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At Janus Motorcycles, we believe in rambling. Think of a rose or clematis on an old stone wall, or a long walk where the object is simply in walking and encountering things rather than in getting anywhere. Just like the best Sunday afternoon motorcycle rides, ramblings most often end up right where they started. To ramble is to pursue a transformative experience beyond the frantic modern activity of getting from one place to another as quickly and efficiently as possible. Or for that matter, of staying put in one place, comfortably gratified with the distractions of our technologically mediated existence.

Image courtesy David Bowen

The word “ramble” itself has origins even further back than middle English, where it was related to wandering or roaming about in a “leisurely manner”. Its modern connotations with confusion or incoherence, as in rambling speech or writing, point to how the modern world views the rambler, ie. a person suffering from some sort of dementia. Indeed, to choose a motorcycle that prioritizes these traits over power, size, or top speed will seem absurd to the typical modern consumer, conditioned to expect value to equate to displacement and speed.

To pursue this kind of activity in a world obsessed with optimization, efficiency, and technical specifications amounts to a statement of defiance. This kind of riding is for the individual who looks for joy and meaning, not merely in the destination, but in the detours, adventures, and conversations that can only happen unexpectedly along the way. In fact, efficiency is precisely what this type of person is trying to avoid.

At heart, all motorcyclists know this to be true, spending the majority of their time on winding back roads and at the speeds that suit them, stopping for a picture or to explore a landmark, talking with fellow travelers or inquisitive bystanders, feeling the machine as it responds to the undulations and curves in the landscape.

To ramble is to gain agency, to do a thing for doing it and for what doing it does to us, not a response to subtle promptings of an algorithm, or because it is expected, or because the industry marketing tells us it is what we need. It is to expose ourselves to an experience of engagement and awareness of ourselves, the road, and the passing scenery.

It requires the participation of the whole body with shifting, cornering, braking, and accelerating, as well as of the mind with the thousands of split-second decisions, reactions, and thrills of navigating a motorcycle through the world. What kind of machine has ever been made that better serves this ineffable human experience than the simple, impractical motorcycle?