by Victor Wanchena
Awhile back I found myself in a waiting room leafing through the variety of magazines set out to placate those unfortunate enough to find themselves waiting. The selection was the usual out dated news magazines and industry specific publications like Popular Dentistry or Receptionist Quarterly, when a rather new glossy caught my eye. It was one of those trendy publications that mainly consists of ads of androgynous young people in really odd circumstances, but as I leafed through it I ran across an article on motorcycles. I wasn’t expecting any depth to the writing, but their take on motorcycling was bound to be a better read than “Exfoliants and the Men Who Love Them”. The basis of the story was that retro bikes were gaining popularity and they are really sexy and blah, blah, blah. The basic point was retro bikes were “in” and cruisers were “out”. Oh crap, do I have an “in” bike? What will the neighbors think? Worse yet what will the guys say if show up on an “out” bike. This story had quite literally reduced motorcycles to a fashion accessory. I cursed under my breath, the grandest form of transportation reduced to a mere accent piece. I realize I was expecting too much from essentially a fashion magazine for men to give motorcycles better treatment, but the writer even went so far as to say riding a certain brand, which will go nameless here, was very “passe”.
This makes me so very mad. Angry letter from a disgruntled reader kind of mad. The writer and society at large can think what they will, we will continue to ride. We might even continue to ride the “out” bikes. My concern was the same as surfers in the late 80’s. Suddenly surfing and looking like a surfer was in style. Rural kids from Backwoods, Arkansas were suddenly wearing surf clothes and trying oh-so hard to look like they just shot the curl. The power of everyone clamoring to be a part of the next cool thing meant that pure economic forces had far too much influence in shaping the sport. The end result was the iron fist of fashion squeezing every nickel of profit out then moving on. I would hate to see the wrong people, i.e. fashion designers, having any influence in motorcycling. It would be like dieting in a doughnut shop, just plain a bad idea.
I know I’m climbing atop a very large soapbox here, but I can’t help it, I love motorcycling. So you can imagine why I would take this personally. Motorcycles are not fashion accessories, end of story. If you have bought a motorcycle recently as an accessory to your natty wardrobe, please sell it immediately. MMM does offer free classifieds. If you are unsure whether your motorcycle is a fashion accessory or not here is a simple test:
1) Is your riding gear clean enough to be worn during surgery?
2) Do you refuse to ever wear a helmet because it would mess up your hair?
3) Do you have more miles on your Stairmaster than your bike this year?
4) Have you ridden to anywhere other than a bar in the past month?
If you answered yes to any of these questions your motorcycle is most likely just an accessory to your lifestyle. Do yourself a favor and sell it before it becomes passe.
Ride fast, take chances.