Do you ever have one of those days when you just can’t keep all the thoughts inside. They just have to come out.
About every month or so I sit down and write this same story. Then I throw it away. Well, I do the electronic version of throwing it away. So what is it all about? Mostly me being cranky I guess. I think I just expect to much of the world around me.
At heart I am just another enthusiast, as I figure most of you are. I have just taken it to a higher level. I do more than ride, I have created a stage to share that passion with others. Fortunately I love doing it, not much for reward in it. But I get lots of satisfaction knowing that others gain something out of my work too. Yes, I know it is not always perfect. But I like to think that I make an honest effort.
But the experience has changed much of my world too. You know the story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? A kid gets to meet his idol and peek behind the facade of his favorite delectable treat. The picture is not as pretty as he had imagined. Never the less, I am sure it did not do any long-term damage to his love of chocolate.
Some of this story is the same for me. Although meeting boyhood idols still remains a thrill. You see, I probably truly learned to read from motorcycle magazines. In a world with no video games, cable tv or motorcycle of my own,I read each from cover to cover multiple times.
When I was young I spent a summer living in Cuernavaca Mexico. I had stumbled upon one solitary American motorcycle magazine. I read it so much I can probably still recite the advertising copy today. Anyone for some MXM brand plastic boots? It had a test of the first Kawasaki KLX250 and talked with Jim Pomeroy about his challenges racing a Beta in 500 Gran Prix. Yes, that was a long time ago.
So, I remember what motorcycle magazines used to be like. Today, I just can’t read them anymore. I know too much from behind the scenes to look at what makes it to paper with much enthusiasm. I am sure I am just way too critical of the work of others and perhaps don’t eye my own work with the same skepticism. But I do consider it a motivator too, something to avoid.
What prompts this month’s version of the story? One hard copy bike test and one web only bike comparison make my list.
The printed story is of a brand I have never heard of before. At a casual glance it is a dead ringer for something Japanese, but it comes from China. Now there is something I really want to know about! The Chinese are coming. The biggest motorcycle market in the world is going to catch up very shortly and we need to take notice. Even if they are not quite there yet.
So what does the major magazine tell me about this new Chinese motorcycle? Apparently it runs more or less okay. No real details, it just runs okay. What kind of components does it have? How does the build quality appear? How much did you ride it? Will it get more testing?
Even worse, I look at it with the familiar “don’t ask don’t tell” that I know moto journalists often use. Saying very little about a bike is code for “we don’t have anything else good to say”. This isn’t etiquette class, we want to know! But etiquette sells advertising and apparently magazines.
My other gripe this month comes from an online dual sport comparison that is so amateurish that it is laughable. One of the best parts of the whole comparison is when the writer says that bike A has a component that might not be top of the line. Clearly the inference is that the bike B component is therefore more sophisticated. Apparently the tester does not know that the construction on the bike B component is identical to the one on bike A. It is actually a copy of bike A. I know this because I have taken them both apart. Ultimately, bike A wins the test, but it sounds like they really wanted bike B to win.
The whole story is written in a way that sounds as if Bike B really should have been the winner, even though it was not. It reminds me of a similar story a few years ago when a magazine called the Husky TE511 second best in a shoot out. That is, second best in a class of two. They conveniently avoided the fact that it was miles away from the class winner. Again hinting that the two bikes in their comparison were very close to each other in performance. I know these things because I later tested the exact two motorcycles that were used for the comparison.
Sure, I am probably exaggerating some of my impressions. What I read on a page is probably different from the way others perceive it. I bring too much bias with me. But when I see endless lists of numbers and specs that only have meaning if brought alive by real ride results, I just see wasted space.
This is the point in the story where I hit the delete button every month. Maybe I will just hit the publish button this time. I will probably throw that subscription renewal notice in the wastebasket instead.
Oh, before I forget, I did read one good comparison this month. The one about the mid size and full size versions of the same model. I loved the conclusion, it is just so American. I went something like this; We like lots about the mid size bike, but well, the bigger one is bigger, bigger is better. That I can relate to! While not always correct, don’t we all gravitate towards bigger?