Lately it seems to me that the deeper I get involved in the ADV community, the more division I see. Is it a sign of the times? Is everything in our society now binary with no room for the vast area between? Do all opinions have to be polarized one way or another? Let me explain.
When I was growing up waaay back in the 60's and 70's there weren't a lot of families, let alone kids, that had motorcycles. In the later years of grade school and into middle school there started to appear mini-bikes here and there in the garages and back yards of the fortunate few. Most of these were a rigid-frame small bike with lawn tractor tires and no suspension, powered by, typically, a Briggs & Stratton or Tecumseh engine. The standard of the day was typically about a 3.5 hp with chain drive (no transmission)... basically a lawn mower without a blade and put onto two wheels. They were pretty sketchy, but fun. If you had deeper pockets you could get up to a 5 hp with a torque converter or go all-out on a Honda mini-trail 50, SL70 or perhaps a Suzuki Trailhopper 50.
Soon everyone was getting in on the act with Rupp making the most motorcycle-like of the pull-start lawn mower engine bikes and soon Harley had it's own version with 2-cycle, Italian made 65 and 90cc offerings. The Harley was just a bit more in the full-size motorcycle direction with a 3-speed manual transmission. I bought a used Chibi for my first bike. It was manufactured by Rockford Motors of Japan and had a 60cc, 2-cycle, 3-speed manual transmission. I still remember my neighbor calling it a Cheapie because it wasn't a Honda or Suzuki. Never mind the fact that he never had any kind of mini-bike.
I guess the real point of all that rambling nostalgic talk of days gone by was this, it didn't matter what kind of bike you had, or even IF you had one, what mattered was the riding. The fun we all had spending an afternoon in the vacant acreage down by the soon-to-be Cresthaven Park. Sometimes our friend Steve would show up on the REAL motorcycle, the Kawasaki 100 and show us all how it was really done. No matter who showed up, or how well they could ride, we all had fun. That's how it was. That's how it should be.
Fast forward to the new millenium. Road rage, special interest groups, politicization, polarization and everybody is a victim or aggressor. In today's environment we need a activity like ADV. Something that can get us away from the noise, division and stress of the world. The more I watch, listen and read social media, however, I see the same thing creeping into the world of motorcycling and specifically off-pavement riding. On one side are the smaller dual-sport bike riders, on the other, the large adventure-touring bike riders. I don't care if you ride a small, nimble and light 250cc enduro or a large, heavy 1200 with all the latest technology. It takes a certain level of skill to ride either one well, they are just representative of different riding styles. Some like to be able to tear up the dirt roads and single track like they're in an enduro race. Others like to cover long distances and work their way through more technical sections at a crawl. It really doesn't matter which is for you, or if what you enjoy lies somewhere in between. It's still motorcycling. It's still an adventure. It still beats a day at the office. So, can we learn to appreciate the differences? Can we all just get along?
(and yeah, I do like Starbucks and craft beer... )