Motorcycling 2.0: Rethinking the Definition of a Motorcyclist

03/03/2014 @ 4:44 pm, by Aakash Desai63 COMMENTS

Motorcycling 2.0: Rethinking the Definition of a Motorcyclist motorcycling 2 point 0

As it currently goes, I merely need to adopt the correct lifestyle aesthetics in the form of bikes and apparel and I can be part of the “club”; the actual identity of what it means to be a “rider” is devoid of the qualities that make us human and participants in society.

There are Harley riders, BMW riders, customs riders, leather-clad sport bike riders, and hipster cafe racers. In each of these demographic fragments, the specifics of what the person is riding matters more than the political, social, and/or economic standpoints of the riders themselves.

This consumerist mentality relegates the means for participation to the choice of how to exercise my purchasing power. Dominant motorcycle culture emphasizes the bike as the expression of the identity of the rider.

An apathetic culture that is centered around fetishization of commodities will reach limits to growth. Sure, motorcycles will get faster, lean better, safer, and smarter than the ones available to us. However, the market is already saturated with choices without enough reasons to pick one choice over the other.

Imagine, however, that being a motorcyclist meant more than just having two wheels spinning between your legs.

The emotional and practical reasons for buying a motorcycle are being exhausted. This is a consequence of the aforementioned limited scope of what it means to ride a motorcycle and be a motorcyclist. What is going to be the new frontier of growth and innovation in motorcycle culture?

Perhaps the way forward is to put motorcycle culture into conversation with broader societal issues. Perhaps what we need again are the form of the biker gangs from the past, but with an attitude and conscience that speaks to the needs of the present.

The industry and us as a culture can innovate and develop new networks for participation, where the motorcycle just happens to be a means to engage and not the end to it. We can call it: Motorcycling 2.0.

Motorcycling 2.0 needs to borrow a page from the information-technology and social networking book in order to develop new ways for engagement with broader issues, agendas, and frameworks.

It is not externally relevant nor useful to just share riding statistics, lap times, and routes traveled over social media. What must be shared is a common agenda, a political ideal, and a societal outlook.

Take, for example, this group Greek of anti-fascists who go on group-rides to demonstrate solidarity and force against the racist and nationalistic fascist element that is growing in pervasiveness in Greece:

Imagine a Russian equivalent of these Greek anti-fascists repelling the ignorant Cossack squad, while Pussy Riot was able to continue their demo last week. Imagine anti-racist gangs patrolling the streets of your town, and imagine you riding with them.

Again, I’m asking you to imagine that being a motorcyclist could mean more than just riding a motorcycle.

As demonstrated by the Greeks, motorcycles can provide an exciting and meaningful context for people to engage with political and social causes in a more active way than the token yearly charity rides.

Transforming the motorcycle into a means for new ways of societal participation is liable to open up whole new demographics to the riding experience and all the things we love about it; people will buy and ride bikes not just to get around or get a jolt of adrenaline, but to be part of a vibrant, thriving and politically effective community.

Finally, and no less importantly, the cultural revolution need not deny the roots and history of motorcycling. We can capitalize on the rebellious imagery, the counter-cultural attitude and the sense of kinship between bikers.

We can take all of these, and instead of merely letting a manufacturer commoditize and turn into kitsch artifacts to entice the few, we can channel them into galvanizing points of commonality that mobilize the many.

Comment:

  1. paulus says:

    “The emotional and practical reasons for buying a motorcycle are being exhausted.”

    Not for me they are not.
    Emotional – I ride for personal pleasure, freedom and relief from the everyday pressures of work and society.
    Practical – fastest and more efficient on my daily commute.

    “This is a consequence of the aforementioned limited scope of what it means to ride a motorcycle and be a motorcyclist.”

    Only limited by self imposed limitations. I have many rides, or many types and don’t feel pressured to dress or behave differently on each one.

    “What is going to be the new frontier of growth and innovation in motorcycle culture?”

    Don’t care! Got my motorcycle, freedom of choice and a tank full of gas. My only consideration is in which direction I ride!

