*American Motorcyclist 5/2007
Copyright © 2006 by Ralph Couey
There comes a time in a relationship when parting becomes the necessary, even logical thing to do. For riders, guys especially, the time we spend with our bikes is less "ownership" than "relationship." Over the years and the miles, a bond develops between us and our machines. It's difficult to articulate exactly why this is so.
In most cases, riding is viewed as a solo activity. Whether it's a ride through spectacular natural beauty, a vigorous prosecution of hairpins and switchbacks, or simply time spent clearing one's head, the experience is an internal one. Ronald Reagan once said, "The best thing for the inside of a man is the outside of a horse." Change "horse" to "motorcycle" and most riders would sagely nod in agreement.
A motorcycle, despite our willful anthropomorphizing, is a mechanical construct; an engineer's vision executed by an assembly line. The unenlightened insist that it is a soulless collection of metal and plastic parts. But riders can feel the collection of parts rise in concert and transcend themselves to a higher plane of existence, taking us along for the ride.
Riders change, acquiring more skills as time goes on. The bike that was such a challenge to us in the beginning now seems to be unable to follow us to the places our skills can take us. "Upgrade" is the operative word here. Our habits change, as well. At first, maybe we were content to commute and take rides in the country over the weekend. Now perhaps we feel the horizon calling and need a bike that can haul camping gear and a couple changes of clothing. Also, we have a desire to share the things we love with the people we love, which means that person needs to have a comfortable place to enjoy the ride. Whatever the reason, we will find ourselves one day ruminating about Making a Change.