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Am I The Only Motorcycle Riding Luddite?

Buzz Kanter Columns Harley Magazine Blog This Months Column

Am I The Only Motorcycle Riding Luddite?

Shifting Gears with Buzz Kanter
Shifting Gears with Buzz Kanter


SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

I’m amazed to see people ride past on bikes bristling with cameras, intercoms, external GPS units, and more.

Don’t know if it’s my age (don’t ask), my preference for older and simpler machines, or just a mental block, but I often don’t feel comfortable dealing with new (or not so new) technology. Especially when on a motorcycle. I mean, aren’t there enough distractions on the road already?

While I am curious about things that interest me and I love to learn, there is something that shuts off my mind: when I need to learn how to use any new technology more advanced than a basic GPS on my bike.

When out riding, I’m amazed to see people ride past on bikes bristling with cameras, intercoms, external GPS units, and more. I’m especially startled when riders pause their on-bike intercoms to take a phone call at 50 mph, while looking up where to stop for lunch on their GPS. Okay, I might be exaggerating here, but I think you get the point.

It was not long ago when most riders dismissed heated grips as frivolous. Now, many of the same riders wouldn’t even think of riding outside their zip code without turning on their on-bike electronics. While I have learned to use the built-in GPS and radio on my Indian Roadmaster, I often prefer the riding experience without electronic interruption. I have a Schuberth helmet that is pre-wired to link with my cellphone and on-board motorcycle electronics, but I never have gotten comfortable using them. This is especially true if I have to take my hand off the bars to press buttons or toggle a switch.

I know these electronic options and tools are just that, options and tools. And I recognize that while we don’t need to turn them on if we don’t want to, their use is becoming more the norm. It’s like people who are addicted to their cellphone screen and need to look at it every minute or two.

In case you were wondering, the Luddites were English workers who, in the early 1800s, destroyed machinery that they believed threatened their jobs. Today, we define Luddites as people who are opposed to new technology or ways of working.

Possible New Adventure
As I finish up this column, I am in the process of putting together what might be my next motorcycle adventure. I don’t have it nailed down yet, as the details keep changing, but I’m working on buying a cheap used Harley online, flying out and riding it back 1,500-plus miles to Connecticut. If it goes as I expect it might, this will be a heckuva adventure tour worth reading about. And one that is affordable for most of us. Stay tuned for updates.

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Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.


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