    Analyze less… ride more, the reasons for owning any motorcycle speak for themselves

  2. TexusTim says:

    waat?

  3. DonR says:

    +1 paulus. What a lot of psycho babble.

  4. Shawn says:

    um.. what?? that was a lot of text for not much substance. the feeling I got after reading this was the same as the feeling I get after watching those terrible emo hipster cafe racer videos.

  5. Tripps says:

    Interesting article but I get the sense that it may be to cerebral for this crowd.

  6. twoversion says:

    Ditto on the waat?

    Apparently the author has never felt a sportbike bang off the limiter at 15k to understand what is considered emotional, or ever sat in traffic in LA to understand what is practical.

    The only thing in motorcycling that needs to change is how they are marketed, Tesla has found a home in many malls where the consumer is in greater numbers to market their dream, and it’s worked out pretty well for uber expensive dream bait like the Model S – Now take something that’s 1/6th the price and see how you do with the same concentration of consumers.

  7. tl1098 says:

    I’m freezing my ass off here in upstate New York waiting for this God awful winter to end.Just want to go for a ride.It really isn’t really any more existential than that.

  8. Oliver Seibert says:

    When did Asphalt and Rubber become an ideology slinger. Fads come and go but motorcycles will always exist and the beauty of what they are and what it means to ride and race will always going to shine through the bullshit.
    Marc Marquez 2014!!1

    Ron Paul 2012!

  9. flywheelz says:

    Protest by indulging in a recreational activity is bourgeois. Can’t get around that. Be fun though.

  10. Chris says:

    Lighten up Francis

  11. maris crane says:

    “to cerebral”

    how about use that cerebellum and learn the correct use of the word “too”

  12. ADG says:

    I had my first motorcycle at 3 years of age, I’m 46 now. I never considered motorcycling a lifestyle, just part of my life.

    This article is pure crap.

  13. Dan H says:

    I can feel ya brah. But you’re vastly ovestimating the ability of Americans to see beyond the veil, probably because you drastically underestimate how much they choose to live in darkness. This is America, we believe our own bullshit. Barack Obama, George W Bush…different sides of the same rotten coin, and a coin because we worship power whitewashed with the “merit” of “earned” money. We are the bottom of the toilet bowl of our species. Give up or get out.

    Or maybe I’m in the wrong here, and this site has a more international skew to its readers. The comments above seem to indicate otherwise.

  14. avsatishchandra says:

    Sorry to write like this but Aakash, this is one article that seems to have strung out words, phrases and analogies in a way that they can make no sense. In that context, I am unable to understand the content of the article beyond the point that you are saying that motorcycling is much more than just riding one just for the heck of it. What surprises me is your usage of phraseology and metaphor that have direct relationship with Karl Marx. “Commodity fetishism” which you have called the “fetishization of commodities” and then the Maoist “Counter Revolution” and even later somewhere you have brought in the notion of “Counter Culture” which can be attributed to many critical theorists such as Horkheimer and Adorno. Even more surprising is your references to “fascist nationalism” and stunningly what you call “ignorant Cossack squad”. Cossack in this day and age? It long became Kazak and you are still implying that Kazaks are backward and non trustworthy. All in all it seems to me that your last sentence which is “We can take all of these, and instead of merely letting a manufacturer commoditize and turn into kitsch artifacts to entice the few, we can channel them into galvanizing points of commonality that mobilize the many” actually sums up what your article is all about. It is a lot of kitsch with words and expressions randomly strung. Post-modernist grammar or syntax allows you to construct syntactically correct sentences, even if they consist of words that are randomly and purposelessly thrown together as a sentence. Syntax without also taking into consideration semantics or meaning ultimately consists of verbiage that is vacuous and therefore just gibberish. If you set out with this purpose, congratulations you have succeeded. Just a small suggestion (no offence meant). Please do not use readers as guinea pigs while you perform your experiments with language. Sorry man, I feel bad about this post but come on you were asking for it.

