I was reading an article in Car & Driver about brand loyalty and thought to myself: You should do a little writeup about brand loyalty for the bikers out there. Shouldn’t take but a minute or two.

After thinking about it for a while, I don’t think it’s that simple. At least not for me.

I mean, back in the day you were generally a Ford or Chevy (GM) man and that was that. Dad drove one so you were inculcated into the fraternity without even realizing it until it came time to put down the newspaper route money on your first set of wheels. It was then that you realized you were hopelessly locked into a path that you were unable escape from. (I’d rather see my sister in a whorehouse than a friend driving brand X and all those similar tee shirts).

When you start talking about bike brand loyalty the 900 pound gorilla (or FXRSLTHDFLH) in the room is of course the bar and shield.  The owners won’t even consider anything else and will defend the brand against all rational argument. Probably goes back to toilet training or something because most dads didn’t own one, so that influence goes out the window.

I’m basically addressing the vintage bike market here, relevant or not. The basic battle lines are drawn between BSA, Triumph and Norton I suppose. Triumph had the numbers in the US, but I think overall the BSA and Norton crowd may be more vocal in their support. A little further down the production scale you have the BMW and Ducati crowd. Ducati only lately has had a stable enough production facility to even be considered legitimate. Over the years they lurched from bankruptcy to bankruptcy with a brief period of actual production in between. But given all that they certainly have their supporters. Back in the bevel drive days (yes I owned one) you could spot them by their nervous expression of anticipating impending mechanical mayhem and fingers burned by a combination of scalding oil and errant electrics. Nowadays, just they stand around drinking overpriced coffee and complaining about their stock broker. The BMW guys…well unless they cover 500 miles to get their coffee they’re bloody antisocial anyway.

So which is it, BSA Norton or Triumph? I had hoped that this far into the writing I would have come up with some foolproof logical indicator of who would prefer what.  By that I of course mean that the truly intellectual giants among us would own Nortons, the fleet of foot would opt for the Triumph and the hopeless romantics among us would be astride a BSA.

Or not





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