by Victor Wanchena
I must be getting old. I don’t really feel old, nor do I think that a mere thirty years on this planet qualifies as even close to old. But regardless I’ve begun to do things I never thought I would. Seems like only yesterday that I was espousing the virtues of unfaired bikes. The idea of radios and cruise control never even entered my mind. Maybe it was the rebellious nature of youth that made me enjoy fighting the cold wind on late fall rides or maybe I just didn’t know any better. I had this strange notion about how motorcycles should be built. Anything electric other than my ignition and headlight made me suspicious. Fairings and top trunks just slow a bike down a detract from its elemental beauty. (The images of all those Vetter Windjammers from the seventies didn’t help things.) Simpler was better, period.
That all changed this year when I made the big leap and bought a large touring bike. At first it seemed like just the practical thing to do. All the storage space of the saddlebags and trunk combined with the comfortable seats meant easy two-up riding for my lovely bride and me. But after racking a few miles on various trips I was getting hooked. I suddenly couldn’t even imagine riding in any thing less than the highest comfort. Listening to my favorite CD, cruise control to rest my wrist and the heated grips to warm my hands weren’t taking away from the ride, they were freeing me to enjoy the ride without some of the distractions I had learned to live with. The miles just piled up without me even realizing it. I was riding farther and longer, rarely with a real destination. Riding was no longer a test of my endurance fighting the elements.
Then it dawned on me. Not only had my taste in motorcycles matured (there’s nothing wrong with that all you snickering sport bikers out there), but the advancements in the design, construction, and reliability of motorcycles have made my unreasonable fears in electronic gizmos I don’t understand i.e. fuel injection and ABS, totally unfounded.
Without getting too philosophical, I think that too many riders get nervous about big changes motorcycle design. Fuel injection is a prime example. Our resistance to a technology we may not fully understand influences the choices we make in the type of bikes we buy and ride. This is despite the fact that not only is fuel injection proven and reliable but it increases the performance of the bike it’s used on. I am reminded of an ad Harley used a few years ago when they introduced fuel injection to their line up. The caption of the ad read, “Anything that squirts gas can’t be all bad.”
So ride fast, take chances, and this month try it on a big touring bike.