Motorcycles Make You Better

Harley-Davidson promotes mental health with series of short videos

This Saturday (10 October) is World Mental Health Day, though I don’t think that’s necessarily the reason Harley-Davidson released a series of videos last week promoting the value of mental health. Although I’m normally inclined to be cynical about this sort of stuff, based on the timing of their release it seems Harley put the videos out simply because it was a good thing to do.

In particular, it was a good thing done by Harley-Davidson’s UK and Ireland team. This doesn’t appear to be an initiative that’s been passed down from H-D HQ; the series focuses on UK personalities and I haven’t seen anything similar from other countries’ Harley teams. The series focuses on personalities who ride motorcycles and find them therapeutic, obviously. And certainly that’s a connection I can understand. 

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I have written a lot about the spiritual/emotional benefits of riding – hell, that’s primarily what The Motorcycle Obsession is about. And although it’s not something I’d necessarily want to be known for, I’ve been pretty open about my own mental health struggles – in particular in the article “The Last Good Thing,” from December 2019, and its follow up earlier this year: “Of Gift Horses and Good Things.”

You’ll note that both those articles are about riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles and how much they mean to me. Though, of course, you can have incredible adventures on a BMW or Honda or Suzuki or Triumph or whatever else happens to be in your garage. For me, bikes offer a sense of mindfulness and connection to the actual world.

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Anyway, kudos to Harley-Davidson UK & Ireland for making this series of videos that speaks to that fact and how important mental health is to our overall wellbeing. Admittedly, all the individuals featured here could be described as influencers, with most enjoying significant Instagram followings. But I still give Harley credit for having released this series with no obvious commercial purpose. This is not sexy/cool people selling parts and accessories under the auspices of something more consequential. Harley-Davidson UK didn’t even issue a press release; I just saw these videos because I follow the UK team’s social media.

Anyway here they are: six in total, each just a minute long.

Iwan Thomas is a former Team GB sprinter who earned a silver medal in the 1996 Olympic Games. He was also on “Strictly Come Dancing” (in 2015, dancing with Ola Jordan), which means he sits in the center of a Venn diagram of things I love: motorcycles, “Strictly Come Dancing” and the Olympics. If he also likes Mexican food and professional wrestling I’m going to leave my wife and marry him.
Ricki Sam Hall is an actor and model who has more tattoos than you. Like, a lot more.
Vanessa Ruck is an all-round moto personality of the sort that’s hard to put into a single box; she’s on the interwebs and the YouTubes and all sorts of other places. She got into a serious bicycle accident a few years ago and that inspired her to push hard in recovery to the point she now rides enduro bikes.
Christian Williams, aka Christian Arno is a male model who looks a lot better with his shirt off than you do. His Blue Steel appears to be a somewhat gormless, mouth-breather look. I wouldn’t have thought that would be a thing, but he’s getting a lot more work than I am, so what do I know? He and I are both 6-foot-1 with a 40-inch chest and 32-inch waist but somehow I do not look anything like that. I feel robbed.
Shaina West is an actress and stuntwoman who is utterly badass and my new hero. She’s in the Black Widow film that was supposed to have come out earlier this year. Like every big film, its release date has been pushed back; I was already eager to see it but now I’m looking forward to it even more.
Tommy Brady is an athlete, though not the athletic Tom Brady you’re thinking of. A former Olympic kayaker he now appears to be making a living by being ruggedly handsome. He looks like what “Strictly Come Dancing” professional Neil Jones would look like if he took the Captain America serum.