Lately I’ve been immersed in motorcycle literature. I went out one day and spent my pay cheque on several paperbacks: “Shop Class as Soulcraft“, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance“, “Jupiter’s Travels” and “Dreams of Jupiter“. One of the recurring messages of these books is the connection between rider and the environment around them. Robert Pirsig put it well:
You see things vacationing on a motorcycle in a way that is completely different from any other. In a car you’re always in a compartment, and because you’re used to it you don’t realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You’re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame.
On a cycle the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming. That concrete whizzing by five inches below your foot is the real thing, the same stuff you walk on, it’s right there, so blurred you can’t focus on it, yet you can put your foot down and touch it anytime, and the whole thing, the whole experience, is never removed from immediate consciousness.
So why then are certain manufacturers trying to compartmentalize you on two-wheels as well?
I think the quick answer is pretty easy: open up the market dramatically by selling the ‘safe and comfortable on a motorcycle’ mindset – consumers get to feel like a ‘rebel’ without any of the (perceived) danger! But even that answer has many layers that we can peel away, and I’d like to explore that further…
Why did you start riding a motorcycle? Why do you continue to ride a motorcycle? What do you think prevents people from getting on two wheels?