~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Born To Be Mild

I found myself with a bit of free time yesterday and in the vicinity of certain motorcycle shops so it only made sense to visit said shops and look at bikes. As the Mrs. was with me she would at critical moments whipped out her point and shoot camera to document some of the fun for all of you.

We visited a Kawasaki shop, a Honda / Yamaha / Suzuki "powersports store" (ugh), a Euro bike dealer now stocking choppers along with Ducati & Friends, and yes...two Harley shops. How could I not stop and eyeball the darkly alluring bad boy bike, the Crossbones, the bike which brought about a whole series of intense, high level discussions at the 40on2 Estate?

I did indeed plant my keester on a Crossbones and I like it a bunch. The version with the silver tank really captures the bobber look better than the all black version does and I can image no end of fun bombing around Arizona on that bike. I even stood next to a very rowdy looking Jack Daniels Edition Harley. The Jack Daniels bike was fun except that I quit drinking nearly 30 years ago and didn't like JD even then.

To be honest, in looking at the pictures the wife took of me sitting on the bikes I looked ridiculous, like some middle aged, chubby, engineer poseur imagining he was a biker, hence the slight editing of the photos for the blog. I am not a biker, I am what I appear to be and as much as fun as it may be to imagine a Harley would make me look like my occasional riding associate, Imo, I look like me: A motorcycle enthusiast but fairly ordinary no matter what. There's a lesson there for all who think riding a Harley makes them a real biker. See if in the photo below you can guess which guy is Imo and guy is me.

And just to mess with notions of stereotypes, for the last several years Imo (on the left) rides a Yamaha RoadStar ratbike:

I would never actually buy or not buy a bike based on how I looked on it. Motorcycle riders can all be a little image conscience (don't tell me you never rode past a big store window and didn't check out your reflection) but truly I do not care what anyone thinks of what I ride, how I dress when I ride, or how much or how little I ride. What does all this mean? I don't know. I just went bike shopping and motorcycle fever combined with a lack of access to large sums of cash and an empty garage has addled my brain.

Back at the Harley shop the Mrs. was curled up on a black leather Harley logo'd sofa by the Harley logo'd pool table next to the Harley logo'd juke box and reading a book while eating free popcorn as I continued to browse bikes and tell stories to the sales guy. H-D has done a wonderful job of marketing their shops to wives. Someone finally figured out that non-riding wives and girlfriends just might have some influence on their mate's purchasing decision.

H-D also does a superb job of styling and nailing down the fit & finish on their bikes. I'd be pleased to motor about on the Crossbones or any of several Harleys upon which I looked and liked. I suspect that the Harley Fat Boy would fit me better than the Crossbones, you know what I mean?

I finally wandered over to the Mrs. and said "I told the salesman I'd take the Crossbones. Give me the checkbook please." She looked at me with much skepticism, not unlike the way she does after reading most of my blog entries. She said "Yeah right. I don't see the salesman doing the happy dance so I know you're just teasing me."



Mr. Motorcycle said...

I hear what you are saying about not caring what other people ride. Amen to that. And yes, I admit it. I've gone by windows and looked at my reflection.

I really liked the J.D. bike. But I don't hardly ever touch J.D., let alone want anyone to think I love it so much that I purposly put their name on my ride. I think I'd have to remove that part.

Third... Not related to this post. I see you added me to your "Links to other motorcycle blogs and places of interest:" list. I appreciate it. I don't have one on my blog, but if I did, you would have already been there brother.

Doug, my friend, regardless of what you look like, you've got over forty years riding. I believe in my book you've earned the title "Biker".

Unknown said...

Sounds like a good day! I agree with you re: Harley and their marketing, they are superb! Nice post!

Anonymous said...

If you put on that vest and ditched the sneakers & ball cap, you'd look just as much "the biker" as Imo. Not that it matters what you look like anyway. Being a biker (vs a poser)is more of an attitude than an image.

"Joker" said...

Doug, you're a real complex bastard, you know that?

Let me tell you something about the posers. My old supervisor and manager at work were two of the biggest posers you'd ever want to meet. Both owned older Sportsters. You were lucky if you saw the sup's bike 3 times in a summer. It was always "going to rain," or was "too hot." He had plenty of H-D tee shirts though, and of course, the H-D edition F-150 Pickup.

The manager dressed like he was going to Sturgis, to ride about 3/4 of a mile from his house to work. He never rode on the weekends or elsewhere. He just wanted everyone at work to see him coming and going on a Harley and be able to tell everyone he had a Harley. I hated the two of them with a passion. The better part of both of them ran down the cracks of their mother's asses and stained the mattress.

You could dress up like Gilligan and ride around if you wanted, and you'd still be more of a biker than either one of those guys.

Sure, that buddy of yours fits the typical "image" of a biker, but so what? I never really looked like a biker back when I was a kid on my two rice burners. When I got the Harley, part of "joining the collective" for me meant looking more the part. With a goatee, one tattoo and my vest, I'm a hybrid between you and him.

In the end though, it doesn't matter worth a pile of Confederate money, as long as you're comfortable with yourself and your own ride - whatever that ends up being.

Doug Klassen said...

You know, the funny thing is (and I had to explain this to the fair and lovely Debbie), I've owned a Harley in the past and three other cruiser-type bikes. As much as I love to tease the H-D crowd H-D builds a marvelous bike and I would rate their fit and finish second only to MV Agusta. Having owned a ton of bikes and ridden bunches more I in fact have no problem appreciating what makes a Harley a Harley and my old '86 Softtail Custom remains on my "Top Five" favorite bikes list. I don't doubt for even a second that a Crossbones or a Fat Boy would be as must a hoot to ride now as my FXST-C was 20+ years ago.

I suppose at this juncture that unless I win the lottery I have arrived at the point in life were I must buy what I can afford vs buy what I want. Age and finances are conspiring against me (and also my own desire to give Debbie some of her dreams which others in the past have stolen). It is indeed, as Joker suggested, a complex moment in my life.


FLHX_Dave said...

Doug. This is the honest post. You kick ass brother and I appreciate your honestly. You are one of the true bikers in my book and you put it out there. It doesn't matter what a dude like you rides or wears...your always going to be the biker. Complex indeed Joker, lol...why I come here to read his complex horse-sense. Sometimes it makes so much sense it almost annoys me. heh.

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