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Soul and character

Discussion in 'General Motorcycling Discussion' started by Grendel, Dec 6, 2011.

  1. Ok, don't flame me if this is a stupid question.

    What do people really mean when they say a bike has/doesn't have soul or doesn't have character.

    i.e. I keep reading that Honda's are souless. or doesn't have character. is this code for "it works properly and you don't have to try to ride around a flaw."?

    does soul mean it's more human, which in turn means it's not perfect and has it's good days and its bad days?

    I want a bike to get to work each day without having to coax it to life each morning (currently on a 2010 VTR250 and has never missed a beat). I don't mind a high powered bike, it's just got to be reliable.

  2. I had a Honda CB175, everytime I had to ride it I would just stop and mutter the words "Ah Soul"..
    • Like Like x 1
  3. If you have to ask you wouldn't understand.
  4. I think Vertical C has it.

    you really need to experience it to understand it exists. I can see that most bikes described as having soul or character tend to be those with a bad rep but this hasn't been my experience.

    Try a guzzi and you will experience a bike with character - my breva oozed soul and never missed a beat. I could never own a suzi again and have not been tempted by many other brands in long long time.
  5. Soul and character are intangibles. You don't know what you are going to get because you can't see it. You can't manufacture character or design soul. It is like that "it" factor that one might describe in someone of unique talent. To define character/soul as the flaws in something is simplifying it to the point of ludicrousness. It is not something which can be defined in complete terms, but once you know what it is you will never forget.

    Further, a bike develops character from those who ride it and it is possible to 'bond' with a bike. It is hard to describe, but almost impossible to deny once recognised.
  6. What it really means has more to do with the rider than the actual bike. The people that come up with this cr@p actually have no soul or character themselves, and seem to have a unique ability to channel this into the bike they are riding. You may know people like this. Generally classed as Beige. You may even be married to one, or have shagged one at some stage in your life. Without going into intimate details, I think you might get the picture, yes?

    Basically, any bike is good. Excellent in fact. Brilliant fun to ride if you know how to extract its own personal strengths. Anything with 2 wheels and an engine is good in my book.
  7. Hondayamasaki inline 4's sport bikes are soul-less characterless bikes. 8-[
    Most other bikes have something that is intangible and just attracts you to their foibles, most twins, Hardleys BMW's and older cafe racer type bikes have that x factor, you form an emotional attachment because it will leak oil, fall apart, etc.
    All these human emotions we attach to the bike are what gives it character.
  8. The bike that HAS soul is the one that you own. Your mate's bike doesn't have soul. QED.
  9. Oh look, here's one of "those" people right here. Right on cue. I put them in the same class as tradesmen who blame their tools.
  10. Yes it is.
  11. Interesting thread, this one!
  12. They aren't the only thing, but quirks help make a bike/car/plane/etc have some character. Sometimes being too simple makes can be a touch bland.

    Businesses can be the same, too rigid and controlled becomes beige really quickly. It isn't daft, it's just a natural way that humans relate to and describe objects.
  13. My R1 had a little puddle under her this morning. I put it down to it being her time of the month... so you can go ahead and try to tell her she's soulless!

    But I'd just make sure you're wearing your full gear when you do smee! You know what they can be like...

  14. that's one

  15. that's 2
  16. It's hard to explain, but I'll try.

    My Bandit is a 'nice' bike, I love it, I will not sell it anytime soon. But, it has no soul, no character. I can go out on the coldest morning and know it will start first time, no problems. I know how it's going to 'behave' on the road, it was exactly the same yesterday, it was exactly the same today and it'll be no different tommorow. It doesn't matter what fuel I put in it, ULP, PULP or even the 10% blend stuff, it still rides and performs the same.

    My wifes' Monster on the other hand, there's no guarantee it will start first time. It might take a couple of 'kicks' of the eletric leg. When it does start sometimes it'll fire straight up, other times it'll start with a 'slow throb' then BANG it fires up and red lines it's self. You never know exactly how it will 'behave'. Some days it is compliant, fuss free. Other days it can be a biatch to ride, no gear seems quite right. It has character it has a soul. God forbid if you put anything other than 95 or higher octane in it. If you do it coughs, farts, burps, vibrates, and won't hold a speed, any speed.

    I enjoy riding the Monster, it makes me 'feel', it does something to me. It turns me into a 'hoon'. I can sit at set of lights on the Bandit for 5 minutes and not touch the throttle, but on the Monster even a brief stop will see me gently revving it for no other reason than to hear it and feel it.

    Would I own a Monster, no f*cking way, not unless I could own 2 bikes.
  17. I agree, I've had 3 Bandit 1200's and they are very competent bikes and I'm thinking about another one for my next bike but they are soulless and have no character.

    I've had 2 Moto Guzzis and they have been full of soul and character, they've also been quirky and odd and at times annoying although neither ever let me down.

    Soul and character in a bike isn't just reliability or absence of reliability (although many people confuse the 2 things) it's the feeling that the bike generates in the rider.

    And yes I know there are inline 4 riders who'll say 'their bike has character' but that's adrenilin rush or endorphin generation (not the same thing).

    In fact I know a guy who bought a couple of big Honda sports tourers and a big Kawasaki sports tourer and always claimed that 'character' was an illusion thought up by single/twin/triple riders... then he bought a Buell.

    He had a love/hate relationship with that thing, he hated that it wept oil and that the rear cylinder got too hot and that the shop treated him as a 2nd class citizen because it wasn't a real Harley.

    But when it was working right, on the right day... it was glorious.

    Bikes with character might have lows that reliable inline 4's never have but they can take the rider soaring to heights that the reliable, consistent same day in day out inline 4's can never dream of.

    And it's that emotional high that bikes full of character can give (when they feel like it) that defines for me the difference between an appliance bike and a riding experience.
  18. Yeah the Buell's have character. Character can be where a bike is human like. My old Buell wass like a little kid, when it wass idling it stomped it's sidestand on the ground because of the vibrations screaming "when are we going to go" then it will calm down once you are underway and be quite smooth and not vibrate very much at all.

    The RGV is more like a teenager. You have to kick it to wake it up, then it grumbles and carries on when it is warming up, it eats way too much fuel -especially for a 250cc, it smokes and embarrass you, it screams its head if you ask it to do anything, but its lithe and sporty when it gets going but it could commit suicide at any time....that's character :)
  19. That probably sums it up. But then reliability doesn't have anything to do with it either. I owned a couple of the old CB450 DOHC Honda twins. Solidly reliable but bikes of definite character - as are virtually all BMWs.

    Older BMW K series for instance - solidly reliable but there's something about them that has real character -and they're a 4 cylinder :)

    Age does often produce a patina of character for a bike. But not always. An early CB400/4 (a la Chairman's) has definite soul - but a CB350 twin of the same period is basically an appliance bike.

    Top Gear summed it up when they did a comparison test of the Alfa Brera against the equivalent BMW and Mercedes. The Alfa was not as quick as the others, it had an uncertain reputation for reliability and the worst depreciation. But at the end of the day when they looked at which one they'd prefer to own, all of them said "the Alfa".
  20. A totally pointless thread to allow owners of expensive bikes to take cheap shots at owners of less expensive ones (expense=character because I can afford to say it does).