A good post by Req at Shiny Side Up about his Bandit breaking down by the side of the road had me tempted to throw around some Harley-triumphalism, but I quickly realized that was silly.
In the time it took me to realize what was wrong and figure out a work-around, I was passed by quite a few bikes; traffic was pretty slow, right around 35mph in the fast lane. Of the bikes that passed me, not a one of the sportbikers paid the slightest attention; well, one did throw me a jaunty salute and rev it, as if to say “if your bike wasn’t fucked, I’d race ya, bro!” Three different Harleys, however, yelled out to me, pulled off to offer help, etc.
The truth is that back when I rode Japanese bikes, I didn’t stop for other bikers as often either. But really, that was because my bikes never broke down, so I didn’t know enough about fixing them to be any help to anyone if I did stop. After a few years on a Harley, however, I’m intimately familiar with just about anything that can go wrong on a bike. My bike decided I needed an education, and gave me lesson after lesson, without regard to whether I had the money for tuition. Now I feel like I can really help someone, so there’s more incentive to stop and try to lend a hand. (I also get a kick out of the look on people’s faces when a giant white dude steps off his chopper to ask if they need help.)
We have our little cliques, we all ride for different reasons, but we’re all out there riding. You know what? That makes us brothers.
So wave to everyone. Stop to help anyone who needs it. One day it’ll be you on the edge of the road, and you never know who’ll help you out.
So say we all!
It seems to me that one reason for the friction between riders of different sorts of bikes is a failure of imagination, a failure to grasp that “we all ride for different reasons.” If my goal was to get my knee as close to the ground as possible while strafing the canyons, I’d be an idiot to ride a cruiser. If you wanted the experience I get out of riding, you’d be an idiot to ride a sportbike.
To me, above all, riding a motorcycle is an expression of freedom, and a way to directly experience that freedom. Our choices in bikes, clothes, safety equipment, etc. reflect differences in our priorities based on which aspects of that experience we find most important. But we’re all out there riding, and that’s a powerful connection.