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What’s in a Motorcycle Brand & Style?

What’s in a Motorcycle Brand & Style?

Honda, Kawasaki, Harley Davidson… there are many motorcycle brands these days with lots of models to choose from. In fact, there’s enough variety out there to make enthusiasts feel overwhelmed. However, despite the turnover in designs from manufacturers, many bikers remain loyal to a particular brand, model or style of motorcycle for reasons that can be interesting to explore.

Feelings, good ones…

Marketing professionals tell us that successful brands (not only motorcycle brands) are connected to feelings, positive feelings, feelings of empowerment and enjoyment. Good warm “vibes” of thrilled satisfaction are what we crave for on the machines we possess. So, for sure the owner of a Hayabusa craves the thrill of opening up on a highway. Similarly, a scooter aficionado no doubt enjoys the buzz of dodging rush hour traffic and pulling away the quickest at the lights. 

Piaggio’s Vespas have been a scootering classic for over half a century.

Image…oooh, so cool…

For some, the choice of a brand or style of motorcycle involves buying into an image. Design, speed, power, ruggedness, adventure, fashion…. most motobikes promise something from this mixed bag of desirables. As a result, the bikes we own reflect some of our personal values, what we consider virtuous, appealing, attractive, even manly (or womanly), perhaps. Our machines are often symbols of who we aspire to be or do. The owner of a GS probably tours or wants to tour and appreciates some degree of off road adventure. The owner of a Gold-Wing is the same but has no intention of ever leaving paved roads, ever.

Many bikers get hooked on a bike brand and style because they get involved in communities that value them. The Moto Guzzi clan, the Cafe Racer scene, the Lambretta and Vespa connoisseurs are examples of this. There are enthusiast clubs like these in almost every country. It seems like the desire to belong to something bigger than ourselves as individuals is what keeps them going.

Yamaha, enough said…

Partners, like a pal?

Most riders would agree that they choose a motorcycle like they would a partner, a buddy to take care of and with whom to share adventures. We grow to appreciate the quirks of our two wheel friends, sometimes become flag carriers for a model, be this a sports-bike, cruiser, adventure bike or other. Eventually the idea of changing becomes alien and disruptive.

Of course, we trade our old machines for newer models. However, more often than not, some element of style persists in our choices, in the same way our values and tastes remain unchanged.

A friend of mine started biking at a young age on a Honda XR 650. He then moved on through the years to a Harley 883, a Suzuki Katana, a BMW K1300R, a Kawasaki Ninja, a KTM 990. You know what he rides these days now that he’s in his fifties? An old, beat up Honda XR 650, the same model bike he had in his twenties. He says, with a smile, that he should never have gotten rid of the first one he owned.

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