Outside Edge Dec 2016

George_Tranos_Outside_EdgeLove, Thanks and Seasons’ Greetings

by George Tranos


I don’t like cruisers – there I said it! This is blasphemy in a magazine like Full Throttle New York / New England. Bear with me – there’s a reason I’m here and have a monthly column. I love all motorcycles and motorcyclists but like you, I have my own personal preferences. Now that I’m into my fifth decade as a rider, I finally know what I like and what I don’t and am entitled to my opinion.


When I started riding in the mid-seventies, a big bike was 750cc. Today that same machine is looked upon as a beginner’s bike. The first motorcycle I actually owned was a Suzuki GS400. With maybe 30 horsepower, I drove that motorcycle everywhere! It provided me with transportation back and forth to school; it was great for short day trips to explore the local landscape and I even took some longer multi-day trips with it.


As I gained more experience, I scoured the motorcycle magazines for my next bike. I wound up buying a Honda 750cc supersport based upon a review in Motorcyclist Magazine. The big jump in power (to almost 75 HP!) was a big draw as was the excellent (for 1979) handling. Even though the Honda was a supposed sportbike, it too was put to use as a commuter and tourer. I even drove to upstate New York once with my ski boots strapped to the seat to ski at a Catskill ski area! I held onto that motorcycle as a daily driver for many years before purchasing something else.


I’ve had the great pleasure of riding hundreds of different motorcycles over the years. Once I discovered Americade (the world’s largest motorcycle touring rally in Lake George, New York), I became an avid devotee and spent almost all my time there for many years trying every motorcycle available at the manufacturer’s demo rides. Once I became a writer, I was invited to try many different motorcycles and given the opportunity to attend motorcycle press launches. I went to California and rode the Buell 1125R along the coast and also down the famous corkscrew at Laguna Seca racetrack. I rode bikes from Kawasaki, Suzuki, Buell, Victory, Indian and Harley-Davidson in California, Las Vegas, Colorado, Florida and New York.


I found fun at the racetrack riding track days with my buddies. I even bought a dedicated track bike and used it instead of one of my street bikes. It was ready to go when I was and I took it to racetracks across the east coast. Track riding is an addiction and like many forms of riding can get deep into your blood.


Riding such a large variety of bikes gave me an appreciation of how each manufacturer approached the consumer market. Some sold and sell performance; others keyed on style and pizazz; still others stressed technology, engineering and safety features. I saw the motorcycle market become more specialized. I saw the birth of the Universal Japanese Motorcycle (UJM) that is the basis for today’s naked (standard) bike. I watched as Yamaha came out with its Virago and the huge popularity of the new trend of cruiser motorcycles. Later on, the new wave of adventure bikes created a whole new segment that harkened echoes of scramblers from the sixties.


As you’ve probably noticed, there is a diversity of motorcycles produced today. Riders too run the gamut from wanna-be’s, to long distance tourers and everything in between. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle. We ride when we have the time, take some day trips and an occasional longer trip or two each year. Many commute to and from work and still others spend every Sunday morning out on their bike. Motorcyclists come in all forms, shapes and sizes. We are the captains of industry and blue collar workers. We are students, accountants, welders, builders, mechanics and writers. We are a melting pot of Americans who share a love of being out in the wind on a motorcycle. We actually do something – we ride!


Flash back to the end of 2016. I spent much of this year riding little 125cc training motorcycles and teaching others to ride them. I’ve helped hundreds of other people learn to ride and improve their skills this year. We’ve had many different riders take our experienced rider classes and they rode many different machines. I’ve learned to appreciate the different styles and uses. I’ve learned tolerance of different lifestyles and choices.


If you’ve read this far, thank you. I’ve tried to provide a unique viewpoint through this column. We may not like to ride the exact same motorcycle and that’s okay. What we do have in common though is that we like to ride. It is a big part of each of our lives. Let’s join together this holiday season and celebrate our great country with its freedom and opportunity. You and I may be different, but together we are much more alike than our non-riding brethren.


I wish you and yours a joyous holiday season! Ride on!