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Motorcycling culture

Saturday, November 8, 2014 @ 07:52

Is there anything else to motorcycling besides speed, wind and loud engines? 

YES - it is the short answer every time I get asked why I ride on a motorcycle. Sure, freedom, passion for riding and the amazing greatness of being on a motorcycle come to mind straight away but there is much more to it than that.

motorcyclist riding on road

It is something bigger, something every rider feels while on the road, it is a sum of factors that I define as the culture of motorcycling.
Without any further arguments, this article is my take on what bike culture stands for and why it is important.
 
Even though it may be difficult to see what is happening inside a modern knight’s mind, as soon as the helmet is removed, one can easily spot that sneaky smirk and mysterious glint in the eye.
 
So this leads med to ask two questions
  1. What is this feeling?
  2. What unifies motorcyclists? 

This is what I will write about in this TourNews.

All bikers share this feeling
Everyone from speedy street riders to cruising chopper bikers and crazy cross mud-hoppers seem to share these qualities. My experience shows that it is the thrill for exploring the environment which encourages us to go out every day. Whether it is in the form of taking in the nature and its landscapes, gliding along the intricate network of manmade roads or even commuting to work while still being exposed to the surroundings and busy city life.
 
Motorcycle community
On the other hand, bike and riding style differences do exist within the motorcycling community but that does not stop us from being curious about our fellow riders. I often find it interesting to get greeted back by a chopper rider compared to casual and yet so pleasant greetings by street, sport or touring motorcyclists. For me, as a street/enduro/cross rider, the chopper world is completely alien and mystic. Despite the overall motorcycle community that each rider is a part of, subgroups exist, namely specific bike type or riding style oriented.
 
It is always fun to listen to discussions among different rider “classes” – the differences can be stunning:
  • Some discuss tyre profiles and weight distributions
  • some discuss space saving packing techniques
  • others discuss advanced air filters and carburettors, and so on.

Splitting into smaller communities is natural and it happens in most fields: professions and hobbies are just two examples. Not to mention the interactions between “big” riders and fans of small-displacement motorcycles. We are all motorcyclists and we all great each other when meeting the road, as a sign we all share the same passion.

Having said that, I sometimes catch myself pitying scooter riders a bit. How many motorcyclists have you seen who greet Vespa riders? Sure, scooters and mopeds are not motorcycles but still, I am quite sure that for many of us riding a scooter was how it all began.

Is it only motorcyclists who has a community?
I feel that it is necessary to point out that communal behaviours within motorcycling circles are not something unique. Similar emotions are observed in the minds of bicyclists, car drivers and even boat or plane owners.
 
However, the motorbike culture is definitely special in its own way. To illustrate this, I decided to shortly compare our world with the one of automobile drivers. As soon as you start driving a car, you become the new lamb in the herd – it is a good feeling. You are doing something that so many do every day, you are a part of a big community.
However, is it comparable to meeting another rider on a cold rainy day in the middle of nowhere? When you ride, you are an individual. One who loves the outdoors wholeheartedly and is not afraid to be subjected to the elements of nature. It is like going out without an umbrella just because you want to feel the raindrops reaching you – nature’s power at its purest form.
 
Drivers might argue that motorcycle riders are simply antisocial and sure enough, some of us really are, but as soon as I see another bike approaching me, we greet each other and it becomes clear in my mind – I am not alone, I am a part of something bigger, something unique and challenging. The communal experience does not end here.
 
I for one enjoy touring in groups where sharing experiences and creating new ones are the main highlights. Season openings, for example, are real treats. Motorcycle rallies, shows and gatherings – possibilities are endless!
 
It is great fun to finally go out and meet many riders after having fixed, cleaned our bikes and watched countless riding videos throughout the winter. Furthermore, many forums are packed with riders from all over the world discussing riding gear, techniques and trips – that is exactly why we are here, on Tourstart. Whenever I plan to ride my motorcycle for fun, browsing through a map with other rider tours on the website inspires me to ride longer and go farther. 
 
ATGATT
However, despite all communal advantages, our individualism leads to increased responsibility – we are the ones who can take best care of ourselves while on the road. Regarding awareness and safety, I would like to mention that ATGATT (All The Gear All The Time) attitude is seen among riders more and more. 
The danger grows exponentially with the lack of fancy gadgets such as seatbelts, airbags or safety constructions that our four-wheeled colleagues sometimes take for granted. 
 
That basically means that we are like snails when on the road – we have just our armour and skill to shield us. Protective riding gear is readily available, lightweight and effective. It looks great and it gets the job done.
 
So why not wear it all the time? Whenever I see someone riding in a t-shirt, with shorts on and wearing flip-flops, I question myself whether it really happens just because we got so lazy throughout the years… Or is it style? Some sort of twisted Don Quixotic bravery? 
 
Sharing experience
One more fact that I feel obliged to elaborate upon when discussing motorcycling culture is experience sharing. Each of us has collected some fun stories and fascinating motorcycle trips over the years.
I believe that sharing them not only with our fellow riders, but also with all of our friends and people on the World Wide Web might inspire many. The universe must know how amazing the world of motorcycling is. I bet that high awareness would lead to millions of new riders joining us.
 
One idea is to shift our focus onto amazing adventures by riders worldwide or the joy and freedom that bikes provide each time we set off for a ride. I often feel that many non-riders emphasise the dangers of riding and various stereotypes instead of embracing the limitless possibilities that bikes provide.
 
But I think the simple reason behind it is that not many are aware of it! Think about it, do you know a single person who tried riding but quit afterwards? I cannot name a single person. Furthermore, we all know how great TT is, but do you think anyone who is not into motorcycling knows what happens on the Isle of Man TT each year or have read about the inspiring cross-American adventures of Che Guevara? Therefore, I need to repeat myself and emphasise the potential benefits of informing the public and creating positive links. One way to do it could be to take as many of our friends, colleagues and even strangers for a ride the next time we set off. 
 
Motorcycle racing
Well, now that I have mentioned the TT, I feel I must include a paragraph about racing. I am quite sure that the craving for racing is inbuilt in humans – we simply love it! And no matter whether a rider prefers watching Grand Prix, Speedway, Dakar or motocross, once on a bike, we all race as well.
 
Breath-taking acceleration, manoeuvring along bends and turns - the ever present wind caresses our flying bodies. We, responsible riders, enjoy it just as much as professional racers but we do it casually – taking in bits and short moments in cities and leaving the extra effort for track practising and long empty roads. 

Motorcyclists are united worldwide
All in all, we, the riders, each have an individual definition of what motorcycling culture is for us and we make the most of it in our own way. However, the bikes are what really connect us – we are curious, we are interested in everything about them, hell, we cannot even refrain from checking out every single machine that we notice. It is under our skin, it makes us tick faster – as soon as we hear that roar after a successful starter spin or kick (for the more simplistic of us), we become one with the bike, its vibrations become our own.
 
As C. Morley, a famous American writer, has once said: “In every man’s heart there is a secret (motorcycle) nerve that answers to the vibrations of beauty”. 
Written by Lukas J.

 

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