  15. Richard Gozinya says:

    There’s plenty of people who ride for causes already. BACA, Patriot Guard Riders, Dykes on Bikes, various fundraising/awareness raising group rides. If you’ve got a cause that you think is worthwhile, maybe there’s others who agree with you, and you can get together with them. And yes, it looks like you’re over thinking things. Just figure out where you want to go, and go. If it’s good, perhaps others will join you, perhaps not.

  16. Ken says:

    Ride alone. doesn’t get any better than that. No causes, no connections, no nonsense. If I wanna be connected I’ll sit at a starbucks (never!)

  17. What you’re calling “Motorcycle 2.0″ already exists across the world and has for decades. For example there is already a club called “BACA” who raise awareness for abused children. There is the Patriot Guard Riders who offer their numbers at funerals in support of fallen soldiers. Every November there is a gathering of 3-piece patch clubs in Riverside, CA who visit a children’s hospital in Loma Linda to entertain the kids.

    There are perhaps 1,000s of motorcycle-based groups across the world using their motorcycles to spread some kind of message. And since the coming of the Internet, these groups and others have built a network to communicate and reach out to more people.

    If anything, the problem has been that the “average Joe” in the world has too many problems of his own to worry about other people’s problems. It’s not that we haven’t been creative enough with our delivery. In fact, YouTube, Blogger, Facebook, et al, have already highlighted the most brilliant attempts at getting a message across. However, the most people can do is hit the “share” button or write an article about it. Otherwise, they are too busy worrying about paying next month’s rent to make something happen.

    In all fairness, you seem to have the best intentions. On the other hand, it also suggests that you’ve overlooked the 1,000s of other groups across the world who have already been doing this for decades.

  18. Cru Jones says:

    Well said avsatishchandra. I couldn’t have said it much better.

  19. walkingshadow says:

    Motorcycle is a instrument, a tool to express ourselves, “nothing more”.
    The problem behind the motorworld is that the ecomony that we are living is based on too-old rules, that caused the world crisis too.
    When a biker become strictly a “consumer” is good for industry but bad for the world, causing all the apparence without substance that some places(brains too) are filled.
    When you are slave of your instrument, your are a perfect consumer and dead inside.
    Motorbikers try to keep alive the human behind the wheel, and so they grow and evolve in a right way.
    (Bikes should follow dreams and willings of their creator, even if they don’t have market.)

  20. mars says:

    great blog, but I disagree with you on this topic. don’t try to inject meaning into the meaningless. motorcycle riding is an activity that should be done for the sake of itself. bring people together for travel or socializing, explore the world, or raise adrenaline.

    deep thinking is admirable, but put meaning into your character. thats how you improve the world. there have been activists since the beginning of man and nothing has changed for the better. just more causes. I appreciate your attempt to educate.

  21. The Answer is Just Ride says:

    I used to get excited every day when a new article would be published to A&R. I could count on Beeler to show us some new technology, well written articles, or beautiful pictures of our favorite bikes and racers. Now, I have to admit that I do still visit this site in anticipation of a “normal” article but cringe when confronted with political commentaries. If I wanted to hear inane babbling about political beliefs I would visit CNN or Fox News. Come on Jensen, bring the old A&R back! I know you are sitting on your high horse in California, the land of the enlightened ones but I’d be willing to bet the majority of your readers are normal people who just love to ride and love to read about the sport / hobby of riding. We ride to SIMPLIFY our lives or at least have the feeling of escape. We don’t enjoy being preached to by writers who cleary think they are smarter than those around them. I’m sure Aakash means well and might be a friend or colleague of yours but lets keep the articles more on point about riding and forthcoming events.

  22. David says:

    So what your your saying is:

    All motorcyclist need to band together and arm themselves with AK47′s.

    Then we can RULE the WORLD!!!!! (or at least the road).

  23. Kyle says:

    I don’t ride for anyone but me.
    Motorcyclist don’t need a central cause.
    A real motorcyclist rides for the ride.
    We ride because there’s nothing better.
    With everything in the world politicized and pigeonholed why devolve motorcycles to fit into a mold??
    If you have time to think of “riders” this way I’d suggest you go out and ride, it sounds like you have to much downtime.

