FROM ROOTS TO FUTURE
where do we draw the line, I wonder, between heritage and nostalgia? Or between state-of-the-art and avant-garde? The whole idea of, “you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been,” is one that we grapple with regularly here at the magazine, constantly aware that Motorcyclist has deep roots as well as a present obligation in the motorcycling community, both of which deserve attention.
This type of struggle is represented perfectly in this issue’s Shift section, with photos from The Handbuilt Motorcycle Show. New bikes dressed to look old, vintage bikes built to be futuristic, form over function and function over form, mixed and shaken and poured into the same warehouse in downtown Austin, Texas. Pristine and polished aluminum. Dilapidated plastic. All in the name of… well, who knows? Paying homage to the past? Breaking new ground? Why not both?
In light of this year’s resurgence of Indian in flat-track competition, the initial heyday of Indian flat-track dominance is recounted on page 64. Context is key here—after all, there has to be an original surge in order to resurge. The lineage of RR superbikes from Honda that Mitch Boehm and I discuss on page 76 is arguably the opposite. Rather than two splashes of success separated by 65 years, Big Red’s RR sportbikes have had 25 years of steadfast evolution, each stage of which has been analyzed and documented in the pages of this magazine over the years. And so the past and present blend—as they do in Brody Cox’s exploration of vintage helmets, Julia Lapalme’s retro-leather jacket review, and Ari Henning ’s interview with an airbrush artist.
In the future, maybe the stunt rider from Joe Gresh’s last-page column will be a leader of the industry. Or maybe we’ll be scrambling across the skeletons of our cities like we did riding the two-wheel-drive KTM prototype on page 58. I say in each and every case we will be looking back from the future at the past, and what we have learned, with an eye to making things better while paying tribute to our legacy as motorcyclists. As it should be.
Two machines, frozen in a moment. Nothing shows progress quite like riding two bikes—designed 25 years apart—on the same day.