motorcycles with "souls"

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by CID, Jul 27, 2009.

  1. bostonsr

    bostonsr Just weight

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    8,402
    Location:
    NYCff
    well, ya made assertions and i was wondering if ya wanted to color them in.

    i made a statement that wasn't intended to be factual...how do you measure the components of my equation?

    abe
    #61
  2. nskitts

    nskitts Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,295
    Location:
    Southern Ohio
    The components of my equation? I bet you are a blast at parties.
    #62
  3. crampfan

    crampfan Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,734
    Location:
    Clarksville Arkansas
    it makes me laugh when I hear soul and warranty in the same post.
    #63
  4. n8mandy

    n8mandy Revmeister

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2013
    Oddometer:
    772
    Location:
    Santa Cruz Mountains
    Bump due to conversation in what bike do you want today over in road warriors...

    And my HD Super Glide had it, despite the fact that I had been a hater for years.
    #64
  5. VX Rider

    VX Rider Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2015
    Oddometer:
    2,593
    Location:
    Amarillo
    I'm pretty sure my VX800 has soul
    #65
  6. curtis6870

    curtis6870 Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2014
    Oddometer:
    2,817
    Location:
    North GA
    Honda Interceptor
    Triumph Speed Triple
    #66
  7. YJake

    YJake PAR Nation

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2009
    Oddometer:
    3,519
    Location:
    West Panhandle, FL
    Motto Guzzi V7.

    -Jake
    #67
  8. VX Rider

    VX Rider Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2015
    Oddometer:
    2,593
    Location:
    Amarillo
    They are very sexy
    #68
  9. MiamiMotorcyclist

    MiamiMotorcyclist used to be -MiamiUly

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2007
    Oddometer:
    4,778
    Location:
    Miami, Fl.
    Followed from other thread. Haven’t read up yet.

    Ulysses. One I miss there most. Had it’s faults but it had soul.

    My NC700X may be soulless. It’s definitely the bike I’ve bonded with the least. I appreciate it for what it is and am liking it more since selling my 05 zx10r and riding to work regularly. But it has no soul reallly. An appliance.

    Fzr600 and cbr900rr are other favorites I’ve had.

    500 interceptor was a good one.

    Fzr1000
    Zx1100
    Wr250r

    All spoke to me in some way. Was hoping the NC would be somewhat of a Ulysses replacement (had the wr in between) but it fails there.
    #69
  10. Caesars_ghost

    Caesars_ghost Vertical twin

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2015
    Oddometer:
    657
    Location:
    Midwest
    It'll mean something different for everyone.

    But interestingly enough, most people seem to agree that if any bike has soul, or "a soul," it's probably one with an air cooled twin or single cylinder engine.

    I think soul is definitely correlated inversely with blandness. And I'm going to pick on the Wee-strom here, because it's a poster child for "boring and soulless" to some, and virtually everyone also agrees that it's an amazingly good, solid bike. Some people seek out a bland bike, or rather, something so appliance-like in its competence, that they can essentially forget all about the specific details of the bike and trust it to do its job of starting and providing transportation, day after day. But if you don't need to know much about the bike because it's so good and so reliable, then it won't be very memorable. And you won't think to yourself "I want to go ride my V-strom 650" but rather "I want to take a ride up to X this morning." And the only reason you might sell your bike is either because it's getting a little old and worn out, or because you see something new and shiny at the dealer or on a forum -not because the bike had any real faults. You weren't sick of the bad vibes at 67-72mph, or the points that always seemed to require adjustment every thousand miles.

    So a bike that's fairly competent, fairly good at everything, that doesn't have any glorious shining high points, outstanding virtues, if you will, or dark character flaws, stands a great risk of being unmemorable, therefore bland, therefore soulless. It does its job and doesn't get or expect thanks, exactly like your Corolla, your dishwasher, or your blender.

