You know the way it makes you feel when you get more than you expected? That’s what motorcycling is all about. It all starts off when you buy your first bike. Then you hang out at a bike night with all your buddies. Of course you have no idea the stories you are going to bring back with your first road trip and rally. By then you are totally hooked and realize it has nothing to do with the amount of money you spent or what kind of bike you ride. The thrill of the road and the camaraderie is like nothing else you have ever experienced. You begin to feel a kindred spirit with cowboys (and cowgirls) and over-the-road truckers. You want to share your excitement with everyone you meet. As the business of motorcycling has grown it has started to evolve like other businesses to place the focal point on numbers rather than experiences.
You have talked to all your motorcycle buddies for their advice and you have done all the research the Internet has to offer. You think you are ready to enter the front door of your local motorcycle shop, you open the door and your mind goes blank. You are overwhelmed by the chrome, the leather, the handsome young people ready to help you and you look up and there is an endless display of bikes. This is a normal reaction; take a deep breath and remember how you plan to use your motorcycle, what your level of experience is and dive in. The one bit of advice I can offer is to test ride, test ride and test ride again. If this is your first bike you want to feel comfortable in the saddle and on the road and you should just accept the fact that you will be trading in and upgrading to a bigger or more purpose-built bike as you develop. I also suggest you forget about rationalization and just give in to the new lifestyle that is about to overrun your every waking moment. Take it all in as you talk to the salesperson and begin to build your moto-family and -friend relationships.
The time is right and you have been riding enough to feel comfortable when you enter the parking lot of the local bike night watering hole. Everyone is standing around shooting the shit and you feel like you are on the red carpet with all eyes on you. All I can tell you is that now you and your bike are one, you are on two wheels and you are as much a part of the scene as anyone there. Soak it up, but please remember to go easy on the beers, share your story and enjoy the evening. You will hear a hundred opinions about the latest in accessories and engine upgrades. That reminds me; I promised to tell you how the new cams worked out in Daytona. We installed a set of Andrews 48 cams in my 96” ’09 bagger. They come on nicely around 2400 rpms and run up to four grand with a strong pull. The 48s pulled effortlessly with or without a passenger and were a bigger improvement than I expected. They made my other components, a Kuryakyn intake and Cobra 4” 2-into-1, come to life when combined with a TechnoResearch Direct Link tune.
The atmosphere in Daytona was great this year. It was the first time ever I wasn’t working a booth or a show and boy, did I get into it. Deb and I rode around all week and went to parties every night. We even went to Orlando to check out the new Ace Café, which I strongly recommend for a day cruise, especially if you go the long way through Cocoa Beach. I closed out the week with a day at Billy Lane’s Sons of Speed racing. If you have not seen those old board trackers with no brakes or transmission run up towards 90 miles per hour around New Smyrna Speedway you need to add it to your bucket list.
When it comes to memorable road trips I often talk about the return run from Sturgis one year with my brother and friends. We were running hard through Wyoming when the fricken sky opened up. We were being blown side to side and the rain was coming down so hard I couldn’t see the road. I was trying to keep track of everyone when I realized we lost a couple riders. I turned around and found out that everyone was OK and my brother’s bike had just quit on him. We rolled it down the hill into a ranch and they let us roll into a barn to work on the bike. It was a quick and easy vacuum fix but it was late by the time we finished. The guys from the ranch insisted we stay in their guest house and the party began. I can bore you with stories like this all night but what I look forward to more is your stories when we meet in Sturgis this year.
The world of motorcycling has grown tremendously since my moto career began in 1971. When the motorcycle scene exploded in the ’90s many more people outside the industry began to take notice and started investing. It was great for product development and opened up many opportunities. However, after the economic bubble burst growth not only slowed but came to a screeching halt. The bean counters were not going away but they have been so focused on the numbers and reducing costs they forgot about what drives moto nuts like you and me.
I have heard a lot of noise about focusing on safety to draw in new riders. Now don’t get me wrong; I am all about proper gear and helmets if you choose to wear them but I don’t know anyone who got into motorcycles because of safety. There is inherent danger with only two wheels that is always going to keep the majority off motorcycles. With that said it would appear that the millennials’ generation has a taste for real experience. I don’t know a more real experience than motorcycling. I have said it before and I will say it again; we all have to do our share to spread the word of the benefits of motorcycling. The stress relief, the adventure and the camaraderie all contribute to the value motorcycling represents that is so much more than the dollars spent.