by Victor Wanchena
Winter is simply not a good time for motorcyclists. This past winter was almost worse than others. Despite being mild to average, it seemed to tease us with roads that were free of ice or snow but the temps were usually just too cold to sneak out. In this state of motorcycle deprivation I found myself drawn like a moth to a flame to anything motorcycle related in an attempt to stay feeling connected. This also being the time of year most conducive to tinkering with a project bike, I found myself needing information on an old Spanish trials bike. With a list of part numbers I headed for my computer and the Internet.
A quick scan through my favorite Internet search site gave more hits than could possibly view but I scanned the first few and within seconds I’m perusing the parts inventory of shops located thousands of miles a continent away. Then I follow a couple links to a website loaded with information on this brand, including wonderful tidbits on actually make the damn thing run. The next stop was eBay for a quick check for any items listed under that marquee, a couple even look worthy of a bid. As I happily ride along surfing the web I stop for a moment and consider what I have done with relative ease from the comfort of my desk chair. I have poured through reams of information on an obscure brand of European bike with out ever leaving my house.
We are blessed in this modern age with an incredible research tool, the Internet. Through your home computer (or if you are not a computer owner, through a public library computer) you can access a library’s worth of information, buy parts and exchange ideas with other riders. I realize most motorcyclists are computer savvy and aware that the web has much to offer a motorcyclist, but there are those who have yet to explore it’s potential. A recent search of the Internet through a popular search engine for the word “motorcycle” turned up 3.7 million web pages, 789,000 web pages for Harley-Davidson and a search for an old obscure brand like Crocker Motorcycles turned up over 3,000 web pages. Even my seven-foot stack of old cycle magazines is no match for the web. When the time comes to take to the road there are great resources available online such as up-to-the-minute weather radar and mapping web sites.
There is no denying that the information is out there. The next hurdle is sifting through the dizzying array of information available. The strength of the net is also its greatest weakness. The free flow of ideas and information is not curtailed or censored by anyone and therefore the potential for misuse is there. Fortunately there are very few truly malicious folks on the web, but there are a much greater number of misguided or misinformed individuals who, in an attempt to make information accessible, present false or erroneous information or even sometimes pure speculation as bona fide fact. What their motivation is, be it innocent or more sinister, is beyond me. The point is that you must be careful with the information you gather and the people you deal with. Take everything you read with a grain of salt.
So this month ride fast, take chances and try it on the web.