When I talk to people about riding two up, and particularly about our long weekend getaways, a question that often comes up is, “Do you have an intercom in your helmets so that you can talk on those long rides?” To which my answer is inevitably, “No. Absolutely not.” Which often gets an odd look. “You mean, you ride all that way together without being able to talk to each other?” So let me try to explain.
First off, on a practical, logistical level, the Concours is a sport touring bike. It’s not a big, noisy cruiser, and it certainly doesn’t have that extra distinctive assault on the ears that Harleys have. (Which is explained succinctly here if you’re interested. Also, that may be the most politely I’ve ever described the sound of a Harley). So when we’re tooling around on country roads, we can absolutely have brief conversations if both our visors are up and the road’s empty enough for F to turn a bit and talk over his shoulder to me.
When we get out on the highway, clearly those conversations aren’t possible — but that’s okay. It’s actually kind of nice to have a bit of solitude inside your helmet, to be together with someone but also alone with your own thoughts. Since I’ve got the easy job as the passenger, I enjoy that time to relax and soak in the scenery, to find that place of silence amidst the roar of the engine and the wind. Sometimes I talk to myself. Sometimes I sing. (You can really belt it out inside a helmet at 70 mph.) Sometimes F sings, and I know by the way his helmet bobs about a bit when he does.
And besides, we do talk to each other, the entire time we’re riding. It’s the pat of my hands on his waist that means that I’m ready to go once I’ve gotten on behind him. It’s the tap on his shoulder to indicate we need to turn, or leaning forward to point to an exit sign when I’m navigating. It’s a point from him when there’s something he wants me to see, and a squeeze from my knees that says, “Yes, I see, thank you for sharing.” It’s the bike itself joining the conversation, and hearing what it says via pitch and vibration, like listening to a leading partner when dancing. It’s F putting his visor down before a stretch of curves or hills, a silent “Oh, this is about to get really fun.” It’s his left hand leaving the handlebars to clasp my shin, his arm snugged about my knee that says… well. I don’t think I can even translate that one into words, and even if I could, I think it would be words that are ours alone.