by Victor Wanchena
This month I’d like to take on the subject of the much maligned “Rich Urban Biker” or RUB and their connection to the second golden age of motorcycling. What do these seemingly unconnected topics have do to do with one another? Well even if you don’t care about either of these late 20th century phenomena, we are deeply indebted to both.
The poor RUBs. They get lambasted about everything they do. They pay too much for their machines. They don’t ride enough miles. It’s only a fad. They’re not real riders because their leathers aren’t coated with enough bugs and the list goes on. Countless times I have heard the topic of RUBs come up always with the same result. Other riders, i.e. old grizzled sorts that ride pseudo-vintage crap held together with duct tape and bailing wire in the name of some twisted motorcycling higher standard, continually bash these folks as not being true riders. As an aside, our own Louis Cypher raised the point that those same grizzled sorts are usually the ones that say the RUBs aren’t brand X’s real customer. But the fact is those same crusty old riders most often haven’t bought as much as a genuine equipment o-ring in the past 20 years while the RUBs are in every weekend buying all sorts of shiny pieces and accessories, spending thousands just on extras for their bike. So I ask you, who is Brand X’s customer? The fact of the matter is that if it weren’t for the RUBs, this second golden age of motorcycling would not have ever occurred. We would all still be stuck in the doldrums of the eighties, a generally sluggish motorcycle market and bad pop music.
You see the RUBs have done something very important. They have given the motorcycling industry the one thing it can’t operate without. They have infused a great deal of cash into it. Whether you want to admit it or not, without the gobs of cash spent by the RUBs on their bikes and accessories, motorcycling would not be same. Over the past ten years we have seen motorcycle sales grow at unprecedented rates in all sections of the market but most notably in the cruiser segment. The past decade has meant a rise in the fortunes of all your old favorite brands and even some new and unknown brands. The amount of companies tailoring to motorcyclists has also grown by leaps and bounds. This is all because of one thing. People like their motorcycles and they’re spending their money on their motorcycles.
The second thing the RUBs have caused is what I like to call “The Second Golden Age of Motorcycling”. The first golden age occurred during the first part of the last century when motorcycling was in its infancy. Bikes were cheap and fun. The roads were bad but people just enjoyed riding. After WWII we were plunged in a sort of dark period as the myth and legend of the dreaded outlaw biker rose. Despite reality the public in general latched on to the idea of motorcycles equaling trouble. Things have steadily gotten better since those days but nothing has done more to promote motorcycling than the RUBs buying bikes en masse. They helped pull riding from the category of transportation oddball and bring it back where it belongs, as part of mainstream culture. Ironically I don’t think it was ever their intent to do that. In fact, I think what has attracted many of the forty and fifty-something crowd to motorcycling was the rebellious memories they had of bikers from their youth and they hoped to recapture some of that adventure now. Their collective desire for the counterculture aspects of motorcycling inadvertently made it even more mainstream. Never the less, rare is the instance when people treat you different just because ride in this modern age. And we owe that, in part at least, to the RUBs.
So ride fast, take chances and thank a RUB.