The parallel world of surfboards and motorcycles.

A few threads lately have got me thinking.

Limitations of shortboards

Cup of tea


Amongst others.

There’s many similarities between the world of motorcycles and surfboard design in a light hearted way.

Go back to the 50’s and surboards were (by todays standards) heavy, unsophisticated, straight forward wave riding devices.

Kind of like Harley Davidsons of the day.

Then both started to evolve through the combination of material advances and their riders desire for something different.

The stripped down Harleys in the 60’s and 70’s where like the shortboard revolution of surfing.

The bikers were riding choppers.

The surfers were riding single fins.

Both went great if you didn’t try to turn them too much.

Then sportsbikes turned up.

Of course the thruster is our sportsbike.

Nowadays the boards pros ride are like Moto Gp bikes.

Only great in the hands of a pro and will only make a novice look like a fool on them. Just like thin potato chip shorties which the young and fit can push to the limits.

I watch the Moto Gp bikes and wonder how much more they can do to improve performance as they strive to better their lap times in particles of seconds.

Seems like the improvements to be made in both bikes and high performance shortboards will be in materials rather than outward appearance.

The aging potbellied surfer may now choose a longboard which harkens back to the past. Not hard on the body to ride. Comfort over outright performance.

Just as the motorcyclists may choose to ride the Harley nostalgia models.

Both look like the designs of yore but don’t ride exactly the same.

The Moto Guzzi riders would be the Hullophiles in the surfing spectrum. Quirky designs which simply confuse most onlookers.

Maybe scooter riders (sneared upon by real motorcyclists) would all be riding funboards which are tough and low maintainance, inexpensive and mediocre in performance compared to the sportsbikes of those who kids themselves they can ride their machines to their full potential.

Even big Harley dealerships look more like clothing boutiques these days just like most surfshops.

But what about the fish?

Maybe the fish are a commuter bike. A revelation for many. More compact and lower maintainance which have shortcomings when put on a race track but great as a daily driver.

Back in the 60’s, Triumph motorcycles were the fastest bikes in the world, and there were groups of people who did nothing except make them lighter, go faster and corner better.

Cafe racing at that time had a full-on modern shortboard mentality – performance was everything; safety and comfort were for old geezers. Those racers took risks that are the equal of any Mavs big wave rider.

I think that your analogy is right on spot. I just fell upon this old '70 G&S ad featuring a model called “The easy rider”:

Hey cuttlefish,

I like the boards/motorcycles analogy…

It places me firmly in New-school with my stripped down motor. I can’t stand the sight of tassled seats, nudge bars, panniers, mudguards, fairings…

One thing however…real live gravel rash…right now!

I apolagise for leaving out the 1/4 mile drag racers analogy.

Maybe the Waiamea, Mavs paddle in surfers.

The gravel rash component is an issue with bikes.

Generally hurts a lot less hitting the water than a road.

I know, I know. I said generally. I’m sure we’ve all hard wipeouts where there’s been a lack of penetration and it feels like you’ve landed on concrete. Or hit the bottom and coral reef cuts.

I reckon the Triumph/BSA cafe racer crew could well be the twin fin component of the analogy.

I was thinking about them but forgot to put them in but I did own a Bonneville in the past.

I would be lost around my place without my 7’0 or my yamaha ty250

I’ve had a lot of fun stripping different bikes down and making them look wild while living in Thailand.

I’ll never forget passing a couple of young guys riding their sportsbikes around the hills near my wife’s village.

Footboards and pipes scraping as I went round them. Oh, the shame to be passed by a foreigner on one of these.

It’s akin to blowing past a young guy on a shortboard who’s dropped in on you on an overhead National Park (Noosa) wave while riding a funboard.

No apologies required man…

Here’s a couple of shots of inspiration for a build project I’ve got in mind…in my other life.

Just because.


I love the Injun. Jockey shifts and suicide clutches I’m not too sure about. The BSA (correct me if I’m wrong) seat looks comfy.

2 days ago I helped my brother push his Harley home. The conrod sticking out of a huge hole in the front of his very expensive 120 ci engine.

Surfboards are so much cheaper.


The gravel rash component is an issue with bikes.

Generally hurts a lot less hitting the water than a road.

I know, I know. I said generally. I’m sure we’ve all hard wipeouts where there’s been a lack of penetration and it feels like you’ve landed on concrete. Or hit the bottom and coral reef cuts.

Back in the early 1970s I was visiting family in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S., talking to a cousin who was a few years older…he’d almost finished a college degree in Criminal Science when he bagged it and rode Harleys for a few years. I was asking him about that life and he was asking about surfing. I would agree there is a huge cultural parallel going on there. But the crux moment for me on that was when we were talking about The Feeling…the essential thrill we were after. I’d never given it any thought but in answering it I said something like seeing how far out of control you can get and pulling it off.

He thought about it for a bit and then said I probably shouldn’t ever ride a motorcycle…


Are you referring to Cobra International (Surftech)? They make motorcycle helmets you know.

Hmmm…Never thought about it much, but it must explain my love of my Bonnie and heavy single-fin logs…

speedway bikes and hulls-full on in the straights, no brakes and drifting through turns…

I was thinking about those this whole thread:

This is my end-statement on the matter!!!


flat trackin’ baby!

Judging from the responses so far I reckon there’s some realistic parallels as it seems to have struck a chord.

Watching “Riding Giants” the footage of the crew who went to the North Shore in the early days struck me as having a similar thing going on to the post war bike enthusiasts.

Rebelliousness, freedom and a taste for reckless adventure.

Man, I love my motorcycles! I personally like riding off road in single track the gnarlier the better. Here’s some pics of some stuff I shot…

Surf Spot Exploration

Every Dirt Bikers Dream…

Me in Canada

On top of Mauna Loa

My Boots Taking a break.

Kokee with da boys…

Big Island surf check

The Arch

Carlsbad Raceway is now a business park.

if he stuck his free hand up in the breeze, it’d be like Dan doin’ a turn on a hull! Probably hurts to fall off at 80 mph though