Cycle Gadgetry: A Convenience or a Catastrophe-in-the-Making? Part I
December 16, 2010 | By: Bud Milza
Editor’s Note: Like every other discussion involving motorcycles, there’s always at least two opposing views, and this week’s topic is certainly no exception. In today’s post, we have Bud Milza opining on the total lack of necessity for communications and directional equipment to be installed on bikes. He believes one should be communicating with nature and the road, not the Internet highway. Tomorrow we’ll hear from Jason Hayes who will describe the ease, convenience and comfort that electronics bring to your ride. But first, let it all out, Bud:
Riding the Way the Good Lord Intended — Unplugged
By Bud Milza
Let me start off by saying the opinions expressed in this blog are my own and don’t necessarily reflect the views of J&P Cycles. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’m writing today to encourage you to pull the plug on all that electronic communication and entertainment gadgetry on your bike. It’s distracting you from the real purpose of the ride.
I mean, look around. Nowadays, just about everyone has become obsessed with staying connected. Cell phones have evolved into miniature PCs, allowing their users to do virtually anything they can do from home or the office. Does anyone even use them to talk anymore? Everybody’s pushing buttons to communicate through text messages and email. And now this social programming is creeping into our sacred world of motorcycling.
What’s with the Bluetooth thing? Apparently, Bluetooth keeps you hella-connected with anyone and anything that could possibly disturb you during your ride. It syncs up to your smartphone to assure that you will never miss a phone call, text message or email while riding. Have no fear, not a single tweet or Facebook status update will slip through your fingertips with this accessory. What better way is there to get out and enjoy your ride than by turning your bike into a mobile office? You tech riders will be happy to know that HP plans to release its first Tour-Pak fax machine — complete with copier and scanner — in the spring of 2011.
And how about intercoms? These things are now available in setups that not only allow you to communicate from bike-to-bike, but from rider-to-passenger, Why on earth do I need a headset to chat with my chick who’s tucked in tight right behind me? If she’s having trouble hearing me, all I have to do to “communicate” with her is SPEAK A LITTLE LOUDER. When I’m ripping around with my buddies, I find that raising my voice or flashing some hand signals never fails to get my point across. If they’re a little too far away, a twist of the wick works wonders to close the distance between us. I can’t imagine having something so important to discuss that it can’t wait till the next gas stop. I just don’t get it.
I know I’m starting to sound like Andy Rooney on 60 Minutes, but another thing I just don’t get is these navigation devices. First off, I don’t believe taking your eyes off the road to mash buttons or even glance at this idiot box is exactly safe. Between that and the automated voice barking orders at you, it’s just as much of a distraction as a cell phone is to the drivers who jeopardize your safety. There are two types of riders who use GPS — those who insist they must remain on the cutting edge of technology in all aspects of their lives, and those who can’t read a map.
The list of gadgets goes on and on, but this is a blog and not book, so I’ll leave it at that.
I consider myself very fortunate to be able to ride almost every day, all year round. It’s my time to disconnect from everything and everyone. Shredding traffic up U.S.-1 every morning gets me pumped. It’s me and my bike versus the cagers and the cops. That’s it, pure and simple, with no distractions. No need for an MP3 player, because the sound of the motor is music to my ears. By the time I pull into the parking lot at work, I’m stoked to be there and ready to get down to business. The fact that I work at the Taj Mahal of motorcycle parts may also have something to do with that, but the ride is a huge factor.
I don’t mean to bash the people who choose to hook up to all this gadgetry. I’d rather use this opportunity to encourage you to disconnect. Leave the comforts of home and the conveniences of your office where they belong. They’ll be there when you return. Lose the drink holder, unplug the electronics and enjoy the ride.
As a wise man named Cochise would say, try doing it “the way it was and still should be.”