Motorcycles and Elitism

For those who don’t know, I’m a rabid motorcycle enthusiast. I’ve been riding for over thirty years and have ridden just about every class of bike there is. Street bikes, cruisers, sport bikes, sport touring, touring, off-road, and a few in-betweens as well. I’ve ridden V-twins (inline and cross-mounted), inline threes and fours. I’ve ridden two, three, and four-wheelers. I never met a bike I didn’t like, at least for just the fact that it was a motorcycle.

There’s something that’s always struck me as odd and, I guess, a little irritating about a small section of the motorcycling populace. There are guys (well, mostly guys and mostly young ones) out there who look down on the bikes and riders of anything that isn’t “theirs.”

Recently, in one of the Facebook motorcycle groups I’m in, a guy (I’m guessing a younger guy) posted a question about why some sport bike riders are critical of the sport touring bikes. The question is both odd and predictable in many respects.

I’ve always maintained that there is a motorcycle for everyone. In fact, I’ve taken on the personal crusade of convincing anyone who will listen that the world would be a better place if everyone rode a motorcycle. I’m sort of a nut about it. However, when one group who ride a specific class, style, or even brand of bike look down on one or more of the others, I generally get a little bent out of shape.

Motorcycling is a very personal sort of choice, and as much as it pains me to say it, it’s not for everyone. However, once you decide to straddle a two or three-wheeled machine, IMO, you’ve joined a family. There’s an etiquette for riders. When you’re cruising down the road, you throw out a hand or a couple fingers when you see a bike heading the other way.

So, I’m always astonished when I hear “this group of riders thinks that group of riders is doing it wrong.” Because motorcycling is so personal, you have to understand that there are different kinds of riding. You’ve got commuters who take their street machines (and growing numbers of electrics) to get to and from work. If that’s all they need, then they don’t need a lot of machine to achieve it. There are the sport bike riders who, if they’re serious, dig twisties and drilling down into and blasting out of corners. They love the speed, acceleration, and challenge of pushing themselves and the bike just a little harder than other riders. There are cruisers who will take their machine out on long rides on sunny days and get what we call “air time” or “wind therapy.” The sport tourers love the ability to take twisties at speed but also want to spend three days in the saddle getting from Point A to a very distant Point B, C, D, and E. There are the big touring bikes and the big-bore cruisers that are well suited to extended rides and a good deal more comfort.

When a sport-bike rider (yes, there are others who do it) says he or she doesn’t “get” a sport touring bike, for example, I just shake my head. Motorcycling is more about “wind therapy” in all it’s myriad forms than it is anything else… at least in my opinion. I don’t care what machine the other person is riding (even the scooters) they all get a salute from me.

Why?

Because they’ve embraced a lifestyle that represents a modicum of freedom, a sense of self-actualization, and a determination to brave the inherent risks of being on two or even three wheels. Motorcyclists look at the world differently than those folks who don’t. I’m not suggesting that makes them better or worse, just that they have a shared perspective, a specific vantage point in their outlook on life that sets them apart in a good way.

I therefore have two suggestions for everyone. Get a motorcycle and learn how to ride it at your earliest opportunity. Rejoice in every other person who decided to take that same personal journey into the magic of wind therapy.

Keep the rubber side down, and keep turning those pages.

~ Q

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