think and at the same time not think. Once, not so long ago, motorcycles did the same thing.

The 2012 1198cc Ducati Panigale, with 195hp; the most powerful twin-cylinder production engine, almost approaching NSU's 200hp/litre of the 1956 Rennmax, the first motorcycle to reach this lofty output, over 50 years ago, with another twin-cylinder engine (250cc).

In a few days, at the International Motorcycle Show in Milan, Ducati will introduce a radically new sport bike called the Panigale, after Borgo Panigale, the neighborhood on the outskirts of Bologna where the Ducati factory is. The Ducati people are being secretive about how the Panigale will look and how it will perform. But there have been spy photos of the bike being tested on the Mugello circuit, with the former World Superbike champion Troy Bayliss aboard, and plenty of rumors and speculation about the tech specs.

We know this much. It will make brave hearts beat faster. It will weigh less than its predecessor. It will have a new sort of frame. It will have an ingenious new exhaust system. It will handle. It will be fast. It will be beautiful. How many Ducati followers — the Ducatisti — will have to have one? Some.

Oh, for the days — not so long ago — when a boy’s world would have fallen to its knees before a new Ducati design.

In Dallas, at Advanced Motorsports, his motorcycle dealership, Jeff Nash, a gentleman and one of the great Ducati racebike tuners in America, and a racer himself, deplores the passivity of the young who would rather be home with their iPads playing computer games than astride the red-meat lightning of an 1198 Superbike blazing down a Texas highway making that unmistakable growling deep Ducati sound. Mr. Nash would go further.

Better to be out in the air astride just about any motorcycle alive!"


Frederick Seidel is the author of the poetry collections “Ooga-Booga” and, most recently, “Poems, 1959-2009."

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

QUEM NUNCA ENGOLIU UNS MOSQUITOS NÃO PERCEBE NADA DE MOTOS ;)

camerabanger said...

A few days ago I mentioned to a coworker that I sometimes tend to go a little too fast on the road when I ride my motorcycle. He got a strange look on his face and asked me if I "seriously rode a motorcycle?" Partly because of my age (I am eligible for social security)but I sensed that there was a social comment implicit in the comment as well. I get a lot of that when ever it becomes known that I like bikes. I think the author has hit on a tech trend and it is accurate.

GuitarSlinger said...

Oh dear Paul , have you ever opened up a serious can of worms with this one .

HFL came up with a rebuttal ( that in fact was not ) to Mr Seidel's article and the Firestorm that ensued was beyond description

My personal view on Mr Seidel's article is , like it or not ( and I don't ) the man is making an irrefutable point . Sure there's the exception to the rule ( thank goodness ) but the overwhelming majority of young men these days would rather spend their money and time on their Wii's and iPads rather than take the time and effort to learn how to ride , never mind maintain a Motorcycle .

But ........ do I believe motorcycling is over ? Well in light of Vinyl supposedly meeting its demise because of CDs in the 80's , now to become the ONLY aspect of Music Retail ( including downloads ) to have increases in sales ; the so called demise of books and magazines in print , yet we're now seeing a rise in new publications ( magazines ) as well as the resurgence of the Independent Bookseller .... my answer would be no

I'll guess that yes M/Cling will decline but what goes around comes around and there'll be another resurgence of motorcycling as well , especially once the ADD Dyslexic Hummingbird generation begins to realize the Ephemeral nature of their electronic pursuits and start looking for a bit more lasting meaning in their lives

rudgerudge said...

Lets face it motorcycles have become pleasure objects, I ride for work and once the weather deteriorates I see less motorcycles on the road every year.
They are expensive and a car is so much easier and even easier still is sitting at home playing grand theft auto.
I say forget it and enjoy what you want to do. BUT don't rely on your bike as an investment unless it is museum quality!

M Ross L said...

I'm glad you reposted this. I read it when it was first published and I was disappointed that nytimes.com didn't allow for any discussion. I had a hard time wrapping my head around the logic, but I don't think it is without merit. I personally don't own an ipad, but I'm a slave to my other apple products through my work as a graphic designer. I've considered selling off electronics to purchase a new motorcycle, but it wouldn't come near the initial down payment. If a new apple laptop were $1,700, then the base price of the aforementioned bike would be 10x's that. Apple products have a tendency to span the line of work and leisure, but it is hard to justify a motorcycle as a work related purchase.

