What’s in a name?

The Fat Lady Sings

The fat lady sings for the last Valkyrie.

Being the owner of a sail boat named Rose, I never though twice about naming my bikes. It just seemed the natural thing to do. I recently came across a conversation on a bulletin board that made me realize not everybody names their motorcycles. Not everybody thinks of their bikes as a friend or lover.
I frequent two motorcycle forums each focusing on one of the two bikes that I have. It’s interesting to see the difference in the way the two groups identify with their machines. Many people on the Valkyrie board refer to their bikes by name. “Old blue isn’t feeling well,” or “Traveler and I took a ride yesterday.” Most of the names are feminine, but not all.
Someone on the Valkyrie forum asked if everybody named their fat lady. Link to VRCC thread. Even the way he phrased the question says a lot about the relationship between these riders and their bikes. Valkyries are commonly referred to as “Fat Ladies.” on the board. There are a couple of intertwining reasons for this. First of all, that flat-six power plant gives the bike a girth rivaled by only a few other production bikes like the Goldwing and Boss Hoss. Then, with a name like Valkyrie, there is the inevitable association to opera. This convolution of references gets summed up in the remark made by a guy racing his bike against another brand. He said no other cruiser could keep up with him, the sound of his exhaust was like music and the race was over when his fat lady sang.
The other board is for a similar, but smaller bike. Both the Valkyrie and the Magna have been discontinued. They are both multicylinder high revving muscle cruisers. As most of the world turns to Harley knock-off V-twins, Valkyrie and Magna riders become increasingly rare and select groups. Yet for all of their similarities the Magna owners rarely name their bikes. And almost all of the Magnas named are named Maggie. That’s almost not a proper name, being more of a moniker for the model. Magna owners are just as enthusiastic about their bikes as Valkyrie owners, but are more likely to see their rides as machines, lacking an organic personality.
I know several folks who ride Harleys, but I don’t know of any Harley owner who has named his bike. I do know some who have called their bikes names, but that’s another blog. I think this tendency to name your motorcycle is more common among Valkyrie owners. Most of these riders really seem to feel that their bikes have distinct personalities. The Valkyrie is a unique machine. Unfortunately, no more are being made. It will be a sad day when the last one stops running and the last fat lady sings.

- Guy Wheatley

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