Passion doesn’t fade, it is an emotion that is barely controllable to some. I’ve interviewed a 47 year old, male biker who spent most of his time riding when he was younger but took a break once he started to build a family with his wife. He is a father of 4 and isn’t part of any organization or group, he just simply loves and enjoys riding every chance he gets. I started off by asking him simple questions such as what first got him interested in driving motorcycles and when he realized that this was something he wanted to do. His response to this was, “When I was around 7 years old, my best friend’s father bought a motorcycle and offered us rides around the block. I was always curious about motorcycles even before then, but after that first ride, I knew I wanted one.” Many can say that they were born or raised in it, that they had family members riding bikes which could have gotten them interested as well, but others can simply say that they were born with the desire to ride, that all it took was to see someone riding and immediately know that it was something they had to do some day. He mentioned his wife who had always said that she wanted to learn to ride a motorcycle some day but waited until she was much older before finally doing it. He informed me that she obtained her license just 1 year ago and how she regrets waiting so long to have done it. She now rides every chance she has whether it is going to work on it or simply doing a few errands. She rides a Ducati 696, 2009. I also asked him how long he had been riding as well as when he started. “24 years is how long I’ve been riding, I got my motorcycle license at the age of 22 but didn’t get my first bike for another year.”
I then proceeded by asking him what it was like to obtain his permit compared to today’s obligations and regulations. He informed me that at his age it was not very difficult. “Like today, you had to pass a theoretical exam to obtain your learners permit as well as practice with a motorcycle school for about 3 months, but once you finished, all you had to do was pass the riding test at the SAAQ which was done in a parking lot and if you passed, you got your full permit.” Today, in order to obtain a motorcycle license, you need a few theory classes as well as circuit and road classes, then you need to pass a circuit exam to then obtain a 10 months temporary license which allows you to ride on the roads but with someone who is in possession of a valid license. Finally, you take a practical exam which then allows you to have your full permit. This is a process that takes about 1 year if done correctly which is huge compared to when he wanted to have his license. This shows how things have changed and gotten much stricter.
Motorcycles usually are something very important to most bikers which is why I then asked him to tell me about the evolution of the multiple bikes he had previously owned. He told me that the first motorcycle he bought was a 1981 Kawasaki CSR650 back in 1992, which he kept only for the summer (4 months). In 1993, he then bought a somewhat newer 1988 Yamaha XJ600 with a friend of his which they kept for 2 years. In 1988 he bought a 1992 Kawasaki ZR1100 which he owned until 2005. In 2014 he traded a car for a 2003 Yamaha V-Star 1100, and now he owns a 2014 Ducati Monster 1200S which he bought last summer.
As much as you can be the best biker in the world as well as the safest, accidents do happen. I asked him if he had ever been in or maybe have witnessed one. He responded, “I’ve never had any collisions, but have skidded out on my bike. It was on my first bike. I had stopped at an intersection, I hit a patch of sand while in first gear. The back wheel of the bike slid out from under me and I landed on my butt. I was very lucky that I wasn’t going very fast and that I kept my wallet in my back pocket as I landed on it, it literally saved my ass. I quickly learned that accidents can happen at any speed and jeans offer zero protection when it comes to riding gear.”
I then asked him if being married and having children had affected riding and if so how. He explained, “It wasn’t initially an issue, but as the family got bigger, I had less and less free time. So after a while you realize that the cost of the bike, plate and insurance for the few days I could get to ride wasn’t money well spent.”
This is when I proceeded by asking him if he ever thought of stopping for good. He responded, “Never, I’m not crazy. And if you have to ask, you won’t understand”.
The next question I asked was what kind of bikes he preferred riding over the course of many years. He stated that he’s always been a fan of custom or what’s now known as naked style bikes. He doesn’t know how or why but he always loved the style of the old British café racers of the 60s. “There was something about the simplicity of them that just clicked for me.”
There are many organizations and groups of bikers all over the world, some more known then others. I asked him if he prefers riding alone, with another person or in a gang and to explain his experience with each of these. He responded, “I like all of them. Riding alone offers you the chance to clear your thoughts and just concentrate on your immediate senses. When I’ve had someone in back it’s usually family and being someone who likes to give hugs it just a great feeling to be close with someone like that. Today of course with my best friend (your mom) having her bike license it’s always great fun to ride with her. Keeps me from getting into too much trouble. I also like riding in a group, but nothing too big so 5 or 6, because with a bigger group riding becomes more complicated and if it’s with people you’re not familiar with it can even be dangerous.”
Lastly, I finished the interview by asking him how long he plans to continue riding and if he had any future plans or goals such as travelling in certain places on his motorcycle. His response was, “For a very long time. In the short term, I may take a few day trips into Vermont, New Hampshire or go towards the Lac-Mégantic or Parc Frontenac regions. Long term would be a bike trip in the South Western states or in France and Italy, ride the twisty roads of Corsica.”
In this interview I asked a biker about his personal experiences with riding bikes and how he managed to continue riding even after having taken a break. Most of his responses were very detailed which shows the interest he still has for riding motorcycles, how after all these years his passion for riding has not faded one bit.
A special thank you to Stefan Moran for his time and for sharing his story with me. I enjoyed speaking to you very much.
About Jessie Lambert
Isabelle Moran studied at Champlain College Lennoxville located in Quebec, Canada. Interview With A Biker - Stefan Moran was written as part of a class activity for a course titled Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Studies in the Department of Humanities.
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