Folks who admire the style, as much as the lifestyle, of life on two wheels, are in a unique category. It’s not that the club is exclusive, or even particularly choosy. Anyone with enthusiasm can be a member, and the only membership requirement is the desire to share and collect information about the ride.
It’s not at all like it was a few years ago, or maybe it’s a generation or two ago by now. The days when the mods and the rockers would face off in Brighton cast a spell over the whole vintage motorbike scene, but it’s not one that affects the day to day relationships between its members. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t bikers out there who scoff at the tastes of the vintage enthusiast, but generally speaking, the veterans of the road tend to love old bikes, no matter what they might ride themselves.
It’s an important distinction. Experience on the road does tend to buy more currency or credibility on the street, and miles traveled do add up to more than a head full of details but nothing upon which to tack them. That has been true for most of the history of motorcycles and scooters. The time of the battles between biker gangs, at least in terms of the vespa vs. café racer competition, was pretty short-lived. Now there are more things to worry about then who likes Gene Vincent or who likes the Kinks, as one seasoned veteran puts it.
That is, in fact, a hint about the central force that unites everyone who rides on two wheels. It might not be widely acknowledged that it isn’t the safest way to travel, but it should be, because it is definitely in the back of every riders’ mind. Anyone who has forgotten that, even for a moment, has been the recipient of a tough reminder, through close calls, or worse. Camaraderie in the community comes from a sense of survival, and watching out for each other. That tends to cut out the white noise of any other simmering rivalries, even in the contemporary vintage community. Whether or not one takes their bike to a mechanic, fixes it entirely on their own, or depends on websites like www.hotrodhanks.com to keep their ride looking sharp, it doesn’t matter. The things that separate are much less important than those things that unite. And at the end of the day, we all get to ride the same road together.