Some Kudos to American Honda

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I should be typing to you from Valencia right now, instead of sitting in my house in Portland, nursing the plate and nine screws that are in my shoulder.

To make matters worse, every time I try to turn a doorknob with my left hand, I’m reminded that my radius is broken at the elbow; and every time I sneeze I remember that my ribs are bruised as well. I’m a bit of mess medically, but getting stronger every day. This job catches up with you sometimes.

That being said, I was ready to cut the cast off my arm and grit my teeth when I got the call last week that Honda had an RC213V-S for me to ride.

For me, some endeavors are worth the pain, and riding the RC213V-S was probably the closest I would ever get to riding a MotoGP bike – that’s the selling point of this particular machine, right? Unfortunately for a number of factors, it was not in the cards.

Regular readers will know that I haven’t been all rainbows and candy canes about the Honda RC213V-S. American Honda knows it too, since they had no qualms telling me as much.

Normally that’s an awkward conversation with an OEM, but this talk was very different. In fact, the coolest part about that exchange was the confidence that Honda has in its GP bike for the streets. You don’t like our MotoGP bike with lights? Give us the opportunity to prove to you how very wrong you are. 

You don’t find a lot of manufacturers like that, and I will probably never know how many press launches I have been passed over for because I had already voiced an opinion that wasn’t toeing the marketing line of an OEM. Strangely, it’s not really something that keeps me up at night.

There’s nothing about my personality, training, or education that suits me to that aspect of this profession. I’m a lousy writer too, so that doesn’t help matters much. Oh, and I’m dyslexic. Brass tacks, I honestly don’t know how tens of millions of readers come to this site each year. Seriously.

This becomes especially true when it seems that this industry values to the opinions of sycophants more than it values brutally honest perspectives.

I’ll never be able to wrap my head around that either, because can there be a more powerful endorsement than one from a changed mind? OEMs should strive to impress hyper-critical moto-journalists, right? Isn’t that the best long-term solution for a healthy industry?

That’s not a dig at any of my extremely talented colleagues, or a slam at any publication’s editorial agenda, and I’m certainly not here to lament and rehash hypocritical statements about how “broken” motorcycle journalism is and how I plan to fix it with catchy headlines.

I just here to do the two things I love: ride some motorcycles, and talk to you about them like a normal, slightly opinionated, human being.

So in the spirit of appreciating the willingness to rise above our usual mediocre discourse we seem to accept as an industry, I just wanted to write a short public note and give a nod to the guys at American Honda for having the guts to say, “we think you’re wrong Jensen, and we want to prove it you.”

You have no idea how much that fuels my fire. I like that attitude in a company’s culture, and I admire that in the people as well. I hope it becomes a more often occurrence, because I’m not always right…and that’s ok with me.

With that, I am supremely jealous of my colleagues who are spending the next few days lapping Valencia on the RC213V-S. First, because how cool is that, right??! But, also because I would have enjoyed the challenge Honda had laid down before me. That is the nexus of what A&R is all about.

I don’t believe that journalism can pretend to be neutral, but I do think it should be transparent and fair. It is great to see a manufacturer embrace that philosophy as well. I am supremely impressed, which is a rare thing for me to say, and that’s probably worth more than a review of any motorcycle in my book. Chapeau. Soichiro would be proud.