Out and About - Great Mysteries of Motorcycling
I often wonder about some of the subtleties surrounding this passion of ours called motorcycling, and logic often defies me. After all, it's not as if the motorcycle is some new invention and only in its infancy.
People have been out and about on two wheels for more than a century, so you would think that some of the sport's greatest secrets would have been solved by now. Unfortunately, many have not-and as a matter of fact, we're routinely challenged by new complexities as more models appear and the development pace accelerates.
Some of these concerns pertain specifically to our beloved brand, while others remain more general in nature, but it remains a mystery why:
- You can still buy a brand new, CAD/CAM designed and developed motorcycle, complete with rear view mirrors that provide an unobstructed view...of your arm pits?
- Why a modern motorcycle made for an increasingly congested international market can come equipped with an anemic horn?
- Why some manufacturers continue to require you to use a wrench to remove the dipstick to simply check the oil?
- Why some motorcycle toolkits are stored beneath the bodywork-which requires the special tool in the toolkit to remove said bodywork for access?
- Why the first solution in an attempt to create a more cost-effective model is always the deletion of one front brake disc-don't they want us to return to buy a second bike?
- And likewise, why some expert and industry-leading gear manufacturers would fail to instinctively put reflective highlights and even minimal elbow and knee padding in motorcycle jackets and pants?
- Why wind tunnel-tested bikes with fairings routinely direct airflow right to the center of your helmet, buffeting you senseless-or exhaust hot air, of course, right to your tender calf and lower leg which remained (for your entire life before you started riding) inboard, protected from the elements?
- Why there are still old world craftsmen with the special skill passed down from generation to generation...to create an original equipment motorcycle seat that turns into a torture rack after only 20 minutes in the saddle?
- Why a good, accurate relationship between useable gas tank volume and the appropriate time for the low fuel warning light to illuminate is more difficult to achieve than peace in the middle-East? And why we went away from the good, accurate petcock with reserve, in the first place??
- Why the Moto Guzzi oil filter, which is-in fact-of the spin-on, cartridge variety and housed within the oil pan isn't simply a typical gauze and paper replaceable element-since it's already in a sealed environment, surrounded by oil?
- Why some highway departments will kindly erect a sign that says "Motorcycles Use Caution," instead of ensuring that the road surface is motorcycle compatible to begin with?
- What the term "puddin' bowl" helmet really refers to-the rider's cranial consistency before the crash, or after?
- Why after only 100 years, the height-adjustable seat is considered motorcycling's greatest engineering advance and a true scientific breakthrough?
- And why it will probably take another 100 years for anti-lock brakes to become common on two-wheelers?
- Why that essentially unstable, two-wheeler-that's getting bigger and heavier by the model year-can now be built more frequently without a centerstand?
- And then why the sidestand footprint has evolved to the area of a pencil point?
- Why insensitive riders could care less about what they're doing to the tranquility of our planet, not to mention the image of our hobby, and really believe "Loud Pipes Save Lives?"
- And why ape-hanger handlebars...some conspiracy by the cable makers to double their sales volume?
- Why Moto Guzzi is going to heated grips, instead of just including a line in the owners manual: If your hands get cold, hug a valve cover!
- Why insurance companies still serve (?!) their customers by providing coverage bike-by-bike, when you can only ride one at a time-and you're the only rider in the household?
- Why you can continually buy used bikes from passionate owners who have babied their machine since new, but yet cannot find the owner's manual or spare key the day you go pick it up?
- Why no one realizes that a motorcyclist may, in fact, have more than just a single steel key on his or her key ring, that's going to scratch the living daylights out of the aluminum-or worse yet, painted-triple clamp?
- Why tie-downs are not provided for the so, so common bungee net and the like-and if they are, why they then allow the stretch cord to chafe the paint anyway?
- Why no one has addressed the problem of chain lube that lubes everything but the chain on bikes other than Moto Guzzi's?
- In the interest of promoting efficiency, why state authorities will gladly absorb the expense of creating under-utilized car pool lanes but will not simply allow such a small percentage of motorcycles to pass through toll stations-instead, putting riders in the unenviable position of having to fumble for change with idle exhaust levels (and tempers and horns) rising...while trying to remain upright on a notoriously grease and antifreeze spattered road surface in the rutted toll station?
- Why many a Joe-average motorcycle owner with tingling fingers and numb feet is left to deal with the simple (?!) science of natural frequency control and harmonic dampening, in an attempt to harness handlebar buzz and footpeg vibration-after he's already tackled the physics of fluid dynamics to correct air flow management shortfall that's buffeting him senseless and frying his leg?
- Why there are still incredibly irresponsible dealers ready and willing to sell first time and entry level riders the latest and most exotic 150+ horsepower crotch rocket-at $99 per month for the next 15 years (if they live that long)?
- And why that same dealer considers you so irresponsible that the request for a test ride has been misconstrued into merely an excuse for a joy ride? Sorry, the answer's no...
- Why it is that if you spend all day Saturday detailing and loading your vintage bikes on a trailer for a show hundreds of miles away on Sunday, a thunderstorm will always pass through at midnight?
- Why service (?!) stations now often charge for air, but often don't provide you with the means necessary to check tire pressure-to know how much you're getting for your money? If the value of such a gas is of no concern and you can take as much as you want, why charge in the first place? And isn't it too bad that they're not as generous with gasoline?
- Why bike builders completely abandoned the basic roadster in favor of fully-faired and all-enveloping road warriors, to only recently rediscover the attraction of the naked bike-which now comes complete with all the unsightly brackets, clamps and tie straps that were haphazardly left behind the bodywork that we never asked for in the first place?
- Why, to this day...in the age of globalization, computerization, and interconnection...some motor vehicle departments will still require you to bring the Moto-what? in for serial number verification because they've never heard of it, and the marque is not in their database? While simultaneously, if you ever try to bring in an illicit two-wheeler from overseas they instantaneously know what it is the moment you set foot on U.S. soil?
- Why company co-founder Carlo Guzzi got his name on the bike, and fellow co-founder Giovanni Ravelli, who was killed in an early flying accident, was honored by the inclusion of the Italian Air Force eagle as the brand logo...while the third Moto Guzzi co-founder-Giorgio Parodi-who put up all the money in the first place to get the whole thing started, received no recognition whatsoever?
- How anyone could ever possibly own a Moto Guzzi and not belong to the Moto Guzzi National Owners Club?!