That was my knee jerk reaction to the article. As I thought about it more, I remember pinning my Lambo Diablo poster to my wall. I remember riding my bicycle down hills, fantasizing that it was a 1989 GSX-R 750. Now, I see my younger male relatives playing games through the holidays on their iPhones and game boys. They don't care about motorcycles or cars, really. It makes me realize what I "think" this article is really about. But the same young males that play those games probably don't read the NY Times. So now I'm left feeling like the article is actually just a really beautiful piece of poetry, something of an addendum to his article in Nov '09 Harper's Magazine. I'd like to thank Mr. Seidel for both articles, and the little bit of his poetry that I've read thus far.

michael said...

are bikes over, no. scooters are surging, and there's a whole new generation of electric power coming, maybe with an apple logo.

Anonymous said...

A few years ago I planned to go to the NY motorcycle show, at my brother's for Christmas, I asked him if it would be OK if I invited my 13 YO nephew to join me. "Go ahead," my brother said, "but I'll be shocked if he accepts." Sure enough I asked him and the answer, almost without considering the offer, was no. I still shake my head, at the same age I would crawled over ground glass to go to a motorcycle or car show.

Jim

The Vintagent said...

I was speaking with a friend who owns a bike shop in SF, on this very topic yesterday. The trend towards 'virtualization' has negative consequences in so many ways...even MIT has recommended 'shop' classes be re-introduced at High Schools, as they see a very big difference between engineers with physical hobbies, and those who play computer games - they think differently, and those with tactile skills come up with better, more practical, and more accurate solutions.
Mr Seidel isn't claiming 'bikes are dead', but raises some interesting points about our the literal 'state of play'...
A last thought; online porn will never replace sex; thus it is with motorcycles...simulated thrills can never compete with the real thing, once you've experienced it. And that may be the rub.

Anonymous said...

they may be over for people (many are current ducati owners) for whom they were never more than a must have accessory or a fashion statement. those people won't be missed. i started riding, and racing, when motorcycling was fringe. when the AMA would not let you race if your leathers were too 'black' (see: david aldana and the infamous bones leathers at daytona). i will still be riding when the last mortgage broker has sold his fully carbon fibered up, only ridden to bike nights, rossi rep 1198 and moved on to the next shiny thing. so will my friends.
Lenny

Anonymous said...

When I started riding (not that long ago) you could buy the most exotic new or vintage bikes for about the price of a new pickup truck. Most Apple products are about the price of a pair of tires and a tuneup. Wanna know whats killing motorcycles? The internet and the stratospheric prices paid for collectable bikes. When was the last time you got something really good on the cheap 'cause the guy didn't really know or care what he had. If bikes become passe it will be because the interesting people that lend their mystique to them can't afford them anymore.

- Duff

Anonymous said...

I bought my CB350 in 2009, my CB450 in 2010. And im a poor college student. I may be in my twenties, but I dont spend my days playing video games. I learn everything I can about machining. I use my lathe almost daily. I learn everything that I can about working on bikes from the generations before me. I choose to be involved with bikes not to be "seen", but because I absolutely love the way they make me feel. So dont discount everyone from my generation just yet!

Shawn

Anonymous said...

Motorcycles aren't over but they're not a necessity and the cost of participation is too high. Our industry (I'm part of the moto industry) has done a wonderful job of eliminating all but the most committed. Young people are not focused on bikes and motorcycling continues to be a middle-aged, white guy pursuit. Yes, there are exceptions, but the core demo of American motorcyclists are not women or ethnics. We (our industry) don't make it easy to get started in motorcycling and that's an Achilles heel we've struggled with for decades.
Scott C.

Anonymous said...

It might be tough times for 5 figure shiny superbikes, but bikes are far from "over." If anything, as evidenced by Shawn's experience above (as well as my own subjective motorcycle journey), the interest in vintage and custom bikes seems to be building in strength. Then there's the fact that as the power and handling abilities of modern motorcycles increase, you're risking some serious penalties for exercising half of their capabilities on public roads.
Elliot

Nortley said...

I never go anywhere in the car without the ipod. I've never taken it on a bike. You can put a digital dash on a bike but you can't go for a dash on a digital device.

Anonymous said...

