It was Ernest Hemingway’s pal Gertrude Stein, according to Wikipedia, who took her car to a Parisian shop to have some work done. Unimpressed by the repair, she complained to the shop owner, who then yelled at his young mechanic: “You are all a génération perdue!”— a lost generation. Those in their 20s and 30s today aren’t suffering from collective PTSD brought on by WWI, since many of them didn’t go to war, but they probably have played enough “Call of Duty” that they’ll think they did 40 years from now.
Apart from the rise of the video game and reddit.com, a forest of condos and strip malls that sprang up on the vacant lots where many of us learned to ride years ago didn’t help steer kids into motorcycling. And the ascension of the sealed-for-life Camry didn’t lead any new Bruce Springsteens to claim they’d found the secret to the universe in the engine of an old parked car. To pound the nail home, the economic meltdown of the past half-decade has been particularly tough on the young people and blue-collar dudes who once were the biggest buyers of motorcycles.
It didn’t help matters that most manufacturers were caught flat-footed by the Great Recession or that we magazine types were happy to be caught up in an upward spiral of faster, better, more expensive. Once again, we all learn that hard times bring out the good in most people and teach us to appreciate the small things. Small things displacing around 250 cubic centimeters, for instance, that take us to our happy place and leave enough change in our pockets for a hamburger and a Coke when we get there.
Here’s to the new wave of first motorcycles that old guys will be bending our monitors about 50 years from now. Heck, a few of them are good enough to ride off into the sunset even if you’ve been at it since the Hoover administration. Happy days are here again. Grab your ticket to ride.
Sportbike Shootout at the 4k Corral
Less is not more, but it’s much more than it used to be.
A small-arms race! What fun! (Not to be confused with a small arms race; behold the power of the hyphen!) The Kawasaki Ninja 250 had been the best-selling sportbike in the U.S. and pretty much ruled the 250cc sportbike class until the Honda CBR250R got here two seasons ago [...]
Dual-Sport Budget Bashers
Work or play, these quarter-liters are ready to roll. Which one’s for you?
Great explorers have one thing in common: an insatiable desire to see what is beyond their own familiar territory. In the motorcycling world, dual-sports give us the chance to explore well past where the pavement ends while being able to get to that trailhead legally and efficiently with [...]
Does small displacement mean big mpg? Let’s find out.
One of the primary appeals of owning a small-displacement motorcycle is the savings such machines typically offer at the gas pump. To determine optimal mpg figures and see how these bikes compare in the real world, we laid out a 60-mile test loop comprised [...]
The New Normal: Will Getting Back to Basics Save Motorcycling?
Small displacement, big sales?
The U.S. motorcycle market peaked in 2005-6, when high home values and easy credit conspired to help drive sales of 1.1 million new bikes. But following the banking crisis and economic meltdown of 2008, that number has fallen precipitously, to 450,000 total [...]
More Cheap Seats
Comparison Test: Kawasaki Ninja 250R vs. Honda CBR250R
Small but meaty: Can Honda’s new Single outrun America’s biggest-selling sportbike?
Like Warren Buffett says, nobody knows who’s swimming naked ’til the tide goes out. In much the same way, nobody knows who’s riding naked ’til the horsepower plug gets pulled. On the CW dyno, the Honda CBR250R makes [...]
10 Motorcycles Under 5K
Ten new rides you can buy for less than $5000.
While browsing the new-model listings in this Buyer’s Guide, some of you may experience a severe case of sticker shock. The symptoms could include uncontrolled outrage, repeated shouting of off-color expletives and a sudden need to reach back and make sure your wallet is secure. This is what often happens [...]