I have often heard motorcyclists say things like this about classic motorcycles – “..this bike has a lot of soul.” or “..there is this special bond between me and the motorcycle when we are on the road.” As an owner of both a classic (1983) and a modern (2014) motorcycle, I too feel the same way about the classic motorcycle. The modern motorcycle is definitely faster, more stable and reliable than the classic but the experience of owning and riding the latter is definitely special.
1978 Norton Commando. Source: Wikimedia Commons, Author: Trident13
I have a theory to explain why people often use the words “bond” and “soul” when the try to describe their experiences. Classics are built on basic technology that delivers raw, free flowing power. To some extent the vibrations from the engine are continuously transferred to body, the minimalistic but robust suspension and frame make the rider feel the ground as the bike is feeling it, the growl from (air intake to) the carburettor and roar from exhaust is a constant communication from the engine as to how it’s doing and what it wants you to do next. Essentially, the bike is constantly talking to the rider and enabling the rider feel what it’s feeling. The rider is one with the bike and they experience their environment/surroundings as one magical entity. Modern bikes definitely offer a thrilling ride with better speed and control, but in most cases isolate the rider and the bike or cut off the bond with all the high tech control systems.
The classics are not without problems. There are times when one has to go through the frustrating process of getting the points to sync or tune the carburettor to the driving environment. There are tired old parts that give away all of a sudden are not always easy to get. There are times when one has to settle for an alternate part in place of an OE, and then put up with the her grumpiness till the new part blends in. Then there is stalling in traffic jams and the days when she just wont start or listen to you for no good reason. These problems, however bring one closer to their bike and help better understand her inner workings and temperament. Like some one once said “It’s boring to be in a relationship with the perfect person, it’s the imperfections that make the relationships more interesting.”