  24. jordan.gpx says:

    For people who are telling Aakash to take it less seriously, really? Pot, kettle, black?
    Commentary like this is unique in the motorcycling world, whether you agree with it or not. Keep posting! Thank you!

  25. John Mith says:

    Gimme a break. This article is garbage. Like someone else mentioned I ride for my own personal pleasure. I’m not trying to convey messages or provide any social commentary. I’m indulging my own selfish interests of getting away from the insanity of life for a few hours. I own a very large collection of bikes from Harleys, Sport bikes from Italy, Germany and Japan. They all have their charms. Articles like this is why the general public tends to be afraid of motorcyclists because it gives them the idea that we are a group with an agenda. This is not the case.

  26. Gutterslob says:

    As they say in Japan, “No Commento”

  27. L2C says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SM3HO6cLF44

    Tied to the tracks and the train’s just coming,
    Strapped to the wing with the engine running,
    You say that this wasn’t in your plan,
    Don’t mess around with the demolition man,

    Tied to a chair, and the bomb is ticking,
    This situation was not of your picking,
    You say that this wasn’t in your plan,
    Don’t mess around with the demolition man,

    I’m a walking nightmare, an arsenal of doom,
    I kill conversation as I walk into the room,
    I’m a three line whip,
    I’m the sort of thing they ban,
    I’m a walking disaster,
    I’m a demolition man,

    I’m a walking nightmare, an arsenal of doom,
    I kill conversation as I walk into the room,
    I’m a three line whip,
    I’m the sort of thing they ban,
    I’m a walking disaster,
    I’m a demolition man,

    You come to me like a moth to the flame,
    It’s love you need but I don’t play that game,
    You kept on coming you should have ran,
    I’m nobody’s friend,
    I’m a demolition man,

    I’m a walking nightmare, an arsenal of doom,
    I kill conversation as I walk into the room,
    I’m a three line whip,
    I’m the sort of thing they ban,
    I’m a walking disaster,
    I’m a demolition man,
    Demolition man…

  28. chaz michael michaels says:

    Richard Gozinya hit the nail on the head…so to speak.

    There already are riders for a cause. Hell, riders for health is something that can be HUGE for society!

    The article found a really convoluted and confusing way to urge us to ride for a cause and not just for fun or convenience.

    Personally, I don’t feel like riding for a protest. If I’m gonna protest I’ll just do it on foot.

  29. Corey M says:

    This is the biggest load of crap I’ve read in a long time.

    While your worrying about your social causes and trying to define what it is to be a motorcyclist…..I’m gonna go get on my motorcycle and ride it.

    Maybe to work, maybe for a weekend trip, maybe at a track day, maybe to a local Tue night motorcycle hang out. Maybe I’ll work on it in my garage, maybe I’ll head to my local motorcycle wrenching shop and shoot the shit with the owner for a hour.

    What I won’t be doing is trying to make others motorcycling experience mimic mine or have to have a purpose.

  30. Gabe says:

    Love A&R…but……..Come on guys…..”An apathetic culture that is centered around fetishization of commodities will reach limits to growth…..” Blah, blah, Blah…..

    We like bikes because they are fun, let’s not take it too seroiusly, or make it a cause. There are A LOT of more important things in life than sitting on a motorcycle in an attempt to be cool or counter-cultural.

  31. Sean says:

    Whether you ride a scooter or a hog, you are risking life and limb for love of the sport. That’s what we have in common, and until riding becomes as safe as driving, that will be a very important thing.

    Taking risks for fun is an important political statement in itself – it says that you know what’s best for you, not the state – that your body, and your life, is your property, not the state’s.

    You might not like the self-ownership aspect of riding, since it is fundamentally libertarian in philosophy, which is why you find riding, for it’s own sake, to be politically unsatisfying.

    For readers who are unfamiliar, some handy definitions for lefty jargon:

    “fascist” – a socialist that some other socialist does not like

    “anti-fascist” – a good socialist who opposes those evil socialists

    “anti-racist” – anti-white, with a side of self-congratulation

  32. Chaz Michael Michaels says:

    @Sean

    you had me then you lost me.

