Rider Electronics and the One Size Fits All

By: Old AlMay 15, 2020

Antilock brakes, “rain-city-daynamic-off road” rider settings, traction control, hill start, service lights for the dealer to reset, optimized cornering ABS, etc.  I think the descriptions are wordy and the acronyms in code.  Now I agree that ABS is great, especially in a panic situation. But these days there are just so many settings and use 2 buttons to change them that by the time you’re proficient with them it’s time for a new bike.

When I was 20 years old I would have been impressed and even want them. As I’ve I have gotten older I long for the simpler motorcycles. Now a days bikes have become so specialized that you ride a certain discipline or own a few different ones. When I started riding in the mid sixties, even as late as the 1990’s, you had one bike to do it all. Now I’m not talking 80 years ago when you you rode to the races, removed the street legal stuff, ran your race then put it back together and rode home, that one bike did it all. But I am old enough to remember stripped down enduros become motocrossers – a 500cc trials bike was the norm.

In the sixties there were Harleys, Indians, and the infusion of Japanese small bore bikes. My own garage is a good example of this, 4 bikes completely different. A touring Harley, sport bike, scooter, and an antique Triumph.  I call this ‘more money than brains”. 

I would imagine this specialization comes from competition, sales, racing, and certainly cubic dollars. It’s good to see the younger riders and hipsters buying and building old, simpler bikes for years ago. Maybe that will be the future of our sport, motorcycles, and rider. We certainly need something to refresh the industry.

Old Al
It’s pretty odd how I came into motorcycles as my father couldn’t stand them.  But as life moves on, things change. Now here I am, still riding. It’s been a long road, 55 years riding and 116 bikes later, and now writing a column for this site. What a long strange trip it’s been.