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The Twilight of the Bikes? Ride Yours While You Still Can.

Again and again, with an almost predictable frequency, the industrial world keeps on hearing about a new deadline for the last drop of oil which will be extracted from underneath the planetary soil. This time it is British Petroleum’s (BP’s) turn to announce that, considering the actual status quo of the petrol-related industries and economic conditions, we’ve got around half a century of oil left.
While a debate on the accuracy of such claims could be taken into account, I am not an economist, so it would only be pointless to start fighting over who’s right and who’s wrong. Suffice it to say that oil WILL run out one day if we don’t change something in our behavior.

After discussing this matter with a lot of guys and considering a lot of positions and supposition in this affair, we all sort of agreed that the world as we know it would change, and with it, the motorcycle universe. Some said that it felt that the history of motorcycling was a bit too short to change in such a brief period of time, and with the first part, we all agreed.

However, we could not help observing that the civilization has been developing at an exponentially increasing speed, and this accelerated movement makes everything a lot different from what – say – our grandfathers were used to. Around 3 decades have passed since the Internet was slowly making any progress at all into mere existence, and today motorcycles have well-integrated online features, such as navigation, communication, safety and more.

Still, pretty much everything relies on the power the bikes so far get from burning fossil fuel. From the massive thrust power cruisers amaze us with down to the legendary rumble of a historic Harley, everything comes from gas. And when gas will be gone, so will these, too.

The perspective is gloomy, seriously. Even if someone came to me tonight and offered me an electric version of my enduro-touring machine, with the same range, gearbox and the possibility to fuel up as fast anywhere, just the way I enjoy now, things would be awkward. And they would FEEL possibly more awkward.

Myself, I am not ready to give up the grunt of the liter-class v-twin and replace it with the buzz of an electric bike. To be honest, I hope I even won’t be forced to, even though I have been fancying an electric motorcycle for some time now. I am not willing to abandon the smell of gas and the loud thunder of my bike’s titanium Akrapovic exhausts and try to fool myself into believing that the silent idling of an e-bike is better.

I won’t blame those who feel the same about their cars, even though their V8s guzzle like hell. It would be rather immoral to say that they should give up their beasts while I keep mine. Sadly, it looks like sooner or later we’ll all have to give up petrol-powered machines and try to make do with the electric ones.

Or maybe someone will finally develop a nuclear reactor small enough to fit inside a bike. Or a ring, like the ones in Asimov’s books. Or maybe a ZPM module like the ones in the “Stargate” TV series. Or anything else. Whatever it may be, two things are almost 100% certain.

For starters, both the new technology for obtaining energy and the very vehicles will be cleaner and hopefully more environmentally friendly. Even though looking at the way the Chinese economy uses fossil fuels makes the previous assertion a rather doubtful one, I trust that humanity is finally getting smart enough to understand we’ve raped the planet more than enough, so to say. With pollution and the price of resources becoming higher each year, it doesn't take a scientist to figure out that things cannot go this way for too much longer, at least not if we want to avoid turning the planet into a barren, post-apocalyptic dead field.

Then second thing I strongly believe about the future is that no matter how advanced the new transportation will be, it will never-ever get us anywhere close to the exhilarating sensations we used to get (and still get) from riding our bikes around the world.

Whether we’re thinking about a lap around the local circuit aboard a race-specced R1, the tired smile on your face after finally making it to the top of the hill with your small, 2-stroke KTM, or the joy of riding a ’50s bike down winding countryside roads, you’d better enjoy them as much as you can while they last, because one day, they will only be reserved to a handful of guys rich enough to pay a crazy price on gas.

To us, the guys old enough to have been raised in the “old-school” bike world, such a future is as dismal as it is impossible to conceive. Our nephews, however, whose first bikes will most likely be electric, will grow up without knowing too much about what our machines are all about, and only few of them will truly miss that.

Our generation, probably together with our sons and daughters, is already are a nostalgic one. Our great-grandfathers were the ones to see the petrol-powered bikes being born, and we might just be the ones to see them buried. Even though my lines may seem a bit whining and full of dismay, they’re just a reflection of a future which may soon become reality. So, head out and ride the hell out of your motorcycles, it looks like their twilight has begun.

 
 
 
 
 

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