Transport around the world varies a bit when you consider geography, socioeconomic climates and practicality. Traveling outside the states you begin to notice a few rather distinct differences on the roadways. Take Europe where the largest thing they’ve got is a Land Rover and as Britishly cool as they are, you don’t see all that many. Instead, roadways are packed chock full of tiny Fiats, Renaults, Peugeot, and believe it or not, Fords. Yes, the Benz’s, Beemers and Audi’s stake their claim as well but for the purposes practicality, small cars rule the roads.
Continue east and the love affair with the car wanes in leu of an even more effective 2 wheeled option, the motorbike. From India to Indonesia, the motorbike is considered the most affordable, practical and downright feasible way to get from point “jesus f’n christ” to “are you sh*&t’n me?!” Well, my words, not everyone elses. At least when observing the motorflow in Vietnam which tallies a cool 35 million bikes (businesstimes.com.vn) on its roadways and at any given moment they seem to all be going through the same intersection.
It’s not really the mass quantities of bikes that impresses me. Its more the functionality that is squeezed from them in daily life. Now, realistically speaking, having not traveled to India yet, I can only imagine my scope for ingenuity on 2 wheels is nowhere near what I would experience there, but having seen a good chunk of Asia and its pretty clear they’ve got some mad skills on 2 wheels.
Imagine your Dad’s Mitzubishi Montero as you, your mom, bro and sis pile in for a night out to Applebee’s. Not Applebees’s?…how about Taco Bell, I’m jonesin. Anyway, take that family of 5 (albeit probably larger in stature than the usual Viet fan) and relocate them to a 125cc motorbike built for 2. Reasonably speaking, you would never get the bike moving and all 4 springs would inevitably give out, leaving you all covered in lubricant and at least one of you with a fractured pelvis. Now do this everyday. Not happening. But not because we couldn’ t have done it eventually…but more because we never had too. Throughout Asia, SE Asia especially, its a necessity. A family of 4 or 5 couldn’t possibly fathom getting into one of our stateside V8 monstrosities just to grab a bag of ice from the 7-11 to put the chill on some unreasonably warm Miller High Lifes in the cooler.
The family life is a small part of it. Everyday business and economic sustainability rides on 2 wheels in many of these places. Lumber, food, propane, fabric, tools, cattle, grub, etc. are all moving throughout the city streets on motorbikes. And if you’ve traveled you know that the levels of precision in making the haul leave a very small margin for error. Between unforgiving geographical elements (aka, tremendous holes in the road) along with mass crowds and other motorbikes means that the driver’s balls (metaphorically for the Mrs.) had better be hot-dipped in galvanized steel. Sorry, that was painful even to type.
I suppose the final and most intriguing facet to the motorbike nation is the fact that for as homely and beatdown as many of the bikes you see may look, they run and they run. Built with the apocalypse in mind, these tiny 2 and 4 strokes of genius carry their weight in gold for how reliable they are. Nicole and I were so sold that as some of you know from our Denver days, we opted to go the way of the scoot over the car. I had a mechanic do $150 tune up on our Yamaha Vino to which he informed me that as long as I changed the oil regularly, that’s probably all she’d need possibly for a lifetime. Granted, I rode less than a mailman in Bali but still, you drop that kinda cash in a 4 banger car in gas inside a month easy nowadays. Oh yeah…that too, fill’er up for $3….c’mon now!
Ok, with all that jazz said and done, i’ll entertain you with a short clip featuring the moto’s of southeast Asia that decorated the city streets. Chevrolet might be the heartbeat of America but round these parts the blood is pumpin on 2 wheels baby!
zoom zoom…beep beep