Monday, 4 October 2010

In praise of rat-bikes

I was trying to explain to someone why I thought this - Steve McQueen's legendary Indian rat-bike - was one of the coolest bikes I'd ever seen. I'm afraid it was a classic case of 'if I have to explain you won't understand'.

I'm inclined to anthropomorphize my motorcycles. It's obviously daft - I know they are lumps of unfeeling metal, but since I've had two Sportsters I am conscious not to show any favouritism between them. I try to rotate riding them evenly. My orange 2002 model - which I have had  longest - is undeniably the superior model and I've certainly lavished the most money on it, whilst my grey 1989  - a more recent acquisition - is tattier and altogether rougher. I'm worried though that I might be developing a favouritism for what was always supposed to be my rat-bike.

Actually it's the roughness that's the very essence of its charm. It's why I get a buzz parking  it up next to a row of gleaming bling-machines. Which is  exactly what I did at the local HD dealership's open day this weekend: The plain paint job, the lack of any  graphics and with just-enough home-customizing/bodging ...  it all causes the casual weekend riders to stop just for a few moments and think what model it actually is - I suppose they can't recall seeing it in the catalogue.

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