Lieback’s Lounge Motorcycle Commentary

Lieback's Lounge | Ron Lieback Motorcycle ColumnI can still see the box of 8-tracks my dad had stuffed away in the humid attic; he was holding onto them for some sentimental value. The cardboard, wilting from years of shuffles from this corner to the next, contained albums you’d expect from a man who enjoyed AMF Harleys and the always-broken-down Mustangs and GTOs of the late-1960s/early-’70s.

A few quickly enter the mind—Deep Purple’s Machine Head, The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Smash Hits, Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies, and Led Zeppelin II— the latter the only pink 8-track among the others.

These relics introduced me to music, and things naturally progressed from cassettes to CDs to everything digital.

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Hell, at 36, I rely on Spotify for all that old music now, but it will never have that same pizzazz as actually inserting something plastic into some type of player, or reading the amazing inserts of CDs. When was the last time you remembered a name of a song from a digital music platform?

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That’s history I can’t deny, and it turned me not only on to music, but the music my father listened to while in his prime stage of motorcycling. Thus began the obsession, at a young eight years old, of the tastiest M&M’s ever—music and motorcycles.

M&M’s have played a consistent role since I can remember. After practicing guitar on a used Mexican Strat during the evenings of my early teen years—a guitar I still own and re-fretted three times since—I’d sit by the window that overlooked Main Street in my then hometown of Avoca, Pa., its edge worn from elbow abuse while waiting to hear motorcycles throttle by.

My townspeople, and everyone in my family, were mostly American V-twin cruiser types. They and my father had influenced me, but my favorites were far from Harley-Davidsons and classic rock.

By mid-teens, my music taste went viral, and I was stricken with a love of blues, heavy metal, jazz, and of course, being a teen of the ’90s, grunge. As I grew into more of, um, the proverbial man, my love for music became more and more fragmented. Except for newer country and heavy pop sellouts like Justin Bieber, who soullessly rode a Ducati 848, my ears spread themselves open wide.

Before my midnight writing session for this column, I awoke to the Grateful Dead, and then switched to 311, the Muse, and Chopin. Next, the mind went off to Hendrix, Breaking Benjamin, Clapton, and then off to my newest taste, due to a good Irish friend in Cali, Cold War Kids. As I type, John Coltrane is playing; things will change as drastically tomorrow, the next day, and until I can no longer hear.

It’s the same thing with motorcycles—personal tastes went viral, and the non-dad sportbikes and adventure bikes engulfed my heart. The only common factor between these bikes split between the garage and basement—“Sorry dear, we will get to that family room”—is a V configuration, though there is not one with an American soul (not now, anyway). These bikes have taken me well over 100,000 miles across the beautiful landscapes in America, from tracks to backroads: Ducati Multistrada 1200 (39k miles), Suzuki V-Strom 1000 (80k), Honda VFR800 (44k), Ducati Superbike 1198 (7k) and 748 (23k), and a Honda RC51 en route to (slowly) becoming a Joey Dunlop replica.

This is the way my brain registers reality and, though I may have some multiple-personality issues in regards to bikes and music, I’m always smiling. I can directly blame this on the many sweet M&Ms in my life.