We ride. We bench race. We opinionate

There seems to be a lot of conversation about the new Harley-Davidson Pan America within the BMW community. I follow both groups on social media and I’m amazed at some of the comments I’ve read coming from both crowds. Even Zach and Ari have a video out explaining how either brand shines outside of their respective genre. As a guy who likes all-things motorcycle, I find the Us versus Them to be the same argument as to the chicken and the egg. I like eggs and I like chicken. Why argue about it?

Clearly, Harley-Davidson has stepped beyond their comfort zone with the Pan America and BMW has done the very same with the BMW R 1800 Classic. Or are they still in their comfort zone? Both companies have been around a very long time, (and it shows) and both companies have produced motorcycles that have appealed to a wide range of interests. Just take a look at their powerplants and you’ll see how each have held on to the past and brought those designs into the future. Classic lines and designs can sell product, that’s for sure.

I’ve never been the guy that thinks mine is better than yours when it comes to brands. Every brand can have a bad day and even a model within ranks can have issues that it can’t outrun. Rose-colored face-shields can soften our opinions but time marches on. So back to these respective groups on social media – reading comment after comment of how owners of one brand talk and think of others amazes me. As riders, we ride and usually own several makes and models over the years. Heck, even in some sort of secret and successful marketing strategy by these makers of motorcycles, we may own several bikes at a time consisting of different brands! And then to splinter off even further, these bikes could even be for different types of riding based around touring, dirt or sport. Does that make any of the plethora of bikes I’ve owned any better than yours? Of course not. But social media has given most folks the power and authority to comment their negative opinions that add nothing to the discussion. We ride. We bench race. We opinionate.

I’ve owned a lot of motorcycles over the 45 + years of riding. Some were good, others were great and a few left no impression on me. But they all served a purpose in getting me where I am today. It took many miles and a lot of dust to figure out what kind of riding I like to do and of course, some motorcycles are more suited to me for that purpose. I’m not going to go out of my way to pull the conversation down to a lower level by beating up the so-called competition to the brand I’m currently riding. If it takes Harley-Davidson to up the game in the ADV category, then so be it. Honda, Moto Guzzi, Triumph and Yamaha will have to up their game along with the BMW line-up. Will Harley-Davidson bring out a smaller displacement ADV bike? The Saucepan America? My bet is not in the near future. But would it be so bad?

Will Harley-Davidson bring out a smaller displacement ADV bike? The Saucepan America? My bet is not in the near future.

There’s plenty of room around the world for any manufacturer to step out and create something new and exciting. As a consumer, I can appreciate the effort it takes to bring a new bike to the dealer’s floor and it’s interesting to see how opinions and brand loyalties then become the discussion. I get it, we take a certain pride in what we ride and bragging is what fills the comment section. I still wave at anyone on a motorcycle regardless of what they’re riding because you never know at what stage of the motorcycle experience they are in. At the end of the day, we ride, and what we ride is a matter of where we are in our participation in this sport.

I acknowledge all of my fellow riders and would stop to help or shoot the breeze with any of you wherever I may find myself on this road we ride. With a new year ahead of us and a new model year coming, we can only hope it brings with it a bunch of new stuff to discuss. Save travels!

Planning the Ride. Check.

KERRY_0047

It’s been a few months since I’ve written anything for my blog. For whatever reason my head felt empty and for once, I was at a total loss for words. I know, right? So now that I’ve had a break, it’s time to get my thoughts together and prepare myself, and you, for what might be coming as the weather warms up here in the Midwest. It’s March, but little do we know, spring is right around the corner. Or, a couple of blocks down and around the corner. Either way, we’re close.

I have a few trips planned – some long, some short – to put those much need miles on my bike and to fill my head with tall-tales and wild stories of where I’ve been and the people I’m going to meet. And I will meet people. I’ve made this small promise to myself to actually ask someone their name as they tell me their life story. I’m really bad about that. Of course, most will tell me their name right up front so it isn’t a big problem, but nonetheless I will do my best to have a formal introduction. Check.