    Anti racist is anti white, with a side of self congratulation??? why do I get the feeling you’d put motorcycle culture into conversation with broader societal issues by riding up to my house (with no helmet on) to burn a cross on my lawn?

  33. Chaz Michael Michaels says:

    @sean…you used riding as a jump off point to go into right-wing-bizarro-land…why do I have the feeling you don’t ride, you ride on the back of dumb and dumber scooter clutching tightly to David Duke while peeing yourself to stay warm. hehe

  34. Dave Minella says:

    The word “definition” needs to be eliminated; not refined. The minute someone decides to codify my motorcycling experience or the group with whom I associate is the minute I’m out of that group.
    The reason I ride and hang out with my vintage group is precisely because motorcycles are our common denominator. We enjoy riding and wrenching. We come from different political and socioeconomical backgrounds, but we gather around one thing. We’re a group. We’re not a club. We don’t have officers or bylaws, we don’t “stand” for anything. We don’t share our political agenda, our religious beliefs, our societal outlooks because we’re not a collective; we’re just a group of men and women who love motorcycles. “The specifics of what the person is riding matters more than the political, social, and/or economic standpoints of the riders themselves.” Exactly! That’s the way we want it. But to think that is a “fetishization of commodities” is to say you have absolute ignorance to the history and culture of motorcycling.

  35. Chad D. says:

    I agree with you Chaz, I was thinking the same thing. I’m not going to get dragged into a political conversation, because as you can see here, riders are from all over the spectrum. I’d rather ride.

  36. Thanks for all the insightful and critical commentary.

    For those of you worried that A&R is turning “too political” and losing touch with motorcycling, please keep the relative volume in perspective. This post is just a small fraction of this week’s postings. It’s meant as a opinion piece.

    For those of you who have reasserted your right to be an apolitical rider who simply loves motorcycling and could care less about what others think or what society needs. That’s great! Just keep in mind that an apolitical stance is nonetheless a political one.

    Safe riding everyone and enjoy it in however and whichever way you please.

    Tchau.

  37. gabe says:

    If one is to participate in activism, a motorcycle is not necessary. Calling for it is a gimmick, and reductive of motorcycling in its many forms.

    And calling for “anything” 2.0 is an even worse gimmick. Don’t we remember when companies started to put an “i” in front of everything after the iPod came out? Cheesy as hell.

  38. crshnbrn says:

    Definition of a motorcyclist – one who rides a motorcycle.

    Don’t overthink it. There was nothing wrong with version 1.0

  39. paulus says:

    “For those of you worried that A&R is turning “too political” and losing touch with motorcycling, please keep the relative volume in perspective. This post is just a small fraction of this week’s postings.”

    It only takes a miniscule amount of contaminant to pollute the water and make it undrinkable.
    Just saying….

  40. DFR says:

    Some of us have a life, some (hopefully few) just have too much time on their hands.

  41. RobR says:

    Seriously, where does all this psycho babble bullshit come from? What does everybody have to be part analyst to ride now!? Well let me see I ride because I want to show my neighbor how free I am and today I think I’ll wear my black boots because I want people to know that I’m feeling rebellious.

  42. Flyingfox says:

    +1 Paulus
    I totally agree “analyse less ride more”
    What a load of tripe this “Motorcycling 2.0:Rethinking the Definition of a Motorcyclist” is, let’s stop trying to intellectualise everything and find some enjoyment in what we do and how we do it. The context of this article reminds me of that Kesha Angels rubbish you published the other day, the poor coote who thought that would pass as art needs help. I’d be concerned if some politically correct government gave him a grant to produce it!

  43. paulus,

    That would be relevant if we were talking about water quality.

  44. Gabe says:

    All the comments railing against “political correctness” or evangelizing with some libertarian doctrine are doing the same thing this article does: using the platform of motorcycling to advance some personal (and frankly, irrelevant) point-of-view! Is this turning into rideapart!!!???

