I like this guys approach to practicality and riding…but I like the electronics and extras…;-)
Some will agree with me and some will barge in against me, and this is somehow natural after I openly ask: don’t you all think there’s too much electronics in the new motorcycles?
Some say it’s all about the natural industrial progress and I will definitely not say it otherwise. The motorcycling industry has come a long way thanks to the development of electronic devices and new technologies, just like the rest of the human civilization.
But where computers and other similar industries are naturally aiming for bettering the electronics which are their very nature, bikes are something completely different.
Now, I’m not exactly a fan of old air-cooled engines which become hellish hot under the summer sun, and neither am I a fan of constantly tweaking and tinkering around the bike. This is fun for a while, but I like a bike that rides well and rides far.
Still, the huge discrepancy between the way marketers present some of the new-retro bikes and what’s going on in the industry came to my mind. And no, don’t tell me that Harley or Victory have nothing to do with the electronic suspensions BMW, Ducati or Suzuki are now offering.
They are different bikes, yes, but I’m speaking here about the big picture, and when doing so, they’re all part of the big puzzle. And this puzzle is more and more loaded with electronics.
I’m definitely not passing a judgment here, as this seems like too huge of a matter to be discussed over a pint or two during a winter evening. It’s really hard to say that electronics are “good” or “bad”, whatever these notions may turn out to be, in the end.
One thing is certainly sure: there’s a lot of electronic systems riding with us and sometime FOR us.
Since we’re all mumbling and munching the same old phrases, such as “motorcycling is freedom,” “ride to live, live to ride, ” and the rest of the old clichés, I could have expected the motorcycling world not to embrace mingling the old-school bike DNA with the modern, sometimes, overkill technical electronics systems that easily.
Discussing this matter with some friends, some argued that these electronic systems are making bikes better: safer, more economical, and sportier. This might be true, but there still are some raised eyebrows.
Safety is definitely good, but I believe that after a certain point, this much technology is making the bikes smarter to our detriment. We, as riders, as machine operators, are getting dumber from the very riding point of view.
I have already met guys with both cars and bikes, who started to rely too much on the “smartness” of the bike. Their rides (cars and motorcycles) gladly took over some of the basic factors that a truly good rider should never forget about.
Some say that traction control is there to keep a bike on track and prevent a wipeout through the turn. Well, obviously yes, but as one embraces this reasoning, he or she forgets the most important of things. What causes the (hypothetical) crash: the absence of the electronics or the rider error?
The answer, my friends, is not blowing in the wind: it’s always the rider. Some systems may help him, but too much help adds rust to instincts.
And if one can no longer ride on (almost) any bike, any road, in any (decent) conditions, he or she is not worthy to be called a proper rider. Riders ride, and don’t bow to traction control, stability control and other similar systems. Sorry, but that’s how things are.
As for the economy, things are also a bit iffy. Most of the guys I know (including myself) have never ever wondered about the mileage of their first, and subsequent bikes. They, or should I say we, just wanted to ride, knowing motorcycling was never a cheap passion (or diagnostic, as one of my buddies calls it).
Who wants two-wheeled cheap commuting can choose from hundreds of scooters, ranging from 50 to 800cc, offered for anything between dirt-cheap to stellar prices. If 200 mpg is your goal, then the 1800cc Boulevard is not your ride, that’s it!
You pay for the way you want to ride, it’s all as simple as this. Of course, a good modern injected engine can be more economical than an older carbureted one, but hearing people constantly complaining about the mileage of their bikes is just lame and annoying.
There are so many other passions you can choose from, many of them so expensive making motorcycling look like you’re almost earning money. Still, it all comes down to the same thing: it’s a passion. Sheer functionality is a scooterland affair.
As for the speed and power, this is a much simpler matter: feel like you’re not riding the right bike? Tune and tweak it, and when all else fails, get another one. Expecting a s#!^load of electronics to do the job seems a bit silly.
Since I also mentioned electronically-controlled suspensions, they seem to make life easier, alright, especially for enduro-touring bikes, which often have to withstand quite some rough times in unwelcoming scenery.
But hearing a chap wishing for such suspension on a Harley really puzzled me. So you’re a diehard chopper fan and would kill for the classic hardtail looks, but your buttocks are in fact so delicate that even a new-born baby could ride longer than you.
No, sir, you’re a lousy, whining rider wannabe who can’t muster enough guts to learn how to operate a motorcycle on different roads and under varying conditions, may it be searing sun, rain, cold and whatnot.
If a perfect ride is one during which you sit on a sofa and from time to time you allow the wind to mess up with your hair, then it probably better to watch a movie of someone else riding, and leave a window open.
All in all, electronics seem to be a thing we’ll all have to learn how to live with, but myself, I hope I will not be forced to leave my riding to them. Because I guess this would simply make me a lesser rider than my grandfather was.
Oh, and Casey Stoner also had some words on the electronics…