I’m hoping to do Sturgis again this year for a couple of reasons. First, I feel like there is some unfinished business. I went last year and I didn’t accomplish a few things I had set out to do. I felt a little out-of-sorts and it was just weird. This time I plan on taking the weirdness out of it (take the weirdness out of Sturgis?) and look at things a little differently.

Los Angeles on my motorcycle? Hopefully. Probably. Yep. Check. Maybe even another trip that direction. More to come on that.

Iron Butt. I’m putting some ideas down to achieve an Iron Butt. I know I’ve probably done a couple over the years, but I’ve never documented it to get a certificate – 1000 miles in 24 hours, 1500 miles in 36 hours and it goes on like so. Sounds easy enough. I just need to figure out a route and pick a weekend. Oh, and read the rules from the Iron Butt Association. I wouldn’t want to hammer out 1000 miles only to find I didn’t follow the rules.

It doesn’t hurt to have goals. Sure some can be lofty, but none are impossible. It also doesn’t hurt to have a plan, and I need to work on this. I have a habit of shooting from the hip and somehow it’s worked for me this long. Shoot from the hip – Check.

Hopefully this year will bring sunshine and light breezes but I know there will be rain and high winds somewhere along the way. That’s okay. I’m ready for whatever comes my way!

Moving Bodies and Souls – 110 Years

JLM

One-hundred and ten years is a long time in anyone’s book, especially when it comes to building motorcycles. It’s hard enough to feel passionate about anything for so long let alone beyond generations. That’s why you have enthusiasts building motorcycles for enthusiasts because nobody else can. Some dreams die with the dreamers, but in the case of the Harley-Davidson Motor Company it has kept the dream alive in all of us. In a time when wool suits were the proper riding apparel to ride your motorcycle, Harley-Davidson has been there to see the transformation of the culture and lifestyle of bikers to where it is today. Roads were being built, highways were being connected and destinations became real. What started out as a different kind of transportation 110 years ago, became a form of recreation and a lifestyle for so many. A combination of steel and style moves a nation both physically and emotionally and Harley-Davidson Motorcycles have been there through it all.

Just as any company knows, as time ticks by there are ups and downs, twists and turns, but it turns out that is the exact same thing we enthusiasts seek out when it comes to the roads we travel. It is “the ride” that gets you through it and whether it’s business or pleasure, we take the road less traveled because it is who we are and always will be. Nobody said “the ride” would be easy, but if nothing else, it has always been fun. Moving bodies and souls at the same time was probably not something the Harley and Davidson boys thought much about, but that’s how things ended up. It is Harley-Davidson that represents this country in a way that only it can and it changes you. Freedom, Pride, Emotion and American are a few things that come to mind, and we haven’t even looked at what it’s done to so many from a life-changing experience – and Harley-Davidson Motorcycles change lives. It’s brought people together and created a community around the world to the point of being a universal language – and it knocks down walls that are invisible and man-made.

Nobody said it would be easy, because easy wasn’t a concern 110 years ago. You rolled up your sleeves and you worked hard. You got your hands dirty and you brought your lunch in a pale. You were happy to be working with your hands and you didn’t think about life 100 years from then; we still don’t. But we dreamed, and we still do. And it is dreams that makes this country great, so we keep dreaming. For every road we travel down on our Harley-Davidson, someone before us has traveled that same road on their Harley-Davidson. Whether your ride in Rome Italy or Rome Wisconsin, there’s a good chance you’re not the first one there with your motorcycle. But knowing that also gives you a sense of belonging to something greater than the road traveled. It was created by men with a dream and a willingness to chase that dream on the creation before them. Just like we do today.

It has become a passion for which we have no control over. That passion is transformed into an expression of who we are, and where we are going – both in the sense of motion and emotion. To say Harley-Davidson has changed the way we put our lives into perspective would be an understatement. Some things have no explanation, and we accept that. This motorcycle has helped people through their ups and downs and the twists and turns that life has thrown at them, and it has been a member of the family that has been passed on through generations. It is a symbol and extension of our inner selves that only we know, and that only a few can understand.

So we ride. We ride like those did 110 years ago, and those that will ride when we no longer can. I’ve seen where Harley-Davidson has been, but I can’t see where this road will take us, but I guarantee it will be a great ride. Here’s to 100 more years Harley-Davidson!