I was thinking about how motorcycles are used in much of the world as a mainstay of transportation, both for individuals and products. In the USA most motorcyclists use their motorcycles sparingly, like when the weather is good or maybe if there is a rally or ride. Sure there are plenty of Americans that commute and tour the States on the back of motorcycles, but not most, and even fewer really use their bikes to move things other than themselves.
In America we have in the recent past been obsessed with the size of our motorcycles. Bigger and bigger bikes have come on to the market over the past 30 years. In fact it seemed the bigger your bike the bigger “man” you were, but times are a changing. Just look at the bikes that are being sold and you can see clearly that more and more people are finding smaller bikes enticing. It may also be possible that smaller bikes are also turning in performance that rivals big bikes along with MPGs that put big bikes to shame.
My first motorcycle was an ’80s Honda CB 650, it ran for like 3 weeks before it needed some fixing. Shortly after that I got a little Honda Aero 80 to putt around on. While I don’t think of a 650cc motorcycle as “big” I have to say I enjoyed both that CB a lot while it ran, but I had a blast on the Aero too (and it was cheap to fill up and insurance was pennies). In my experience, which is absolutely limited, I have not ridden a motorcycle or scooter that I didn’t enjoy (I love my Grom even though the seat designer should be flogged). I love just motorized vehicles!
I love my ’77 Goldwing, but that sucker is big and cumbersome! It is flat-out great on the open highway, but around town even at just 1000ccs it is heavy and only gets about 35 miles per gallon (yes, it probably needs a tune up). My Grom is the opposite, super-maneuverable, but pretty gutless. The Grom gets phenomenal gas mileage (I get between 109 and 132 MPG on that little bike!). My 2015 Honda CTX 700N is something in the middle. That bike gets about 64-70 miles per gallon, can handle highway or city riding, is very maneuverable and pretty darn comfortable (actually reminds me some of the Goldwing).
On all of these bikes I primarily ride alone. On the Grom, CT110 and my little Chinese Skyteam 125 (Z50 replica) space for passengers can be an issue, but I have been out on the Grom and CT with more than one (my kids love it). The other day in fact I took my daughter to a birthday party on the Grom and she absolutely loved it. So, why don’t we travel more often on our bikes with a second rider? Why don’t we use our bikes for more than just people moving?
I was lucky enough to spend a couple years living in the Philippines almost 25 years ago. There I saw motorcycles being used in ways I had never seen before. I also was a passenger on many of these tricycles and rode sitting/hanging on all over the little machines (to include on top of the roof!). Philippinos are very ingenious people and they make things happen in whatever way they can. I have seen cows, pigs, chickens, goats and hoards of people riding on motorcycles during the time I was in the Philippines. I know this happens all over Asia as well.
I am not arguing for 15 passengers on a motorcycle, but I would love to see motorcycles use for more than just single person Sunday rides a couple times a year. These vehicles allow such a more intense experience with nature and the real world and in most cases provide much better gas mileage. Commuting on my Grom and CTX this year, has, like every year before, made me a better rider and provided so much free therapy.
I really don’t care what you ride, because I love all motorcycles. What I hope is that all we riders ride more, ride safely and help others get into responsible riding. Few things bring me more joy than a good ride on any of my bikes.
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