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I was just reading a magazine article comparing three heavy baggers, the HD Road Glide, Victory Cross Country Tour, and the Indian Roadmaster (the Indian ended up the "winner") and it occurred to me that we are truly living in the Golden Age of motorcycling. Virtually every new bike on the market today is an excellent piece of machinery, and the comparison among bikes of the same type tend to focus on fairly minor issues. It would be hard today to find a new bike from a recognized manufacturer that couldn't effectively and safely and with good reliability get you down the road to your destination, and be huge fun in doing it.

We are long past the days when some bikes geometry was really dangerous, when electrical systems were routinely unreliable, when oil leaks could be measured daily in ounces instead of at worst a few drops on the ground and when tires could and would fail on a routine basis.

And the Golden Age might not last indefinitely. No, I am not talking about "end of the world" scenarios with Mad Max road rules, but where there are increasing limits on internal combustion engines that neuter most performance bikes we know today. When safety and litigation fears that bring about self driving cars lead to a culture when individually operated motorcycles are just too dangerous to allow. Or where environmental and safety concerns reduce us to 600 pound air-bag and safety equipment equipped electric bikes that can't go more than 50 mph and need overnight charging after an hour or two of riding.

So enjoy the current crop of outstanding two-wheeled vehicles. Don't overly worry about reliability or which bike does the quarter mile a tenth of a second faster than the others (unless of course, that is your thing). You get to decide on a bike by style, use, and price but generally speaking, you can't end up making a really bad choice.

It's a good time to be alive and to be a rider. Now if only the weather would improve!
 

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Nightfly
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I don't know what the future will be but, motorcycles in the U.S. have ceased being just a means of transportation. Motorcycle are now as various and as style driven as clothing. "How does this bike make me feel?" The good life has allowed motorcycles to evolve into expensive choices that are additions to our well-off complex lives.

In many countries motorcycles/scooters are just a necessary means of transportation. They are low tech and in many ways purely basic designs that anyone can repair. We have gotten used to all the high tech wizardry, big bikes, plenty of power with all the technical glitches that come with them. Difficult to repair these days? Yep, not so bad if you have a fat wallet. But sooner or later, with the continuing demise of the economy, many will not be able to afford the big bike they once enjoyed.

If anything, and I make no predictions, we might see a resurgence of lower priced smaller sized bikes but who knows. I think there will always be a market for the big touring bike, but perhaps a smaller market. I'll keep my 04 Sportster with a few hot rod tricks and still running a carb and no computer. Easy to work on and doesn't cost and arm and a leg to operate.
 

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Over 51 years of legal street riding, I have known and met probably thousands of riders and very, very few consider the bike as essential for their transportation needs, exclusive of a 4 wheel vehicle.

Aside from the time when I was in the Air Force, stationed on a HUGE base and where the barracks were a LONG way from where I worked and a bike was my only transportation, I've always just thought of the many bikes and scooters that I've owned as basically toys to have fun on.

I know there are some of you that only have a bike as your transportation but I, personally don't know how you can do it what with rain, cold, ice and snow and "Global Cooling."

Sam:coffeescreen:
 

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I'm one of the ones who use their motorcycle primarily for commuting. I don't really get out much for pleasure riding. That being said, weather plays a huge part in how much of the year I am able to ride.
 

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I agree with this. Every company is putting out better and better machines that push each other. The consumer is the biggest winner in this because we have several great choices when we are ready to purchase.
 

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Riding

The good news is that some of us lived long enough, to be able to ride some of this new iron.
We can put the pain and misery, of riding the old junk in the past, and mostly delete it.

Unkle Crusty*
 

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"Old junk" maybe but there would have been a certain "pioneering spirit" riding in the early days (1900 to 1930) but I probably couldn't have afforded it. At least in 1964 I could afford a Honda 50! :biggrin:
 

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Old junk.

There were many fine old bikes worth riding. What I generally call old junk, is something they built, that was awful, when they knew how to make it better.
Just a couple of examples:
Norton made a primary chain cover in 1934 that leaked oil. It was still leaking in 1968.
BSA made front forks for an enduro bike, that let the wheel slide out of the front forks, if you did a wheelie. Those same forks would break your thumbs if you rode over a bump.
They knew how to make better products, yet they did not, even when the stuff they were making was crap at best.
Stopping did not seem to be an issue, it never happened.

The engines, gear boxes, brakes, suspension, on some of the newer bikes are so nice. My 79 and 83 Yamahas are so much better. Heck my 68 Kawasaki 350 was a nice bike.

Unkle Crusty*
 

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All of those old British bikes were Sooooooo beautiful, akin to some of our women movie star's, who are absolutely beautiful on the exterior but extremely problematic elsewhere----apparently.

Leaks, terrible electronics, carbs, with very poor reliability. Besides that, they were just slow and cumbersome. Very few dealers didn't help.

My Honda 305cc Superhawks ran circles around all but maybe the Norton 750/ 850 commando's of the era.

Thank GOD for the modern Triumph. I had a new 2010 Scrambler and it was nice in every way but to me, it was just to slow!!!! No leaks and no electrical problems so those demon's must have been exorcised.