First off, I think it's irrelevant that one of the author's motorcycles "is capable of nearly 200 miles an hour." What does it matter if it goes 200 or 40? His specific emphasis on speed goes to show the naivety of the rest of the article. You can make the exact same argument against boats, hot rods, planes, bicycles, etc. Remember when arcades were popular? Then the NES game system came out and changed everything. Surely nobody was going to waste time riding a motorcycle when they could be home shooting ducks and rescuing princesses. Believe it or not there are people that own Apple products AND ride! It's ridiculous to think that technology, no matter how advanced will completely replace the visceral experience of riding a motorcycle. Sure, sales might be down in a certain part of the market but did the author stop to think that maybe there are certain manufacturers that have been sucking at making an attractive product for the younger generation? Two words - Harley Davidson. YAWN. Not only have they failed to introduce anything exciting in forever but they also dumped Buell who is lead by one of the greatest minds in the industry today. If they started making forward thinking bikes with fresh and original designs then it wouldn't be such an issue. By the way, I single out HD because they're supposed to be the face of American riding and they have been failing badly but it goes for more than just them. Don't get me wrong, I love my iPhone as much as the next geek but to write an article called "Are motorcycles over?" because of tech is just depressing.

Anonymous said...

I have a $600 motorbike that I bought from someone who didn't know what it was and was disappointed it couldn't be turned into a 'cafe racer' by just throwing money at Deus Ex Machina.

As far as I'm concerned, the sudden unpopularity of motorcycles among the young is great. I can continue to buy $600 Japanese classics and restore them for next to nothing and ride them into old age. Go get your iPads, I'm quite happy to pick up the slack.

Grandpa Jimbo said...

I have a theory about why so few young people are interested in bikes. There must be a seed planted at some time early in young peoples lives. Maybe dad had a bike. Maybe his best friend's dad had a bike. Somehow exposure must be made. Proof: I belong to a RC model airplane club. A decade ago we were all old, retired and with failing eyesight. We decided to help ourselves attract young people to the hobby by having mall shows and open flying days where anyone who shows up can be helped to actually fly one. Ten years later our picture has changed. More and more young people are showing up wanting to join and learn to fly RC. I think either you or Pete Young suggested having an open ride day where anyone with a drivers license can show up and be taught to ride a motor bike. Then they're hooked.

Jim A., Tucson, AZ

Anton D NL said...

After the 'boom'in motorcycle sales, a decline was inevitable. Owning is one thing, riding another. There are (were?) so many wannabees that were disappointed that the girl-magnet did work that well after all...
Girls (and boys)these days wear cloths that are not up to a fast motorcycle. Fashion in the seventies of the last century (God; I'm old) was (in that regard) a lot better! Now I touch another point; the seventies 'freedom'' theme; a lot of us started riding to be 'free', free from parents, explore new things. Now kids do indeed have an iPad for that, most of them are 'real' friends with their parents. There is no need to rebel, you [like] a cause on Facebook, that's it.
This, plus the fact that (manual!) service-work is considered something that makes you dirty, it does have no appeal to kids anymore. I DO hope there will be a group of youngsters that are still fascinated by two wheelers when we are gone and I DO see a few youngsters still interested in older motorcycles and are willing to fork out a lot of money to keep these running.
That we get rid of wannabees is not such a bad case, but there are threaths to motorcycling that get bigger when the group is becoming too small:
Ongoing legistlation!
It does not make it easier for motorcycles to be still accepted on the road when there are too little people actually riding. It is said to be very dangerous, than other arguments against it, like pollution etc. makes it almost inpossible to survive. All in all it is an anti-social thing to ride a motorcycle: maybe we should ban them?
That is a fear I have for some time.
Than we all have left is a iPad in our hands, with a 'game' to simulate a brisk ride in the mountains, a tin of oil burning on the stove and a hairdryer for the wind in our hair: Va-Vrooommm..

Anonymous said...

Not to mention if the lead image from Lyon's "The Bikeriders" doesn't make you want to drop what you are doing and get out there, you might be dead...
Duff

Hairy Larry said...

I guess I qualify as an old fart playing with bikes still, after getting my first Honda Scrambler in 1968. Yeah,I cry about not buying and stashing more oldies away...but things are what they are, E-Bay isn't going away. You know, some people aren't meant to be on bikes.My sister got on a Trail 90 and went 3 feet, fell off and never got on one again. (She loves here Apple products). Her oldest son is a Programmer/design kind of guy who got into street biking several years ago. Her youngest son just got a job at an off-road park that requires him to ride a bike and a quad. He still loves his computer games, but is fast becoming a motorcycle fan. I remember their mother saying no son of hers was going to ride a bike as long as they lived under her roof. But with two motorcycle riding Uncles as role models...the worlds always changing.Let people find their own way, and I know there is a Goldstar out there for me still, just got to find it.

