Article By: Chris Callen
Don’t get too hung up on labels man, just dig the ride
Ya know the whole Bagger vs. Chopper wars that go on from time to time are funny to me. I mean, the word Bagger to begin with is something that this decade of motorcycle enthusiast owns completely. As I was growing up, these motorcycles were known as Full Dressers and to this day for many of us still are. Anyway, the funny thing about one group versus the other, as it applies to this article, is that in the end it just doesn’t matter. These invisible boundaries we create to identify each other are just that, invisible and invented.
I can see it play out in my head; a group of big wheel bikes with riders dressed in tight fitting shirts and loud music blaring from their high dollar draggers on one side of the street. Dirty denim and long beards with stripped down jockey shift driven death machines on the other. Each with the belief that their own versions of what is cool in motorcycles has to be the absolute gospel. And for them, they may well be right. But you see, when you’ve been around for several decades of this you start to appreciate the simple fact that fads come, fads go but in the end the ride goes on.
There is a thing at work here that I have affectionately labeled the logical progression of the life of a motorcyclist. It generally starts with any cobbled together piece of shit you can manage to get a plate for. At this stage the motorcycle is a very practical proposition as it is cheap to ride, gets you from one pint to another faster than your thumb or your skateboard and in general isn’t a bad idea with the girls. From the time that first seed is planted the freshly infected young mind works up to faster and better modified versions until one day their economy or position in life gives them the ability to buy a new, or build the perfect motorcycle in their mind. Now the cycle, excuse the term, doesn’t stop there, no man... life goes on. We get a little older and the ride gets longer as well, if you stick with this thing. The desire to stretch your legs further than your own hometown, your state, side of the country and sometimes even your country of origin takes over and before you know it a touring motorcycle starts to look like a pretty decent option. This is generally near the last portion of a rider’s time in the active role of our culture. Life is a bitch and you can’t ignore that someday you too will just be too damn old to hold up a bike. Sure, you might move on to a side car or trike for a spell, but eventually we all run out of time.
Now, sometime shortly after the beginning stage of this span and just before the last are where all the fads come to play. What horsepower is important, have a six or seven speed transmission, what clothes are in with your particular group of peers and what style of motorcycle is the right one from your perspective. Now in the world today great companies like Baker Drivetrain and S&S Cycle have given us the absolute best choices to power up and roll out and it’s right at our fingertips, but the best part of it all comes from putting those great parts to use, taking whatever bike you have decided on out to the open road and exploring your own mind and this great country of ours on the Two Wheel Freedom Machine. Yeah I know, sayings like that are sometimes hokey and even over used, but it the truth. There is a metaphysical side of motorcycling that exists just beyond the distance of the casual afternoon ride. As you pull out of town the thoughts of the day peel away, then the thoughts of the past few months. More hours go by and your thinking about years worth of conversations, people lost and loved along the way and days later all that has been torn down and there is finally peace and quiet. Your mind settles and the hum of the motor is in sync with your own beating heart. There you aren’t thinking of anything but instead you are just alive. The smell of that patch of pines you flew by, the colors the sunset make as it dances across the clouds. These are beautiful experiences in the life of a motorcycle and they exist no matter what trend or target market you fall into. They are what is real about why we do what we do and I thank the good lord for making me a biker because of them every day.