by Tom The Tailor
It seems that motorcycling is perpetually at some crossroads or another. I empathized with Carrie Rogers piece, Where have all the motorcyclists gone? in the September “Reader’s Ride” issue of Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly. Unfortunately the world has a new way of putting image above substance. As a leather tailor the hardest job in the world is working for a customer who says, “I just want something really cool.” While I can appreciate owning something really unique, if the uniqueness is not reflective of the owner’s being, what’s really the point. Buying a yuppie custom bike, no matter how unique will never satisfy the soul as much as the simple expression of making your bike work for you.
In the end who’s bike is it anyway? While riding to Sturgis this year, I found my spirit lifted by the bikes of the mid-seventies. 750 Hondas and Kawasakis were an expression of individuality in a sea of highly decorated monotony. And yes, a lot of that monotony found it’s way to Sturgis on a trailer towed behind a cage.
I own a ’72 Moto Guzzi that looks like it’s been through a couple of wars. This year it was going to take a back seat to a ’99 model. Fortunately my bank had other ideas of what they wanted to do with their money, and finally I came to my senses. Why give up on 25 years of character? When I’m riding my bike I feel more like myself than at any other time. The truth is that my bike ceased being a Guzzi many years ago. It drifted in identity to become Tom’s bike, “The Eldo-Glide”. I can’t imagine ever selling it. To me it is priceless, to everyone else it might as well be worthless. It will never be stolen. There are no stock parts left on it to fit on another bike. It’s one-of-a-kind. It’s mine, uniquely mine.
I like the ad for Victory motorcycles that reads, “It’s a free country, act like it.” The freedom I cherish most in America is the freedom of expression–music, written word, art, and the motorcycle. Be your motorcycle, and your motorcycle will set you free.