Mr. Reader, how did you come to buy a motorcycle? Tell us, on a postcard-any old way. We want to know.
What Made You Buy?
Years and years ago the writer, having sprained his wrist while trying to ride a high bicycle, consigned the bicycle idea to helngon. Later, he picked up a bicycle paper, read an account of a tour away off in Maine, got the fever and paid too much for a second hand wreck that threw him every time he didn’t have presence of mind to so ride it as to keep the backbone from scraping on the tire and acting like a clutch being thrown in-and the writer being thrown over, on his feet, knees, or the back of his neck. His enthusiasm for riding has never been knocked out, and he has always thought that the way most people who become buyers of motorcycles or bicycles or automobiles for their personal use begin to think of buying is to become interested in the general proposition first, as a means of pleasure, with the money-saving or time-saving or other consideration as an excuse, or at least as a secondary reason. If this thinking is right, then a story of a tour, of pleasure doings, or of endurance contests or other spirit-enlivening things, will do more to produce buyers than will careful comparisons of the economy, reliability, etc., of this, that and the other machine.
Jones, with whom we have been discussing while looking out of the window at the glorious climate, says we are wrong-that by far the big majority of people buy because they see some strictly pocket-book reason for doing so; that stories of tours interest them not nearly as much as the practical stuff; that sales of the right machines will result even through riders of other machines who conscientiously advise their friends, after reading the strictly practical stuff.
Jones says that the average person hates motorcycles. He himself sometimes works in an office at night. The other night he was greatly irritated by two motorcyclists of the open-muffler-gink variety, who rode up and down the street below, making an awful racket. He claims most other people who are not yet riders are similarly irritated, and will not become riders unless there is some strong pocket-book reason.
We do not agree with Jones. We admit that many-very many-buy for strictly practical reasons, with the pleasure or health-giving features as a side issue; but we claim that practically every boy, and many a girl, is yearning for a motorcycle, and that enthusiasm, which sometimes makes people vote for the wrong man or buy brass-gold watches for a dollar, but which also makes them do many sensible things, is responsible for at least half of the total volume of sales. If one person gets intense pleasure out of a thing, he communicates enthusiasm to others. If he saves or gains time or money, or both, by means of a motorcycle, his enthusiasm on that score is also communicated.
Of the two kinds of enthusiasm-one based on pleasure-interest, combined of course with utility as an excuse, the other based on hard utility alone-which of these produces say 75 per cent of the sales?
A number of years back, St. Louis riders used to claim that Pike county, about 100 miles up the Mississippi river, was a scenic paradise. So it seemed to us, who did not realize how much the good roads of Pike county had to do with our impressions. The writer once described this “wonderful” scenery, in a letter to an eastern journal, and sent along a photo, taken by himself, which was extraordinarily “rotten” and the reproduction of which (for some unknown reason, perhaps retributive justice, the editor printed it) was like unto a patch of putty; yet the writer could, with memory and a strong imagination, faintly see the scenery through the inky mess. He was happy. Never mind about the other readers of the paper.
Recently a good friend up North sent us some photos which indicate that, in the directions in which his camera was pointed, there must have been real scenery-some of the kind that is good for sore eyes; and we haven’t the slightest doubt that the photos conveyed these beauteous scenes into the mind’s eye of our good friend, even if nobody else could see anything in them. More recently, our friend wrote with hearty, wholesome, frankness: “Why the h-don’t you run some of those pictures I sent you? Are they no good?”
Now, what can a poor editor do? Our friend suspects the truth, but we haven’t the nerve to tell him, that he is about as punk a photographer as the writer himself.