    On the other hand, if it's too memorable, then it's that damn POS/best bike ever made, Norton Commando/Harley Shovelhead/Ducati/'68 Triumph that required three hours of wrenching for every hour of riding, pissed out gallons of oil and would ruin your clothes on a daily basis, sadistically made you walk 10 miles in the rain and then tried to burn down your garage.... Lots of virtues: great sound, glorious looks, chick magnet extraordinaire, amazing powerband and feels great on your favorite road at a good speed, but also lots of vices: tried to kill you when the final drive welded itself together at 70mph, aforementioned oil puking, kept you poor because new crankshafts and conrods every six months aren't cheap, what have you.

    Those bikes have character, or soul. Possibly too much of it.

    It seems rare to find a bike that has enough memorable character to it, in the form of raw mechanical visceralness, that it makes you take note of, and conform to it, rather than it seamlessly conforming to you, but yet is also well designed and well made enough that you don't have a laundry list of complaints that soon have you shopping for a new ride. It's part of what we're all searching for.

    There's also the question of how "alive" a machine feels, that plays a part. Nobody romanticizes an electric motor. They're too smooth, too high RPM. They either work or they don't and if your electric can opener or fan stops working you toss it and buy a new one. A no-maintenance consumable appliance. A modern liquid cooled bike with stock pipes is not quite the same, but approaches this: it's pretty quiet, all the mechanical noises are well muffled by insulation and water jackets, and a big airbox with lots of filtration. Multi-cylinders mean smooth power and high revs, so the bike doesn't exactly feel alive, it doesn't feel dead, but it doesn't feel alive like a mammal might, the vibration frequencies are all so high, it's sometimes beyond our ability to register consciously or process subconsciously.

    On the other hand, a single or twin, especially an air cooled one, with a carburetor, has enough "shake rattle and roll" at normal human frequencies we can easily sense, to feel "alive." Sometimes a primitive gasoline engine is balky, it has to be persuaded to run with curses or pleas, or threatened with a hammer. Or kicked 20 times. The beast shudders and shakes itself to life or wakefulness, whether by the kicker or the magic button, grumbles about being awoken before settling down (with a little coaxing from the choke or throttle perhaps) to a relatively steady idle, distinctly breathes through the carb intake and bellows through the exhaust, and then the relatively low-revving engine gives a pretty close approximation of a heartbeat, or the rhythm of a horse's hooves, as it propels us along, and lets us distinctly hear every firing stroke of the pistons.

    It's almost hard *not* to attribute soul or character to such a machine. Especially when it gives us an adrenaline rush, takes us down a beautiful road, or refuses to start easily when that pretty girl is looking.
    #70
  11. n8mandy

    n8mandy Revmeister

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2013
    Oddometer:
    772
    Location:
    Santa Cruz Mountains
    I went back and forth between a NC700 and a CB500X. I loved the idea of the "frunk" on the NC but ended up going with the CB500X due to the fact that people pointed out that it was more fun. I had a lot more riding it than the Bonneville that I traded for it, even then I don't think that I would have said that it had soul. Of course I had owned quite a few bikes before it and wouldn't have really thought of any of them as having soul. I guess if I was asked I would have said my '73 CB350 had it, but I didn't think of it in those terms at the time.

    Then, due to wanting more of a touring bike, I went away from my Colin Chapman mantra of "add lightness" and I bought a Harley Dyna...

    The Honda ended up sitting because the Harley made it feel like a sewing machine. I knew that I was quicker, faster* and smoother on the Honda, but it was the classic "I'd rather ride a slow bike fast than a fast(er) bike slow". I found myself pushing the limits more and more each time that I rode the Honda and still thought most of the time, I'd rather be on the HD.

    The HD just felt like so much more of a machine than the smooth bikes and unlike the CB500X, caused me to turn to look back at it after I had parked it.

    The Harley would call to me, even when I was doing something that I enjoy that has nothing to do with riding a motorcycle. No other bike after my first couple of years of riding would do that to me.

