There are some long standing tropes in motorcycle advertising. In a cluster they’ll get called something like, “hipster douchebag videos” and they are easy to spot.
They have sparks from a metal grinder, random close-up shots of a motorcycle (usually showing nothing out of the ordinary), and plenty of slow motion shots of someone riding a road motorcycle down a dirt road. Usually you then add in a group f young-ish people in a mock slow-motion race and some camp fires (and random nature shots) and you have a hipster douchebag motorcycle video, ready for consumption.
They conjure up vague terms like “ethereal” and are supposed to call back to a simpler time of indeterminate span, but they are so full of themselves and lacking a central thrust that they fall flat on their face. All sizzle, no steak.
So imagine my surprise when I randomly found this short vignette for Yamaha’s SCR950, and kind of liked it. The video, not the bike. I suppose the bike is fine based on its merits. Yamaha took the guts of one of their cruisers, the Bolt, mushed it into the shape of an old dirt bike (better call it a scrambler to get the aesthetic right) and in the end, made a bike that is very confused.
But if you just say “it’s a streetbike with a dose of styling” then it’s no different than any Harley, which are also impersonations of past Harley’s. The hipsters are onto the “fakeness” of chopper culture after watching so much bogus reality TV (on Youtube of course), but they can still be sold some “retro” if you change the flavor. Me? I’m apt to sour at anything that lists “number plates” as a feature.
Now, about that vignette.
The video actually starts with grinder sparks, and damned if it doesn’t continue with some really 2-dimensional tropes until the bitter end. And yet, it made me want to ride. Not their motorcycle or any kind of sales pitch, but just… to ride. This video ticked so many boxes in the hipster douchebag video handbook that I shouldn’t have been able to make it 30 seconds, and yet it made me dig out my mapbook. You remember those, right? They called them a “road atlas.” Fancy old books of colorful lines, kind of like Google maps but with a paper interface.
So, if you have four minutes to kill, take a little trip into this world of magic and fantasy, where a quiet Japanese mechanic converts businessmen into smiling hipsters. Hey, that’s a step in the right direction: don’t try to say it isn’t. And while you’re at it you could take a look at Brat Style in Japan and see they at least build– and sell– custom motorcycles… not just cameo appearances in videos. Hat tip for actually doing it: damn the haters.
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