Community Commentary Lieback's Lounge: What’s Your Hierarchy of Motorcycle Love?

Lieback’s Lounge: What’s Your Hierarchy of Motorcycle Love?

Lieback’s Lounge: September 2018

A good friend scrolled through my Instagram and Facebook pics, noticing the various styles of motorcycles I ride.

The images include many of my personal bikes, such as my Ducatis—Multistrada, 1198, and Monster—along with the KTM 1190 Adventure R and my classic 1998 Honda VFR800.

The latter is a bike that took me all over the states without issue, but was migrated from sport tourer back to stock to keep as a collector (though I still beat it whenever I can).

Lieback's Lounge Honda VFR in Clarksdale Mississippi to discover the blues
Solo sport touring in 2012 aboard the VFR800. Spent a few days in Clarksdale, Mississippi, due to my love of blues.

The other images are from the various motorcycles I have tested, whether the latest from Harley-Davidson and Indian to Ducati and BMW.

He then asked what style I liked riding most. Sport? Track? Adventure? Touring? Cruiser?

Up until about two years ago, the decision was easy. Track riding and sportbikes dominated my passion, followed closely by ADV—ADV that included about 80 percent off-road riding, that is. Then came sport touring, followed by urban riding and cruisers.

For more than a decade that order was pre-arranged in my head, kind of like the morning routine of awakening, showering, coffee, etc. It was simply my riding mind’s routine.

But over the past two years, things have changed dramatically due to things such as my wife’s health, a growing toddler, and launching a business to name the majors.

When I began answering my friend in my standard choices, I quickly stopped.

Due to the past two years that proverbially “flew by,” I was forced to rethink and reorganize my thoughts about my hierarchy of motorcycle love.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d still love nothing more but to be on a race track every weekend. I’d also love to be racing at least once a month.

But life simply doesn’t allow that. I was never a selfish person, and always put others before me when it came to riding.

Back then, that meant others who didn’t want to make the three-hour journey to the closest track and would rather go sport riding, or the others who didn’t want a group ADV ride – so I took over.

Now my lack of selfishness is due to a three-year-old future MotoGP racer, a wife not traveling to the hospital every week, and growing and other businesses.

Lieback's Lounge Motorcycle Love BMW S 1000 RR
Testing the 2015 BMW S 1000 RR on COTA’s back straight.

Sure – there are many days when I simply want to take off for whatever track day or race weekend is available, or just to ride the best country roads possible in full leathers at WOT. Other days I just want to hit the Transcontinental Trail on the 1190 R, and spend a month without comforts like a shower or bed.

Other times I want to take the Multistrada and cross the country in 14-hour clips, riding well into the early morning hours. The latter is a totally unsafe practice for some, but pure fun for me. Nothing beats riding highways after midnight at triple-digit speeds when traffic is less, and madness is greater.

My friend’s question forced me to think about my standard reply. I realized I set out over a decade ago to have the best bike to satisfy the needs of each style of riding.

Ideally, I needed motorcycles that helped me put in less effort for better results, whether that meant shaving a second off a lap time, transitioning faster through slick trails on an ADV packed for a week, or on-highway comfort while riding an 800-mile day in the rain as I try to connect the dots of rain across my face shield.

This forced rethinking also reconfirmed another constant that has topped my motorcycle lifestyle since I started riding—I’m a complete junky for controlled speed.

There’s a huge difference between controlled speed and what I call stupid speed. The latter is those idiots you see doing 180+ mph on the Interstate without a turn in sight, weaving through cars like he’s some fictional character. Controlled speed is the type that’s fast, smooth, and safe, everywhere from the track to the country roads to the trails to the highways.

Testing the 2018 Indian Scout Bobber in Minneapolis.

With these new thoughts in mind, I realized my hierarchy has changed drastically. Actually, I don’t think a hierarchy exists anymore, and I’m equally passionate about riding any style. And that is how I responded to my friend.

The only thing that hasn’t changed is my addiction to speed. Some call it a disease and unsafe, but when controlled, nothing in life can replace it.

Ron Lieback
Ron Lieback
One of the few moto journalists based on the East Coast, Ron Lieback joined the motorcycle industry as a freelancer in 2007, and is currently Online Editor at Ultimate Motorcycling.

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