What would it be like to just get on your BMW motorbike one evening and the ride -never ends? A brief reflection on the -subject of freedom.
If you really think about it, someone once wrote a long time ago, motorcyclists have to ride forever. Incessantly rolling along, accelerating, laying into the curves, tearing through the asphalt mile after mile, right on into the sunset. One reason can be found in the physics involved. A motorcycle that is not moving lacks the stabilizing gyroscopic forces that would keep it from falling over. The second reason is thermal. Because the human body cools down considerably with increasing speed due to the airstream, the motorcyclist has to dress warmly. If he’s just standing around, he’ll overheat. The third reason is the freedom that motorcycling promises. You might assume that the degree of freedom increases with the duration of the ride. This is nonsense, of course. The freedom of motorcycling consists of the possibilities, or rather the absence of the impossible.
On the other hand, freedom arises from the reduction of the possible. You can’t take anything with you, you can’t optimize yourself, you can’t communicate with others, you don’t have to prove anything to anyone, not even to your own ego. The motorcycle, consisting only of wheels, frame and engine, minimizes the rider to himself and the riding to being and doing. That whole confusing mass of distractions and options that our brave new world can offer us simply does not exist. What’s left is the landscape and the wind, the distance you travel, and the destination you eventually reach. If there is a destination. Because, strictly speaking, the point of riding a motorcycle is not to get anywhere. It lies in leaving the familiar, in riding off.
Certainly, there is something archaic in movement, in the negation of stagnation, in the hunt for new perspectives that arise during the ride. On the other hand, you’re always riding a bit ahead of the past, pushing this fantastic motor-cycle over the asphalt, admiring and mastering its technology and its speed. Riding a motorcycle offers a very rare -opportunity to feel sublime. Not necessarily because you’re enthroned above the action on the road, although that does play a role too. More significant is the fact that you are in command of the machine. A motorcycle never gives its rider the feeling of being at its mercy. On the contrary, it demands maximum circumspection and responsibility. Strange as it may sound, one of the greatest advantages of the motorcycle is the relative unlikelihood of an autonomous future.
Not to mention that riding a motorcycle broadens your horizons. From childhood, our view of the world is squeezed into squares and rectangles. In our homes and in our cars, we observe the world through framed windows, watch square TVs, flip through rectangular books, and look at pictures limited by frames hanging on the wall. The invention of tablets, computers and smartphones hasn’t made things any better: “screen time” is the word for our narrowed view of life.
On a motorcycle, there is no framed view, the view is free and unlimited, upward the sky curves, in the distance the horizon puts a maximum end to the panorama. And even the horizon can be outwitted if you just keep on going. Maybe the idea of a never-ending ride wasn’t so bad after all.
rampstyle #28: Into the Great Wide Open
An exclusive fashion editorial with Tim Bendzko. Unseen pictures by photographer Anouk Masson Krantz. A conversation with star director Guy Ritchie and a somewhat different interview with musician Dan Auerbach. All this and much more awaits you in this issue of rampstyle. Find out more
Report by Wiebke Brauer for ramp
Photos by Victor Jon Goico