One of the many unexpected advantages to living in the early stages of our planet's conversion to a cool venusiform is that I can ride a motorbike year round at my latitude. I'm not a tough guy, but if it's above freezing, I ride. It's not that cold once you get used to it. My commute is not scenic or challenging (unless you count Other People in Cars), but it's 15 minutes of focusing on one thing that doesn't involve work, and that's hard to come by.
My bike is a cheap-assed, but surprisingly well made SYM 150. It's basically an old Honda CB 125 with good brakes and an extra 50cc's to make up for the pollution control devices. If you had a CB 125 back in the day, and it said "Made in Taiwan" on it, congratulations, you had a SYM, too. My commute rarely gets above 45 mph, so it's perfect. It gets mileage like a scooter, but (and this is of vital importance) I'm not perched like a hemorrhoidal duck on a dingleshit scooter.
A couple of years ago (Oh. Uh. Seven years . . .) I got a basket-case Honda Cub, put a big engine on it, spray-painted it black, and raced it up in Detroit at the late, lamented Thunderdrome (Link is to a youtube vid. Don't go to thunderdrome dot com, some fuck-stick has seized the domain and it'll try to inject you with spyware). It turned into something of an obsession, which ended up with me sporting 11 centimeters of titanium in my right tibia.
The problem with the cub was: it was silly and kind of cool looking.
Almost always. I got lots of comments from people who had owned a Cub back when they were in the process of becoming the most-produced motor vehicle ever. No one tried to tell me their Little Honda went 100MPH, or would wheelie in third gear. There was no crap involved. Cubs are cute, get absurd gas mileage and are easy to ride. The fact that I'd put a stupidly over-sized engine on mine and had a real-live "postie" tank got positive vibes from other humans who like this sort of thing. I once rode it down to a local custom bike shop to look for a decent, used headlamp bucket. The owner kind of threw me some shade when I told him what it was for, but when I actually lured him out to look, he guffawed and personally led me to his junk room so I could pick something out. Almost every time I went to a motorcycle shop on it, the mechanics, regardless of age, creed, or race would come out to point and laugh. I'd demand they ride it around, after which they'd pronounce it "Fucking Dangerous" (or something similar) and be really pleased to help me find some stuff that was not in the computer. I once emptied the whole kitchen of my neighborhood Indian restaurant, they knew from cheap bikes and goofed on it hard. There is nothing like being in on the joke.
Yeah. Old Fuckers.
You may suspect that I am old, and a bit of a fucker. You are right. Big gut, bad knees, can't hardly get it up no more. I'm totally there. The old fuckers I'm talking about are the faux garrulous Old Fuckers who spy you at the gas station, or the beer garden, or at the stop light, take a look at your Mobile Irony and Dangerous Fun Generator, and jump to the conclusion that you are compensating for something.
That something is "It's not a Harley".
To be clear: This is not a Brand Rant. However, of the negative bullshit that came my way, only once was it not Harley-Davidson related. Now to be clear, it was never anyone actually on a Harley blowing feculent, half-literate gibberish out their little pouch moufs. My next-door neighbor was a semi-retired tool and die maker who rode a canary yellow dyna-glide. He fabbed my handlebar risers and hauled me around to all the secret spots in my city to get cheap metal. Harley riders were never the problem. It was marketing. Excellent marketing, that gave someone who knew jack shit about anything to do with my thing the self-assurance that they knew what the end goal to my life should be.
Over and fucking over. And over. This was generally hollered out the window of a pickup with greater than two doors and a bed that had never hauled anything heavier than a gas grill, but could materialize anywhere. Grocery store parking lot? Oh yeah. Gas station? You gotta ask?
I even got a ration of shit from an Old Fucker in an honest-to-douchepipe beret at a Panera Bread in Detroit. My usual reply of "Naw, I had a tractor before I left the farm" wouldn't come out as I had been struck dumb.
Old Fuckerism means having defaults. It means trying to set shit back to where they think it belongs.
Luckily the Cub nearly killed me. That's another long-winded stream of bullshit.
I have discovered that certain bikes are invisible, as bikes. I ride the SYM around and people see my ugly bright jacket, and cue-ball white helmet. They notice my turn signals. It's quiet. It moves with traffic. Now to be fair, the SYM is pretty. It's the right size for farting around on. Young men and women who don't ride motorcycles comment on how nice it looks. Older guys think I've restored an old CB. Other people on bikes ask what it is and are generally pleased and mildly interested when I give them the "Well, when a Honda had a 'Made in Taiwan' sticker on it . . ." schtick. It's not funny/cool. It's not cool at all. It's the Official Tour Bike of Andrew Dost.
What it does not do is awaken the inner Schoolyard Bully in the guts of an Old Fucker. Their eyes slide off of it. When the Trump Apocalypse comes, I shall carry my whole family and some chickens on it to our secret bunker. We will not be seen. Like one of the Witches from Phillip Pullman's "His Dark Materials", we shall be rendered invisible by the SYM 150's Intensely Held Modesty. I promise, I'll come back for you.