Motorcycle Gear - Lean Angle

The Core
I was catching up the other day with world-traveler, Motorcyclist contributor and bike-nut extraordinaire Dr. Gregory Frazier when he said something that grabbed my attention.

We were yakking about a story he was working on, a feature about some of the world's outstanding motorcycling roads, many of which he'd just finished documenting. He was telling me how so many seemed to share certain characteristics: elevated geography, with some motorcycle-friendly destination toward the top.

"And the riders," he said, leaning forward in his chair and looking like the epitome of the world traveler in his Gore-Tex, bandanna and ballistic nylon, "they're pretty much the same everywhere you go...ridin' the same bikes, wearin' the same gear, talkin' the same sh*t."

Bingo. I had one of those moments right then, the kind where you hear something you know to be true, yet when you hear it fresh it has all the power it had when you first figured it out. (Like being a hard-core Springsteen fan and hearing someone say that Thunder Road or The River just blows them away. The connection gets relit.)

Motorcyclists, I think, are a lot more alike than it may seem on the outside, all linked by a core set of characteristics. Peel away the outer layers of stuff that separates us-the bikes we ride, the way we ride them, the gear we wear (or don't), the places we hang, the language we use-and we're all in this thing for pretty much the same basic reasons: Adventure, freedom, individuality, thrills, a challenge, a sense of accomplishment, etc.

Of course, common reasons for riding don't guarantee that all motorcyclists will act like adults and treat each other with respect. As I watch the various groups-the extremes of the cruiser and sportbike camps, mainly-drift farther apart and deal with one another in ever-more poisonous ways, I wonder if I'm maybe being a bit idealistic-or, worse, naive-about all this. (Or is it that motorcycling's clueless minority just stands out more prominently?)

Either way, I'm inclined to ignore all the nastiness and concentrate on motorcycling's immense wealth of Good Stuff. And, fortunately, there was plenty around the office this past month. Our "Superbikes 2000!" cover story, for instance, offered up loads; at one point during back-road testing I actually pulled over to the side of the road, flipped open my visor and yelled "Yeeeooooowww!" at the top of my lungs. Our June issue had sucked every available minute from my schedule (and everyone else's), and it'd been a while since I'd really gotten out and ridden. Major stoke.

We covered a lot more ground than simply a comprehensive comparo of this year's big-bore supersport standouts, too. There's Greg McQuide's unique look at the dual-sport category and his motorcycling camping basics piece, part II of John Burns' collaboration with Kaz Yoshima, Curtis Adams and a YZF-R1 Yamaha, and Marc Cook's first ride of Triumph's all-new-and shockingly superb-TT600 supersport, direct from the south of France.

There's a lot of that two-wheeled Good Stuff out there, and I'll bet many of you, just like Dr. Frazier, are scratching to grab hold of as much as you can. Hopefully this issue of Motorcyclist can provide a little bit of helpRide well.