by The Heart Wrecker
A while back while contemplating my future with an MC (motorcycle club, for you newbies) and being inspired by my market research girlfriend, I posted a question to Facebook.
What is one word you think of when you think of a “biker”?
Since I have such a wide variety of friends, the answers ran the gamut and led me to reflect a lot about my own question.
As a Motorcycle Enthusiast (to be politically correct)– Oh wait, who am I kidding? I couldn’t be PC if I was sitting in the White House!– as a Biker of about five years, I have ridden a lot of different bikes and hung with people from all walks of life. I hesitate to mention my almost being born on a pool table at a biker bar all those years ago.
Needless to say, I know a thing or two about this “biker” issue.
And today, I am gonna respond to a lot of the answers I got on my Facebook post as well as break down some of the stereotypes associated with bikers as I progress through these responses in my unprotected noggin.
When a lot of people think “biker,” they think LEATHER.
This is one of the fashion sides of riding. The leather vest actually plays two roles: 1.) The most important is body protection to protect your mid-section if something happens and you end up going down. Leather against the road is much better than skin any day! 2.) The vest also carries your “colors” (if you belong to a club) and patches to show everyone things about you.
One popular patch is DILLIGAF (Do I look like I give a fuck?). This one is actually VERY popular with bikers.
While a lot of patches are unisex, there are a lot of female-specific patches that range from ones that signify “women only” clubs to things like “Biker Bitch” or “Biker boys make good toys” and so on.
Another popular piece of leather is CHAPS. I have heard people talk about how they like assless chaps, but BREAKING NEWS…ALL chaps are assless!
Chaps are pretty much a jacket for your legs. They protect you from rain and cold, but I may add they do look HOT as hell on a woman with tight jeans…or, you know, a thong.
Okay, getting distracted. Must press on.
These are the two important leather clothing items for a biker, but there are many others like leather pants, leather underwear, and, of course, leather jackets.
Jackets, like most fashion pieces, come in hundreds of different styles for riders. They also are available with padding and plates to protect vital organs in case of a crash. A lot of bikers also put patches on their jackets and wear them even when they aren’t riding.
Last but not least in the clothing area are boots. Leather boots are important because of the moving parts and heat of the motor and exhaust that can bother your feet. Additionally, boots are your first line of defense between you and the road. (Sorry to keep harping on this safety issue, but it IS an issue!)
One of the most popular responses to my short one-question survey was “HARLEY DAVIDSON.”
Some people think that to be a Biker you have to have a Harley between your legs. These people are American-centric, and don’t perhaps recognize that there are bikers outside of the U.S.
Well, to that I respond, Harleys are not an all-American-made bike, and for a few years were actually owned by an overseas company. So to those American-centric respondents, maybe if you own a Harley Davidson made only during certain years, you are a true biker…but what about INDIAN and VICTORY? Those are brands of American-made bikes as well.
So is ownership of these an exception to the rule? (I better note here, before you start sending hate mail, that I am not a Harley hater. I would own one if I could find the right one.)
A funny observation however is that along with owning a Harley Davidson, you are somewhat expected to buy Harley clothes. This would include t-shirts from every dealer you pass from all over the country to show that you have shopped at their store and sent even more money to Harley corporate.
There is everything Harley from shirts to pants to baby clothes…
Not to mention all the other Harley products that you are pressured into owning and displaying in every aspect of your life.
You can even get a Harley Davidson-themed Ford pick-up truck or Harley-themed International semi tractor.
I should also point out here that there are Motorcycle clubs out there where you have to own a Harley to be a member…and vice versa, clubs that you have to own a metric bike or other certain brand to be in them, but this leads to one of the other answers I got on my survey…
that when you think biker, you think FREEDOM.
When it comes to a motorcycle, regardless of the manufacturer, FREEDOM of the open road is definitely what hooks you, and it was a pretty popular answer.
The first time I was out in the country rolling through curves on my first bike, my Kawasaki Ninja, I was addicted. The wind in your face, the air against your skin, and the adrenaline coursing through your veins is indescribable if you have never experienced it. But for some, this is where the FREEDOM ends.
It’s sometimes the natural progression of riding, and it drags you in. First, you get the bike and learn to ride. Then, you do a few runs with other people and start hanging out with groups and enjoying the camaraderie . Then, comes the draw to become part of the group and join a club.
For some, this is where the freedom part ends. You get a leather vest and buy all kinds of patches that fit your attitude and personality. Then, you are told by your club which patches you can or can’t have, and depending on the colors of your patches, where you can or can’t go because your “colors” represent your area and affiliation. (The rules between clubs can be quite complex.)
For a lot of people, this is great, and they spend their lives in the MC world without a second thought. For others, they go back on their own, or go from club to club trying to find the right fit. (I guess the best way to describe it is switching from the Lion’s club to the Jaycee’s….just with a shit ton more rules.)
I myself have been a member of a motorcycle club and really enjoyed it and will probably join another one in the future if the open road leads me there.
The answers to my Facebook survey ran from some of what I have covered here to things like TRUSTWORTHY, BROTHER, and “us.” Regardless of your idea of a biker, a lot of true bikers are generally VERY trustworthy and loyal people, and they will go out of there way to help anyone in need. It is thrown around a lot that bikers give more to charity every year than most people, and that statement could not be more true. From charity rides to just helping random people in need, it is a biker code to help others.
I love being a biker and will continue to be until the day I die. If you have never hung out with bikers, you definitely should, and you will never be the same.
Until my next blog topic or flash Facebook poll…