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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Hipsters and their bikes (another look)

From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back. That is the point that must be reached. - Franz Kafka

It's not that rare for me to comment on someone else's blog.  A good blog entry or article in a magazine should engage your mind, make you learn something or consider something in a new light.  Sometimes something should just piss you off enough that you need to fire off a comment just to show that moron that you know more than them.  If it does that then it is a successful piece of writing in my mind.

A dated article recently linked to the Motorcycle Obsession blog got me thinking.  The piece, which you can read here, basically dealt with Hipsters and Motorcycles.  Or what they - which I suppose is young people - are riding today.  Now I am not a hipster.  I would have no idea on how to even define such a thing.  After all I don't smoke clove cigarettes, I have never owned a beret, nor do I find the music of the Decemberists all that interesting (Hey Kids, lets do a song about dying of famine in 1860's Ireland!  Won't that be fun!)      

Now I will agree that poking non-malicious fun of a group other than your own can be enjoyable at times (for example, H-D riders).  The piece certainly has it's tongue planted firmly in it's cheek at times, but the problem is that instead of embracing this movement towards greater numbers of people riding it sort of blows them off.  The article lumps a whole lot of people into one category without understanding some of the logic behind the reason why motorized bicycles, small "cc" scoots and vintage bikes are "in."  That I'm afraid I have to take issue with.

The article starts with "hipsters love vintage" and mentions Grandad's old Goldwing.   In fact, several times "vintage" is mentioned and the term "vintage" is used to conjure a certain look or emotion.  A few of the brands mentioned, such as the Triumph Bonneville and the Royal Enfields speak to a much simpler time and, as Motorcycle Obsession points out, simply looks like a motorcycle.  

Let's be honest.  Some bikes are simply more easier to work on than others.   Today's youth, saddled with impossible student loans to pay back and a bleak job outlook, are looking to save money any way they can.  Buying a motorcycle/scooter is certainly one way to do that.  Buying an older motorcycle/scooter is certainly one way to do that.  Guess what might be easier to work on?  The newest computerized high performance engine or your simple two-stroke?  Grandad's old Goldwing might have 130,000 miles on it, but it was lovingly taken care of.  Plus Pop's would be more than willing to throw you some knowledge on it's care.

Hipsters are supposedly riding motorized bicycles as well.   I've not seen to many of these around the streets of Tampa but with top speeds of maybe 30 miles an hour and 130 mpg of gas I can certainly understand the attraction to the "hipster".  It, much like the lower 'cc' scooter, is built for city life.  You're able to ride it to work, to the bus depot or train stop.  You're able to take it inside the building and place it in your cube.  Well at least where I used to work you were able to take your (non-motorized) bike in.  

Scooters of course offer higher gas mileage and  more storage than either a motorcycle or motorized bicycle can.  Vespa's are pretty common and hold their value well and you have a lot of online sources to turn to if you have issues.  The Honda Ruckus is a do anything, go anywhere scooter which again is easy to work on. It also has a very active online presence   Do you see a pattern emerging here?

There was one bike in the article that did surprise me, till I thought about it for a moment.   The Ural however offers a lot other than a slick marketing scheme.  You can carry three people on a Ural without much difficulty.  It's sidecar offers excellent storage and frankly it's go anywhere attitude and ability to go anywhere makes it a perfect year round ride.  Sure it's got issues but if you're serious about making your life car free (and this is a growing movement) the Ural is a near perfect solution.  Is it any wonder their sales keep increasing?  I know I am slowly but surely heading that way and one of the reasons I'm attracted to the Ural is it's unusual pedigree.  There is something to be said for that as well and frankly that is one of the reasons I think "hipsters" are attracted to it as well.

What bothers me in the end is not the article.  Nor the disdain it showed, after all the audience the piece is written for is older and have ridden for years.  I guess what bothered me is that we need to grow the brotherhood of two wheels.  We need to communicate better, to rethink how we market, act and treat each other.  People buy bikes for 1001 reasons, it's up to us to make sure they buy the right bike for their needs and abilities.  

It may finally be "hip" to be on two wheels...why shoot that down?

1 comment:

Liz Ray said...

Amen on building an alliance among all two-wheelers. To address parking issues in Philadelphia, we built a coalition between scooterists and motorcyclists, and it was surprising to me that such a thing had to be "forged" because it did not necessarily automatically exist. We on two-wheels share the same passions and face the same challenges and risks out on the roads. Sure, there is definitely good-natured fun to be poked across various types of bikes, but in the end we are all cut from the same cloth. :)