I read something the other day that I found disconcerting. There was a motorcycle incident that involved law enforcement and the driver of the bike was referred to as a “H-D rider”. Yes, he was driving a Harley-Davidson but if he wasn’t he would have been referred to as a motorcyclist or motorcycle rider. It seems that the only time a bike brand is used to describe a motorcyclist is when they are driving a Harley-Davidson.
Maybe it’s because Kawasaki rider or Yamaha rider sounds funny. I think it’s because those who ride Harley-Davidson motorcycles are immediately stereotyped. They are considered rebels, outlaws, generally bad people. We all know this is crap but I think it happens subconsciously. The media and society in general has trained us to be suspicious of the people who ride these bikes.
I realize it’s not all the fault of society. The majority of outlaw bike clubs seem to latch on to Harley-Davidson as their preferred ride and don’t seem to have any concern about perpetuating the stereotype. This doesn’t mean the rest of us have to. I have many friends who are law-abiding, caring, productive members of society, who are also “H-D riders”.
I spent 10 years where my primary road bike was a Harley-Davidson. I had a Softail Deuce and then a Road Glide. I put over 80k miles on them combined. They were really reliable and mechanically sound. I thoroughly enjoyed both of them. I bought my share of Harley gear and I have to say, it’s high-quality stuff.
I do my own judging of other riders. My judgements are based on seeing a couple of individuals partake in behavior I find offensive and then I generalize all those who ride whatever it is they were riding. It makes no sense and I’m really bugged when someone lumps me into a stereotype. I guarantee you any bad motorcycle behavior I’ve been involved in had nothing to do with the brand of bike I was riding. It had everything to do with who I am as a person. Gratefully, my hooligan days are behind me. At my age, it takes way too long to heal.
I think people are drawn to specific motorcycles for a variety of reasons and I believe “lifestyle” is one of them. No matter what bike you purchase you can attach a “lifestyle” to it. I know for me personally I would never own a bike that I think is ugly or silly but both of these things are nothing more than my opinion. There wouldn’t be all of these different motorcycles if there weren’t people wanting to purchase them.
My friend Rick has a much more positive take on all this. He doesn’t care what the bike is, the clothes they’re wearing, or even the behavior they may be exhibiting, as long as it’s legal, smile and give them a “thumbs up”. He figures if they are getting happiness out of their motorcycle experience, that’s all any of us are looking for.
I’m going to make a concious effort to stop judging motorcyclists. I know the feeling I get when I’m riding and it’s mostly just happy. I want to believe that’s what all motorcyclists are feeling when they’re out on their bikes. I can always use more positivity in my life. I’m sure it won’t be long and I’ll be yelling at kids to get off my lawn.