Attending this year’s Dealernews Dealer Expo in Indianapolis is a motorcyclist’s dream. As a small town boy I’m no stranger to looking out over my handlebars at the tall grass pastures of Kansas, but here in the Convention Center, standing on acres of confetti inspired carpeting it becomes apparent that I need to get out more. As always, anytime you can see and touch new motorcycle industry related products versus the internet, or worse yet, hearing it second-hand from the guy down the street who got his information from some other guy further down the street…I think you get the idea. So for those of you out of shape, I recommend walking mile after mile on carpeting. You will thank me. But seriously, it’s great to see what’s new and what’s improved for the coming year. There was plenty of enthusiasm in everyone I met and I think we all agree it will be a good year in the motorcycle industry.
I always recommend walking through events like these with your head up scanning the room. I know it’s hard to resist the patterns on the carpet but trust me you’ll be surprised at who and what you’ll see. I ran into Marc Cook with Mortorcyclist Magazine and we had a very good talk about the past, present and touched a little on the future of this great sport. We both agreed the smaller displacement motorcycles coming out recently are going to surprise many new and seasoned riders. We also talked about how big is big enough. My first “real” motorcycle was a Yamaha DT175 and at the time I felt like that was all I would ever need. It could run on the highway, pull wheelies and go off-road. Sometimes all within a block of my house. Remember, I grew up in a really small town.
Marc mentioned his first motorcycle was a Yamaha RD 400 Daytona. Another relatively small displacement motorcycle but cool nonetheless. He told me that his friends actually tried to talk him out of it because it was probably too much motorcycle for him. You know what? There is some truth to that statement! We often look at a GSX-R600 as a starting point, and I have to admit, I have been riding for 40 years and a 600 has more than enough power on the streets where stop signs and potholes live. You can always move up, but let’s be real here. A new rider that gets in over his head may never throw a leg over another motorcycle if the experience starts out as a bad one. So think about that for a minute. Your first won’t be your last as long as the “fun factor” doesn’t become the “fear factor.”
I think we need to get back to the reason we all ride. It truly is for the fun of it. Sure, size matters but fun is where it’s at. If my skill level exceeds that of the motorcycle I’m on it’s still fun. Next time you walk up to your bike or any bike for that matter, look for the Fun Gauge. You won’t find it anywhere – until you climb on it. You see, WE are the Fun Gauge. We determine how much fun we have on any particular motorcycle, whether it’s slow and down on power or just ridiculously fast, on road or off-road it doesn’t matter. Either way, our internal Fun Gauge will tell us the level of fun we’re having. We all to often get caught up on the “bigger is better” mentality and for some that is what they were told by the guy down the street who got it from…You get the idea.