Machines should be modified to fit our lives better. . .
I am feeling more than a little annoyed after having ridden the Motomiu motorcycle. Because it is better than stock. But I think I need, as usual, to back this truck up a bit. All of us have different approaches to custom motorcycles.
I know many who believe cold, hard, bone, stock is best. This is not a bad place to start. Manufacturers spend a lot of time testing and validating their design and engineering solutions so keeping it stock makes sense.
I'm not one of these people. Manufacturers do all that testing and validation for more than just to ensure reliability and usefulness. They also do all that work to ensure that the product appeals to the widest possible swath of the target audience. Which means that by intention, each motorcycle or scooter you buy isn't made for you. It's made for as many people as possible who are roughly like you - from their socio-economic to your biological parameters. Yes, you are a type.
That brings me to the sort of customs I like. Mods that make the motorcycle become more specific to me. To the way my body works. To the way my brain wants the bike to work. To alter the manufacturer's intent, usually subtly, to focus the motorcycle more on the task you intend for it. For instance, I wanted Ferocitas to be more handy around corners, so I added the grip pads to the tank. I ride alone and like tail bags, so there are no pillion pegs at all and I've added bag hooks for my Kriegas mounted to the chassis. These are functional mods not because I'm opposed to the idea of cosmetic upgrades - hey, it's got white wheels - but because I cannot see it adding any purpose.
The Motomiu is the drastic custom. It takes a platform, usually humble, and uses a lot of effort, ingenuity and time to turn into something altogether different. So the Street 750, an underfinished, almost too understated Harley blossoms into a hard-edged cafe racer. But what annoys me is that how easily Motomiu have been able to better the stock bike.
And that set the mental cogs revolving and rotating. Suddenly, a whole bunch of ideas popped into my head about things manufacturers do to their stock products that make no sense at all.
Manufacturers who charge you for the basics, like numberplates, sidestands and all manner of proprietary cables should just stop this nonsense. The Honda Activa is exhibit A and every single German manufacturer who has a fancy music system as standard that requires a customers to shell out five figure sums for a cable to connect to it is exhibit B. Our bikes don't have lockable gas tank caps because, well, in the US/Europe no one needs them, exhibit C. Really? Is our love for automobiles so undermined by the numbers that we can't be gracious about two-bit items.
Next are manufacturers who use the flaws in their designs as a way to sell more accessories. "Sir, the stock bike doesn't fit you? That's not bad news at all. Allow me to draw your attention to these 85 handlebar variations, 24 foot peg assemblies and 18 seats. Your bike is in here somewhere and we just need to find it." Oh Puhleeze. Stock must work and mods must make it even better. What's to stop you from offering pegs and handlebars altogether and suggesting that they're optional accessories then? It is effectively what that sales pitch means. The pitch is only valid for the really exceptional cases. A person who's two feet six inches tall or six feet and two inches tall will both have ergonomic needs that fall far outside the norm.
I drove a handful of SUVs recently and it drew my attention to the cigarette lighter sockets. How quaint! These (stupid) electric sockets require us to purchase easy to lose USB-out chargers. Non-smokers will usually put these in on day one and never look at the stupid hole in the console again. And look at the impact of the socket. It determines where you're likely to mount your navigation device. Which is backwards, isn't it? Why aren't manufacturers offering recessed USB ports on each side of the instrument console so I can power these devices without having to clutter up the very interior they spent so many hours designing. Why not just move along and offer a standard 2- or 3-pin socket with a clearly defined max wattage and a trip-fuse to prevent overload. I will guarantee that everyone will have something to charge at some point and they'll thank you for it.
My pet peeve, of course, is manufacturers who do different stuff for the sake of it. Our engine kill switch is brown, exhibit A. Our dayflash switch only works if the headlight is off, exhibit B. We make one bike with normal indicators and all the others use a button on each side to operate the indicators with, exhibit C. We have fuel injection but we have a manual choke, exhibit D.
My point is simple. When people modify their machines to make them fit their lives and dreams better, it creates connection and emotion. Which is sunshine and puppies. A savvy marketing type can turn that into money in the future without a hint of deception too. But when people modify their machines because stock doesn't work in the first place. Or worse, is incomplete. You, Mr Manufacturer, have flipped over to the dark side. Where balance sheets and profit margins make design and engineering decisions not emotion and logic.
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