® Magazine Mechanics

Old-time career bike mechanics used to have some pretty interesting slang phraseology. "Squid," for example. Probably borrowed from old sailors who used it to describe shipboard newbies, to be a squid meant something a little different in the powersports world. A squid was basically a person who didn't know how to treat their motorcycle right, whether riding it or maintaining it or whatever. Kind of a mixture of an individual who was immature, unknowledgeable and mechanically incapable, all at the same time. Teenagers on SOHC Honda CB400Fs comes to mind. And there were many other similarly graphic terms. A "prima donna" in a motorcycle shop was, as was true almost anywhere, someone who had to be treated with kid gloves, humored, in other words, dealt carefully with. The difference though was that most shops had a prima donna and he invariably happened to be the most capable mechanic in the place. The real problem was, he knew it, and so did the owner of the shop. But one phrase that sticks with me just because it is so rich in meaning, I suppose, is the moniker of "magazine mechanic.". You could hardly be more derisive of someone in the 1970s than to call them a magazine mechanic. What it meant was someone who got all their motorcycle technical understanding in a superficial way, most often from reading about motorcycles in magazines. A magazine mechanic was someone who could talk the talk, to a degree, but could not walk the walk. Real mechanics saw through them in a minute, usually because magazine mechanics put undue emphasis on trivial things and not enough on the important stuff. Like the fella who would put an aftermarket exhaust on his bike, and swagger about like some kind of roadracer, while his steering bearings were so loose the bike was unsafe to ride. You know, a squid.... :-P. Lotta people doing that same sort of thing today.

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