YouTube creator Matt McFadden says it best when opening the Classic Rides channel’s Motorcycle Folk Tales series: “To me, motorcycling is, uh, I won’t say ‘freedom’ because it’s a bit of a cliche.”
When describing the sensations and emotions experienced while riding, most motorcyclists would include this specific cliché – and for good reason. On the road, there’s no greater freedom than cruising down a lonely highway with the wind at your back or tackling a series of particularly tricky bends. Off-road, there are no fun rules or potentially deadly motorists to get in the way of your freedom.
However, many misuse this tired term as a catch-all for every motorcycle experience. It is important to remember that one biker’s freedom can be another biker’s prison. For example, a traveler clocking up miles may revel in the sight of the open road but may tense up at the thought of a fire road. Likewise, a runner may gobble up the most breathtaking turns but balk at the thought of logging 1,000 miles in 24 hours.
These different definitions of “freedom” don’t make them any less true, however. It’s the rider’s unique interpretation of “freedom” that matters most. McFadden knows this and will embark on a series of mini-interviews bringing together countless characterizations of motorcycling.
For someone like Matt, freedom on a motorcycle means relaxed rides on twisty roads while capturing the experience with his camera. For someone like me, nailing a peak on a decreasing radius hairpin or braking a bigger bike on the trail fills me with feelings of empowerment, accomplishment and, yes, freedom.
McFadden’s idea of freedom and my idea of freedom may not be the same, but they are certainly equal. Hopefully, the Motorcycle Folk Tales series opens viewers up to a variety of disciplines and styles. Only this level of exposure helps all motorcyclists not only appreciate the preferences that set us apart, but also the shared emotions and sensations that unite us all.