Friday, January 27, 2012

#83 Making Friends (November 2009)

“It doesn’t matter what you ride, only that you do ride.”
I hear or read this phrase every now and then, more so lately for some reason, and I have to wonder about it. You see, for me it DOES matter what one rides. The above phrase seems to be most often uttered by the rider who is on some kind of Honda/Suzuki/Kawasaki etc.; a V-Twin copy of a Harley® and trying convince the rest of us their choice is as valid as ours. Well, it’s not. This fits in well with the other line I hear often that I detest, for example, “I bolted this, this and this to my bike to make it mine.” I suppose if you bolt enough chrome goodies to one of these rolling abortions, it makes it easier to spot in the parking lot amongst all the other bikes that look identical.
Let’s take it to the extreme, if it doesn’t matter what you ride, where do you draw the line? A 50cc step-thru moped? Boss Hoss® V8 “bike?”
I have to wonder how many of these people buy the Japanese V-Twins simply because they cannot afford the Harley® version? Probably quite a few. Would it be a significant upgrade from a Japanese V-Twin cruiser to a HD® Twin Cam cruiser? I would have to say yes, if only for the fact that the Harley® has a useable driveline (or parts thereof) to make a cool chopper. I just cannot get behind the concept of the Japanese V-Twin chopper with any kind of enthusiasm whatsoever. Strangely enough, I have no problem with an inline four Japanese bike, or even the twins and triples (or sixes!) when they are converted to rigid frame configurations. My affinity for British bikes both chopped and unchopped has been well documented in these pages.
I suppose the bottom line, for me, is that these riders are settling for a Harley® look-alike, bolting on extra-loud six inch diameter pipes and then running around like that means something. Maybe it does to them. Why should I care what someone else is riding? Well, in truth, I don’t. You are certainly free to ride around on whatever the hell you like and it doesn’t affect me one iota. When I see a rider on one of these aforementioned bikes, I tend to make a snap judgment about them. It doesn’t help that they seem to think they are king of the damn road with ear-splitting chrome tubes that I can hear over my own drag pipes several hundred yards away.
Yes, I know not everyone can be totally involved with their bike; not everyone has the time, space and wherewithal to build themselves a custom bike or chopper. Certainly not everyone can afford to just go and buy some rolling art from the many that build incredible bikes for a living. I just don’t understand the urge to compromise and ride something that looks vaguely similar to your ideal bike. It took me fifteen years to go from the set of 1981 Shovel cases and a frame to get it to where I am happy with it today. I suppose it’s the compromise thing that really irks me. Similar to when a chopper jockey will suddenly decide that it’s time to sell off the old Panhead rigid and buy themselves a new bagger, but hey, it’s OK, he’s gonna put apehangers on it… gak!
Bagger riders are also big proponents of the It doesn‘t matter etc view. Although most bagger riders are very defensive when you bring it up and look for personal insults to bolster their argument. The fact is they have all compromised style for comfort, period.
Oh sure, they do the make it mine dance with their blue neon underlighting, high bars or sound systems that would embarrass the Rolling Stones on tour, but in the end they are all alike. Does this mean I would subscribe to the “Baggers before Jappers” idiom? Nah, a 1970’s Honda CB750K in a homebuilt rigid frame or one of the cool ones that people like Cycle Exchange fabricate, have much more of a coolness factor than yet another soulless bagger blending into the background of thousands.
Ride what you want, I don’t care, unless you try and justify your choice as being equal to riding a chopper, it ain’t.Making Friends

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