The generation gap

Immersing myself  deeper every day into the Harley-Davidson world, I start to recognize one more reason why I took the step to buy a Harley Davidson: my age.

There are few teenagers I see on a Harley, although I understand this client base is a important and urgent target group for Harley Davidson and some of its newer model variations, like the Sportser Forthy-Eight, not named after the riders age group, but for its peanut style tank that first appeared on a Harley in 1948. At least so goes the legend.

I asked my son if he wanted to be a named driver on the insurance for the Road King Classic, but he kindly but awkwardly declined. I felt he didn’t want to tell me too directly that he doesn’t want to be seen by his friends on such a antique heavy piece of metal. I am sure its not just the pedigree of a Harley-Davidson, but also its price tag, that defines its core users of this iconic brand.

son on a track day at Brands Hatch on a Honda CBR600RR

Lets accept one fact: most Harley drivers are of an age to have children, and like me have kids in a age where legal restrictions are not a issue anymore for them driving powerful motorcycles. I remember well 10 years ago when my wife and I had to formulate our attitude towards our only son’s desire to be using using such a dangerous mean of transport, a motorbike. I do not know how you approached it, but I could not oppose it, as I myself was driving everything with 2 wheels and a engine between them since the age of 14.

Leading by example of “not driving” was not a option.

Times change, and taking today’s standards as reference, I should be surprised I managed to survive my youth, that I didn’t end up in hospital, or worse, in prison. I made my full motorcycle license at the age of 15, with the limitation not to use it until I was 18, while passing my test to drive agricultural tractors (!) in Luxembourg.

my first engine powered experience in 1965

The world changed, for many bad reasons, but also for some good ones. Fact is, the population increased, the traffic increased and the speeds increased, while at the same time the margins of error decreased, but worst of all, we started to trust technologies like ABS, ESP or AVDS to get us out of the worst of troubles. Still, even without this digital help we survived, with missing seat belts and a legal alcohol limit triple today’s standard, we survived. My generation was not wiped out in some orgy of mass accidents claiming the life or maiming all us.

Yes, there may have been relatively more fatal accidents, more injuries, but if you take today’s road death and add to it the increasing number of suicides, this total of unnecessary deaths most likely increased. 40 years ago we died of our mistakes, today we kill ourselves out of boredom…

OK, maybe I am going a bit too far here, so back to the subject of this post, the generation gap, our children.

We decided to let our son drive everything that is legally allowed, as early as possible, and fund all proper trainings and security equipment. This approach worked for the last 10 years, never did the police call me out of bed at night, although I must admit I had some sleepless nights fearing just that.

One result of this active support and involvement was that it stopped him moving too deeply underground. What he did was not without increased risks, but it was known and – more importantly – discussed.

Most of us who are willing and enjoy driving a more dangerous means of transport must have some genes controlling the petrolhead inside us, protecting your actions, and if your child shows similar inclinations, Darwin might agree with me that he must have inherited some of these protective genes.

son at Golding Barn Raceway on a dirty bike making lots of noise

I think the biggest danger for today’s young man and women is moving up too quickly the engine power ladder. Proper experience of really small and slow bikes, like a 50cc scooter, limited to few miles per hours, is very important. If you trained and chaperoned your child through all these classes, when he actively drove his way up, the dangers of a “Haya-RR-Monster-ZZ” will not be completely new to them, and this new experience will be challenging their skills just one small step more.

This has not been a economical approach, as each driving licenses upgrade and insurance in most different jurisdictions like Japan, Germany and the UK cost its fair share of cash. But we achieved some peace of mind, today I can relax when my still youthful son defines new adventures, well knowing that although I lost my legal veto rights some years ago,  I did all to provide him with the highest possible training and understanding for whatever challenges a combustion engine between 2 wheels can throw at him.


2 Responses to “The generation gap”

  1. I’m extremely pleased to discover this page.

    I need to to thank you foor ones time due to this wonderful read!!
    I definitely savored every part of it and i also have you saved as a favorite to look at new tings
    in your web site.

  2. I understand the average age of a Harley owner is 48.

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