by Victor Wanchena
Sometimes I think we as motorcyclists are spoiled. Not in the “your every whim and desire is satisfied by a moto-sugar daddy” sort of way, rather the state of the art in regards to motorcycles has caused us to lose sight of our past.
It wasn’t that long ago that if you desired to be a motorcyclist you needed to have the skills to repair your machine in less than desirable locales or at least travel with someone who could. Picture “O’dark-thirty” along a deserted country lane, a light but steadily increasing rain is falling and the glowing eyes of assorted night creatures are slowly circling waiting for their chance and you are attempting a carb rebuild and valve job with a few rusty ill-made tools. back then unless you possessed McGyver like skills there was a good chance you were walking, at least walking is cheap and not usually crowded. This is not to deride the resourcefulness and ingenuity of our motorcycling forefathers; rather we really have become a bunch of turn-the-key-and-go riders. If something breaks we call roadside assistance. This hasn’t been helped by the ever-growing complexity of modern motorcycles. Buried beneath the steel and plastic shrouds are microchips and sensors, most of which bare the ubiquitous label “No user serviceable parts inside”.
The converse of this is the fact that barring flat tires and running out of gas, rare is the roadside mechanical catastrophe. Modern motorcycle soldier on for countless miles with little more than routine maintenance. The only thing that seems to kill our new high mile machines is neglect and abuse. The age-old concept of the crash truck loaded with spares driven by the “old lady” has all but vanished from motorcycling. Add to this the incredible performance available in turn key machines. Massive amounts of horsepower and torque plus race bike handling are, for all intents and purposes, the norm. Anyone with a little money can wander into a dealership and buy right off the floor what would have been a world class superbike just a few short years ago. The perspective is amazing. A hundred thousand plus dollars full factory superbike is now really only a few thousand and there’s no need for tire warmers or starting rollers, just turn the key and go. Reliability was once only attainable at the cost of stoogie performance. You got a reliable motorcycle or a fast motorcycle but not both. Unless you’re operating under extremely severe conditions a reasonably maintained machine will last for years.
All these advancements have spoiled us; we’re getting our cake and stuffing our face with it. With all these refinements has come the loss of a vision for what are real concerns, not just petty gripes. I am still astounded when someone complains about their damn brake pads only lasting 40 thousand miles or having to get their valves adjusted every 24 thousand miles. We all need something to gripe about but now find ourselves blessed with gripes like batteries only lasting 5 years instead of doing a complete overhaul when you hit 10 thousand miles on your bike. Be thankful for what you have and how far we’ve come.
Ride fast, take chances.