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“I remember when I first started riding my Honda 360 to the Harley Dealer. The machines in that building were so alien to the world of polite japbikes, they seemed like exotic dangerous beasts. You just wanted to make them sleeker, more animalistic, to get ’em down to their raw essence. When I got my first H-D, the stuff I took for granted on my jap machines was immediately tossed—turn signals, speedo, stock mirrors, stock mufflers—all of which added up to what’s commonly termed ‘illegal modifications’—especially when ya started drilling out the stock Keihin. You were riding an illegal motorcycle—and in the 1980s every young guy on a Harley was riding outlaw. An outlaw club was something else entirely, but the culture began with an outlaw machine. Cops didn’t care if you wore colors or not—a loud Harley was enough to introduce you to the local constabulary.”



Photo by Genghis

RIDING OUTLAW: Sally had an Alabama plate for 16 years.

Snow ain’t kidding, man!

I rode my ’68 Sportster “Sally The Bitch” with an Alabama registration and plate, for 16 years. Sally was registered under the name of Dewlipt Wong who lived in Andalusia, Alabama. Dewlipt, or Cousin Dewey as I referred to him every time I was stopped by New York cops, was a fictitious character.

I rode outlaw for 16 years on that bike.

Of course, there was nothing that the New York cops could do, because if they had bothered to check—and none of ’em ever did—with the DMV down in Alabama, they would have discovered that Sally really was registered to Cousin Dewey, thanks to a friendly probate judge in Andalusia. So, my hardcore XLCH was technically an illegal motorcycle—or not—depending on how picky ya wanna get.

Snow was also right about the things I stripped off of my Sportster, as soon as I got her in my grubby, young hands. The front fender, speedometer (along with the tach), two-piece buckhorn bars, stock risers, and mufflers, rear fender struts, all went. Gotta have straight pipes, man! Gotta be able to hear Sally’s deafening voice, as we blast through the tunnels of NYC, man!

People often misconceive what it means to “ride outlaw” on a motorcycle. As Snow pointed out, riding outlaw on Harley, simply means that one has changed the configuration of the machine, by stripping the unnecessary (and an accounting of what is necessary or not on the bike, is subjective) parts off of the bike, therefore makin’ her a lean and mean machine, capable of going from zero to sinister in about 4 seconds flat.

Ya see, that’s the facet of riding a stripped-down Harley, many don’t understand. What a biker essentially is doing by stripping parts off, is too change the very nature of the machine. What was once socially acceptable and seemingly benign, when that bike was fully dressed, becomes an fully-formed, evil and psychopathic machine, whose sole mission, as far as society is concerned—is to kill all of the men, women and children—who happen to stand in her fire-belching way. That’s just the way it is, man.

And, make no mistake about it. Biker culture does begin and end with the Outlaw Machines that bikers created, by the highly antisocial act of stripping-down their bikes. Symbolically, bikers stripped away all the respectability that The Firm conferred on the bike, when all those parts got taken off.

Logic dictates, and it should be no surprise that when a bunch of young bikers stripped their Harleys, that they ended up with the prototypical Outlaw Machines—and that this phenomenon would lead said young bikers to adopt antisocial attitudes toward society. Some of these young bikers might formalize their new found sinister and antisocial feelings toward The World—FTW, man—by forming a motorcycle club. Thus were born outlaw motorcycle clubs, an outgrowth of riding Outlaw Harleys.

As we discussed about in “NOT ABOUT THE BIKE ANYMORE,” this style of bike that is the Outlaw Machine began to wane in popularity, among bikers in outlaw clubs–which I find ironic. It is undeniable though, that this change among this newest generation of club members, is a definite trend. This is what Tim AKA 47STRLEG, thinks of this:

“Unfortunately it’s not about that in the 1% world that I’ve seen. Baggers galore. I do know a few 1%’ers and one in particular has been with the club since 1974. I never ask about the club and just let him speak when he feels like it. I will add first that he only talks about peripheral matters. He has said that he tries to ingrain in the newer members that it’s about the bikes and to try to keep that in perspective. All the other club stuff is secondary. It’s about riding together and being there for the other members whether to help a brother out with his bike or give him shelter when they’re on the road, etc. It’s not about gangster tough guy bullshit, that may come with the territory but the love for the machine and ride are first and foremost. I’m glad you’ve had that first ride G, it never gets old. Spent part of my day cleaning up the old Pan-Shovel. It’s been awhile and the old girl deserves it.”



I suppose that the concept of the Outlaw Harley will morph into an “old school” belief—but for we who grew up with the idea of the OutLaw Machine as being the backbone of the biker subculture—it will remain stolidly as the principle, that the culture is based on. It will always be about the bike, as far as I’m concerned. The Stripped-Down Harley will always represent to me, the core of the biker subculture. Younger bikers may think of the Outlaw Stripped-Down Harley as an old fashioned idea, but not me. How about you? Later.



2 Responses to ““RIDING OUTLAW””

  1. Keith T Robinson Says:

    G- there is a reason many 1% clubbers ride legal -ish bikes these days. giving the cops a reason to stop them isn’t a great idea if having no mufflers is going to lead to much worse issues. – #0

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