  45. L2C says:

    @ Aakash

    I don’t think it’s about taking an apolitical stance so much as being comfortable in one’s own skin. It’s not so much politics as personal identity. Sure, identity becomes political when someone takes a stand on identity, but often it ends there. Clothes, culture, manner, economics, and geographical location are often enough to settle the issues of who am I and where do I belong. Journeys to the Supreme Court of the United States are usually unnecessary.

    When identity becomes a civil rights issue, motorcycling for the cause may bring desirable attention or distract from the cause entirely. As an example, the Greek rally is about tolerance at the level of government — a fascist regime just won’t do. Using motorcycling to put a point on the issue was a conscious choice, however, those who participated could have achieved similar results using pickup trucks or push carts. Maybe they would have been better served had they all decided to wear running shoes and varsity jackets in a march instead. It’s an open question.

    Motorcycling is a catch-all. That tends to be enough. ;-)

  46. crshnbrn says:

    re: “It only takes a miniscule amount of contaminant to pollute the water and make it undrinkable.”

    Yeah, and even fewer PPM to make it unpalatable to the point where it is difficult to get the taste out of your mouth.

    Just saying….+1

  47. Marshall says:

    What is this mishmash of psychobabble and politically charged nonsense? Awkwardly forcing a cohesive cause into traditionally nonpolitical motorcycling rarely works out well for anyone.

  48. L2C says:

    ““It only takes a miniscule amount of contaminant to pollute the water and make it undrinkable.”

    Pfft. Trolls abound on nearly every post here. Whether the statement was meant to distinguish trolls, or posts that attract trolls, or posts that you in particular don’t care for, nearly every topic posted on A & R attracts controversy with unwelcome trollish behavior on a daily basis.

    And I have to say, plenty of otherwise decent commenters here get completely bent the moment they read something that they don’t like. They don’t have the grace to remain silent, nor do they possess the tact to offer a thoughtful response. No, it’s rage and more rage.

    Talk about fascism? Plenty of fascists here. Too funny, even a grammar Nazi made an appearance.

    It’s one thing to make a strong argument using the strongest terms, it’s another to use vulgar language in the place of that. And I don’t mean profanity, I mean the use of vulgar language.

    Politics or motorcycles, or motorcycles and politics, many regulars here occupy polarized positions with little or no tolerance for anything different. That’s just a fact. And it’s too bad, but this is the Internet where the first responders are usually the arsonists themselves.

    Good thing Aakash knows what comes with the territory. Good thing he knows how to deal with it. Good thing he’s a part of the mix.

    Good thing A & R serves more than Zinfandel, Bloodwine, and Romulan Ale.

  49. paulus says:

    @L2C
    Not trolls… readers/target audience.
    I am sorry, I thought I surfed in to get the latest motorcycle news :)

    I am a European expat, worked on 4 continents, now living in Asia, married to an Asian, mixed race children, mixed religion household, working for a European company, based in Asia, selling Internationally, working in the motorcycle industry at a high level. I have been riding 40 years, racing 25, dirt, scooters, superbikes, hyper-touring, street bike to work, scooter for shopping, enduro every weekend for pleasure.

    Definitely toleranced, but not accepting of being pigeon-holed or preached to.

    Please check the very first post on this thread. An opinion, to an ‘opinion piece’.
    The second is an opinion on the author’s preaching of my/our political stand points.
    This one… in response to your post. You are equally entitled to your opinion… as am I.

  50. arkangel says:

    Hah Hah – great blog – stirs the blood.

    In South Africa the motorcyclists have been rallying to ban the governments e-tolling systems

  51. “If I wanna be connected I’ll sit at a starbucks (never!)”

    That comment kind of supports the thinking behind the article: That the image of motorcycling or coffee or whatever is somehow more important to the cultural eye than the pastime itself. I find that odd and interesting.

    I spend an awful lot of time at Starbucks between client visits over the course of a month. It’s one place I can be assured of a decent cup of joe, wireless to get my work done and maybe a sammie in case I’m out of steam and don’t have time for something better. The idea of Starbucks as a status symbol simply would not occur to me. It is just another cafe, ubiquitous in the same fashion of McDonald’s being the defacto baseline for stomach fodder on the road. (It won’t be good, but you’ll know what to expect ahead of time.)

