Acknowledge All Motorcyclists On The Road
Bikers come in all varities.
There are magazines for Harley-Davidson enthusiasts. There are magazines for sport bike enthusiasts. There are even magazines for dirt bike enthusiasts. These magazines are nationally recognized and sold everywhere from school fundraisers to grocery stores. When you look at those well written, quality magazines, which I frequently do, you will find a lack of coverage for everything in between. To be more specific, standard street bikes and custom cruisers without an American label.
You can find smaller magazines targeted at specific, localized regions that cover rat rod style bikes, garage builds, custom jobs by local shops, and other beautiful works of two-wheeled, high horsepower, low rumbling glory. There is absolutely nothing wrong with these magazines, in fact they tend to honor the true spirit of riding just as much, if not more, than larger publications bound by corporate restrictions.
While it is merely a personal pet peeve and perhaps I am missing out on some great magazine that I have been un-blissfully unaware of, it is actually only the tip of the iceberg for me regarding the custom end of custom cruisers. There is an entire subculture of people who thrive off the thrill of creation and the rush of the ride. For them, it’s about the purity of the experience itself and not about the manufacturer of the bike they are on.
Let me be clear here, this is not a rant against any brand of motorcycle. This is about reminding riders why we are out there to begin with. It’s about the feel of the wind in your hair, the knowledge that there is no cage between you and the road. It’s about the freedom, baby, in all it’s splendor. Riding is an experience all it’s own and those that have never thrown their leg over a bike will never understand the feeling. That is why it amazes me that there are people in that world that feel that the only people ‘allowed’ to ride motorcycles and frequent popular biker bars and hot spots are those that ride a particular brand of motorcycle.
More often than not, the brand of motorcycle in question is Harley-Davidson. Now before you go shooting off hateful email, I would never smudge the Harley name or question a person’s loyalty to them. The world of motorcycles as we know it would not be what it is today if not for Harley-Davidson. They were the innovators, the creators, the originators behind the brilliant plan to bring motorcycles to the people affordably. Had they not been willing to be flexible and manufacture viable options for the war and thus hang on during the lean times, who knows if anybody would have stepped up to the plate once the dust had settled.
In the beginnings, the motorcycles were about cheap, alternative transportation. Nobody really had much of an opinion about motorcyclists, good or bad. My missionary grandfather rode back in the day. Then Hollywood got involved and perpetuated this view of motorcyclists as being nothing more than uncivilized, lawless biker gangs riding around defiling women, disrespecting elders, and robbing innocent citizens. Soon, life began to imitate art and biker gangs started really popping up all over the place. This was not what the founders of Harley-Davidson intended or wanted. After they came back from the rocky AMC years, they began a marketing campaign designed to offset the harsh reputation they had unwittingly gained.
Ironically, it was around this time that Honda had a slogan that said “The happiest people ride Honda’s”. To counteract that, Harley-Davidson hit the markets hard and heavy vying for a piece of the average American pie. They wooed corporate professionals, family men, hard working people looking to recapture some sense of recreation again. It was still a while before they started really marketing to women. Then again it was some time before there were really more then a handful of women who did more than sit pretty behind their man.
History lesson out of the way, the path was cleared and a whole new world of motorcycles opened up. Unfortunately, the attitude of the average Harley rider has gone from raging Viking-like outlaw to privileged upper-middle class snobs. Like everything else, there are riders in between who are loyal to the company but don’t look down their noses at others. There are quite a few of us out there who ride to ride and customize our bikes because we can. If it were not for people like us who push the envelope, there would be no future for motorcycles.
You will not hear me begrudge another rider his or her choice in rides or magazines, it would be hypocritical of me to say the least, but you will hear me ask for the same treatment in return. All I’m asking for is a magazine that has national appeal that caters to the custom crowd. There are people who are rightfully proud of the hard work they put into their Yamaha, Honda, Kawasaki or “Johnny Cash” but really lack a national venue for which to show it off in. Internet does not count. The internet is a fantastic place to network and post your awesome pictures but there will never be a suitable replacement for the ability to hold that picture in your hands. I devour every motorcycle publication I can get my hands on and I am eagerly awaiting the birth of a new publication for homegrown customizing fools! Until we meet again, acknowledge your fellow rider and ride safe!
- Indian Motorcycles, An American Icon.
As a youngster I used to hear about my Grandmother riding on the back of an Indian motorcycle when she was younger. For me this motorcycle was more of a big deal than a Harley. Of course this was ages...