Really well reasoned and written post and I agree with your sentiment. In fact I live it, building old bikes for enjoyment and satisfaction, heck I don't even ride them, I just covet and appreciate them. I also agree with Prophet's point of view. Because the bikes I do ride and enjoy are the modern bikes with sophisticated engineering and performance. We have to kinda cut PVD a little slack here, he doesnt relate to mechanical things the way most of do, he is on a level we just aren't capable of understanding (at least I'm not). Prophets head is clearly on the cutting edge of today's very sophisticated engineering and creation - he is far and away beyond us. I envy his position and his ability to create at a level that has surpassed everything before and I would expect him to firmly look forward, that is HIS passion.All good....but I'm with Rex on this one: the heart wants what the heart wants. If we're lucky the big head maintains just enough control to exercise right of veto over the lil' head, but it's not a given.
There is no right or wrong. There are Nissan GTR type people and there are Yenko/COPO Camaro type people. The GTR is "better" by probably every performance measure.....but I'd still take the Yenko every day of the week. So there must be some important criteria that it meets that the GTR doesn't.
So what are the criteria? It's completely personal, but basically it's just whatever makes you feel good, isn't it? Sheer performance may be everything in your considerations....or might only be a small component. A GTR/V4R is good for bugger-all if you like getting your hands dirty. I wander into my shed and see a V4R sitting there I can acknowledge that it is an awesome thing....but it is a crap bike if you like tinkering. I spend far more time playing in the shed than I do riding, so what good is it too me? It's not "my" bike, it's some Italian/German design committee's, it is exactly the same as 1500(?) others and buying it might be fun, but it provides none of the satisfaction I get from building something "lesser". And I don't admire Audi/Ducati for building it the same way I admire the folks who built the bikes Rex posted.
Proph's comparison above: What if the feeling of walnut against your cheek, the smell of linseed oil in your nostrils transports you right back to your childhood and special time out in nature with your old man? What if your father/grandfather was an infantryman in WWll and you appreciate the significance/continuum of owning/using "his" weapon? By these measures a modern weapon fails miserably.
I grew up admiring not just the local heroes racing, but also the bikes that were built for them. Graeme Crosby's Moriwaki ZIR was cool, but the home-brewed Steve Roberts built monocoque Suzuki's (1 x aluminium and 1 x carbon fibre) and Ken McIntosh special took things to a whole new level, inspirational stuff to a young lad in the early 80's.
Roberts' ally monocoque Suzuki, shock under tension under the engine (tension makes for much lighter linkages than compression), 3rd in World F1 championship 1982:
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Ken McIntosh framed F1 Suzuki, with the late great Roger Freeth aboard:
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As much as I wanted to be one of those racing gods I wanted to build one of those incredible machines just as badly.
Of course I've never come close, but I still like building.....something.
I think we all appreciate engineering, it is just what aspects appeal that differs. The engineering in electric bikes is amazing, but they leave me cold. I don't commute, I don't tour, I don't take pillions....I ride purely for enjoyment, so I'm looking to engage as many senses as possible....and an electric bike is quite limiting in that regard. Faster/slower has nothing to do with it. Which explains Harleys: for better or worse they are a sensory overload. Jeremy Clarkson (Top Gear/The Grand Tour) tried to explain his affection for a Lamborghini vs a McLaren in one of their comparo's: he couldn't give a rat's that the McLaren was faster ("better") he just loved the "theatre" and "drama" associated with the Lambo. Gimme that theatre and drama any day over cold hard efficiency.