I am watching a video go viral, sweeping through the office of a motorcycle accessory distributor from one 20-something to another, with a lot of age bracket spill over. The 30-minute long protracted abuse of Triumph Tiger 800XCs and riders is The Raiden Files: Portland to Dakar. Despite this flick’s underpinnings of promoting Icon’s latest line of urban assault cum adventure gear, it may be the most important video to hit adventure motorcycling since Long Way Round.
The video is semi-fictionalized, call it Gonzo promotion, and is wrapped around a plot of pure juvenilia. A mysterious administrator, in the powerful black guy vein of Samuel L. Jackson, assigns two riders to test the gear in a variety of terrain and conditions. The terrain is monumentally challenging, the conditions epic, and the flat brimmed baseball caps turned sideways.
That last bit is the part that makes Portland to Dakar important. Motorcycle adventure videos largely are pretty scenery, bike going by a camera with a little foot out action or occasional jump to spice things up. Exciting scenes that are going to grab a youthful audience by loose fitting jeans and give them a heave-ho? Few and far between, if non-existent. Portland to Dakar, is doing something important, something the entire motorcycle industry has failed to do with adventure; make it appealing to a younger demographic. Skateboarding, snow boarding, MX… and now two Triumphs slugging it out through sand… and snow… and mud.
The biggest benefactor of this video is a motorcycle industry that has been struggling for relevance in the light of waning sportbike sales and an economic down turn. While gray haired men were wandering about corporate offices trying to figure out the “youth market”, the inevitable happened; the youth market figured out media. Even I, as tragically unhip and cool-less as a forty something can be, look at this video and can’t help but laugh, dream, and maybe want to worry a little less about hurting myself when I’m out on the trails.
The second big winner here, by accident or design, is Triumph. BMW established the adventure touring market, Long Way Round popularized it, but the roundel mark has a problem. There is a limited supply of Belstaff wearing bearded guys and BMW Rallye Pro suit wearing rich guys. The Icon video shatters the demographic stigmas, and positions Triumph as a youthful dualsport and adventure brand. If that’s not a call back the glory days of Harvey Mushman and cool factor, there will never be another. Better, there’s not a skinny jean’ed hipster wrenching on an oil-spewing vintage in site.
Strangely, the one weak message here is the video’s raison d’être – promoting the Raiden Patrol Gear. In the howl to triples and the plumes of terra, the gear gets lost. Testing the apparel’s technical qualities simply becomes a pretext for some phenomenally entertaining riding and self abuse. In overall brand recognition though, Icon has hit the ball out of the park; in its first week the video has capture viewership that belittles industry obsequious motorcycle television shows. If it wasn’t there already, the web video should be on the agenda of every OEM. Preferably, slotted into the day planner where that TSN TV advertorial show sits scratched out.
Icon has done the entire industry a favor, in one video they’ve succeeded in making Adventure riding, well, “cool” — a term I’m advised isn’t in favor these days. Beyond that the Portland based company broke the mold further, and didn’t even go around the world to accomplish this. Now, if only they offered the Raiden Patrol gear without a hoodie*… Ah, never mind, its fine. Throw it over a baseball cap and no one can tell how old you really are.
* Correction: Icon has pointed out through their Twitter account, IconMotorsports, that the Patrol Jacket’s hoodie is removable. Grasping for lost youth, I’m more inclined than ever to leave it in place.