Thursday, January 28, 2010


A lot of people say that rigid framed motorcycles are nothing but show bikes or bar hoppers. A lot of people talk about how horrible they are to ride, how ridiculous riding without rear suspension is, how bad they work, how painful it can be, how bad they handle, how fragile they are, ect, ect.
Of course we know they don’t all work badly, or handle bad, or hurt to ride, and aren’t really fragile, but what about the practicality of them? What about using them for real motorcycles?
Should we listen to the critics and relegate our choppers to bar hopping duty, or capitulate and admit that they are merely show bikes?
Come on… you can’t be serious!
I can’t believe I have to state the obvious, but it appears that I must after some recent conversations I have had with the general public… there was a little event that you may have heard of some time ago… it was called the 70’s?
And before that… the 60’s?
And I’m not sure, but I think that there were even some years before that! (My grandfather mentioned it to me once, but I think he may have been lying.)
People…. come on… there wasn’t always suspension on the back of motorcycles… and people RODE THOSE RIGID MOTORCYCLES EVERYWHERE!
They were as Flynch called them “Valid Modes Of Transportation” or VMOT.
If these things were really the torture devices we have been led to believe they are, then every one of those patcholders and travelers from the days of yore would be paralyzed and crippled!
Its absolute nonsense and people are buying into this crap.
If you can’t ride your rigid framed motorcycle farther than your local bar, then you need to change something on your bike.
Something isn’t working right. Change your ergonomics, relocate your pegs/seat/bars… change your front forks to something that works better, check your tire pressure… (I know of a guy here in town who won’t ride his rigid anywhere because he INSISTS that he needs to be running 65 psi in his rear tire! No joke! And he keeps saying that it rides horrible...)
I’m not saying you can’t own any motorcycle you want… what I am saying is that there should be NO reason you can’t be using that rigid framed bike as much as any other motorcycle with rear suspension.
When you walk out in the garage with your saddlebags over your shoulder for a long trip… you should stand there and REALLY fight to come up with a good reason NOT to take that rigid instead of your swingarm bike.
But, this is just the beginning of the problem… at the core of this issue is something much more troubling to me:
The loss of the concept of adventure in our culture.
You watch any TV lately?
Did you know you need two INSANELY over packed BMW GS’s, a huge bank account, multiple corporate sponsorships and 2-3 chase vehicles to ride your bike across a continent or two?

Sure you do… just ask the producers of Ewan McGregor’s and Charlie Boorman’s two motorcycle travel mini-series. (The long way round and The Long way down.)
Don’t watch TV much? (Me neither) … then check out
People, you are being told over and over again that adventure means having the right gear, the right bike, the right plan, the right GPS, the right training, the right tank bag, the right laptop, the right aluminum panniers, the right camera, the right amount of money in the bank account, the right boots, the right underwear, the right cologne, the right body, the right girl, … “if you don’t have this stuff… you aint’ gonna make it. Don’t even try.”
Even Ewan and Charlie got told that and they had all the right stuff!
What happened to taking whatever you have and just DOING IT?
Well, I’m here to tell you… your ancestors have done it for centuries with nothing. NOTHING!
Grab a horse, a blanket, a knife and go… work where you stop for some food, sleep under the stars, live off the land… survive… live…enjoy…presto! You’re having an adventure.
We have been turned into a race of complete pansies.
We can’t handle anything if we don’t have our double espresso soy mocha latte frappuccino enema every morning, noon and night.
It takes nothing … NOTHING … to get out there and have an adventure… I know a guy doing this very thing on a bicycle… no money, no cares, works where he stops, and moves on… and he IS HAVING THE TIME OF HIS LIFE!
In the long way Down series, Ewan and Charlie are shamed two separate times to come across bicycle adventurers in Africa on their latest trip… people out there living it… not worrying about what they “Can’t do on their antiquated machines.”

Ever heard of the 555? Google it… check it out… it’s a group of people setting out on a trip with pre 1975, sub 500cc motorcycles, that cost them less than 500$ to purchase and prepare… and they did it twice.

