If you have ever read Hells Angels, the seminal work by the late, celebrated and oft-outrageous American author Hunter S. Thompson, then you will be familiar with the word ‘Gonzo’.
It was Thompson who popularised the style of journalism that is written without claims of objectivity, often including the writer as part of the story using a first-person narrative and drawing its power from a combination of social critique and self-satire. It involves an approach to accuracy that concerns the reporting of personal experiences and emotions, in contrast to traditional journalism, which leans towards a detached style and relies on facts or quotations that can be verified by third parties. I have been in journalism all my life, as a staffer on national newspapers and as a magazine editor. All of that involved a strict approach favoured by print media. Now it is time to strive for a more personal approach; the personality of a piece being as important as the event or actual subject of the piece with humour, exaggeration, sarcasm and, ahem, the occasional profanity. I don’t claim to be anything other than a passionate biker, so what you will get is a stream of consciousness writing technique mostly bereft of specs and stats, because invariably you will be aware of those from other reviews and vlogs.
I grew up in the late 60s, at a time when metal, grease, oil, leathers and attitude bucked tradition and sprouted a revolution in motorcycle masculinity, discarding ephemera for stretched tanks, clip-on handlebars and linear lines. It was a time of freedom of expression and elemental emotions, where the relationship between man and machine was visceral, borne out of intuition and a unique vision that was thoughtful, intuitive and insightful.
Many had thought the era of the café racer would be a mere fleeting, if magical moment in time; a trend that would flicker and die as that generation of bikers smartened up their act, wed and had families and became respectable in suits, holding down 9-5 jobs and saving up for a semi in suburbia. By the 1970s the post-war disaffected may have become mainstream, but the stereotypical leather-clad, anti-social iconoclasts had never buried their shared passion that called for mechanical acumen and social enterprise to the common good. They headed up the nouveau avant-garde, acting as conduits for yet further experimentation and aesthetic innovation. And the world sat up and took notice once again.
Today, the retro motorcycle market continues to boom, thanks to manufacturers having taken note and launched their own modern classics and neo-retro machines. But the market globally is not simply reliant on this segment. Think cruisers and sports bikes and street bikes and touring bikes and sport-touring bikes and adventure bikes and scooters and mopeds and you see that as bikers, we are spoilt for choice. Throw into the mix single-cylinder, inline-triple, flat-twin, flat-four, flat-six and V-twin engines, and the world becomes our oyster, ready for us to prize open a shell and reveal a pearl of a bike.
So, to this end, this blog exists to bring you reviews, news, touring ideas, kit, and travel-related vlogs. I hope to encapsulate the world of motorcycling in an appealing way not just for existing riders, but those new to biking, those who are thinking of coming on board, and those who simply enjoy an armchair read.