Aug 4, 2013

It’s All the Same

On my way to pick up a friend at the airport last night, I was passed by two motorcyclists who, I imagine, imagine themselves to be polar opposite sorts of riders. One guy was the traditional fat guy on a loud Hardly, barreling along completely out-of-control, about 15mph above the speed limit and general traffic speed, just a crash looking for a place to happen. Of course, ape-hangers, full gynecology exam riding position, black leather jacket, jeans, no helmet, sun glasses, poor lighting, no turn signals, and enough noise to break windows. (BTW: I didn’t hear him until he was past me. Our Taurus is no luxury vehicle, but like all modern cars it’s pretty sealed up with the AC running.)

On the way back, I saw a dim bulb (both on the bike and riding the bike) blasting through traffic, coming up behind us fast. When he passed, I kicked myself again for driving without the camera on board. Twenty-something kid, overweight with his belly smothering the FZR’s tank, t-shirt blown up practically over his head which was covered with a backwards baseball cap. Like his brother in organ donations, no real gear, jeans, low-top tennis shoes, an unzipped windbreaker nylon jacket, unused micro-turn signals, sunglasses, etc.

It was dark for both riders, so their sunglasses were pure style and totally idiotic. Neither rider could maneuver worth squat and both desperately depended on noise and the kindness (and skill) of strangers for their survival. More than a few of the general public hates all motorcyclists. These guys are high on the list of why (read the comments in this article for a taste).

I mentioned yesterday that MMM is doing a “dual sport” article that includes everything with two wheels and serrated footpegs in the category. The reason is, of course, money. The industry wants to spread as many categories across as few bikes as possible to snag customers in a failing market. Like SUVs, big bikes are easier to make, provide more profit for the manufacturers and dealers, and cost a whole lot more to maintain (at the dealerships). What’s not to love in all of those 1000-1500cc “dual purpose” hippos? Nothing, as long as your two purposes are street riding and stopping at a lot of bars on the way.

Since I’m now the overworked owner of a motorhome, I’m on a whole new set of mail lists. Motorhome Magazine, for example. I got my first subscription offer to the rag and a taste of how much that industry is like ours. I own a 13 year old, 22’ VW-powered Winnebago. It seats three, is a tight but comfortable fit for two travelers, and has the bare necessity of accommodations. Like my daily ride, the WR250X, there isn’t a lot I can or want to do to this little vehicle. With a gross carrying capacity of 880 pounds, I’m not buying a lot of shit to stuff into my rolling house. So, when I see the front cover of this month’s magazine, a review of Winnebago’s 34’ 13-ton, 9mpg, $270,000 Itasca Meridian luxury-liner, and I know, immediately, this magazine is not written for me. I also know that the reason MMM’s editor wants to include the giant adventure touring bikes in a “dual purpose” article is because that’s what the manufacturers want us to write about. I am, however, exactly as likely to own an $18,000 motorcycle as I am a $270,000 motorhome.


Trobairitz said...

I think sometime the magazines really miss their target. But maybe it is on purpose.

We subscribe to several motorcycle magazines and some months there seems to be a lot of read and others I can flip through it in two minutes for the amount that interests me.

With our temperatures rising here in Oregon we too have been seeing a lot of folks with less and less riding gear. They still have to wear a helmet, but the amount of riders without gloves has surprised me this year.

T.W. Day said...

We're setting new "killed-by-motorcycle" records in MN for similar reasons.