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 fun. Good warm “vibes” of thrilled satisfaction are what we crave for on the machines we own. So, the owner of a Hayabusa knows the rush he can expect when he opens up on a highway. Similarly, a scooter aficionado no doubt loves the buzz of pulling away the quickest at the lights, leaving the traffic in its tracks.
Image…oooh, so cool…
For some, the choice of a brand or style of a motorcycle involves buying into an image. Design, speed, power, ruggedness, adventure, fashion…. most motorbikes 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. 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 the paved path.
Many bikers get hooked on a bike brand and style because they are active in communities that value them. The Moto Guzzi clan, the Cafe Racer scene, and the Lambretta and Vespa “die hards” 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.
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. What’s his ride these days, now that he’s in his fifties? An old, beat up Honda XR 650. He says, with a smile, that he should never have left the first one he owned.
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