Friday, 6 August 2010
Lost in France
The family holiday this year returned to a rented old village home that belongs to friends of the family. Just the right air of gentle decay and French brownness to feel authentic, and we've stayed there many times before so we know the butchers, the bakers and give-it-stick makers - being on the road means plenty of passing bikes to admire.
Except not this time - we've not really stayed in France for a decade, and at first I wondered where all the bikes had gone. Even on Bastille day, where the roads are rammed and the car park's a queue, just a handful of Japanese middleweights appeared piloted by the usual grey haired suspects. Sure, there's the pre-licence kids on fabulously tricked up `peds, but just like the UK the teenagers are in hatchbacks with whale tails and drainpipe exhausts. The end of an era, and I fear the end of motorcycling as we know it.
Having studied the Brit bike industry at college way back when (a business so badly managed it was used to teach us how not to do it) I can't help thinking, "here we go again." Manufacturers are flogging the big and profitable stuff to middle-aged wannabes, and hoping someone else (the Chinese?) will grow the next decade's customers. But the reality is the Max Power generation want Saxos to play their iPods in, and see their idols in the pages of Hello! stepping out of chrome wheeled cruisers. Suddenly I realise I'm not interested in modern bikes because nobody else is. And that includes the people who make them.