Well, there is something to be said for the reliability of a modern motorcycle. I like fuel injection, and never having to worry about whether my bike will start, or stuff like that.
And modern tires, brakes, suspension components... Personally, I don't need all the handling and power. If I could get a fuel injected KZ-1000 motor in a nice rock solid aluminum frame, with recent forks and shocks and rims and tires, even with exactly the same geometry, I'd be giddy as a schoolgirl. Reliable, comfortable, and yet with the enhanced safety that the better components brings, that would be an ideal bike for me.
Then there are the days that I want a 40 kg 120 hp hypermotard. I end up wanting a lot of stuff.
Lately I find myself looking at the "New" Enfields. The idea of a bike that needs me to help is kind of appealing. From my standpoint there is no adventure in today's bikes. I currently have an 84 RZ350, and my wife wants a R1150R. It's interesting that I see some bikes as appliances.
But you see the idea. People buy motorcycles for a variety of reasons, but pure lust is one of them, and it's probably much stronger than practicality. Heck, we are riding motorcycles after all. I think that the latest generation of motorcycles (for at least 20 years or so) is a breed of reliable, competent machines that usually die because of age, poor storage, or crashes, not high mileage or catastrophic failure. People get bored with these bikes long before any rational justification exists for replacement. And if you are getting something new, why not choose a bike that is objectively better, in terms of technology, performance, looks, and the like. This is also fueled by motorcycle magazines, which need to sell more issues through sensationalism. What's so exciting about reading about a bike that is the same as all the others?
I am excited by the interesting "niche" bikes of late. Not as fast as repli-racers, not as comfy as tourers, but excellent machines that defy classification. Make mine funky!
Capability may not be the most important thing riders look for.
There is something to be said for the rider, and for the machine. If you ride for the wind in your face, or the performance of a well-executed run on a challenging road or track (or if you are just on a bike for the "Look"), the machine beneath you has only purpose and its capability (or appearance) might be most important to you.
If you are a gearhead, then the machine has not only the purpose, but the "personality".
A good illustration of these two aspects is any group of Harley riders. Some are posers, some are riders, some are gearheads, and then you have the riders that adore their bike, because they know it inside and out, and there is nothing else they'd rather be doing.
It seems (and I apologize if this sounds stereotypical) the metric cruiser riders don't fit the last category. Maybe because there isn't a heck of a lot they can do (or need to do) with their rides, save dress 'em pretty.
I had a Harley FXR for years, and I loved that bike, warts and all. Now I have a bike that is much more "capable", is as reliable as a hammer, and I have a lot more fun on it. However, it has nowhere near the personality of that Harley, and the level of motor oil in my blood has become rather low. My only salvation is that I have the wonderful distractions of a young daughter and a baby boy, so I don't have any time to work on bikes (or much of anything else, for that matter).
A buddy has solved his problem another way; he rides an XB9S, but has gotten back into restoring old Triumph Twins. Talk about personality!
i love any bike that runs. i disagree with the implication of your question. old and new bikes rely on technology and rider input. they are simply capable of different performance. the decision on what to ride is preference. the values could not be objectively measured. whatever floats your boat ride that. just don't wave at the bmw owners.
I've owned a bunch of bikes: some fast and some nowhere near. Of all of them, my favorite is my SR500. I used to be able to do 500-mile days on it without much trouble. As for your GB500 being good for only 50 miles, the folks at FSSNOC will certainly get a chuckle out of that. I guess I tend to like most bikes, from Aprilias to Zundap(p?)s. I like modern technology at times and other times I like to be more self-sufficient. I have an ST1100 and an old Harley Sprint 350ss and they both are well appreciated. Check the mirror after your ride. If you're smiling, the bike was just fine.
It all depends on your repertoire. If you are only into doing Burnouts and Drag-Racing, then you aren't going to have much fun on an Enfield. Likewise, if your sole mission in life is to set the lowest laptime at the track, you're not going to dig that chopper over yonder.
