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Night Crawler
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316 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Bike exif posted up an article dealing with design authenticity by Jason Cormier today.

Link here: http://www.bikeexif.com/authenticity

A common reaction amongst people posting replies seems to be one of disagreement mixed with offense and cries of "who cares, just ride it".

Interested in what the people of CF think.

I'll go out on a limb here and argue that it's a pretty interesting, thought provoking
read (with some links to some out there builders too)
Sure, people can and should build whatever the heck they want, but I think some
of his comments are bang on; There are popular builders creating/selling? cafe racers
which falsely represent an era when people were actually trying to improve performance
by removing fenders/panels etc.

He doesn't specifically have a problem with cafe racers - just argues that they are no
longer a product of a higher functioning design mind. Some have become a
mindless continuation of a fashion that includes facial hair, stupid helmets and not
enough fender.

Don't worry though, he isn't just going on about cafe racers. He has an opinion on
reasons for the successes and failures of HD, Japanese bikes, British bikes etc.

Disclaimer: Personally, I don't know much about motorbikes, or their history. But I
like riding them and working on them, and the article gave me something to think about.
(ie fuck the crowd, most of them are idiots)

What does CF think?
 

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Registered
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222 Posts
That was a meandering diatribe of epic proportions that went out of the way to illistrate that the author is butthurt his harley wouldn't fire on the first kick because he doesn't know how to adjust the timing.

Seriously, he made some well known observations. But he isn't saying anything new. And he has a major problem with Japanese bikes. He sounds like chicken little. The bad Japanese took all the hard earned dollars from Harley.
He glorifies Harley for having a long running dedication to their conservatism, then contradicts and pinpoints conservatism in the custom scene and blames the lack of style innovation on it. WHAT!?

More over, he doesn't even have a firm grasp on the very subject he is ranting about.
Harley was essentially subsidized by the government to survive. In my opinion they epitomized what was wrong with our American industry. A company that has great engineers and materials, but only wanted to play it safe and sustain the margins/profits. We all know Harley could easily build an awesome bike that competes in performance, weight, and price if they wanted.

The reality is:
I would rather have new blood exposed and interested in bikes than more bikes cut up for scrap.
It is simple economics, the "hipsters" provide majority of the profits needed to sustain our industry. I know i'm a cheap bastard and am not running out to buy the shit that keeps our industry thriving.
Those bland factory bikes and pseudo-retro bikes provide the funding for the development of the race/engine/future awesome bikes. Thats the production cycle in any auto/mechanical industry.

So kudos to the dentist, band leader wanna be, hipster, whatever for even trying to get their hands dirty and wanting to learn something new.
Besides, if they fail. I can pick it up for cheap on Craigslist. :shocker:
 

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lɐʇuǝɯᴉɹǝdx&#4
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3,518 Posts


That's my bike in the truck behind some old dude who was visiting on business and wanted a local's help to find some decent chow. I've heard of wrenchmonkees, don't think I could pick their bike(s) from a lineup, but his bikes I would probably recognize. Nuff said on my personal interests.

Article could have been more to the point... I'm not really up to critique it except to say...

 

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Administrator
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5,264 Posts
Meh, i thought it was an OK article. It wandered a bit, i kept waiting for it to get to its point and it didn't really seem to. A bit like when you have a great idea of meaningful world-shaking philosophy when drunk but can't quite seem to chase it down to the end. The stuff about HD seemed a little beside the point. That said I’m probably going to ramble like a fooker right now. :D

I think i agree with his argument about the lack of original thought in the scene(s) he’s talking about (which i think was his point right?). I might actually cry if i see another cafe CX500 posted on another Pipeburn-a-like page with a tag along the lines of "Wow look at this, who would have thought you could make something cool out of an old courier bike! Wow, isn't this guy all clever and original?!" But i'm not going to complain about bike building sort of being cool again. I’m all for more people being interested in it and preferably getting a little dirt under their nails. I still find that almost everyone i know doesn't give a fuck. But maybe someday that might change if enough people experience it.

An interesting thing for us to take from it might be: how is that booming scene affecting CF? I've certainly seen more cafe styled bikes coming though. More single round headlights, clipons, cafe humps. Guys buying pre-fabbed stuff like subframe seat loops, headlights etc from places like Dime City when there are more interesting, better, cheaper alternatives that just might take a little work from yourself but that’s part of the fun and pride. (BTW: Nothing wrong with a café in my book. But they can very easily suffer from a copy-cat ethos.) Personally, I tried to do and use things and parts I’d never seen before on my Build-off bike because that’s what I knew I would be proud of. Not creating a facsimile. I like to think the very “type” that is Streetfighter might make it immune to a great deal of repetition because of the range of acceptable donor bikes but still, I think it is our responsibility to strive for the original and the interesting and we should actively encourage other people too.

