Hey, man. (Can I call you that? Dude? Bro? Honestly, I’m not sure what you guys call yourselves, so maybe it’s best to call you by name. If only I knew it...)
Anyway—ah, let’s call you Jared—Jared, it was cool sharing part of my commute with you this morning. I couldn’t help but notice the high quality of your Triumph Bonneville transformation. The rattle-can black glinted dully in the morning sun, just as it should, and I thought that I could actually see a few runs and specks in the paint. Whoever your painter is, he’s got indifference nailed.
Those teeny-tiny lights you intended to announce braking maneuvers—that didn’t, in fact, work (just so you know)—were tucked so nicely under the seat lip that I hardly saw them. Given the minimalism of the bike, it must really rankle you to have to mount a license plate. You’d probably like to stuff it into the same Pabst Blue Ribbon crate where the turn signals live, right?
I even rather liked the rasp of the pipes, though it was a little hard to tell if they were stock (sawed off), aftermarket (sawed off), or some combination of both that were, well, sawed off. Somehow, a parallel-twin sounds less offensive opened up than, say, a Sportster with asthma. And you have to admit it’s pretty great how many places you can get Clubman bars, right?
No one but a fellow enthusiast would know you’ve based it on a modern Bonnie, but anyone with eyesight would understand your aesthetic. The shorts, open-faced helmet and aviator glasses, work boots, and disregard for gloves really put you in the period, and I had to marvel at your dedication to the art. I stand and applaud this McQueen-esque approach. It looks good on you.
The new-café aesthetic also works for me despite our generational differences. You are, as close as I can tell, raising a metaphorical digit to the plastic-encrusted bikes your dad rode. That whole sportbike arms race, more power, more sophistication, more aggravation—it’s just so tiring. Back before Ninja was anything but Japanese folklore and GSX-R was the cat walking on the keyboard there were simple machines, recognizable as such. Two wheels, an oft-leaking engine in the middle, headlight, tank, seat, and some other stuff. You didn’t need a sticker to know the displacement. Good times.
Sorry, got distracted there. Anyway, you didn’t see me this morning because, first, you had no mirrors. I tried to sneak around when you weren’t comfortable splitting lanes, but your sudden moves had me on guard. For about five minutes, I was—if I can be honest, Jared—kinda pissed.
Then it hit: You’re me. Just 25 years later.
Back in my day, you would have been a “squid.” I know because I was one, tearing around on a ratty RD400 with Toomey pipes, tennis shoes, jean jacket, and a hand-me-down Bell Star. One winter I wore a ski jacket. What’s the abrasion resistance of goose-down, anyway? I vaguely recall having rearview mirrors, but I didn’t use them much—partly because that little Yamaha buzzed like a pony keg full of hornets. I heard somewhere that I could “split lanes” in California and did it whenever I could, not really paying attention to how the guys on Airhead BMWs were doing it. And never, ever using turn signals. I’m sure there were old guys on boringly quiet CB750s or deadly dull GS850s who followed me and clucked their tongues. It all goes around.
Anyway, Jared, welcome to motorcycles. I hope for everyone’s sake you survive these early days so you can have these same sentiments one day.