The most fun I've EVER had, was on a little Honda "Express". I was about 7 years old and found one under the Christmas tree. The fun occurred before everyone else woke up, before I had even pushed the little motorcycle off of its center stand. Just seeing it and knowing it was mine, then sitting on it and dreaming about all that was to be, were a highlight that I'll never forget. Higher even than the first time I exceeded 100mph or the first time I touched a knee down around an apex. Nursing my friend's 30cc moped home from an all-day adventure in the hills, using the pedals to get us up the hills and maxing out at nearly 20mph, while tucked-in two-up, was every bit as fun and exciting as riding my brand-new 1979 Honda XL-125s at 10, or his brand-new 1981 YZ-250 at 12.
I guess motorcycling is what you make it. I'm 34 now and still having the time of my life on anything from beater XR-100s to Graves Yamaha R-1 Formula Extreme race bikes.
I think you're looking at a complex problem in today's motorcycling world -- evolving consumership. While I personally agree that a bike owner needs to be more involved in their machines, it's things like that, that have kept ridership down. People are used to their conveniences these days, and who wants to ride a bike where you have to check if the points have burned out every time you stop?
I fall more on your side of the camp, because I think total ignorance of your machine leaves you at the mercy of the dealers (and we all know how easy THEY are to work with, don't we?). Still, new riders shouldn't be berated because they want their bikes actually work. A lot of old riders think you shouldn't ride unless you can change your oil, adjust your chain, change a tire and make a fuse out of a hay penny. This is just not realistic, and it looks like the furture of ridership rests squarely on the shoulders of people who just don't care about the mechanics of the thing.
That's the way of things now. Why cook when you can eat out? Why read when you can watch TV? Why rebuild the toaster when they cost $10 at K-mart? Why change my car's oil when Jiffy Lube will do it for $25? It's the same way with bikes. The typical new rider wants all the technology, none of the hassle. And starting with my old CB750, that's the way things were for a lot of my bikes, though I did learn to clean the carbs and change the oil on my old Suz GS750L.
So, are you saying we should fault the new type of rider, or celebrte the old? Me? I'm stuck in between ...
Blixco you have a point. My first bike was an '86 Honda VF 500. It was about a year old when I bought it. Since then I have owned about 8 other motorcycles, ranging from a Yamaha XT 600 to a Kawi ZX 11 to a Buell Lightning. Guess what, I have been scrounging the want ads for another VF 500! Why? By far the best motorcycle I ever owned. Fun, reliable, and fairly inexpensive by today's standards. Enjoy your GPz!
An interesting comment on the relative importance of technology in motorcycle riding in general. I think that importance depends on who you are. Many people have an appreciation for different bikes, both old and new. Is that being nostalgic? Maybe. I put myself in that category as my first ride was a pushrod Honda trail bike with several other bikes since. I've owned singles, twins, 4 cyl, and even a 6 cyl and liked them all, for different reasons.
I question the motive of riders who ride only for show, to impress others, or socialize. Not a judgement, but an observation that they really may not care much about motorcycles.
I posted this question previously under one of the recent articles about racers, but felt to do it again since it hints under this topic as well. An Aprilia dealer just started in my town and as I drove by I saw a rs50 (racer replica moped). It looked really neat but the salesman did not know much about it & I didn't have time to test drive it. I am 5'11" & 200# and wondered if it would be a neat, economical toy to have fun on when not riding my cruiser. I was looking at a sv650 but insurance is as high as my cruiser for it. I thought this may be fun to ride without breaking the bank. I know Gabe and others talked on the issue for the 2002 scooter smackdown but I wanted more information on the little machines. Thanks in advance for the input.
You have kinda brought to mind my 30 year affair with Ducatis. The new multistrada is a hoot to ride,reliable and turns the right signals on with the air cooled motor and distinctive architecture. It is kinda wierd that modern technology needs ever bigger motors to make the same fun as smaller motors once did. I think that it is we who have changed.Don