Editor’s note: What we have here is Part 1 in a two-part series that’s intended to get perspectives from two types of riders from different generations, raised on different values. Anthony Todd writes about the new-age generation and how modern sport bikes and metric cruisers are the future of the motorcycle industry and have dominated the technology since their inception. Later today, Scott Holton will serve up arguments in support of the tradition and heritage behind Harley-Davidson and other American-manufactured motorcycles and how these values have been and will always be the foundation of American motorcycle enthusiasts today.
Reliability Trumps Retro Any Day of the Week
By Anthony Todd
Let me start off by introducing myself. Yes, I ride sport bikes and metric cruisers, but that doesn’t make me some young “crotch rocket” punk who drives down the street with no helmet, baggy shorts, a tank top and sandals. I respect the motorcycles I ride and always wear a helmet because I choose to. This doesn’t mean I haven’t driven recklessly on the street, rode wheelies down the highway or scared old ladies with burnouts. Of course, I’ve done these things in the past, but it doesn’t make me any more reckless than the guy you see every year at your typical motorcycle rally doing a burnout on his Harley-Davidson at the local campground in an attempt to impress the two biker chicks waiting for their turn in the port-o-john. We were both reckless and stupid.
What I’m saying is that any motorcycle enthusiast with an opportunity to drive a performance sport bike probably won’t be able to resist the fact they have a lightweight, high-horsepower, well-oiled machine underneath them. Just twist the throttle and ride a wheelie all the way to the engine’s redline. Or hop on a metric cruiser and ride hundreds of miles on a single tank of gas and not worry about the sticker price you paid to enjoy those miles.
I’ve personally ridden hundreds of motorcycles —everything from vintage European bikes to custom choppers to Harley baggers. There are a few reasons why I choose to ride metric cruisers and sport bikes. I already pointed out performance as a major plus. But consider this: The technology and engineering that goes into building these performance motorcycles is light years ahead of Harley-Davidson’s air-cooled V-Twin engineering. In most cases you have more than 100 horsepower crammed into a package that at times weighs half the weight of a typical Harley-Davidson. Power to weight ratio wins every time!
Another reason why I choose metric over Harley is reliability. For example, I owned a Suzuki GSX-R 750, which was a stunt bike. I starved the bike of oil riding long wheelies, popped multiple tires doing burnouts at stunt shows and put more than 20K miles on the engine prior to turning it into a stunt bike. Never once did the bike leave me on the side of the road or wouldn’t start because of an engine malfunction or electrical issue. These are problems that, as a motorcycle mechanic, I have regularly diagnosed on brand new Harley-Davidsons.
One of the final reasons I ride metric is cost. For the price of one Harley-Davidson Touring Bike, I can purchase a metric cruiser and a sport bike, and still have money left over to customize the bikes or pay for insurance on both bikes for a year.
It sounds like I’m heartlessly bashing Harley-Davidson or American-made motorcycles, but the truth is, it’s extremely likely that at some point in my life I will own a used Harley. This will most likely be the day I can no longer lean over to grab the clip-ons on my sport bike due to back problems. Or the day my doctor orders me to settle for a cruiser because the adrenaline rush of a sport bike is counter-productive to my blood pressure medication.
OK. That was uncalled for. Funny, but inappropriate. The bottom line is, I love all motorcycles and will never turn down an opportunity to ride any make or model. My intention here is to point out the reasons why I personally choose metric over Harley. In today’s economy and with continued advancements in technology, I don’t think heritage and tradition will last.
Let’s face facts: Old is getting older and if we don’t move forward, we might get left in the dust.