A couple of things happened over a weekend away with some fellow bikers recently that made me ponder: Not about places to go, the best line to take a corner or the merits (or otherwise) of this bike or that. No, rather it was the technology we all saddle ourselves with these days. Let me explain:
Communication is Key
The first instance came when I walked into the sitting room of our (excellent) digs. Four of the crew were huddled around the coffee table, fiddling with their crash helmets. Some of them were even wearing them. As it was some time before the actual ride-out I was a little bemused so asked what on earth was going on. Turns out they were all trying to sync up their Bluetooth headsets to each other in readiness for the group chat on the ride-out.
Making sure all the helmet coms are linked prior to the ride out
The majority of the group now do this. They find it really useful for pothole warnings, overtake OK’s or even just pointing out something interesting. I get that and see where it would be useful, but it just isn’t for me. I don’t like music or sat nav directions piped into my helmet whilst riding via earplugs either. For me the isolation of being on a bike, away from all the ‘white-noise’ of day to day life is one one of the things I like.
Keep it Simple
Another moment came whilst I was chatting to a chap, I know who attends many track days, and has even done a few amateur endurance races. He can handle a bike. Over the years he had acquired some very serious machinery and support equipment.
I asked him how it was all going. His answer surprised me: He had junked the lot and gone back to basics. He didn’t want all the clutter in his head anymore. Fretting about corner speeds, lap or sector times. He just wanted the thrill of riding quickly.
Then start to consider all the other ‘tech’ we are all adding to allegedly enhance our hobby: Sat Navs, multifunction, full colour TFT screens with more on the various menu options than your local Chinese takeaway! Integrated luggage systems linked to a plipper key, tracking modules. The list goes on and on, and on…
More channels than Sky!
More Buttons than Cadburys!
Collectively you can now spend so much time making sure your coms are set up, your route way points dialled in, the engine mapping just so, your heated kit plugged in and your suspension in the correct mode for the conditions, that your mate on an ancient air-cooled 750 Kwak is already halfway to Wales with a big grin on their face!
So, have we begun to lose the essence of biking? The simplicity of it. Just you, the bike, your lid and your leather jacket. For my part, I have become of victim of this creeping complication. Maybe it is time to get back to basics and just feel the wind on our faces once more.
What do folks think?
Words and Pictures: Tony Donnelly