Humo said...

I'm 44, and so, I'm of a generation when boys dreamt on motorcycles. This is partially lost, I fear. Electronic devices (Iphones IPads, Samsungs or wehatever) are the substitutive dreamt objects. I only see this passion for bikes in young people whose parents love bikes also. What was spontaneous, seems now to need an education. I'm also father, and I fear the moment she'll want to go alone, but now, everything she asks me to ride, I do, and we share fantastic (AND UNSHARED, just ours) moments.
Cars are easier,and evidently more practical. However, after a difficult working day, going back home on car is not anything but suffering traffic jam. Going back home on bike is always the best moment of the day. That's impossible to explain, and perhaps the reason why motorcycles will never be over.

Anonymous said...

This is a curious article since it tries for a broad statement then misses the point. Motorcycles are fading in the US simply because there are so few affordable motorcycles that would inspire anyone to want them. Small is too small and mid-size is too big and powerful for the inexperienced. The cost of ownership has skyrocketed as well. I recently bought a new motorcycle, as transportation, and it was a difficult process to find something practical. These were not motorcycles, but "lifestyle accessories".

Many motorcycles have reached the point of being pointless. It's fine to aspire to a massively powerful race-like machine but frustrating to own.

Bringing something specific like motorcycles into a comparison with something broad like electronics is curious. It could have easily been any activity - like travel or sports. Why go anywhere or do anything when you can virtualize/simulate it safely and inexpensively?

That's where the "problem" is. I prefer to live a real life with real challenges and experiences. That happens to include a motorcycle.

the bicycle man said...

Motorcycles have the potential to be cheap, practical, economic on fuel, urban-traffic-congestion-busters. Symbols of indepedence, travel and oh so sexy. An "Ad" mans dream, surely? The "industry" might have lost it, but bikes will be back, and back bigtime. We need to figure a way hand the "reins" back to the kids on skate-boards and BMX bikes. Beware, the car industry will see bikes "taking market share" and fight very dirty. Keep blogging: you're doing as much as anyone else....

Anonymous said...

"almost approaching NSU's 200hp/litre of the 1956 Rennmax, the first motorcycle to reach this lofty output, over 50 years ago, with another twin-cylinder engine (250cc)"

One the link can be seen a 1953 NSU with 32hp (128 hp/l)
the 1954 bike had 36-38hp (152hp)
1956 with special fuel 43,3hp (173hp)
I think Honda did break the 200hp/l and a lot more with nomal aspiration.

heath said...

Motorcycling periodically returns to its roots, which is affordable transportation that generates a lifestyle and a sport. The boom of un-economical 200mph fashion accessories may have passed, and the market for writing about them might crash. But that was never the essence of motorcycling anyway. Some of the new motorcyclists are now hooked; gas prices will rise; and we'll yet see a new generation of smaller, smarter bikes, a renaissance of motorcycle tradition improved by the remarkable technology the boom spawned.

mrporcaro said...

As a young person into motorcycles today (building, riding and writing about), i have to say that it's not that motorcycling is over, but that there aren't many bikes that fit the youth mentality today. In the 60's, motorcycling was almost over until, with the fame of Hell's Angles and films like 'Easy Rider', the long, low choppers bike made a name for it's self as a symbol of freedom and rebellion. By late 80's, the big bad cruiser had become a slow bike that only your dad or grandpa would ride; until the big 3 started releasing sleek, clean, Asian super bikes that mirrored the feel of the mtv/thunder cats generation. Youth of today do not want HD or handamahzuki's. Youth of today want clean, light wait bikes that they can mold them self. Look at the rise of fixed gear bikes, or the resurgence and rise of customizing of mopeds in the last five years (look them, some of them are very good); the common ground between the two are that they are light, simple, and cheap to modify. They are seen as an art form to many 'hipster' youth, and the next generation of bikers will rise from the 'hipsters' as well. There are bikes that appeal to them, but they are few and far between. The Sach Mad Ass and Honda Ruckus come to mind first, but if the rest of the bike world wants to see numbers like it has in the past, it's gonna have to think small.

mmmexico said...

