“Big bikes, Ferraris, and .44 magnum revolvers are something beyond fun; they are man-made machines so powerful and efficient in their own realms that they challenge a man’s ability to control them, to push them to the limits of their design and possibilities… That’s where it’s at, man. That’s where it lives…”
– Hunter S. Thompson, “Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs”
Most motorcycle “ride” reviews focus on things like comfort, agility, safety, reliability, and the so-called “fun” factor. And the 2018 Softail Street Bob certainly delivers on most of those fronts. Having now put over a thousand miles on this bike, we can safely say that a grand tourer or sport machine this thing ain’t. Don’t sit in the saddle for more than 4 hours; don’t try to take this up the highway at more than 70 mph. You will get battered and beaten by the wind, and your ass will be hard as concrete by the time you get to New Hope. But we also think that is kinda the point.
It is always tempting to say things like this bike could use highway pegs or a windshield but that misses the point of a bike like this: it is constructed not out of practical motivations, but for those romantic types who dismiss reason and common-sense, and find themselves wandering the experiential wasteland in search of something more. We don’t need air-cooling, luggage options, barca-lounger seats, or comfortable handlebars; where we’re going, those things are unimportant. This bike is about two wheels, a motor, a seat, and two sticks to guide her by. A sailboat that skims the cratered asphalt of our roads.
It’s tempting to be dismissive of these sorts of beliefs; some might call it a “mid life crisis” even. As if Man’s search for meaning was some sort of meaningless exercise itself, deserving only of pity or scorn. This, in an age where men spend countless hours glued to computer screens, generating disposable emails and spreadsheets that will never see permanence in anything outside the ether. As some sort of scourge of the middle class, who’s only truly meaningful acts of the day will be to sweep the leaves from the patio, or fix a leaky toilet.
If we’re very lucky, our reward is a cheap Mexican beer, a $7 cigar, and just enough money to pay the bills and keep the infinite sleep at bay for one more day. For some, this is enough of a victory (and good for you); for those of us already at the precipice -the true “1%’ers” of this existential plane, there is an opportunity -to explore the boundaries and outer limits of our experiences, and to fall over the edge into the unknown.
Enjoy the journey as much as the destination, ignore the naysayers lost in their vicarious existences, and don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.
For those looking for this sort of thing, the 2018 Harley-Davidson FXBB “Street Bob” comes highly recommended…