    Just as we look down on, look up to or don’t care about patrons of Starbucks, the same gamut of feelings exists towards the various genres of motorcyclists. Moreover, the image of motorcycling OUTSIDE of motorcycling is not all that good in North America. The conundrum is that unless motorcycling becomes more mainstream in North America than it currently is, there is little hope of its image ever being better than ‘fringe’. IMO, YMMV and all that.

  52. robin says:

    i read a&r for the comments

  53. L2C says:

    “Not trolls… readers/target audience.
    I am sorry, I thought I surfed in to get the latest motorcycle news :)”

    The point is motorcycling is a political issue in many parts of the world. That was the purpose of the “Kesh’s Angels,” and “Women and Motorcycling” photography essays that Aakash posted here at A & R recently. When one rides a motorcycle here in the US, one makes a political statement whether one chooses to or not.

    Then you have the history of war. Motorcycles have been used by military armies since motorcycles have been around. British armies, German armies, Russian armies, United States armies, and despotic military armies on virtually every continent.

    Ever notice how well motorcycles sell with those enlisted?

    Next pop culture. How many films exist that feature motorcycling as a feature of counter culture or dystopian futures? Easy Rider, The Wild Ones, The Terminator, Mad Max, THX-1138.

    There is no escaping the political connotations of motorcycling.

    If you read a motorcycling blog, you are going to get political news and political opinion as it relates to motorcycling. There is no escaping that either.

    Part of the reason for the clash here is that some like to imagine that they ride free from political context, and since their perceptions of their own experiences are what matters most, the reason for disagreement is understandable. Still, as Aakash pointed out, a political statement is made regardless because how motorcycling is perceived in the consciousness of onlookers also matters.

    Traditionally, motorcycling symbolized independence, freedom, and rebellion — each a political statement on its own. However, today much more is made of aesthetics and lifestyle at the expense of those political connotations. In other words, today an attempt is made to say less with motorcycling, when in the past the attempt was to say more.

    The reason I posted the lyrics to Demolition Man is because the lyrics are about identity and taking a stand for something, if only for one’s self. (The accompanying video illustrates this to great effect.) The lyrics are also about the dangers of being complacent, how one can find herself/himself trapped with no way out because of complacency.

    The ominous underlying message of the lyrics is, of course, that you’re not the demolition man and someone else is. Do you want to find yourself strapped to a chair with someone else in possession of the remote control? Part of motorcycling used to be about making the statement that one is resistant to this kind of thing, it wasn’t just about taking in the wonders of the great outdoors.

    Still, motorcycling remains a catch-all. Though for some, it is only about taking part in basic recreational pleasures.

  54. highside specialist says:

    I have the exact opposite POV to this article. I ride to ride. I ride by myself and I live for the buzz or track days and racing. While I see no reason to intermingle my love of motorcycling with political or social issues.

    In fact, I make sure to stay clear of connecting my “motorcyclist” personality with any of my personal beliefs or affiliations. As riders, we’re under constant scrutiny and I don’t think our sport and passion benefits from being politicized. I applaud organizations like Riders For Health and I donate money to them. They do it better than I would.

    I’ll stick to riding. if people want to label it, then go ahead. It doesn’t mean I have to waive the flag.

  55. avsatishchandra says:

    @L2C, Hi, I am one of the trolls who posted a comment on this. I am impressed that you have been able to draw from banalities and vacuous sentences a set of very profound conclusions that make you put out the whole lyrics of Demolition Man and also an Aldous Huxleyesque warning about the dangers of remaining complacent about the future. But unlike in America which seems to be the only part of the world that is relevant to the Americans, (something that dispels the dubious notion among some social scientists hold that America ended its islolationism in the first couple of decades of the 20th century) there are other places in the world that do not fit into the binary opposition that has been posited by the author of the article first and later perpetuated by many of the commentators posting on this thread. It is not all ride for recreation or ride for a cause. In countries like India, where the roots of Akash lie, the motorcycle is nothing more than a device used for daily commuting to and from work and also to run errands. So the motorcycle here is not very different from the refrigerator or a washing machine in the minds of most of the motorcycling public.