One part of the article i did like was:

"If they are churning out overpriced machines while selling made-in-China bolt on parts, and overpriced apparel with explicit references to Steve McQueen, they are not worthy of our praise. Save your accolades for the person with blackened, calloused hands who lives in poverty, funnelling all their meagre funds into their projects. You likely won’t hear about those people in the media, because they generally neglect to hire publicists or submit their work to Bike EXIF.
That’s the unfortunate and largely untenable ideal we have built, that of the passionate builder plying their trade free of corruption by monetary concerns. The myth of honest labour has merged with the image of the starving artist. The truth is that the most notable visionaries usually toil in obscurity, and always will. Their potential will always be limited by their lack of funds and their impact will be blunted by their lack of exposure. Noble though their plight might be in an idealistic sense, they can rarely achieve greatness or improve our culture if they are working in anonymity with limited means."


Because i associate with it and it fans my own ego and how i think of CF. :D I did keep thinking: when is he going to mention the back-yard 'fighter scene? This fella should get himself on CF and it'll probably make him feel better about the "kids".

I had seen that article on Facebook too. Most the reactions there are pretty defensive / offended. But I don’t think there’s really anything wrong with challenging people to work / think a little harder.

 

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Night Crawler
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316 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Mista M - It didn't seem to me like he was glorifying Harleys or hating on Japanese bikes. Giving "paint shakers" a "begrudging respect" doesn't sound like glorification. More over, his mention of harleys was relatively short and I assume he was using them as an example of one company that cannot be copied. ie, everyone knows what a Harley is, like them or hate them.
He criticizes the Japanese for copying other brands, but exalts them for their brilliance in relation to performance sports bikes, and ability to create something 'distinct' from scratch.
I agree that the masses are the bread and butter for motorcycle companies. It's naive to think companies don't have to react to demand, but surely that doesn't have to mean copying something?
The author also mentions several times the cultural importance of backyard builders and the lack of attention and praise many of them receive.
As I mentioned earlier, I've got a lot to learn on this topic. Maybe this article was interesting to me because his theories were new to me, but others have heard them before.

Sebwiers - I've just found and subscribed to your build thread. Cheers! I'm a bit confused though, is the guy in the photo someone who builds bikes?

Cookie2000ad - I think I pretty much agree with everything you say. I'm not angry about CX500's, and I'd be happy as larry if my mate was building one. To me the article was about challenging people, not hating on people that are riding a wave.
 

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lb/hp is what it's about!
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10,448 Posts
It sounds to me that the author is just frustrated with the custom bike scene. Honestly I feel the same way.

I don't hate Harleys I just strongly dislike them and you will probably never see me on one unless it is inherited, gifted, won, or somehow a loaner bike. This is because they are all the same to me and I hate that about Harley. I hate that they just keep pumping out essentially the same bikes year after year. However, I also give them props for being able to run the business successfully while making the same thing year after year decade after decade. It's not a easy thing to do.

I also don't hate cafe racers. I enjoy them. I enjoy riding them, looking at them, and building them. I don't even have a problem with everyone building cafe bikes with pretty much the exact same look (probably because many buy the exact same premade parts). What drives me absolutely crazy is that many of these cookie cutter bikes are all over places like pipeburn, bikexif, and many other blogs. I read the email updates from these websites when a new bikes is posted and I cant help but think everytime that I just saw that same seat and tail 2 weeks ago, or that same paint combo 3 weeks ago, or the exact same bars, grips, headlight combo on another bike a month ago. It's all the same shit! Give me the crazy builds. Give me something that you can immediately tell someone had to sit down and put a lot of thought into a part. I'm not talking sitting in a chair staring at the bike for 2 hours trying to decide what color paint and the pinstripe layout. I'm talking about sitting there scratching your head trying to figure out how to piece together a front end from 5 different brands, or making a swingarm or frame from nothing. That's the kind of stuff that makes me actually care and do more then just scroll through the pictures.
 

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Remi's Dad
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17,593 Posts
It sounds to me that the author is just frustrated with the custom bike scene. Honestly I feel the same way.

