When it comes down to it, two wheelers will unite to oppose a common threat. Mandatory steel leg guards, for example, brought UK riders together, because it was a stupid idea concocted by a politician writing laws about something of which he had no knowledge.
In the US, motorcyclists are covered by the American Motorcyclists Association, an umbrella group that advocates for all types of riders. And what a wide variety of riders there are!
Coming home from the Mods vs. Rockers ride here a few months ago, I passed (or was passed!) by a number of different riders. Each genre has its own accessories and culture. Really, the only thing we share is a love of two wheels.
Since it was a Mods/Rockers ride, there was a number of scooters, many illegal, buzzing home on the freeway. I know that dinky 50cc thing you were stinkpotting along on is not freeway legal! Tch, those guys, eh? Maxed out at 50 on ten inch wheels, like a gas-powered roller skate!
There were no full-on dirt bikes, of course. Most of them aren't street legal, but you see a lot of them being towed someplace on Friday afternoons. When I was a kid, there were plenty of dirt bike riding sites right in the city; random threads of canyons, Mission Valley, any vacant lot could sprout hills and ramps overnight. Gradually, the canyons have become either protected or developed, vacant lots fenced in, and the great decline in open space forces enthusiasts farther away from the city just to find places to ride.
We did have some dual-purpose bikes join the run. They're perfectly capable of keeping up, and can bop up a handy dirt road, but you don't usually see them on regular weekend road runs. Too busy making dust in the mountains and deserts, those guys. Our neighbors like trail riding and camping, but you can't put a lot on a dual purpose, so their wives follow in the truck, loaded with all the necessities of life. It looks like fun to me!
What prompted my reflection on the various flavors of motorcyclists is my membership in a Facebook group, 'Air-cooled motorcycles.' There are a lot of people in that group of the 'over 50' range. It sounds like most of them have been riding their whole lives. Now they're buying back and restoring the bikes of their youths. Here is a whole body of riders/wrenchers who restore and ride vintage motorcycles.
I don't ride with some of my friends, as they are young males in the 20-30 age range on rockets. If they survive, maybe by the time I'm 80 we can ride together as they will have slowed down a bit. These are the guys who scream up the mountains and all the choice back country roads on any given weekend. They are, in part, why I prefer to ride on weekdays.
But I totally get that kind of riding, I do. Most mornings when I was a messenger, I'd blast up Twin Peaks in San Francisco before work, just to drag some pegs and get the adrenaline flowing. It's the best! (Protip: do the run slow first. Yeah, it's a one way road, but making a recon run first ensures you won't run into a VW bug dead in the middle of the road. True story.)
I am currently somewhere between rice rocket and geezer on Goldwing in my progression as a rider. My reflexes are good, but not as good as they used to be. Dirty Harry said, “Man's gotta know his limitations.” So, I reckon I am sliding into the 'geezer on a vintage bike' category, while most of my friends are of the sort that leaves me in the dust.
Back in the 70s-80s, I saw a lot of Goldwings occupied by old people with matching helmets. Those bikes are beasts, no matter who you are! They are huge, and come with everything you can get with a Winnebago except a kitchen and a roof.
Some of them have a little dingus that will stabilize your bike if you start to tip over in a parking lot. And they have reverse gear, because there is no way Andre the Giant could pick it up, let alone some
60 year old guy and his wife. You used to see a lot of these monster bikes on the road. I haven't seen one in a long time; I suppose the folks got too old to ride and Junior wanted a Ninja.
There are nice cruisers that aren't the size of motorhomes these days, and these are the bikes chosen by people who like to ride and camp. Stripped of saddlebags and tents and what not, they're great sportbikes. They're like racing camels; fun to ride, but you can also pack your whole caravan on the back.
Then there are the myriad models of street bikes. Nimble, park anywhere, no such thing as traffic jam commuter bikes, they're also great for short term camping or riding around the back country.
From weekend riders to hard-core 'motorcycle only' licenses, we pursue our own version of the sport. Sometimes we interact, often times we don't. But, like boaters, we mostly feel an obligation to stop and help out a fellow rider on the road. And when it comes to potential legislation that would impact us negatively, we all come together, because that's the only way we can make ourselves be heard.
There are always people who want to wrap society in cotton wool. People have tried to ban hang gliding, base jumping, scuba diving. Extreme sports demand a certain recognition that what you do for fun might be fatal. But, isn't that part of the allure? Testing yourself and your competence against the odds?
A guy I know recently had a close call on his R80. He's been riding for 30 years and is thinking of hanging it up. By his reckoning, the odds are closing in on him, so it's time to quit.
By my logic, every hour you put in on the road is experience that tilts the odds back in your favor. I used to think like that guy, until I realized that I can balance the odds by thinking about it differently. I can practically read the minds of motorists; I can somehow just tell they're going to suddenly change lanes or slow down or slide into my lane without looking. This is an unexplained skill the DMV booklet doesn't teach you. I think I pick up on subtle cues from drivers; how they crane their heads, where their wheels are pointed, but I can't quantify. Suffice it to say, the more experience you gain, the less chance you're gonna bodge on the road.
So, me, impending geezer on a vintage cruiser, a nice BMW R65 with saddlebags. I've had this critter since 1987.
What's your main category?