By and large motorcycles have always been a fringe activity...and there is nothing wrong with that. Clearly Apple products and internet technology is going to be vastly more entertaining to the great mass of people. There is really no point to discussing whether technology/Apple/Video games/digital photography, etc...are going to or have already replaced motorcycles. These wonders of technology will simply enhance the motorcycle experience for people who have been traditionally drawn to motorcycles. These are people who want to experience the world directly. We/they are in the minority. I don't feel any great compulsion to change that fact.

Very probably a significant number of motorcyclists who came to this activity because it appeared fashionable or who believed that motorcycling would make them more like Steve McQueen have abandoned the sport for the reasons outlined above. i.e. they can't afford it any more....they have been scared too many times...the uncomfortability factor...whatever. I say good riddance.

I'm not anxious for the factories to reconsider their marketing strategies. I really don't care if less sport bikes are sold now than were sold in 1995. As one commentator noted above, e-bay is filled with zero to low mileage bikes which are much more interesting to me than anything available in a Ducati/Suzuki/Honda showroom.

Forums like this one, or Southsiders, or The Selvedge Yard, etc...are increasing my enjoyment of the sport. Who cares if a lot of iPads or XBoxes are sold/ People get to make choices, and I have a lot of choices in front of me. It's never been better.
Miguel in La Paz

Mingh said...

a bit silly to compare the fall of bikes with the rise of apple. As if a 500€ phone is a competitor under the christmas tree of a 15000€ bike.
Why are the young no longer interested: simply because the biking industry doesn't give them a reason to. In a climate where parents tend to be moch more protective over their children, why on earth would you spend years worth of newsrounds on a plastic thing that much too fast for traffic, and far too expensive to be a toy.
If there's a demise, much of that is also due to legislation. Legislation: here in belgium, bike sales have risen since the law that a car drivers' license allows you to ride a 125cc.
Asia is in a situation very much like post war europe: cheap bikes are transport staple, and as people's incomes are rising, bikes will evolve into fun machines. So there's certainly a future for bikes, but more in asia than here in europe or US.

Gordon McCall said...

Leading up to the "electronic" obsession with today's youth, look no further than the invention of "T-Ball". Not their fault, but hey, if Jonnie can't hit a ball pitched to him, maybe he should be encouraged to take up something else. The incubators for motorcycling interests need to stay plugged in. Pass your interest down whenever you have the chance.........

Ron Peck said...

+1..... what Gordon said

drsprocket said...

Paul, You know me, they'll pry my chrome handlebars from my cold dead fingers. I could care less about them that don't. Their loss, our gain. Doc P.S. I don't need batteries or electricity to ride. I am however worried that we'll run out of gasoline before I pass and that would be a bummer.

mp said...

Young people do like bikes, It's just a completely different way now. As stated above, small and cheap is where it's at.
Nobody can afford to spend thousands on some bike, forget that. If people want to ride now its on to ebay for a cheap 125 or moped. hack the pipes off and change the handlebars, nice one. The other ripp off element is the bike test, like 500 quid plus, once you have the lessons and all! Who's got that sort of money as a "young person" I see a lot of kids on plastic "asbo" scooters here in london. The big bikes just are not cool enough to spend so much money on for todays youth. 125cc or under and You don't need the test here in the u.k. ASBO scooters, 125 cb's and mopeds.

Don O'Reilly said...

Interesting, thanks for posting Paul, and to all your readers who have commented.

This article does have some real good points, I do believe electronics have replaced the real thing for many generation playstation kids. I'm always surprised to meet people in their late 20s to early 30s who spend a considerable amount of time with such nonsense.

I started with street bikes almost 40 years ago. Back then it was little Hondas, inexpensive transportation. As I got into bigger and faster machines, motorcycling turned into a lifetime love, one that could not be replaced by any other.

Back then there were lots of bikes on the road, easily affordable as well. When I was 19 I bought a 5 year old t120r for $500. I don't think those opportunities exist any more.

Around here almost all riders (80%?) are guys my age or older, who ride their Harleys on weekends in packs of 20 to 40. You almost never see them alone.

I ride my 40 year old Norton whenever I can. My peers think I'm a total wacko, and I am a responsible adult. Sorta. On my 25 mile commute, I rarely see any other motorcyclists.

People don't know what they're missing, and thats ok with me.

If you have ever left the arms of a beautiful woman to ride into the darkness of night, with the torquey rumble of the bike sounding like her heartbeat in your soul, you will know that feeling of being more alive than ever before. I like being the exception, and my phone is 6 year old Motorolla.