Sam:biggrin:
 

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Pegasus trapped in a human body on a motorcycle
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Yeah, this is the Golden Age for motorcycles, and like all other golden ages, the machines are incredible, but getting to the point where you have to be Merlin with three doctoral dissertations under your belt just to change the oil, and if you want to modify the bike in any way, you have better have Holy Books written in your name.

While the new machines that are coming out perform way better, and are way more reliable than anything we have ever had in the past, look at how much these machines are beginning to cost. $20k is not an unusual price for some of the higher end machines, and then you have the costs of maintaining them, which, for the majority of riders, means taking the bike to a shop to make our wallets so thin, they only have one side.

And the "advances" in motorcycle tech continue to advance at an exponential rate, akin to tribbles at the all-you-can-eat buffet at the local Star Base. But are all these advances really doing anything to benefit us as riders? Yes, better brake and tire technology, as well as suspension improvements, have made it so that the bikes are more controllable when we have something pop up in front of us, but it feels, to me at least, that it is quickly approaching the point where the bikes are going to do the job of riding the damn things for us. Soon, what incentive will we have to learn the necessary skills to be safe riders. And why should we worry about being safe riders at that point? Our intelligent bikes will just keep us from doing anything foolish that could hurt us.

And then we have the all electric bikes. Great idea in theory, but as it stands right now, they are very limited in range compared to their gasoline brethren, and charging them takes a minimum of a few hours. I won't even get into other details about those bikes which makes them so impractical.

Yes, this may be the Golden Age of motorcycles which we have entered, but is that golden sheen just a thin patina, covering something else? Are we going down the right road, or are we just following a yellow brick road that does not lead us to Oz, but instead, a cliff designed for two wheeled lemmings?
 

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Just watch. When all these computer controlled bikes stop working because a little solar flare fried it's brains, the vintage stuff will demand a premium price. That is if you can even find one for sale. It's only good while it lasts.
 

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Pegasus trapped in a human body on a motorcycle
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Just watch. When all these computer controlled bikes stop working because a little solar flare fried it's brains, the vintage stuff will demand a premium price. That is if you can even find one for sale. It's only good while it lasts.
Even my carbed V-Max would not be immune, with its electronic ignition...
 

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Charlie Tango Xray
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Just watch. When all these computer controlled bikes stop working because a little solar flare fried it's brains, the vintage stuff will demand a premium price. That is if you can even find one for sale. It's only good while it lasts.
This is why I keep my old 6 volt, points/condenser, Honda Twinstar around.:wink:
About it being the golden age, I always thought that was back in the 60s and 70s when they made bikes for every price range. And it seemed everyone was getting into riding. Heck I rode a 125 though most of high school cause my car was up on jack stands trying to get another tenth of a second in the quarter mile. (I said trying):p
Does anyone even sell a 125 motorcycle for street use in the states anymore?:frown:
 

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While the new machines that are coming out perform way better, and are way more reliable than anything we have ever had in the past, look at how much these machines are beginning to cost. $20k is not an unusual price for some of the higher end machines
But what is the average annual wage today? I don't think today's bikes are much more expensive when adjusting for inflation.

...then you have the costs of maintaining them, which, for the majority of riders, means taking the bike to a shop to make our wallets so thin, they only have one side.
It may be just my perception the "the average person" doesn't have nearly the mechanical smarts that folks did 50 years ago. I doubt that most of John Q. Public could change the points in his Briggs & Straton lawnmower today.
 

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I'm one of the ones who use their motorcycle primarily for commuting. I don't really get out much for pleasure riding. That being said, weather plays a huge part in how much of the year I am able to ride.
This. I make a few ride outs a year, but mostly I ride to work and for other day to day driving purposes. It's fun. It makes recreation out of a daily chore.

But a bike only? Nope. Rain. Freezes. Snow and ice. Things I need and want a pickup truck for.
 

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The "Golden Age" has been going on for 60-70 years, it started with overhead valves that increased horsepower. Remember when Kawasaki came out with the first motorcycle to claim 100HP? That number is almost common place now, forty or so years later 200HP is the benchmark, when will it be three hundred? Suspension and brakes have improved exponentially as well, suspension used to be springs under the seat and now eight or nine inches of travel on street bikes is commonplace. Brakes that wouldn't stop you from rolling backwards on an uphill stop have given way to disc brakes with anti-lock tech. Computers controlling everything replace the mechanical points and condenser that could go bad and leave you sitting wherever you were, okay technology can do that to. The main thing is choice, like the old motocross bikes were also the old road race bikes or touring bikes or cruisers, whatever else you needed that day, now there are motocross, endure, adventure touring, cruiser, sport, sport touring, touring, if you need a bike for a specific purpose someone sells it. But then if you aren't into all that tech and like the semi-old tech of a bike that still does several things you have choices to. The comments about prices are a little off the mark, where are you going to find the performance per dollar that motorcycles offer? Look at the prices of the average car. How many of you hardly blinked at forty or so thousand for an SUV or a fully optioned pick-up?
 
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