The fingers of one hand hold the clutch lever in. The other’s wait to wind the throttle open. The eyes need no direction, it’s a necessarily empty connection. If gods existed, they’d know better than to be here. Those fallacies have no business between man and machine. Just before it sbegins, there is the proverbial calm before the two-wheeled storm. And when it does arrive, birds flee, driven by a front wheel leaving the ground, all ears present honourably deafened by the other end of the phenomenon. At times it smokes, at others it howls, a duality that forms an immortal dragon for the ages. And nowhere in this violent ballet do wrinkles matter.
Why are motorcycles worth persisting for? Is it the timeless charm of an old idea?
Most of the old people I know want nothing to do with motorcycles. Perhaps it’s the benefit of hindsight, now that they’ve had their fun. I’m heartened that they still can’t answer the question, ‘Why not?’ Nonetheless, after all is said and done, when the exhausts have left your ears in peace, their question lingers — ‘You, the young ones, we bequeath this world upon you, as we get off our bikes and step into our graves. Is there an answer you seek?’ ‘Yes, um, why’d you let two-strokes die?’ ‘Oh, yeah. Sorry about that.’
How does a dancer convey to the audience their joy of dancing with the perfect partner? Someone watching will never know; after all, there are as many opinions as there are motorcycles and their riders. If there is a common ground at all, it is the motorcycle’s seat, genres be damned. Like an accent, a motorcycle and the way to ride it is something we grow into. And there’s no going back from that, right? I see kids raging over the bikes I bring home. Even at those inexperienced ages, they have inordinately strong opinions. Weird, because my own thoughts are a bit more restrained these days. Every dark morning splits apart at its seams in the headlight’s piercing stare. For whatever it’s worth, the light is an assurance; if it goes out, everything but the road awaits — and that’s what brings about navigation skills that border on a sixth sense. But will eyes dimmed by LED screens agree? Said eyes are only a metaphor for a younger generation, by the way. Even as our gadgets drive us blind, inside my head the younger me yells, ‘Traction control?! ABS?! What, are you growing old?!’ The more-recent me replies, ‘Yes. And you can thank me that you can still yell that.’
Motorcycles are a question for the old, the young, and the ones trapped in the middle like me and my kind. The answers are as poignant as red lights that provoke launches off a green signal, and they’re almost always questions themselves. Why are motorcycles worth persisting for? Is it the timeless charm of an old idea? Like typewriters that made way for computers? If you think bikes are headed the same way, move right on ahead. Motorcycles don’t exist for their makers, they do for their riders. The soul of a machine is always the opposite of a device’s convenience. A motorcycle is a machine that helps you collect thoughts like, ‘I need a moment… and you know what? I’ll pick one from that time that only I remember.’ It’ll be yours and yours alone forever. If you’ve let that clutch go and opened the throttle as hard as you dare, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about, till you’re young of heart and old of bone. Each wrinkle a motorcycle story on your face.