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Back to square one – column

Dolf at Frank
ER Classics Desktop 2022

Some of us have many of our best dreams and memories from the late XNUMXs and XNUMXs. That was the time when Honda made motorcycling an acceptable pastime worldwide. And the time when the fast learning Japanese motorcycle makers became the absolute market leaders.

The Japanese made high-tech motorcycles that were complete, fast and reliable. And the fact that in their early days the Japanese engines outperformed their chassis, brakes, chains and tires? This problem was solved in such a way that also above average talented motorcyclists could go wild. In that carefree time there were of course also serious tourists.


But we were all much younger and our testosterone was directly linked to our throttle hand. A lot of us pretty much lived on motorcycles and we knew someone who only kept going because his Black Bomber with two people on it was faster than solo. Even in blind curves. Such a top bend was the end of the courtship. And in the Utrecht center for nursing and rehabilitation, the Albert van Koningbrugge foundation, they had a whole room full of ex-motorcyclists with spinal cord injuries.  

After the revolutionary rise and de facto standardization of the four-cylinder, motorcycles kept getting better, stronger and faster. In 1969, Bavarian technicians with square, high foreheads had already explained to us that the 50 horsepower of their R75-5 was scientifically proven to be the maximum achievable power for the public road. Somewhat later, the engine manufacturers voluntarily committed themselves to a maximum power of 100 hp. Now you buy, straight from the showroom, a bicycle of 200 hp that is electronically adjusted to a top of 299 km/h.

And the electronics to bring all that power to the road are apparently already so important that we saw an advertisement that proudly stated that the motorcycle in question would be the ideal platform for your smartphone. All that power and all the electronics is the reason for me to have about zero percent interest in most motorcycles from the nineties+. I am a self-proclaimed, contented fossil.

In the meantime, marketers and engineers went all out to come up with the most modern motorcycles for a target group that actually did not exist: the young motorcyclist. Beyond all technology, that led to machines with an optically crumbled, insect-like appearance and with ugly liquid-cooled blocks, where all those snakes remind me of a horse with a belly shot.

In the meantime, the shore has apparently turned the ship, because 'retro' is completely hot. Triumph scores with Bonnevilles that have become boulemic, the two-cylinder Enfields can't be dragged on and after the resurrection (and disappearance) of all kinds of once illustrious brands, BSA is now back with a motorcycle that looks like a motorcycle. Just like Enfield and the new BSA from India. The company behind it is Mahindra, and it's a very big boy. Moreover, the days when Indian motorcycles were smurfed together by mustachioed men in turbans are really over.

So it is likely that an era will come to an end. Perhaps that will give room for a new era. There could just be a market for light, user-friendly motorcycles for fairly regional use and commuting. Perhaps that option is even 100% electric.

But somewhere in the margins there will remain motorcycle enthusiasts like you and me. I foresee that they may be placed in a reservation. Does not matter. Those new BSAs are nice.

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12 Comments

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  1. Viewed very correctly. Not a machine from the store for me, but a good old faithful with some years behind it. Honda CB750 in police version 1977 and Hercules military 125cc 1973

    Twins 2005 035

  2. I wonder if those electric two-wheelers are really going to be fun. That just strikes me as an exciting companion for someone who wants to drive very economically and is constantly looking for places to freewheel downhill.

  3. And the nice thing about looking back at the few photos from the good old days is that we looked fresh and fruity at such a young age.

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