125 months ago

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The "Why can't you just leave it alone?" Rebellion

Sometimes a rant just can't be buried in the comments of a previous post...

I feel like a lot of motorcycles are presented to the unwashed public with the attitude "here it is, it's perfect and don't mess with it" We should honoured and grateful to have such engineering greatness in our dirty, grubby little hands. Particularly performance motorcycles. And indeed, the amount of technology, while awe-inspiring and amazing, is daunting.

However, there is something within us that doesn't like to leave things be. There is the drive for individuality and expression. But so much around us tries to quash that. Heavens! The last thing people who try to sell us something - be it an advertiser or politician - want us to do is THINK.

There are people who fight against that. I applaud them.

Categorizing people is a form of prejudice (literally, pre-judging) but for the sake of argument (which this is) and simplicity, let's put people who work on bikes on a continuum:

accessorizers - bolt on a new set of mirrors, minor personalizing

tinkerers - do minor changes, cosmetically, regular maintenance tasks (maybe hampered by lack of facilities and training), extensive personalizing

mechanics/wrenchers - fully trained to completely tear down and rebuild

customizers - tear down, rebuild with extensive modifications

builders - complete fabrication from the ground up, welding, machining, has specialized training

(Of course there is grey area and overlap - but remember this is for the purpose of argument; to make a point)

The problem is that the awesome technology and "just leave it alone - we know better than you" attitude inhibits growth between the levels. Particularly from accessorizer to tinkerer to mechanic/wrencher. Growing is difficult enough, without people trying to make it more daunting or disuading.

The customizers/builders have for a long time been dominated by the older generation, hard rock, badass-poseur chopper crowd. They learned and moved up by getting in there and getting dirty and greasy. As youngsters, they didn't listen when an industry rep said "It's perfect, leave it alone!" It had a developed rebelliousness and independence of spirit.

And the slightly younger generation following them have been taught to be uninterested and unquestioning (again, maybe this something more noticeable in Canadian culture). This generation has had bewildering technology thrust upon them and laceked the skills to fight back. Eventually they caved: they learned to accept and uneasily coexist with it.

But the next younger generation, I am pleased to see, are not so sheep-like. They have been born into technology and are not afraid of it. They will question it. They also have a sense of what is overlooked and deemphasized: the raw mechanics of their bikes. Moreover, they are the ones ripping apart old Honda CBs and are part of the cafe racer resurgence, in the spirit of learning and rebellion against the dominant chopper generation. Or whatever else you've got...

More power to them!


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125 months ago

p.s. it's a lot easier to be on the sidelines cheering, then getting involved. Am I being hypocritical? Well someone has to recognize greatness as it happens, I guess.