At the beginning of August oldskoolsuzuki took a stand at the VJMC show at Donington. I decided I would go down for the weekend and hang around drinking beer and looking at bikes.
As the weekend progressed and my bike ogling and beer drinking continued I began to reflect upon how much my personal opinion on what constitutes a desirable bike has changed over the last 25 years.
Looking back to when I was in my 20s my opinion was driven almost entirely by 1. Aesthetics and 2. Affordability. If I liked the way a bike looked and it was affordable, I would buy it. Even in my 30s little had changed when I bought a tatty 1982 Suzuki Katana for £500. From the age of 13 when I first set eyes on the Katana’s crazy German/Japanese design, I had wanted one.
Although my work on the Katana started out with a largely aesthetic goal in mind, I was quickly drawn into a very different mindset. My journey led me me beyond aesthetics alone, into the world of functional performance parts that, to the untrained eye, often looked awkward or even aesthetically out of place. If you knew their significance, however, they took on a functional beauty all of their own.
So, my view of what constituted a desirable bike had gradually distorted. What makes a desirable bike for me, these days, hinges almost entirely on the sum of it’s parts rather than the whole. More accurately, form now follows function.
Where once I would stand back from a bike to take in it’s lines and evaluate it’s stance and other wanky bullshit of that nature, I’m now more likely to be found crawling around underneath it, taking in every bolt, bracket and component. If it has the right parts and it has been well put together, to me, the engineered, functional simplicity, that some might find ugly, becomes a thing of great beauty.
We now live in the world of Facebook Instagram and Twitter and there are more shared opinions about what is right and what is wrong than ever before. My opinion is just one more of the many opinions shared and although I represent a unique type of anorak, I live happily with the knowledge that I am not alone and I have a place to go, away from the internet, to indulge my world view.
I still remember when OSS spent a few agonising years on Facebook while the forum was up on the ramp. The problem with most of the open and untethered internet is that literally anyone can pitch up and offer his or her opinion on content and knowing what they are talking about is purely optional. I remember on the old Facebook page someone had posted up a picture of a really nice EFE fitted with a turbo. It’s fair to say that a more brutal looking engine and assembly of purposeful plumbing, would have been hard to find. While most of us were liking it and fawning over it, one learned chap commented, with great authority, that he didn’t think the oversized frame tubing looked very good and that it ruined the lines of the bike. Somebody quickly corrected him on the fact that this was actually the feed from the turbo to the plenum and not the frame tube. “I still don’t like it” he replied ” it looks out of place and ruins the lines of the bike”.
Every time I see an overpriced CX500 cafe racer with a brown leather seat, bathing in the glow of an Instagram filter, I am reminded that there are many who will never see beyond style alone. Each to their own. Fashions come and fashions go but quality never goes out of style.
A walk around any race paddock and you quickly realise that these guys have always believed that function dictates form.
We built oldskoolsuzuki.info so that we would not be alone in our lust for expensive components, trick engineering and the love of admiring the work of those that are able assemble said parts to form unique performance motorcycles. Looking around our stand at Donington, I was reminded that we did the right thing.
Quote of the weekend at Donington goes to a passer by on our stand, who after taking a long and careful look around the bikes on the stand, turned with a smile and said “you guys are fucking mental!” Naturally, we took that as a compliment.
So here is to continuing to beg, borrow and engineer the very best parts we can, safe in the knowledge that the quality always remains long after the price is forgotten.
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