    Political commentaries are fine as long as the clarity of the purpose of such an article is self evident and is properly contextualised. And quite a few of the bickerings here actually flatter and dignify an article which is otherwise as random as random can get.

  56. Tanker Man says:

    I agree with most people here. This is a load of crap. I’m disappointed.

  57. L2C says:

    “In countries like India, where the roots of Akash lie, the motorcycle is nothing more than a device used for daily commuting to and from work and also to run errands.”

    When I spoke about the Greek protest rally, I tried to make the same point by comparing the motorcycles used to pickup trucks and push carts. Motorbikes (the more inclusive term) are sometimes nothing more than tools used to get a job done. That said, even hammers, anvils, sickles, and pitchforks continue to be used in political context.

    Sometimes writers make the mistake of writing their thinking process instead of making a clear statement. Maybe that’s what happened here. The connections Aakash made were too subtle and vague for most to comprehend. Still, the gist of what he was trying to say did come through. The best I could do was pay attention to that, what perhaps he meant to say.

  58. This has been a fun discussion. I think L2C and Satish are right in many ways. Satish and L2C are both correct in that I should have contextualized my argument further before presenting it. As it sits it seems more like a sketch than a coherent point.

    As a motorcycle journalist, it is important to me personally and professionally that motorcycling culture broaden its appeal to demographics that otherwise don’t care for the dominant cultural narratives of speed, freedom, rebellion, masculinity.

    As an object, the motorcycle is both a very practical tool, but also a thing laden with meaning from decades of film, art and musical stereotypes. Therefore, despite the context in which a bike is ridden, a rider puttering around on a 150cc bike to work in Mumbai probably feels a similar feeling of freedom and control while she is splitting through apocalyptic traffic that your typical 350-lb Harley rider does while cruising through Moab, Utah.

    Nonetheless, context is relevant. Enthusiast publications are always going to target and cater to enthusiast tastes. My post was about thinking of other ways to get people enthusiastic about motorcycles; of how to develop a passion in people who don’t necessarily care for the thrill of the ride but might care for the camaraderie and spirit of riding, enjoying and yes, organizing communities around a passion for riding but also a passion for a political agenda. I found the Greek anti-fascists to be inspiring and in my mind’s eye, I imagined thousands upon thousands of Indian anti-fascists in Mumbai riding through Mumbai in solidarity and defiance to Hindu-nationalism. Perhaps I got a bit carried away.

    Anyways, it has been good to read all the thoughts and criticisms.

    Thanks!

  59. crshnbrn says:

    L2C: “this is the Internet where the first responders are usually the arsonists themselves.”

    Oh so true.

    L2C: “How many films exist that feature motorcycling as a feature of counter culture or dystopian futures? Easy Rider, The Wild Ones, The Terminator, Mad Max, THX-1138.”

    My personal favorite; Mask.

    @Aakash Desai

    re: “As a motorcycle journalist, it is important to me personally and professionally that motorcycling culture broaden its appeal”

    Put a period after the word appeal. Nuff said.

  60. avsatishchandra says:

    @Aakash, Man, I think I went overboard with my criticism of your writing. Your gracious acceptance of how you could have made the article better has properly humbled me. Bravo Aakash, I salute your attitude. The same also goes to L2C, who I think saw the merits of the post better than my myopic self.

  61. L2C says:

    Handshakes all around. :-)

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  63. AHA says:

    @Aakash Desai

    I’m afraid that the Russian biker gang in Crimea, the Night Wolves, have joined many other paramilitary groups in volunteering to ‘defend’ Crimea against us or at least our Western bourgeois degenerate influence. http://tinyurl.com/nabzwuw

    They wouldn’t be defending Pussy Riot for instance. Does it matter to your thesis what ‘side’ the bikers are on?