Friday, July 1, 2022

GPS too modern for a vintage motorcycle

Paper map taped to motorcycle tank.
Paper map marked with the route you plan to take.

 Quick: what is the fastest and cheapest way to make a Royal Enfield motorcycle look like a cafe racer? 

Answer: Cross four strips of black electrician's tape across the headlight. 

This won't make it any faster, but it will announce to the world that you're a racer, or were, back in the day when tape on the headlamp meant you didn't want to shed broken glass on the track. 

That's the kind of cheap, simple modification that appeals to me, even if it's of no practical value. And it looks "vintage." 

Recently a former college roommate alerted me to another great "vintage" use for electrical tape. 

He shared a photo of a route map taped to the tank of a Triumph motorcycle. Spotted on the Love Bikers Facebook page, the photo is labelled, with a wink, "GPS - 1970." 

And it's not just a sly joke. The four strips of tape and a paper map actually would aid navigation, especially if the route was marked in felt-tipped pen.

Think a highlighter isn't vintage enough? The first highlighter (in yellow only) was introduced in 1962 in the UK. That's original enough for my 1999 Royal Enfield.

It would be great to have a map that looked "of the era."

But it's actually the tape itself I like. Only four strips, in the photo, nothing fancy. The existence of black electrical tape goes back to 1946, so it looks correct.

So you can expect to see this sort of "GPS" on my Royal Enfield Bullet, right?

Well. No.

Electrical tape normally isn't considered damaging to automotive paint, although it might leave a sticky residue. I just could not bear the thought of putting any tape across the hand-applied pinstripes on the tank of my Royal Enfield.

Electrical tape also is not waterproof, and neither is a paper map. 

I love the look. But I understand why you'll probably want to use your GPS instead.

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