YouTube creator Matt McFadden says it best when opening the Classic Rides channel’s Motorcycle Folk Tales series, “Motorcycling for me is, um, I won’t say “freedom” because that’s a bit of a cliché.”
When describing the sensations and emotions experienced while riding, most motorcyclists would include that specific cliché—and for good reasons. On the road, there’s no greater freedom than plowing down a lonely highway with the wind at your back or tackling a particularly challenging set of curves. Off-road, there are no fun-killing rules or life-threatening motorists to impede your freedom.
However, many overuse that tired term as a catch-all for every motorcycling experience. It’s important to call out that one rider’s freedom may be another rider’s prison. For instance, a mile-munching traveler may revel at the sight of the open road but may clench up at the idea of a fire road. Similarly, a racer may gobble up the most hair-raising turns but balk at the idea of logging 1,000 miles in 24 hours.
These different “freedom” definitions don’t make them any less true, though. It’s the rider’s unique interpretation of “freedom” that matters most. McFadden knows this and will embark on a series of mini-interviews collecting countless characterizations of motorcycling.
For someone like Matt, motorcycling freedom entails relaxed rides on twisty roads while capturing the experience with his camera. For someone like me, nailing an apex on a decreasing radius hairpin or out-braking a bigger bike on the track 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’re certainly equal. Hopefully, the Motorcycle Folk Tales series opens viewers to a variety of disciplines and styles. Only that level of exposure helps all motorcyclists not only appreciate the preferences that make us different but also the shared emotions and sensations that tie us all together.