#302 Ten Years After

Check the cover. Like the new look?
Here’s the story on that.

Ten Years After

It was the December 2003 issue that first featured the now-familiar Canadian Biker logo seen on news stands across the country. Our cover this issue features a redesign of that iconic logo, prominently spanning the 2014 Valkyrie, ridden by yours truly.
I can’t help but feel a little nostalgic about changing an element of our magazine that has served so well. Unlike harvest gold or green appliances, the logo has stood the test of time—it graced our covers for more than a decade, though it subtly evolved for a few years until we got it right. It even changed colours on occasion (find the rare yellow one!) until we settled on the red almost exclusively. We thought at the time that it was a drastic change from the logo that came before it. But that was 10 years ago and although some motorcycle models can remain unchanged for years, we felt it was time for a re-fresh.
The new cover graphic may seem quite dramatic to you when the magazine arrives in your mail. At first glance you may wonder what this new publication might be. Some of you will like it, while others may not. We hope that it is a little easier on the eyes—literally and figuratively. Ten years from now, I hope it too has passed the test on time.
After reviewing the 100 plus issues we’ve produced in the past decade, 10 years seems like a long time ago. But when I look at the bikes in that 2003 issue it doesn’t. It seems that a decade is not all that long in motorcycle years. The bikes in the December 2003 issue are as interesting and enjoyable to ride today as they were then. Then again, why wouldn’t they be? The only technologies with astonishingly short shelf lives are those of smart phones, computers and social media.
It does make you think, though. If electric motorcycles do eventually become commonplace will they need to be completely retooled every couple of years because computer technology evolves much faster than internal combustion technology? Or will owners simply be able to plug their silent bikes into USB ports to download an upgrade or buy a performance app on iTunes for $1.99? Service with those little smiley faces from 3,000 km away. But charging rates and battery capacity will need to greatly improve before most riders can choose between gas and electric as casually as they choose between blue or red paint.
That being said, Zero Motorcycles has come a long way since 2003, spurring some to argue that the internal combustion engine has had its day. Not so fast. They haven’t ridden the new Honda Valkyrie, which is powered by an engine that was well established in 2003 when we made that last logo change. And they haven’t ridden it in LA traffic.
There have been arguments in this magazine, pro and con, for “lane sharing.” In my story this issue about the new Valkyrie (“The Perfect Wing Span,” page 16) you will read about my experiences with lane splitting in California, where it is legal. My time on the SoCal freeways left a strong impression on me. Is lane splitting something I would want to see on Canadian roads by the time we make another logo change, say 10 years from now? I’m not sure. It isn’t the motorcyclist I would worry about because most of us are good judges of space, relative risk and safety.
What’s unsettling is the notion of placing my fate in the hands of other drivers when there are literally only inches to spare and knowing full well that many are talking on their cells or texting, and may not react predictably. If I had to be constantly stuck in the endless LA traffic, would I still want to split lanes? Definitely. And 10 years from now the situation there will be even more stressful. Perhaps by then those computer-guided, self-driving, cars we’re hearing about will make the process a little less harrowing—as long as they have the right app.