art1/ärt/noun

  1. the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. "the art of the Renaissance" synonyms: fine art, artwork, creative activity"he studied art"

By definition just about anything can be considered "art," but lumping motorcycles into the art category doesn't sit right with me. The idea of building motorcycles to put them in a show simply to be judged by other folks just seems ass backwards to me. For starters, I was under the assumption that motorcycles were about individuality and breaking away from social norms, not building something you hope someone else might like or bestow some bogus award on. The idea of building a machine to fit what some random group of people's concept of what a motorcycle should be is ridiculous. Which is basically what bike shows have become, builders building bikes they hope meet some standard of a group of people instead of just being stoked on what their personal vision is. I thought being a biker was about doing whatever you wanted, sticking it to the man and not caring what anyone else thinks?

And it's gone way beyond building a pretty show bike that you hoped would get a plastic trophy or Instagram likes. Bike building has devolved into building useless piles of metal that actually can't be ridden (the base idea of a motorcycle) and passing them off as "art." Look, I can appreciate the skill set, time and energy it takes to fabricate some of these machines, but if you can't ride it down the road it's not a motorcycle, it's a sculpture. The general premise of a motorcycle to me is a vehicle to adventure, and over the years motorcycles have taken me places to see and do things that would have been a totally different experience in any other vehicle. Being on a motorcycle strips things down to the basic essentials and exposes you to the elements which always make me feel more connected to the world around me. Over the years my motorcycle's form has always been dictated by its function. But I also have a pension for doing things with motorcycles that they weren't necessarily designed to do (see hooligan racing), and with that comes creativity. Building or modifying a motorcycle to fit my uses and personality is one of my great pleasures in life, but never in a million years would I dream of building or owning a bike that couldn't be ridden down the road. Where is adventure in that? I think bike shows and possibly TV shows are to blame for this wackiness. Why else would anyone ever put countless hours into a motorcycle project to make it look like a helicopter or a Jackson Pollack painting that you could do nothing with besides stare at it? I mean, if I were counting non-running motorcycle projects as art, consider my whole garage an art gallery.  

"Art" gallery.

Somewhere along the journey motorcycling has lost its way a bit. I feel like it started with bike shows, then leaked into TV programs, and now we have a full on epidemic in social media, an epidemic of needing someone else's approval which has taken the motorcycle culture from a bunch of hard-ass adventure-seeking types to a bunch of soft-ass approval-seeking losers scrolling for likes instead of riding their motorcycles. And you'd think that looking at motorcycles as art would at least inspire some creativity, but I think it's done the opposite. It's created a monkey see, monkey do scene driven in part by social media. If one bro builds a bitchen' Dyna with a slick lowrider paint job and gets thousands of likes, then here comes the wave of gold-plated Dynas and FXR's with $5,000 paint jobs owned by dude-too-afraid-to ride-them anywhere than a local bike night because they're terrified of getting them dirty or God forbid a scratch. Baggers aren't even functional anymore thanks to the big wheel craze. A bike that used to have the purpose of getting out and seeing the country has now been relegated to wheels that belong on a wagon, fenders and bags that can't go around a corner and stereo systems that came out of a 1990's mini truck. Chopper guys don't get a pass either, building unrideable POS that are 30' long with 17 different motor parts from nine different OEM's isn't a motorcycle, that shit don't run and you know it. It's a paper weight with 700 hours of fab and paint work.

My point is stop building bikes for likes, plastic trophies and brownie points from Insta-bros. If no one was ever going to see your bike how would you build it? If you had never seen that lowrider paint job or 30" wheel on another bike would you have wanted to put it on yours? All I'm saying is do it for yourself, stop building show-and-tell bikes and build something that truly moves YOUR soul. Beauty is in the eyes of the beer holder, now go ride your motorcycle.