Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Plutarch and Hells Angels

MOTORBIKES. Part one, probably of many. Blame Plutarch for tempting me. Even after my first car, motorcycles remained dear. I belong to a generation when poverty meant a bike was the first form of personal transport - nowadays most people start with a secondhand car. Later, working on a magazine called Motorcycling, I learned a painful professional lesson; you don't necessarily develop as a journalist by immersing yourself in an enthusiasm.

But an end to being maudlin, in this blog it's techno that counts. Plutarch records seeing a Harley Davidson and fearfully imagines "driving" it. Bikers talk about "riding" bikes but I can see why a non-biker might prefer an alternative verb. "Riding" sounds passive, "driving" suggests being in control.

Ironically the one make of motorcycle you might "drive" is a Harley Davidson (see pic). This weighty US bike has an enormous engine (1200 cc*, larger than several small cars), you sit low - almost amidst the works - and seemingly reach up to the handlebars. Most characteristic is the exhaust note of the low-revving vee-twin engine: a lazy, lumpy growl that rises to a "blat" as speed increases. Progress is majestic. I can just about accept the sentence: "Taking the Harley out for a drive".

However, when Plutarch dreams of sensuous if terrifying speed, he's imagining something other than a Harley. More on this, when I'm back from France.

* Update June 22, 2008. Seems I'm out of date on the Harley's engine capacity. In France I encountered one with a 1500 cc engine

3 comments:

Lucy said...

Have a good trip!

I can take my note about the content warning off now...

Dick said...

I've always favoured the Indian over the Harley...

Barrett Bonden said...

Dick: As far as I know Indian died the death years ago. It always looked distinctly old-fashioned - a bike to be steered round corners rather than heeled into them. As I recall the tyres were almost wide enough to hold the stationary bike upright on their own.