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BACKSTREET MOPEDS: A “wider” subculture.


“……’whose time has come and gone.’

You’re 100% right there. I’m not sure any amount of great writing, photography and vision could replicate that time. Even if it could be done, the audience is such a narrow subculture, it’s doubtful a publication could survive in today’s ever decreasing paper magazine market.

I vividly remember living for each new issue, frantically searching newsstands when I thought there should be a new issue out. Towards the end, the issues contained dire warnings of what may come to pass and when I eagerly picked up the latest issue, only to be confronted with the Pfouts version, I felt like I was standing on a runaway elevator in the Empire State building.

Over the last couple of years, I have had more and more people come up to me to tell me they live for THBC, can’t wait for every issue and read it all cover to cover. At first, my reaction (that I kept to myself) was “Well, you’re an idiot”… I refused to believe anyone could read THBC and be as into it as I was the Snow IH. But these people seem to be otherwise normal, and there has been so many of them lately. I’m not saying that what we’re doing is on a par with IH at its peak, just that it’s different and not for everyone of course.

And for the record, I don’t think a chopped Triumph is a ‘Wannabe HD”, I detest it when they have XL tanks on them, as is well known, and FatBobs are even worse. Brit bike chops evolved right alongside the HDs. I realize they were looked upon in certain circles as a ‘stepping stone’, i.e. Get a Brit, trade it for an XL and then dump that for a Shovelhead as a rite of progression, but not everyone saw it that way.”


If the audience of Snow’s Iron Horse was aimed like a laser to a “narrow subculture” (namely, for bikers), and contemporary magazines are not, that begs the question: What audience are current biker magazines written for, if it is not members of the biker subculture? If these publications aren’t meant for bikers, than what is the point of publishing?

Sure, I understand “publish or perish,” but what’s the point of survival if magazines have transformed into amorphous entities, undefinable by their subject matter? I always thought that the point of maintaining the financial viability of a publication, was so that the rag in question can continue writing for its target audience. The target audience of a biker magazine is supposed to be bikers.

Biker magazines not being produced for bikers, are like skateboarding magazines that’re made for roller skaters. Or car magazines made for bicyclists. Or gun magazines made for archers. Or photography magazines made for oil paint artists. Or martial arts magazines for dancers. What really, is the point of continuing in a meaningless existence?

The truth in advertising doctrine would dictate that magazines rename themselves. Like “Back Street Biker Lites.” How about “Honda Horse?” The idea that magazines are purportedly for a “narrow subculture” like bikers, but are then written for the Kawasaki Hackers MC, makes no sense. A Yamaha with a rigid frame and Sportster tank, does not a Harley make.

Here’s the funny thing, though. The owners of these rigid Hondas and Yamahas, believe that they are part of that that “narrow subculture” that these magazines are avoiding tailoring their content for, yet the same magazines promote their mission as writing for the biker subculture.

Confused? Don’t worry about it, nobody’s more confused than the Kawasaki Hackers MC, who think that they’re a hundred miles deep within the biker subculture—in spite of these magazines’ avoiding writing for the subculture like the plague, for survival reasons. An admission from a biker magazine editor, that his magazine is not written for bikers, is nothing short of the types of confessions that TV’s Columbo used to wring out of crime suspects, in the last few minutes of the shows.

Snow’s Horse was aimed straight between the eyes of the biker subculture. There was never any ambiguity of who Iron Horse was meant for. It was meant for the hairy greaser with the tats, compiling parts for his hardcore XLCH. It was for the guy with the sleeveless t-shirt kicking over his panhead. It was for the regular Joes blasting down the highways on their knuckleheads and shovelheads. It was for the 25 year old guy thinking of putting a hardtail on his Harley, and the 50 year old biker thinking of reverting his Harley back to original swingarm status. In short, Snow’s Iron Horse wa for you and me, narrow subculture that we are. Later.



  1. steveb Says:

    Having been a student of “your” era of the Horse as well as early to mid-70’s era , Easyriders, Super Cycles and Outlaw Bikers – it is fun and refreshing to read your digested observations and musings once again Genghis.

    I really looked forward to every single issue of the Horse back in the day…and still have ’em all right here – you guys did an excellent job

    it’s funny how age mellows and gives perspective as well as sharpens philosophies…. glad to see its worked its magic on you!



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