By Paul Berglund
Have you ever pulled up to a restaurant and seen a trike parked out front? I don’t mean the kind of trike that started life as a motorcycle and then, to its chagrin, was turned into a trike. I’m talking about the kind that was made from scratch to be a trike. Especially the ones that use a car engine for power. Do yourself a favor and go into the restaurant and play the “who owns the trike game.” Quietly look around and guess who rode the trike there. I like this game because you can win every time.
What I don’t understand is why? Did the trike or the life-style look come first? Granted, it’s child’s play to pick out the loan trike rider from the average restaurant diner. What if that trike is parked outside a bar and there are dozens of cruisers parked next to it? It becomes a real fashion game then. Go in and look around. You’ll see men and women in pirate garb and black leather cowboys and cowgirls. Keep scanning; over there, see the one guy who looks like an old-time sea captain. He’s your man.
Why do we dress like we do? I have no idea.
My neighbor was a Gold Wing guy. He and his wife dressed like a Gold Wing couple. Then he went to Sturgis. Something changed in him. By the next summer he had a Harley-Davidson. It must have come with a black leather vest because they appeared concurrently. His ridding outfit went from practical, color coordinated protection to stylish black leather cowboy. He started to shave his head. His full-face helmet that was color-matched to his Gold Wing stayed on the shelf; it was replaced by a matte black open-face helmet, at first. Then he would often wear a pirate hanky on his shiny head. Then he hit a dear. Now he leaves the hanky in his pocket and puts a helmet on his head when he rides. We are all better off for this. He’s a great guy who rides motorcycles, and we always have a fun conversation about riding. His fashion is not my fashion, but we share a common passion.
I find my wardrobe has changed over the years. I realized I had an embarrassing amount of unused motorcycle gear in my garage. I went through it all and pulled out all the stuff I hadn’t worn for a year or more. A lot of the coats and gloves were green. Oh that’s right, I used to be a Kawasaki Guy. I stopped wearing the Green stuff when I bought a Yamaha. I look better in blue any way, so it only made sense to upgrade my gear to better and bluer new gear. I took all the unloved green gear to the big motorcycle swap meet at the Minnesota State Fair grounds and sold it. With one bike in my garage, I had just the right amount of gear to use when I went out for a ride.
Then I got Orange Fever.
It all started innocently enough. I bought a much used 1999 KTM 620 RXC and started riding off road too. So naturally I need to buy off road gear. As long as I was buying new gear it might as well be KTM orange. No harm in that. In fact, orange is highly visible. It seamed like the logical thing to make my road gear oranger and, thereby, safer. I took the opportunity to coordinate my whole motorcycle-riding ensemble into cohesive attention grabbing orange. Now on or off road, I was both safer and more fashionable. With two bikes there was twice as much gear and it was twice as orange. Then I had three bikes. KTM makes street bikes too? Who knew? A KTM road bike joined my stable. My Yamaha and my blue gear mostly stayed in the garage, until I sold it all at the next swap meet came along.
Maybe those of us who love to ride motorcycles need our own fashion so we can see each other when we’re off the bike. Not brand names of what we ride, but a sign of why we ride. My on-bike fashion was mostly orange and my off-bike wardrobe was slowly turning orange too. If I was buying something, make that anything, I would ask the same thing, “Does it come in orange?” I don’t own many things with KTM printed on them. Off the bike, I have one hat, but I seldom wear that. Beyond clothing, I have a lot of things that are orange. Oh and I tend to paint things orange. If it needs to be painted, why not paint it orange? I can always find my trailer or my shed door now. They’re safer too. Isn’t orange wonderful? It’s not KTM orange necessarily, it’s just orange. Wonderful safe orange.
My long-suffering wife has accepted this. She doesn’t wear much orange, but when she replaces things they tend to be orange. Like the flashlight we keep on the phone table. Or our coffee maker and even the cushions for our patio furniture, all are orange. Granted she buys the toned down, non-safety version of orange, but in my heart I know what she’s saying. I have orange socks and orange underwear. Several of my shirts, sweatshirts, coats and hats are orange. I even have an orange jumpsuit that was so super cheap that I couldn’t not buy it. Sadly I can’t wear it because it looks exactly like the ones prison inmates wear when they are outside of the prison. So that was a fail on my part. It’s that orange jumpsuit that serves as a reminder to me that I shouldn’t judge the pirates or the cowboys, nor the sea captains that I meet. It’s our love of motorcycles and my wife’s tolerance of them that brings us together today. May the Orange be with you; and let there be cake.