If you own a motorcycle long enough it will cross your mind….what if I just got on my bike and left it all behind? Most likely that idea was cut short by thoughts of what would I do with all my stuff, what about my dog, how would I get money? All good questions, but it all tethers you to a life that isn’t truly free. We live in the greatest country in the world whose fundamental ideals are founded on freedom. But 99% of us are not free to wander like we would believe. Most of us have commitments to family, pets, house payments and other day-to-day things that keep us constrained to a certain lifestyle. And I’m not saying that’s a bad life; all I’m saying is that we’re not 100% free.

Every once in a while you run across a person who is truly free. A number of years back I was introduced to Panhead Billy at a motorcycle event. I was lucky enough to bump into him a few more times over the years and then finally get to sit down and pick his brain this last summer. He’s an interesting cat to say the least. He’s been traveling on his trusty Panhead for over 35 years. All of his worldly belongings distilled down to basically what he packs on his bike. When you spend time with someone who is a professional wanderer, you quickly begin to see their value system is on a different track than yours. The things most of us think of as must haves or things we couldn’t live without are just not important to people like Billy. A hot rod cell phone, laptop or even more than the basic clothing options aren’t something he is remotely interested in. The same goes for his motorcycle. While most of us are trying to figure a way to put a USB charger on our bike or contemplating a custom paint job, Billy hasn’t had a speedo on his ride for 30+ years. The bike is part of him, an extension of his personality but at the same time a well thought out tool. Something like fuel injection or even an electronic ignition isn’t a selling point to him, it's a liability. His bike needs to be simple and utilitarian with form following function. He needs to be able to fix it on the side of the road if the need arises, and he doesn’t want to carry and excessive amount of parts or tools in order to do so. Weight and complexity is the enemy on a “motorcycle vagabonds” machine. The purest form of simplicity is the goal and I can't think of a more blissful motorcycle experience than pure and simple. But...are we ready to relinquish our cup holders and stereos to have such an experience?

From the outside a lot of folks see a homeless dude or a vagrant on a motorcycle. What they fail to see is freedom personified. Our society has constructed b-s signals that convey success and the ownership of things show that we have “made it”... the latest cell phone, egregiously overpriced shoes, huge houses and motorcycles with oversized shiny wheels. It’s a trap, its marketers doing an exceptional job of convincing us to buy things we don’t need, and to feel better about our purchases we created a hierarchy where consuming and owning things elevates us. Social media hasn’t helped either, folks create bogus personas propped up by materialism they can’t afford, then look down their nose on those that try to break free of the trap. Billy may look a bit like a motorcycle hobo but he escaped the system, he owes nobody nothing. He makes his choices based off a whole different set of rules than us. True and clear intentions, when he chooses to go somewhere, he isn’t taking into consideration vacation time, or who will watch his dog. He just decides if that’s something he wants to do, checks the weather and hits the road. Don’t get me wrong. I have an iPhone and 7 motorcycles; I’ve fallen in the trap. But I can see beauty of Billy's existence. I may not be ready to load up my bike and vaporize, but I have started to see the world at a simpler pace. When it’s all said and done, your Jordans and 55” TV aren’t going to miss you; you won't be remembered for your Instagram follower count. So next time, pass on your 10th pair of jeans with yarn on the pockets, go have an experience instead. Channel your inner Panhead Billy and get clear of the materialistic world for a few hours, days or weeks. Enjoy the bliss of a simple motorcycle ride.

We had the opportunity to sit down and pick the brain of legendary motorcycle traveler, Panhead Billy. And he shared his one-of-a-kind insight into living life on the road.