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"I'm not a big fan of motorbikes. They seem to represent all that's wrong with motorised transport. Dangerous. Fast. Uncomfortable. Hard to drive."

Ouch. I'm plugging my ears. ;)

Dangerous, absolutely—but the rest, totally subjective. Some people are just made for the ride. It's difficult to describe. When I'm on the bike, it's not about speed or comfort, it's about the beauty of being exposed to the elements and at one with the machine.

Here's a pic of my little slice of freedom
http://darmano.typepad.com/logic_emotion/2006/08/is_this_thing_o.html

;)

BTW, how do you define "macho bike nonsense"?

Oh yes, completely subjective, obviously. That's what opinion is.

And mostly it's because I'm a transport wuss. I think speed is overrated. And bikes are basically very efficient delivery mechanisms of the sensation of speed. Which is great if you like that.

It's like horror movies. I've never seen the point of scaring myself for entertainment. I know that's a failing but that's me.

I hear you on the opinion thing. But you are also a great observer of society—and have a knack at getting to the heart of why people do what they do.

In this regard you should know that many people who ride are not even attracted to speed—but rather the other visceral qualities that go along with it such as the ritual of prepping for a ride, the stops along the way, the scenery that you can't appreciate in a closed off vehicle behind a window...

Well, you can tell my opinion is biased. :)

Great work here as always. I especially enjoy the photos.

Thankyou David. I appreciate that.

I think bikes are just one of those things you get or you don't.

You can tell I don't. But I could maybe see myself on one of those lit-up Goldwings.

Regardless of the "need for speed" issue, motorcycles are also much better for the environment, and in some ways, a lot better in an urban area. They get massive fuel economy, can be parked in a tiny space compared to a car, etc.

I think the real question is (outside of being a speed demon) are motorcycles unsafe or are drivers unsafe because they're not accustomed to looking out for bikes.

My senior class valedictorian died on the big NE curve of Lakeshore the summer before college. In the afternoon. After visiting my house. Yup, he was on a motorcycle.

Reminds me of this:

What do undertakers call motorcycle riders?

Customers.

I can't stand the zillion decibels of speeding motorcycles in the centre of town.

Having said that, all the leather gear, its a great look.

One of the things I love about motorbikes is the deep engagement that you have while riding. When you are used to your bike there is a great sense of flow and synchronicity between rider and machine. For example, there is no need to think through the process of taking a corner (ie brake, change gears, lean, avoid pothole etc) ... instead it fluid.

Weirdly, there are parallels between riding motorbikes and good branding. When there is this deep complicity and acceptance between the consumer and the brand, then the line between the two can blur -- ie Harley Davidson tattoos, Ducati leathers. The brand transmutes into a mantra -- becomes a "way of life". And the product becomes part of our own self image.

Unfortunately many manufacturers and agencies don't seem to be able to capture this ... so we end up with advertising that is about speed and features.

BTW ... I think I could see you on one of those lit-up gold wings too! There is hope yet.

"Armchairs with wheels" - that's what my loves-going-fast racing motorbike friend calls Gold Wings. Always makes me chuckle.

You gotta love this medium, you throw up a few interesting pics of oversize, lit up motorbikes and you ignite a fascinating discussion about brands, armchairs, undertakers and the environment.

Gavin, I especially like your point about a way of life. Harley-Davidson is one of the few brands that has managed to transform themselves from brand to "way of life". And that is just terribly powerful.

You see, to me, 'armchair with wheels' is the perfect brief for a vehicle. And yet everybody chuckles. There's just no justice.

I used to pour scorn on the owners of "armchairs with wheels", until I somehow, in some moment of madness, purchased one. I was won over in stages ... the first convert was my numb arse, the second was my aching wrist and the third was my wind blown face.
Still, it didn't stop me selling and buying a Ducati Monster (the name says it all really). The Monster was bought by my heart after a bloody battle with my cheque writing hand.

"Harley-Davidson is one of the few brands that has managed to transform themselves from brand to "way of life". And that is just terribly powerful".

. . . and as Gavin said there is something deeper and incredibly compelling about bike brands. IMHO, Harley D has become a bit of a marketing cliche, its not the only "way of life" out there. As a an ex, Ducati 900SS obsessed, biker. I rode a lot, but I loved to just sit and look at the damn thing. I wish I still had it, even just to hang on the wall. Watch out Russell there could be a Gold Wing out there for you!!
The ultimate distributed village.

There was a great movie out a few months back called the "Worlds Fastest Indian" with Tony Hopkins. The Indian brand died 50 years ago but is about to make a comeback I hear.
Boy, I would kill for that project!!

The Blackpool Goldwing Light Parade is my baby. It takes a lot of organising but is great fun. As you have commented the sight of all the Goldwings lit up is amazing. Why not visit http://www.goldwings.org.uk/ for some decent piccies and a few videos.

Sorry to interrupt all the bikers, but I just wanted to pick up on Russell's final paragraph about car manufacturers and customisation. Here's a link to VW, where you can design stickers for your Beetle (sort of). It's nothing much, but at least it's something: http://www.volkswagen.co.uk/new_cars/beetle_art/flash/

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