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Motorcycle Tribes

Buzz Kanter Columns Harley Magazine Blog This Months Column

Motorcycle Tribes

Shifting Gears with Buzz Kanter
Shifting Gears with Buzz Kanter


SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

Are you a lone wolf or do you identify with a moto-tribe?

Okay, so I am curious. How do motorcycles fit into your life, and what is a motorcycle to you? Are you mostly a lone wolf, or do you occasionally or often identify with any of the various moto-tribes? Tribes? Yes, that’s what I wrote. I feel most motorcycle enthusiasts fit into one or more of the countless motorcycle tribes.

Now, I’ll grant you that we can move into and out of various tribes depending on the situation or our mood. And for many of us…well, let’s just say our interests change. I expect you are like me, in that your tribal loyalties change over time and are influenced by what and where you are riding. Out on a 1931 Indian Scout 101 or a 1955 Harley Panhead sidecar rig I feel quite different than when pushing a Harley Sportster XR1200X hard through the twisties or eating up the miles on my Indian Roadmaster on a weeklong tour. I’d love to hear the tribes you come up with, names and brief descriptions, please, for possible publication. Send them to Letters@AmericanIronMag.com. In the meantime, here are a few I came
up with.

Mile Munchers
Some people see their motorcycle as fun, basic transportation. You’ve seen those folks, and you probably know a few. You might be one yourself. They range from keep-it-stock riders to wear-out-lots-of-tires tourers who pour on the miles year in and year out. While we mostly think this group consists of well-worn touring baggers, I have seen smaller displacement, stripped-down bikes like Sportsters and Dynas with huge miles on the odometer, too.

Beauty Builders
Others view their motorcycles as canvases to create rolling art, either by bolting on or cutting off various parts until their vision is achieved: bolt-ons, modifying existing or aftermarket parts, or handmaking one-off parts. They can base their designs on cruisers, choppers, baggers, sport bikes, or bobbers. Some are stunning, and others are works in progress.

Select Scroungers
I love these guys for their creativity and resourcefulness. These are the people who haunt swap meets looking for the right parts at the right prices to build something amazing. Some of these people bang out a bike per year, and others take ages to assemble the right parts and get them functional. Sometimes they are on tight budgets, and sometimes not. This is usually a tougher kind of bike to classify, as some are based on factory-correct machines and others are total mix-and-match designs.

Antique Appreciators
When you see a beautiful antique motorcycle, sometimes in better condition than when new, you might be in close proximity to a member of this tribe. These bikes’ restorers achieve various levels of perfection. And this is not limited to the fresh paint and shine crowd, as the appreciation of original-paint or barn-find bikes grows. You might think it’s tough to find correct old parts for your restoration, but what if you’re looking for original-finish parts to match the rest of the original paint/finish bike? After all, they can be original only once, right?

2017 Harley Results & Future Plans
As we go to press with this issue, Harley-Davidson (HOG) just released its fourth quarter 2017 results and some of its plans going forward. The financials are not positive. New motorcycle registrations in the US are down more than 11% for the quarter, and below the guidance Harley offered the Wall Street analysts.

They also announced the planned shuttering of the Kansas City assembly plant, which will be consolidated into the older York facility. They also announced plans to market an electric Harley within the next two years. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this? Letters@AmericaIronMag.com or on Facebook.

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.


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