In This Issue
the power and capability of motorcycles draws people in, scares them away, and captures the imagination of even the most seasoned riders. More than that, it embodies the pastime we love on a primal level. It was the thrill of horsepower that made me twist the grip and make engine noises on my bicycle as a kid.
For those reasons and more, the topic of performance seemed like a good one to focus on for this issue, a bookend for this year and an aspiration for the next. Of all the questions we’ve answered in engineering more speed into our machines—via turbocharging and aerodynamics and so on—there is one that never goes away. Why?
In some cases it’s simple. The story on page 60 of the heyday of amateur roadracing in America is a perfect example of why people strive for speed: go faster, travel farther, win more money. A meritocracy to the nth degree and a livelihood for many a racer. But, without money or fame, why reach for more speed?
Why dress in plates of armor and insulation, only to lean over at impossible angles on ice? That intangible something is always alive in motorcycling, and it affects us all differently. Look at the faces of the next generation of racers on page 19, for example, and you’ll see the determination and joy that can only come from a boiling ambition to go faster.
We might not have all been child racers, but we all have that desire to ride. The ritualistic racers of West Virginia on page 44 are a shining example—blue-collar enthusiasts with a strange passion for drag racing on dirt. Nothing to win except the respect of their buddies and a little less cash out of hand on Monday morning.
And that gets at the core of human nature: the want to explore and exceed what we have done before. The best and worst racers in the world, the grizzliest veterans, and the skinned-knee kid making two-stroke sounds in his driveway—we have the same nucleus, and the sense of community is inevitable. Why does performance matter? Because no matter how fast we go, how much we battle on a racetrack or in the depths of an engineering lab, motorcyclists can’t help but feel closer to each other for it.
Colleagues, friends, and, occasionally, bitter rivals. There was no trophy at the end of the race, and yet we both wanted to win. What drives us all to try so hard?