I saw this kid riding a scooter through my town in Nebraska from New York...(wasn’t able to stop him to talk to him) You think he checked with Adventure to find out if his scooter was “acceptable” adventuring material? Do you think he agonized over the most “adventure capable” aluminuim panniers? Or which PIAA lights would offer him the “most optimum light pattern for nighttime adventure riding”?

This is a shot of my XL350 Honda. My wife’s uncle gave it to me… he once rode it from Kansas, to Canada, back down to Mexico, and then back to Kansas.

You have probably met or heard of people doing huge long distance runs on sport bikes… I know of several guys….
Or how about Gary Inman’s article In Cycle World about the time he rode a Benelli TNT across the Sahara desert?

Ok, then what about the Toxic Tour article about that guy who rode that 360 Yamaha 2-stroke enduro from Washington to Florida?

Ok, lets see…I know… ever heard of the guy who rode his Goldwing through the jungle ?
OK, ok… fine..… I will scan them in for you… but you owe me one.
(see articles below)

How about my earlier posts about Panheads in the jungles, or on the polar icecaps?

And what about the people who do it without a bike?
Ever hear of people traveling with a tractor?

Or traveling in a 2wd Mercedes station wagon?

Or how about these random “adventure vehicles”?

What’s your excuse to not ride your rigid to work today?
To a buddies house across town?
To not ride for 4 hours… or 10 hours… or across a few states?
How about across the country and back?
Not enough storage space? Wah.
Not enough wind protection? Cry me a river.
No power plugs for your heated coffee cup? Give me a break.
No Anti lock brakes? You have got to be kidding me.
No radio? Yeah right.
Get over it… grow a pair…saddle up… have an adventure… quit whining and enjoy your life while it lasts… you are running out of time…

Tom Rose once shared a very important story with me about adventure.
Last year Tom was riding some dirt roads far from civilization with a very attractive lady friend who was in fact, a swimwear model.
They ran out of gas.
Tom left her on the bike while he hiked up the road to a ranch to ask for some gas-o-line.
While she was sitting there on the bike… on a dirt road… on a Harley Davidson… with her jacket off… clearly in need of some assistance…. a guy rode by on a very nice, BMW GS. This particular BMW was all “prepped for adventure” with crash bars, aluminum panniers, skidplates, GPS, handguards and the works. He was all hooked up man… ready for anything…and as he neared the very attractive lady, clearly broken down… in the middle of nowhere… on a HARLEY… he slowed down, looked at her very carefully and rolled right on by, and motored on down the road.
Hmm… let’s see… broken down Harley… hot women… middle of nowhere… I don’t know about you guys, but that has “ADVENTURE” written all over it in HUGE 10 foot tall blinking neon letters!
Now, when Tom told his brother Joel this same story and was laughing at this “adventure riders” lack of ability to sense and adventure when it’s beating his face in with a titanium tire iron… Joel looked at Tom and said in a very matter of fact manner:
“Sure Tom… but he wasn’t “adventuring” today.”
And there it is… it’s not the bike, or the gear, or the person… it’s the mindset.
If you aren’t ready to “go adventuring” every time you kickstart that evil attack chopper… you will never have an adventure.

Cause you don’t need one of these:

You need some of these:

Don't be a chump...ride that rigid.


  1. Dude was that Jimmy Sites on that tractor?

    Great article man...can't wait to see how Tom responds...ha ha...Tom learn to log's a mindset, not an adventure!

  2. i didn't ride mine cuz it's 10 degrees out! haha. nice write up.

  3. Ha, ha!
    What about those guys that rode in minus 70?

  4. It sure looks like Jimmy doesn't it? You should ask him how he feels about tractors... that should tell you if it was really him running under the radar on a top secret hunting location scouting mission!

    We all await Toms response with baited breath of course... I do feel I owe him and apology however... I am saving photos of HIS adventure bike until later... it pained me greatly to not include the warpig FXR in here...

  5. What about you? How many miles have you logged in the last five years? or do you just write about it?.....Fuck.

  6. by far some of the sickest hardest chopps i've laid eyes on thanks to a brother named Hans, here in Indy at one of the best tatt shops in town, Artistic Skin Design, for turning me on to attack choppers. My next ride: Fat, fast, ugly beautiful... Live Hard Die Free Ride Forever..... 2988's FTW