Happy 2020 everybody and welcome to the new decade, new year and for some the new you (How was dry January?)
If I think back over the previous ten years, (and just keep it focused around motorcycles and motorcycling), so much has happened and it would take a very long and even more boring Chair’s Chatter to cover off everything, but since 2013 Anti-Lock Braking has become mandatory on motorcycles of 125 and above, and whether or not you are happy about that, it has saved lives. Now we have cornering ABS, air-bags that fit in your clothing or attach to the bike, clothing that is actually properly CE rated and not just a patch of high-density foam that Dainese told you met their rigid safety tests, tyres which are designed for the road but give you almost race track grip and for me, a sad goodbye to sports bikes and a hello to the upright tourer. No one seems to have invented a GPS that works how you want it to, when you need it to.
Where we go in the next 10 years, who knows, but I think electric bikes will become more common place (and it should come as no surprise there is an article on the very subject to be found further into this edition of Progress) because they are lighter than cars, the battery weight can be distributed easier around the frame and placed in a position where it helps the mass centralisation of the bike (a big thing in the mid-2000s when exhausts started going under the seat) and the heavier braking forces will help create a charge to feed back into the batteries.
But what will that do for Biking and Bikers? Ewan and Charlie are about to highlight the abilities of the electric motorbike in their Long Way Up documentary due out this year and I think Harley Davidson are hoping it will do for the “Livewire” what it did for the GS.
Will it change people’s perception of us as we move from noisy undesirable individuals who are frowned upon as we go into a pub or garden centre to silent ninjas who turn up with a light hum?
Will everyone ride along going making their own engine noises?
Will it stop the older gentleman who stops you at the pub, garden centre or petrol station wanting to talk to you about your bike and how before he met “Betty” and gave it all up for the kids, he rode a Matchless G15 and raced a bit at Brands (Betty sitting in the passenger seat of the car, nodding at the appropriate time, having been through this routine twice a week for the last 30 years).
Will it end the surprise of colleagues when you turn up at a meeting or event in your bike gear from opening with the “I didn’t know you were; or you don’t look like, a biker” staple question, usually followed by you asking “what does a biker look like”? “But you usually wear a suit and don’t have tattoos!”
Will it kill off the casual walk around Ryka’s carpark or Newlands Corner looking over the custom paint job, the custom-built titanium race can or the see-through acrylic piston head. How do will buy these bikes? 100KW or 1000KW? How will they differentiate between what the causal commuter wants and what the pure sports rider wants? Fundamentally, will it be same bike for everyone just with a different style AND do we adopt IPSA?
Do we become like the classic car owners who drive their Ferrari 250 GTO to Penshurst but don’t want to acknowledge it’s theirs until they drive away, and certainly don’t want to engage with someone in motorcycle attire talking to them about it?
I hope not, because that’s what being a motorcyclist is all about; as cars become more and more autonomous (and don’t get me wrong, some of the tech is amazing), I like that I can ride my bike and make it my own by adding bits on, changing X and Y. I like chatting to the old chap, even if he keeps me in the carpark and I am late for dinner.
That’s what motorcycles mean to me.
Ask Graham Jackson (this month’s Meet the Observer) and he will be of a similar opinion. I’ve seen Graham go from initial wobbling associate to obtaining his Masters with Distinction, and please do ask him, he does like to chat!!!!
There’s a great piece by Huw on scores and why they seem to plateau or go down.
The clip of the month is rather interesting and worth a watch and something we all hope never to encounter, but it does happen, I was out yesterday (in the car, 11th January) and lo and behold, I could not believe my eyes when I saw a cyclist on the M25!
Don’t forget that the shop is open for the Full Members weekend to Wales in October and full details can be found on the LAM website.
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