The Harley rider, in the parking lot of the Princeton Chevron, claims to have been riding for 50 years and from his weather beaten look I don’t doubt it. The amazing thing about Suzuki’s new power cruiser the M109R is everyone talks to you; this grizzled, longhaired gentleman replete with missing teeth (not just one or two but half a front mouth full) is no exception. “It looks great, but a bike is a bike.” I have to agree, despite the avarice inspiring ministrations of the manufactures’ marketing departments, “It’s not what you ride it’s where you go and the people you meet.” The old rider nods looking on at the M109R, then it occurs to me that it does make a difference. The M109R is “cool” enough that it crosses the boundaries between sport riders, adventure tourers, tourers, metric cruisers and American Iron, but on another bike I’d not be having this conversation.
Back in Vancouver the growing riding community is feeling a bit more cliquey, riding a variety of bikes over the spring I’m noticing more and more that sport riders aren’t giving the wave to cruisers and that cruisers are returning the favor. Walls are going up and that’s a shame. It’s getting bad, the wave withheld even while out on the boundary defying Ducati Multistrada, which is seems Vancouver riders aren’t sure what to make of. At the local coffee-run turn-around point, one sport rider finally as we were leaving broke down and asked, “What’s it for?”
Exclusionist tendencies are not the case everywhere though; spending time on Vancouver Island for the “day job” has been enlightening. Riding the Island on the Burgman scooter, sport riders and Harley Davidson diehards come over to talk and the wave is delivered indiscriminately. A regional difference possibly based on a smaller tighter riding community? Likely not, the Island per capita has a larger riding community who anecdotally seem a pretty enthusiastic lot. Maybe it’s not reached a sheer numerical threshold where one group splits into cliques? As an outsider I hope that never happens on the Island, the community is far richer for its apparent openness.
Despite my initial misgivings I enjoyed my conversation with the Harley rider, it was congenial and informative to get another view on a bike like the M109R. Likely I’d have not had a chance if I’d played to his prejudices and been “padded up like he [in reference to another rider] was going to the races on a ricer”. That’s a pity, in the end it’s not only what you ride, but who you meet and what you do along the way that makes the ride interesting. As the old gent put it heading out, “Ride ‘em if you got ‘em.”