All images © Brad Foster
Dads’ getaway: How to do it like Fonzie
Brad Foster shares his top 10 tips for ‘motorbike cool’ that turned two everyday dads and hubbies into leather-clad, cross-country cruisers.
Riding a motorcycle is one thing, but being Fonzie cool while you’re doing it takes a whole new level of thought. Even if you have the sweetest, most expensive motorcycle in the world, you just don’t look the part unless you can walk the walk.
Thankfully, today’s motorcycle gear makes it easier than ever to look a little less uncool, even if you’re usually the king of dad jokes.
Take, for example, my friend Nigel Collin and me. Two hubbies and dads, a little paunchy, one with little hair and the other with too much.
Nigel and I recently returned from a 10-day bike ride from Alice Springs to Darwin. We were filming a new series for the Ingenious Oz Project, interviewing small business people and community leaders on the “ingenious” things they were doing. A perfect excuse for a cool dads’ getaway.
Much of our pre-planning went into how on Earth we were going to fund the trip. Thankfully, Indian Motorcycle Australia saw that our quest to promote remote businesses was a pretty good one and agreed to lend us a couple of bikes to do it on: an Indian Roadmaster and an Indian Chieftain. Ultra-hip and valued at $30k plus, these are just made for the kind of cruising we would be doing.
Maybe after looking at our mugs on LinkedIn or social media they thought that we might like some gear as well. Naturally, we didn’t have to think twice and, prior to leaving, visited the Sydney showroom on Parramatta Road, where we felt like kids in a candy store.
So if you want to do something as crazy as we did – and look a little cooler than you might normally be while you’re doing it – then here are my top 10 tips…
#1 Don’t ever mention the word ‘cool’
Especially if you’re around other motorcyclists. Fonzie was cool, but I can’t remember he ever had to say he was.
#2 Never put looking cool before safety
Sure you may be hot and you may want to take your jacket off and ride with a T-shirt on, but that’s not going to help you if you come off. Gravel rash definitely isn’t cool! See #3 here.
#3 Get a good jacket
There is such a variety of good quality motorcycle jackets now that feel almost as cool – no pun intended – as if you weren’t wearing one. The Kevlar ones, like Nigel wore, are breathable and have areas you can unzip to allow for greater circulation. I stuck with the leather and hey, I thought I looked pretty cool, even when I was sweating like a contestant in a jalapeńo-eating contest.
#4 Full-face or open-face helmets are both cool
There are so many great colours to choose from in today’s helmets that you can really make a statement by just choosing one that’s a little bit different. If in doubt, go black. Some would argue open-face helmets are cooler. Personally, I think they are and I like them because, for me, they give better visibility. What’s not cool is buying a cheap one. You’ve only got one head.
#5 Sunglasses can add to your coolness, but can also be dangerous
If they’re too dark and it’s cloudy, your visibility is poorer, and motorcyclists (even cool ones) need good visibility. And make sure you don’t get ones that let the breeze in. Riding a motorcycle is joyous and wonderful and can bring you to tears, but you really don’t want to be crying about it when you’re travelling at 130 clicks (the speed limit in the NT).
#6 Avoid leather pants
Unless you look like Keanu Reeves (for the men of course). You’ve seen those guys on bikes wearing lycra? Do they look cool? You won’t either. Unless, of course, you’re a real bikie. Then you can wear whatever you want and you’ll look cool in it and who am I to tell you any differently?
#7 Get yourself some good gloves
For cruising on the open road, nothing looks more naff than those big puffy ski gloves, not to mention the fact that you can’t feel anything. Different proposition when it’s freezing. On my recent trip I didn’t wear gloves for three days until my hands got burnt to a cinder. Being the cool rider that I am, I opted for a pair of soft leather gloves in a lovely tan that matched my jacket. I can thank the Indian Motorcycle dude at the shop for that.
#8 Buy proper motorcycle boots or at least boots with rubber soles
My motorcycle boots are a little old and I was considering riding in a really nice pair of boots in an RM Williams style. Prior to leaving, I went for a ride and almost lost it every time I stopped because they had a leather sole and, therefore, little grip. There is nothing more uncool than stacking your bike at a set of traffic lights.
#9 Slip, slop, slap
Nothing is more uncool than being beetroot-red.
#10 Know your bike
By the number of people admiring our motorcycles between Alice Springs and Darwin – and I suspect that was because not many people in those parts had seen a Roadmaster or a Chieftain up there before – it’s always nice to be able to rattle off a few stats about your bike when it’s asked for. You just sound cooler.
Brad and Nigel received support from the NT Department of Trade, Business and Innovation. Dads considering their own motorbike getaway who like the look and history of the Indian, Indian Motorcycle Australia is currently offering a weekend escape in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne or Perth. They’ll even give you a tank of fuel and a hotel voucher*.
Visit indianmotorcycle.com.au/weekend-escape to learn more. *Conditions apply.