Charles said...

took my ipad obsessed 5yr old son out for a ride in the vintage BMW sidecar this afternoon. he is hooked. that's how it works. kid- bike ride- seed Planted! not enough people do this.

sleek 200mph Ducati? Racing bike on the street? what a knob. Love to see him on his fancy fashion accessory out at a trackday.

Anonymous said...

41 years old, raised in the central U.S. - my thoughts...

I have every electronic gizmo known to man. Nothing will ever compare to sex, family, motorcycles, or good friends. (in that order)

Parents have become over protective for decades now. Childhood friendships, study habits, and freetime jammed with some sort of parental approved sport/activity are all now tightly controlled. This should be re-thought. I personally tell my children that in the end, they are responsible for themselves and that I am just there as a temporary guide to help instruct them on the path they want to pursue. I let them know that they will often be a better judge of a situation than I will be, as I only know what they tell me.

I remember being forced outside to play until diner time. Most of that play took the form of bicycle riding with my friends. We jumped, rode wheelies, bunny hoped, and did what they now call stoppies on them. We did all of this without being required to wear a helmet. Did anyone I know get hurt? No, besides gigantic skin rashes, and maybe a few fractured bones (that we never went to the hospital for) no. We played the childhood game of tag on my friends roof when his parents were gone. We swam in lakes where an outright swim from one side to the other was prohibitive without floating on your back to rest. We hung by our bent over legs from the top of trees 40 feet above the lake and dropped in. We had mini-bikes and zipped up and down cow paths with them. I learned to take it easy in rutted paths. I still remember taunting the field bull on a 50cc monkey bike. I remember crashing into the farmers parked 4X4 pickup and having chrome on my front teeth for 6 months. I remember my 7 year old sister disappearing for an hour and riding back on one of the monkey bikes (we later learned she hit a tree and probably passed out, there was a large pool of blood from her nose by the tree).

Throughout it all, and there is much more I experienced, I learned one thing. You are responsible for yourself in this world.

I credit this upbringing as the reason I still ride motorcycles. I love the feeling two wheels provides, be it motorcycles or bicycles. It just feels like flight to me.

To be honest, I think many of today's youth do not have the skills to pilot a motorcycle. They just have not had the freedom to wipe out on a bicycle on gravel, a re-entry to the sidewalk from the lawn, or be challenged by friends to see who can leave he longest skid mark down the street. I bet there is a pretty strong correlation between childhood experiences and risk, and long term motorcycle ownership.

I think there will be many new motorcycle owners in the years ahead. Oodles of recent war veterans seem to enjoy the sensations and comradery motorcycling provides. We've been making quite a few of those lately.

I am hopeful for this reason.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's over. A bad thing for the manufacturers and their lackeys, a good thing for us.

Raúl Vicente said...

I'm not sure if it was Mark Twain who said it, but once again: "history does not repeat itself, but it sometimes rhymes". Here in Portugal I see a lot of motorcycles, for every budget. Sure, lots of the expensive ones get dissolved in the rain, but some of them do come back. If we really share our passion with others, motorcycles will never die. The human world still spins with every interaction, even if it is a virtual one.

Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

The roads around my place are certainly less inviting to two wheelers than they were decades ago. More like being a ball in pinball machine being played by Tommy than ever. Before calling in the croaker to sign motorbiking over to the undertaker I would like to see what would happen if a motorbike movie/video game were to get a little traction in the youth market.

L2Studio said...

Absolutely not! I am 53 and am near finished building an 82 Yamaha XJ650 RJ Seca into the sweetest cafe racer you ever saw. It is fast and functional. Arm candy? Yes. I love to be seen riding it. And I enjoy the questions people ask. I am an attention whore if nothing else. The motorcycles have always fueled my ego, which is 90% of riding, unless you are professionally riding for money. Please do not spread the rumor, even in jest, that motorcycles are "passe".

Anonymous said...

For me there's another reason why motorcycles are over...since the BP oil spill I have literally not been able to bring myself to go to a gas station, and the bikes sit under their tarps in the backyard. I'm thinking of selling them, but I'd really hate to and at least one of them would probably do fine on chip shop grease, but until that's easily accessible I just can't justify in my own mind burning carbon for fun when there are plenty of zero-carbon alternative ways for me to spend my time.

ayumi said...

wonderful work! the way you discuss the subject i'm very impressed. i'll bookmark this webpage and be back more often to see more updates from you.

ayumi
www.brfe.net