    Owning it made me realize that I never again wanted to own a bike that doesn't make me look back and that doesn't have enough "soul" to call to me when I am completely content doing something else.

    So the Moto Guzzi V9 that I bought recently has done a good job fulfilling that role. Now I just need to find a good bike that meets those criteria to mount a sidecar to...






    *So as to avoid someone mocking me for using quicker and faster, they are not synonyms. Quicker is rate of increase of speed, i.e. 0-60 and faster is top speed.
    #71
    ivantheterrible likes this.
  12. Aj Mick

    Aj Mick Long timer

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,046
    Location:
    Phuket, Thailand
    None......

    There are bikes I have enjoyed riding more than others, all have been primarily a means of transport.

    I have owned just seven motorcycles over more than five decades of active riding, keeping most until they are no longer cost effective to keep running and roadworthy. Then I scrap them, and that's that. Two were stolen.... annoying, but c'est la vie.

    My current ride is 21 years old and has done about 273,000 km. I have had it for 15 years. With regular maintenance, it will do me for a while longer...... Had a few adventures on it, but it is just a soulless metal and plastic machine. It is the folks I meet along the way who have soul.
    #72
    Matt-J2 likes this.
  13. Adrian V

    Adrian V Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,259
    Location:
    Albany Western Australia
    OGRI nailed it:
    ogri2.jpg
    #73
    Ginger Beard likes this.
  14. BetterLateThanNever

    BetterLateThanNever Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2014
    Oddometer:
    1,546
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Not to split hairs, but I think a machine can have soul, more so than have a soul. But I'm with @Caesars_ghost and @n8mandy. For me, it's an alchemy of being more interactive, demanding more from you; being more idiosyncratic; and giving you more sensory feedback. That formula is the reason, for instance, that I still pine for my Porsche more than for any of the BMWs I've owned. It wasn't a 'better' car, but it was more interesting one, and harder to master (not that I did).

    That's how I also feel about my Triumph (air cooled) Scrambler, and to a slightly lesser degree my Monster. Whereas I just can't warm up to the BMW. I feel about it the way you feel about a good socket set.
    #74
  15. retiredgentleman

    retiredgentleman Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2011
    Oddometer:
    206
    Location:
    Calgary Alberta Canada
    I think its well known that there is lots of soul with an XS650:-)
    #75
  16. C/1/509

    C/1/509 Why?

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2006
    Oddometer:
    11,563
    What ever makes you look back one more time after you park it.
    #76
  17. n8mandy

    n8mandy Revmeister

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2013
    Oddometer:
    772
    Location:
    Santa Cruz Mountains
    I am right with you on the Porsche thing. You gotta be careful, you they will bite you.
    #77
  18. C/1/509

    C/1/509 Why?

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2006
    Oddometer:
    11,563
    Trailing throttle oversteer maybe?
    #78
    BetterLateThanNever and n8mandy like this.
  19. DavidR8

    DavidR8 Wanna-be ADV rider

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2013
    Oddometer:
    152
    Location:
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    This might be heresy but my ST1300 feels more soulful than either my ‘06 Tiger or the ‘09 Bonnie I owned before that.

    I think that’s because both those bikes had a very physical riding experience. The Tiger had awful helmet turbulence and the Bonnie felt like I was getting blown around, bike and all.
    Meaning that I was always conscious of the bike.

    The ST however just powers through everything with quiet confidence letting me soak in the experience of low-level flying. Will she sing the twisties? You bet!
    #79
  20. Andyvh1959

    Andyvh1959 Cheesehead Klompen

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2012
    Oddometer:
    2,556
    Location:
    Da frozen tundra eh? 1.5 mile west of Lambeau
    To your list of questions,
    1. yes
    2. yes
    3. yes
    4. yes

    Its those factors and more. Some of the most quirky bikes seem to exude soul, character, while some perfect bikes seem soulless, bland. How else can you explain the lure of a Ural sidehack? Its underpowered and ancient/vintage feel has charm like a 50's Army Jeep.
    #80