I don't hate Harleys I just strongly dislike them and you will probably never see me on one unless it is inherited, gifted, won, or somehow a loaner bike. This is because they are all the same to me and I hate that about Harley. I hate that they just keep pumping out essentially the same bikes year after year. However, I also give them props for being able to run the business successfully while making the same thing year after year decade after decade. It's not a easy thing to do.

I also don't hate cafe racers. I enjoy them. I enjoy riding them, looking at them, and building them. I don't even have a problem with everyone building cafe bikes with pretty much the exact same look (probably because many buy the exact same premade parts). What drives me absolutely crazy is that many of these cookie cutter bikes are all over places like pipeburn, bikexif, and many other blogs. I read the email updates from these websites when a new bikes is posted and I cant help but think everytime that I just saw that same seat and tail 2 weeks ago, or that same paint combo 3 weeks ago, or the exact same bars, grips, headlight combo on another bike a month ago. It's all the same shit! Give me the crazy builds. Give me something that you can immediately tell someone had to sit down and put a lot of thought into a part. I'm not talking sitting in a chair staring at the bike for 2 hours trying to decide what color paint and the pinstripe layout. I'm talking about sitting there scratching your head trying to figure out how to piece together a front end from 5 different brands, or making a swingarm or frame from nothing. That's the kind of stuff that makes me actually care and do more then just scroll through the pictures.

that's what i got from the article. "custom" is an indefinite word anymore (it seems)

Custom used to mean. This part was made 1 of a kind. Not to be manufactured and distributed in mass quantities. "custom" wheels, "custom" cafe seat, "custom" swingarm, ect...

I build almost everything i put on my bikes (as do many builders here), but i am constantly badgered with ignorant diatribe, "why don't you just buy [insert the bike i'm using for inspiration] and be done with it?", "You are killing the re-sale value.", or "That was a perfectly good bike before."

Since the beginning of motorcycles there have always been those who build, those who buy, and those who buy a built bike. (i don't have an issue with ANY rider who falls into one of these 3 groups)

However i have an issue, like rg, that recognition lands on those who peruse dimecitycycles.com, oldbikebarn.com, and denniskirk.com and slap together a mindless, uncreative, flacid, fad-bike time after time.


This forum IMO, at times, has fallen into a rut with "streetfighters". The same bikes over and over again. No creativity and no heart and soul into a true masterpiece.

I understand not everyone has the tools, finances, and or skills; but i'll applaud anyone who has a clear vision and makes it happen... not asking for permission or forgiveness along the way.

...in summary i'm bored with complacency and ready for some authenticity again.
 

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lɐʇuǝɯᴉɹǝdx&#4
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3,518 Posts
is the guy in the photo someone who builds bikes?
Yes, or at least he used to. I had to chuckle when I read "you’ve likely heard about Wrenchmonkees or Classified Moto but don’t know who Tony Foale is." That right there next to my beat ass truck, is who Tony Foale is.

Tony had no involvement in my build, other than to write some great software I bought and used, and act as general inspiration. Sometime last year, he just happened to be in town for an evening and posted (to a mailing list I'm on) that he wanted hang out with any local(s) who were interested, was looking for a good place for dinner. I took him up on it. His comments on what little he saw of my build were along the lines of "well, it might work, might not, but at least your trying instead of just talking".

Nice guy, wicked smart, very approachable. I suspect he's about as famous as he cares to be.
 

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Hack in a barn
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4,409 Posts
Author must be an engineer...

There are two people in this world. Engineers, and people who aren't engineers...
 

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watches you sleep.
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9,116 Posts
When it comes to bike companies supposedly being unoriginal, I think its a pretty easy explanation and one that works for car manufacturers as well. People in general can't handle drastic change. The human condition is to be like sheep and agree with the consensus of what is and isn't pleasing to the eye and to mind. Humans as a whole are intolerant to radical thought and usually just shit on what they're not used to or don't understand. Kinda like the way a lot of people shit on streetfighter. They don't even give themselves a chance to like or appreciate them because its different and they're afraid they won't be accepted unless they accept what everyone else does.

So bikes look like other bikes and cars look like other cars. The changes are very settle and happen over long stretches of time because its palletable and can be accepted in small doses. Every now and again we see something strange and new and its either accepted or people shit all over it. Even the people that "stand out" and voice their opinion against the status qoe feels safe to do so because theyre still safe in a large group of people doing the same thing.
 
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