Why I Motorcycle
It is about freedom and feeling alive. In my experience, no other way of travel connects you closer to your journey, destination, people and your environment than motorcycling. When you take a long ride, one lasting days or weeks, there is a Zen like feeling that becomes you. The past and future vanish and you live in the eternal present moment – your one true reality. In order to ride well, you need to be fully present or else you risk cavorting the Grim Reaper. Not only must one be alert and conscious to ride safely, it will reward you with joy and thoughtless serenity.
We all know motorcycling can be dangerous, but that’s a risk I am willing to accept. Sometimes to really feel alive, one needs to learn how to overcome the fear of death. When fear is suspended and conquered, life rushes in to fill the void. On long rides I am conscious of both my joy in the immediate moment and the need to be alert and safe. It is a dance on a razor’s edge and a journey between the shadow of death and the light of being. Good riding is a skill and an art form that can exist as a state of being and becoming perfected.
Riding through extremes of weather, such as punishing heat, soaking rains, howling winds and the biting cold require a lot more of a person than driving in the confines of a car or sitting in an airplane seat. It can test your will and endurance, but then that’s something worthwhile, isn’t it? The corollary of dealing with inclement weather is a more intensified appreciation of good weather. The reward becomes all the much deeper and you develop a fonder respect for your world and environment.
Another magic you discover when riding across the USA or Canada is you get to meet some wonderful people. When strangers see you have ridden thousands of kilometers and arrived in their hometown, even just to pass through it, they want to talk to you and hear your stories and share some of their own. This happens quote frequently with other riders you encounter on the road, but it happens just as much which regular people that may have never been on a motorcycle. A motorcycle is far more likely to engender this kind of encounter than a car. People instinctively know that real riders are a different breed.
When I am old and gray and need to take stock of my life, many of my riches will be remembered from motorcycle journeys.
Why I ride Harley-Davidson
My current ride is a 2008 Road Glide and I love it. Bottom line is that Harley Davison make great motorcycles that can go the distance. There is a different quality when riding a Harley, one that’s hard to describe. I can say this after having owned both Suzuki and Kawasaki bikes. My Road Glide has been across the USA twice, once across Canada and on many other weekend trips. It has not missed a beat…ever. I cannot say the same for my previous Japanese bikes.
My old Kawasaki Vulcan Nomad break down on me twice leaving me stranded. Moreover, fixing it is was a real pain as a clutch rebuild was required. Japanese bikes have become too complicated and over engineered for the average person to fix or repair easily. One of the reasons I switched to a Harley is that they are simpler machines where an amateur gear head can access many of the bike’s assemblies and do their own maintenance.
There was a time where a big price gap existed between Harley-Davidson and good Japanese touring bikes from Yamaha and Honda. That gap has closed in recent years and now there is little price incentive to buy premium Japanese bikes that cost almost as much as Harley’s touring bikes. When I got my 2001 Kawasaki Nomad it cost almost half the price of a Harley Road King or Electra Glide, so it won on price. That sort of price gap no longer exists in Canada. For example, the Honda GoldWing is a good bike, very well engineered and reliable, yet it costs as much as big Harley. The GoldWing is not for me, I prefer a machine with more soul, grunt and true American styling.
Harley-Davidsons have almost limitless possibilities for customization. In the right hands, they become a true extension of someone’s individuality. There is no other brand of motorcycle that can be customized as much as Harleys. In addition to Harley-Davidson’s parts and accessories, dozens of aftermarket companies have sprung up to supply thousands of parts to customize your machine. First and foremost, you can tailor a Harley to fit you like a glove and then turn it into a canvas to express yourself. Best of all, you can do this right in your own garage.