Tucked into a recent report from the Motorcycle Industry Council was a startling number: 77,000. That’s the estimated number of jobs tied directly to the powersports industry. Taken together, motorcycles, ATVs, and the like provide nearly a $40 billion boon to our economy.
If at first it seems impossible that our humble hobby could rack up such extraordinary numbers, think about the small army deployed on the sales floor of your local dealer, or the factory floor at any of the hundreds of American aftermarket accessory companies. Think of the race mechanics, and truck drivers, and marketing executives who converge on the track for every round of your favorite racing series. Or, alternatively, just think of your parts bill after a low-side. Either way, those numbers add up. That’s what our latest issue of Motorcyclist is all about.
You can see the reach of motorcycling’s tendrils into the working world throughout this issue, from Britain’s all-female wartime courier corps, to contemporary full-time motorcyclists vying for the distinction of having the best job in the world. You see them in our rare look inside Ducati’s humming design studio in Borgo Panigale, and you see them at their best in the extraordinary support network that grew up around Indian factory flat-track racer Brad Baker after an accident left him paralyzed.
For every job riding motorcycles, there are a dozen more that can find inspiration in them. While interviewing NASA research scientist Dr. Kelsey Young for our cover story, she pined at the access motorcyclists have to incredible and otherworldly rock formations. It’s Young’s job to travel the world while researching earthly analogs of extraterrestrial sites of interest. While her office is at the Goddard Space Flight Center near Washington, D.C., her work has taken her to volcanoes in Iceland, and had her living in the tight confines of research rovers for a week at a time. But motorcycles are a vehicle for motivation even when the 9-5 is nothing more than a means to an end, as memoirist Lily Brooks-Dalton brilliantly notes in our Megaphone column.
In that context, it’s no surprise how easily motorcyclists make playthings out of machines made for work, like the race-ready Piaggio Apes being caned mercilessily in our opening photo essay. When it comes to making mischief out of the mundane, the work of motorcyclists, or of Motorcyclist, is never done. Pick up a copy and see for yourself.