When I grew up things were tougher and I’m better for it. Ketchup came in bottles that were glass and allowed no control resulting in either no ketchup or all the ketchup to come out. Our video game controllers actually hurt your hands when you used them and only had 1 button and 1 stick (Xbox controllers have 2× Analog sticks, 2× Analog triggers, 11× Digital buttons, and a Digital D-Pad). There were no such things and stability control or anti-locking breaks, ride modes or even adjustable windshields for motorbikes. My point being that riding an 800-pound Softail with no stability control or anti-lock brakes forced me to develop and tune my riding skills. In 2008-2013 I rode a much larger H-D Ultra Classic Electra Glide with no additional safety features or advanced electronics and that bike reinforced the respect for braking control. The main thing I leaned was always keep the front wheel rolling because you can still control movement even while the rear wheel locked up.
When it came time to get BMW GS’s My buddy DeathMagnet went with the 2013 GSA so he could have the best/last of the oil cooled motors while I went with a 2014 GS WaterBoxer (it has ride modes). DeathMagnet has the ability to turn off his antilock breaks when we go off road, but he has to stop and hold in some buttons for a while and then re-do the whole thing if he ever turns the bike off. My bike however has “ride modes” and all I have to do is hit the “mode” button until I get what I want, then use the clutch to lock in the desired mode (I don’t have to stop or even slow down). I can go from Road, to Rain, Dynamic, Enduro or Enduro Pro mode. Typically, I only use Road and Enduro Pro modes, unless is raining or I want to pop wheelies which is rare, and I don’t think I have used normal Enduro mode in the last couple years at all.
Well I hate to say it, but I absolutely love Ride Modes! I also like ketchup in upside down squeeze bottles and ergonomic Xbox controllers. I am glad I was forced to learn to ride without ride modes, stability control or antilock brakes and I can keep the skills sharp with Enduro Pro Mode. Having Ride modes with stability control and anti-lock breaks on long distance rides has been a godsend because you can always just grab a handful of brake and let the bike figure it out. However, all of this puts me in a bit of a quandary because the tougher old school techniques absolutely make you a better rider, but the new school electronics might just save your life but are they making you lazy and causing your hard-developed skills to atrophy or if everything is electronic and advanced do you even need those skills anymore? I wouldn’t say it keeps me up at night, but I do tend to get into discussions about it a lot with other riders.