On a motorcycle forum that I sometimes frequent, a thread came up recently about the demise of decent quality magazines, I posted a comment echoing this and said the same thing happened to computer and electronics mags, they all got bought up by big publishing houses ISO profit and adverts and the art of storytelling was killed off.
Cue people talking about the new breed of bike magazine, shit like GKM (greasy kustom) and DICE, so me being me I toddle off and see what I can find out.
Really, just the same fucking shit, I LIVED THROUGH THIS SHIT, and even did it for a while (hardtail chops with 1.1 US gallon peanut tanks with no reserve) until I woke the fuck up, and hand built bikes artfully painted to look like they have been in a barn under a tarp for 40 years until you found it yesterday, and not to mention the obligatory beards and fully body tats…
Back in the day “lifestyle” meant just that, that was how you lived your life, but it wasn’t some insulated make believe that only worked as long as there was free credit and chinese sweatshops kind of lifestyle, it was the raw and unforgiving one where “money” was cash and you got paid weekly and when you ran out you ran out so good luck trying to buy *anything*… unless you could borrow a 5 or a 10 from someone.
A guy building a bitsa rat bike out of the bits he had because those were the bits he had, is a fucking world away from some retro-hipster type trying to artfully create something in 2016 with a panhead bottom end and shovel heads and a BSA frame and no front brakes.
The whole “clean and lean” no front brake thing came about because of poverty and lack of engineering skill, brakes on motorcycles then were shoe, twin shoe if you were lucky, so it was cable operated, and most people couldn’t make cables (a surprising number of bike mechanic shops couldn’t make cables) or to be accurate could not make them so the cable did not pull out… so any non standard front end was potentially an issue, especially when you altered the rake and extended it, turned out things got really wobbly really quick (teles in those days were still fairly new, and fairly spindly) and combine that with grabby shoe brakes and experimenters soon discovered the only cheap solution was to make the unsprung weight at the front end as low as possible, so skinny wheel + skinny tyre + no brake shoes or hub + 40 spokes or less… suddenly a “style” was born, and now 45 fucking years later cunts are trying to copy the style where there is not one single valid reason to do so, it would be like trying to build an MP3 player that looked like an old horn 74 RPM player.
I could go through most of the things that became style factors, and invariably the reasons for them were mundane and technical or financial, NO FUCKING WAY we would have dismissed modern technologies if they were available or affordable.
Cutting a frame, usually a damaged or rusted frame, and welding on a hardtail was cheaper than any other option to get you back on the road, simple as.
In the early 80’s I sold a ducati to a patch biker who cut the ass end off and hardtailed it and claimed it handled better, but then again when your access to technology consists of a mate who can weld, a mate who can paint, and a hacksaw, and for whatever reasons you think it is gonna damage your street cred to be seen on a factory standard bike, that’s the shit you do.
He thought he was cool, I thought he was a cunt for doing that to a duke…
But CNC didn’t exist, the internet and fedexing a part you just bought online from the states didn’t exist, MiG didn’t exist (I dunno when it actually started but all you would ever actually find in a mechanic / garage was an old oxford oil bath AC stick welder and oxy-acetylene with some saffire brazing torches.) and for sure there were mills and lathes and surface grinders and all that around, but they were manually human operated by skilled men, chances are you weren’t one of them.
I always took great pains to make sure the brakes and steering on my bikes was as good as I could get it, so even if the rear end was a hardtail with a drum brake, the front end did not have too much rake and I’d have at least one disk brake up there, albeit a solid stainless rotor completely unlike modern brakes that you had to kiss with the pads to dry and warm it before using it, or you could just grab a handful and nothing would happen for a second and then it would lock up, but use it right and it vastly outperformed twin leading shoe BSA style and front wheels are 70% of your braking ability on a bike.
But my dad was an engineer and as a result I was for more mechanically minded and able than most, most couldn’t even do brake cables properly, so making up and bleeding a hydraulic front caliper and hoses was rocket science, literally, so the 4″ single shoe drum from a big dia skinny profile trail bike got used, and it wasn’t really used as a brake, and even if it was a decent cables were used it was impossible to lock up.
But no, today these cunts are looking at old photos and trying to re-create that shit, without ever having a clue that that shit was down to necessity, not choice, and that necessity more often than not was our ONLY mode of transport.
Back then people’s bikes were constantly evolving because bits were constantly either breaking or (literally) falling off… I shit you not, it had absolutely sweet fuck all to do with constantly customising towards some sort of goal or style.
Footpegs / gear selectors, brake levers, mudguards, chains, exhausts, silencers, fuel tanks, oil tanks, headlights, seats, engine mounting bolts, chain / primary cover bolts, I have had the lot fall off bikes while riding, welds boke, things rusted, things fatigued, nuts and fasteners worked loose, shit we used to make our own wire locking good end threaded bar for footpegs and drill through the nut are wire lock it, or hammer the end of the thread to mushroom it, and shit still fell off… and broke.
And yet, despite all the advances in technology, despite these new hipster retro bikes having (compared to us) a ton of money thrown at them, despite them (compared to us) doing fuck all miles and not being the sole means of transport, they still break down, but these cunts think it is funny or part of the charm.
Ain’t no humour or charm in your oil tank splitting the seams 50 miles from home on a sunday, when you need to get home, and ride it to work Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday so you get paid and maybe fix it before the next thing breaks or falls off.
Ain’t no humour or charm in routinely getting wet and cold because you are wearing denim and patched leather and cotton, with maybe some dirty 40 weight lube oil smeared in for some water repellent ability, because you can’t afford Belstaff waterproof waxed cotton jackets and jeans and so on, because all your money goes on keeping the fucking bike running.
Now these cunts dress up the same, like these kids who pay good money for brand new jeans that look like they are worn out with cuts and holes everywhere.
YOU’RE TAKING THE FUCKING PISS MATE.
So no, really, do NOT expect me to come over all “Hey Bro” fellow knight of the road when you come rolling down my way, or worse still when you look at me and my pretty clean, unless you really know what you are looking at can’t tell it isn’t exactly the way it came from the factory, fuck you I paid my dues, now I ride when I want to, when it’s warmer and drier and nicer, skinny old ass, and decide to look down your nose at me because you think you’re fucking hardcore on your retro hipster shovster with 60 miles range which is enough to get to half a dozen latte and tattoo parlours.
And if you think this rant is JUST about bikes and bikers you got another think comin’ at ya… that ain’t even scratching the surface bro.
Now git the fuck off my lawn.
And £30 fucking quid a year for six issues of your poxy hipster magazine so you can take more arty HDR photos of people like you and continue your fake lifestyle… go fuck yourself… that’s 28 litres of gas at todays prices, gas to take me out on roads where I’ll never see cunts like you… because there are no latte bars or artistic graffiti or hip clothing stores.