I shouldn’t be surprised how many ways there are to dismiss people and things with a word or a gesture. Humanity revels in differentiating one group from another. On a near insignificant level it happens with motorcycles and scooters. “That’s an entry level bike,” or “That’s a chick bike,” can be taken in a number of ways. At least the first phrase.
Entry level can refer to a machine that’s easy to handle for a beginning rider — light, nimble and manageable power. Or it can mean a first step in a series of machines leading to a logical end — an arbitrary assessment by the person applying the phrase. Usually it means a path to a larger, more powerful machine and assumes bigger is better. And then entry level can be applied as a dismissive term — only losers and cowards, the Casper Milktoasts of riders would even consider such a machine.
The more straightforward dismissal is to refer to a motorcycle as a chick bike — as if I real man would not be caught dead on such a device. I always wonder if women riders have some similar dismissive terms for various motorcycles and scooters. I know they have them for pick up trucks and the boys that drive them. Often it’s just a hand signal involving the thumb and index finger.
Scooters are all entry level machines from one perspective. And even among scooter riders there’s a hierarchy. The only chick scooters seem to be the pink ones.
When my friend Paul and I rode to breakfast last weekend I was in the odd position of having the “big” machine. The Vespa GTS 250 dwarfs the 1965 Vespa. But the real story — the vintage Vespa moved along just as fast as the new one on the roads we traveled.
The juxaposition of the vintage scooter with the modern Harley trike is like two ends of a scale with myriad scooters and motorcycles in between. I’ve been considering the purchase of various motorcycles and find myself thinking of a chick bike (BMW G650 GS) and an entry level motorcycle (Kawasaki KLR650). In our consumer culture of bigger equaling better it’s easy to understand the marketing and advertising to create these ideas and continue to drive more expensive purchases and hence larger profits.
I’m never in need of more power on my Vespa. For the riding I do it’s sufficient. It can function as an entry level scooter, chick scooter and advanced scooter. It all depends on what i want from the experience.
The same applies to the 650GS and the KLR — entry level because they’re relatively inexpensive and much bigger machines available.
What drives purchase decisions are varied — something as simple as money to as complex as a personality deficiency crying out for an something external to fill it. How you want to ride, where you want to ride and how much time you have factor into a decision. So does riding skill, physical ability and health, and what you like and don’t like. During this process is where “entry level” and “chick bike” can really have a profound negative effect, especially when those machines may absolutely be the best choice.
I’m thinking a lot about a chick bike lately. Being a scooter rider, that’s a step up.