BIKER SUBCULTURE: “CONTRADICTION”

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Photo by Genghis

THE MIND PULLING IN DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS: We all have contradictory thoughts.

SNOW ON FACEBOOK:


“I still dig ’70s jappers, even japper choppers. It did seem to me to be a niche of a niche. If I was gonna have a second bike it’d be a sunrise orange Honda CL 450 on/off road scrambler.”

SONNY BARGER IN HIS AUTOBIOGRAPHY:

“In terms of pure workmanship, personally, I don’t like Harleys. I ride them because I’m in the club, and that’s the image, but if I could I would seriously consider riding a Honda ST1199 or a BMW, We really missed the boat not switching over to the Japanese models when they began building bigger bikes.”

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Snow muses about having a Honda 450 as a second bike, sitting in his garage next to his ’69 Harley XLCH “Animal Mother.” Sonny Barger speculates in his autobiography, that if he weren’t in his club, that he very well might be astride a Honda. What’s this world coming to, if two hardcore bikers speak their mind, and contradict the sanctity of one of the biker subculture’s most treasured tenets, a tenet that we bikers consider well-nigh inviolable?:

It’s gotta be a Harley, man.

This doesn’t bother me. First of all, their biker cred is unassailable. Secondly, they’re both on Harley-Davidsons, okay, so chill. We all play the “what if” game once in a while, and it’s a harmless diversion, in the vein of, “What if I had a few millions dollars, then I’d….” This type of speculation, usually internal but sometimes becoming part of the public conversation if it enters the public domain, I find interesting and amusing, but not disturbing.

Who among us hasn’t thought to ourselves, “Gee….I wonder how it would feel to ride that two-second, zero-to-sixty, 190 mph sportbike?” Okay I admit, I never thought that….ahem….but, I’m sure most of us have engaged in a bit of casual daydreaming like this. Consider that most if not all of us have said to ourselves when we were particularly disgusted with our bikes, “I’m gettin’ rid of this piece of crap, I’m sick of it!”

Of course If I did, I’d never admit to it (my ever-lovin’ Shovel Mabel, would get upset). But we all have inner thoughts that go against our well-established grain. The key is, do we ever act on these verboten impulses? In the end, in spite of wildly divergent fantasizing, we all revert to reality and our own basic natures. Our basic nature as bikers, is to ride Harley-Davidsons. Anyone who says that’s not true, is in deep denial.

But there’s a larger point I’d like to make about people like Barger and Snow, and I’d like to think that this applies to me too: They don’t know and don’t care, what others think. They only care about what they themselves, think and feel. That’s always been my outlook. “Hey man, I don’t give a rat’s ass what you think about me or what I believe. If ya don’t like it, you can lump it!”

Here’s an anecdote to put this issue into the proper perspective. You all know or know of Andrew Rosa, the legendary Harley dragrace record holder and Harley motor builder, who built Mabel’s Rosabilt stoker motor. Andrew’s beast of a shovel-powered dragbike ran in the 9 second bracket. One day a few years ago, I rode Mabel out to Andrew’s shop, Rosa’s Cycles to have Mabel’s tranny rebuilt. As is my custom, and as this was a weekday, I rode to the shop on Long Island very early to avoid traffic. I left around 5:00 AM. After I got there, I just hung out in front of the shop, which is right across the street from a cemetary.

Around 8:00 AM, I heard this sound….“BZZZZZZzzzzzzz…” that got louder and louder. I looked at the cemetary, and could make out a solitary figure on a moped wending his way through the cemetary on one of the winding pedestrian paths. The moped rider finally emerged from the cemetary and pulled in front of the shop. It was Andrew, on a little red Honda moped with a basket attached to the handlebars. Andrew explained, “Hey, it’s just easier this way, I can ride it through a shortcut through the cemetary–can’t do that with the Super Glide. Besides, this thing is great for carrying parts and tools to make road repairs on bikes broken down, when the shop van is occupied.” I sure wasn’t going to question Andrew’s biker bona fides!

I don’t know Barger, but I do know Snow, and this is what I know about him: He is a freethinker and a freespirit, who marches to the beat of his own motor idle, whether that motor is a shovel, Evo, S & S, Sportster or Honda 550. He does what he wants, and screw all those who don’t dig it, man. He is a man of conviction, surfing the waves of passion, that are generated by his own unique mind. I suspect that Sonny Barger who I never met, is the same type of unflappable individualist. Individualism is a trait that I value greatly, a trait that is maybe somewhat lacking in our culture. There is already too much “me-tooism” in the scene, as the obedient minions who use exhaust wrap and fat rear tires can bear witness to. Now, I wonder what it would be like to own that Kawasaki…..nah. Just kidding. Later.

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