Sacrificial Motorcycling

Steve Lita American Iron Magazine Editor

Steve Lita, American Iron Magazine Editor

Ride to Work

…making the decision to do without

I get lots of e-mails here at American Iron Magazine. Some come from readers, some from vendors and OEMs, and way too many from people who don’t have anything better to do than send out spam. But one just crossed my computer monitor that made me think. Seems a motorcycle manufacturer (a European brand that shall remain nameless, though here’s a hint: they’re known for making lots of red bikes) is promoting a new sales campaign based on the premise that you can now own a brand-new motorcycle for less than the cost of a good cup of coffee per day.

By the way, I love how they qualify what type of coffee (a “good” cup of coffee, not that cheap gas station stuff). It’s true, and they have the figures to back it up. A footnote at the end provides the supporting data. US News & World Report research shows that the average cost of a cappuccino in the US is $3.51. (I want that research dude’s job, traveling around buying cups of “good” coffee all day.) This is cappuccino we’re talking about here—after all, the company is Italian (hint #2). So with a payment plan of just $99 per month (after paying a specific down payment and $750 freight and setup fee), owning one of its motorcycles costs less than the $105.30 you would have spent on all that frothy, tasty, caffeine-laced goodness in a cup.

Sounds like a deal, right? Now comes the hard part: making the decision to do without one thing in order to have another. It happens all the time, you need to give up one thing you like, in order to get the thing you think you’ll like more. This is not the same as, say, ordering in a restaurant. “Can I have the loaded baked potato side dish instead of the creamed spinach (yuck)?” And that’s not meant to offend you creamed spinach fans out there. Giving up something you don’t like to get the one you do is a no-brainer. The sacrifice bunt in baseball is talked about often, and it benefits the team with the potential of scoring a run. The only person that doesn’t like it is the actual bunter.

So I extrapolated this idea into motorcycling, and, no, I’m not shopping for a new European bike today. But I have experienced similar tough decisions before. I see a rare, used motorcycle part on eBay, and I subsequently convince myself that I have to have it on my bike. So I immediately go to my parts sales auctions and lower the price to make them more attractive to other buyers. It’s fire-sale time. Yes, I’ll take the loss on this, to get the cash I need for that.
It’s a tradeoff. You can’t have it all—unless you’re independently wealthy and throw money around like it’s water (which reminds me of a meme I saw online: “Water is the most essential element of life, because without water, you can’t make coffee”). But even in that case, if you have both things, and it didn’t hurt to get them, then you might not value either as much as the person who gave up something valuable to get something of more value.

As riders we might give up time with family and friends to go riding, but as a result of that decision, we also have riding family and friends. So that might be a win-win situation, depending on your family. I know Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) coaches who have given up a lot of weekend riding time in order to teach new riders how to ride safely. Both are fun, and the latter is a bit of a noble cause. We give up the comfort of a warm, dry car to ride a motorcycle in the rain in order to get to a bike rally, where we’ll inevitably have a raucous time. We give up our hearing temporarily to see a Kid Rock concert at The Chip in Sturgis. I can’t really sip my morning coffee (there it is again) on the days I ride my bike to work. And I give up hauling anything larger than what can fit on my bike. Saddlebags do have their limitations.

It’s said that a man should give up three month’s salary to buy an engagement ring. I guess those guys are going without food, beer, gas, an apartment, and car insurance for a while. And they say money can’t buy you love.

Next up is deciding what to give up. Better think about this. All that shimmers is not gold. Once you have time to think about it and perform the necessary research, maybe the item you desired wasn’t a must-have after all. As for me, I’ll keep taking my regular coffee (none of that decaf stuff) with cream, no sugar. Thank you.