Got an email from Gordon yesterday with a long series of vintage photos attached, photos of a group of guys out on their usual Sunday rides in Colorado, showing the kinds of places they went and what they did on the way. A quick look and you know these fellows had some fun in a wide variety of situations, but what struck me right away were the bikes they rode. In today’s world of specialized motorcycles for whatever kind of rider you happen to be or think you are, these guys just rode the one bike they had everywhere for everything, not giving a second thought to whether their bike was designed for it.
What did they ride? Some old BSAs, but mostly, Harley 74s. This was back in 1952, or thereabouts, no high tech suspensions, many hardtails, regular street tires or whatever came on the bike, they went practically anywhere they thought looked like fun.
It reminds me of when I was a kid on my bicycle, single speed, balloon tire, coaster brake and I rode that bike everywhere for everything. Take a long ride with some friends, riding on a trail in the woods, ride in mud or water, on road, off road, the same bike for all occasions. These guys approached riding the same way, it never occurred to them they couldn’t do something or go someplace because they didn’t have the “proper” motorcycle.
How many of us ride like that today? How many of us could? Look at your bike, is it a street legal track weapon or a fully loaded touring bike? Maybe it’s a fat tire custom or dedicated MX bike. Cafe racer, street tracker or whatever, would you or could you take it into all of the kinds of places these guys rode their big Harleys back in the early 50s?
Some modern bikes are capable of doing all of this, the adventure bikes like the big BMW GS series comes to mind or similar models, but they’re made to do that and have everything you might want and probably a lot more, though many of those BMWs have never braved the elements or ridden on a muddy trail. An early hardtail Harley 74? Those had none of the necessary features and yet, here’s photographic evidence you really don’t need any of that stuff anyway, … or maybe it’s just a state of mind. Universal motorcycle, adventure bike, maybe that’s really a feature of the rider and not the bike.
Great photos Gordon, Thanks!