The Electric


Alta's Future of Fast

Words by Brett Smith | Photos & video by Dean Bradshaw

Featuring Jimmy Hill


 

There’s something about going riding with your friends, a feeling of joy that really can’t be put into words. It can only be shared by someone who’s done it. 

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Those are the final two sentences of narration from the 1971 Academy Award-nominated documentary On Any Sunday. The voiceover accompanies video of Malcolm Smith, Mert Lawwill and Steve McQueen as they rip across a grassy field and lock their tires onto a cow trail, riding three abreast in a magnificent display of synchronicity. It’s a moment from motorcycling’s halcyon days when riders worried about nothing more than riding. Well, and maybe oil leaks. 

When the three men reconvened at their pickup truck at the end of the day, did they talk about engines and parts? Probably not. Did they debate brands, fret about tire choices or the fitment of their riding gear? No. Riding gear? They wore department store pants and generic long-sleeve sweatshirts. They talked about how much fun they’d had.

 

 

Nearly a half-century after the revered movie left theaters, motorcycling is both better and worse, depending on your level of optimism. It’s much easier to be a better rider on a 21st-century dirt bike than an early ’70s Husqvarna 400 Cross. Yet, modern distractions, coupled with a growing population and shrinking land access, make it more difficult to even find time or places to ride. Add in the never-ending discussions and unwinnable debates – two-stroke versus four-stroke, 250 versus 350 versus 450, supercross versus motocross, air fork versus spring fork – and we seem to be doing a lot of talking and typing and much less riding. 

What if the conversation was no longer about the bikes and equipment? What if we only talked about the experience and remember what it was like when we all wanted to copy whatever Malcolm Smith was doing? 

What if I told you the most unlikely of companies is already subtly trying to get that message to you? Would you listen? 

 

Read the story in Volume 010