Friday, February 29, 2008

How to Look Like a Biker

how to look like a bikerMy friend and I were having lunch yesterday talking about various folks we know in the local motorcycle riding community.

The subject of "wannabes" came up.

These days, I ride my motorcycle wearing the same clothes that I wear anywhere else, which is a t-shirt, a pair of jeans, and my pair of Wolverines. I don't wear a leather jacket, in fact I don't wear any leather, except for my Wolverines.

I do wear a leather jacket when its cold outside, however.

I don't wear a doo-rag. I would never wear a doo-rag at work, or eating out with my wife, or visiting my mom. So why would I wear one on a motorcycle? Some guys say that it protects you from getting "helmet hair". But so what, I'm married and I'm not trying to win a beauty contest. I know guys with bald heads that wear them, and they say it helps keep the sweat out of their helmets. I suppose there are logistical reasons for wearing a doo-rag, but I just don't wear them.

I don't wear chaps either. I know they keep your legs warm and dry, I realize there is a practical reason for them. I don't like having to put on a lot of gear, it's enough to just to have to wear a helmet.

I don't stick ride pins all over my vest. Some guys think wearing a hundred ride pins is a badge of honor. I don't really care to tell people how many times I've attended a particular rally or poker run. The only I wear on my vest is my club patch.

And as far as vests are concerned, I don't wear those either. I do wear my vest when I'm riding with my club, or any other function where I want to represent my club. Outside of the club, I don't wear a vest. Like I said earlier, I would never wear a vest in any other capacity or event, so why would I wear one on my motorcycle?

I don't have stickers on my helmet as well. I do have the "DOT" sticker, because that's the law in California.

I don't hang a whip from my clutch lever. I know a lot of guys think it's cool, but whoever uses them anyways? It's purely for looks. I know one guy who burned out his clutch plates because the wind pulled the whip back just enough.

How many Harley riders do you know, who go around saying, "metric sucks", only to find out later that they used to own metric bikes? I know some of these guys! They originally bought a metric bike because they realized you get a better quality bike, with more power, for less money. But later on they realized that if you want to be cool, you have to have a Harley.

If you want to look like a biker, take a look at the guys who practically live on their motorcycles. These are the folks who ride 40,000 miles each year and up. You're not going to see thousands of dollars worth of leather and steel adorning their persons. With some of these people, you'd never know they were motorcycle riders unless you saw them on a motorcycle. They just wear the same clothes that the rest of the world wears.

That's because people who take riding seriously, are not concerned about image. Most of these guys are loners and prefer to be that way. They're concerned about comfort, and ease. And if you ride that many miles each year, you gotta save up your money for tires and gas.

For me, I guess it goes back to my college days, before there was a helmet law in California. If I needed to go somehwere, I just jump on my Kawasaki, with my t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops, and go. No preparations necessary.

If you consider yourself a "newbie" rider, my advice is to be yourself. If the doo-rag truly is part of your being, then go for it. But don't wear it just because other bikers wear it. Trying to be someone that you're not is probably one of the most "un-biker-like" things you can do.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Can Women Join Motorcycle Clubs?

A lady e-mailed me asking if women are allowed to join "traditional" motorcycle clubs.

The answer is "no".

Most three-piece patch motorcycle clubs do not allow women to become full-fledged members. Women are seen as "property of" patched members. A club member's woman can party and hang out with the club, but usually that's about it. The motorcycle club is a man's club.

Some motorcycle clubs have an auxiliary club for women, but do not offer members any priviledges into the motorcycle club itself.

The one-piece patch motorcycle clubs, on the other hand, often do let women join as full-fledged members and wear club patches. They go through the same process of hanging around, becoming a prospect, and then earning their patch.

Riding clubs also allow women to join.

Of course, there are also motorcycle clubs for women that are not associated with any men's motorcycle clubs. Depending on what state they're located in, they may even have membership with the COC.

The reasons for excluding women is largely because of tradition. The clubs that spawned after WWII largely came about as soliders, sailors, and pilots returned from the war and still wanted some kind of club that kept their clicques together. They found motorcycles, and rode together, just like flying planes in a squadron. That brotherhood continued forward as a standard among motorcycle clubs.

There's also a practical reason, and it's that when you allow women to have full priviledges as patch holders, the members jeopardize their brotherhood bond. Women patchholders start romances with the male patchholders, jealously sets in, and then revenge. The club starts fragmenting into smaller clicques.

It's not just an issue with three-piece patch clubs, but in all clubs. It's just that three-piece patch clubs simply can't afford to have these issues.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Why Guys Don't Take Their Wives and Girlfriends on Rides

riding motorcyclesI saw a question on another website from a woman asking why her boyfriend won't take her for a motorcycle ride when he goes out with his buddies.

There's a smaller reason that when guys go out riding, they want to burn up the roads, go fast, take their bikes hard into the corners. Having a passenger on the back makes the bike top-heavy, and not as nimble.

Not only that, but chicks tend to complain when you ride a motorcycle too fast.

But the bigger reason is that when guys go out riding, it's a male-bonding thing. Guys riding bikes together is like a pack, a sense of brotherhood, all for one, one for all kind of thing. Having your significant other there with you tends to ruin the feeling.

When a girlfriend or wife is riding along, the other guys tend to be on their best, or better, behavior. They feel like they can't let out those really raunchy jokes, or make comments about that cute chick walking by. When a group of guys go out on their bikes, they want to let loose and be totally disgusting.

Just because a guy is married, or has a steady girlfriend doesn't mean he has to let go of his masculinity. What often causes men to become frustrated with their relationships is that they feel tied down and unable to go out running with the pack.

There's a time when guys do want to take their women for a ride. It's usually on more formal rides and events, like poker runs, rallies, and bike nights, or when he wants to spend time alone with his gal.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

What's Makes a Biker Bar?

There's a popular biker bar here in Southern California that's being boycotted by at least one riding club.

About a year back, several members of this riding club showed up on a busy weekend afternoon, and asked the server write up separate checks for everyone. When she informed them that separate checks was against their policy, an argument broke out.

The owner was called in, and he reaffirmed the policy, no separate checks. The club also complained about the attitude of the server. The owner defended his server, and that brought about a more heated argument. The "discussion" concluded with the owner making a comment about the girth of one of their female members' butt.

Some of the members of the club left in disgust and vowed never to return, and went on several motorcycle web forums to describe what happened, and urged everyone to join the boycott.

One on hand, you can argue that a biker bar is still a business that needs its customers, and it should take on a "the customer is always right" attitude. On the other hand, this is exactly what a biker bar is.

Look at any other biker bar, and if you were to complain that they wouldn't write up separate checks, or if the server gave you some attitude, do you really think you're going to get sympathy from others?

Like one of my friends said, if you want fast service with a smile, then go to McDonald's and get a Happy Meal. No one goes to a biker bar so that they can feel special.

The way this biker bar handled the situation is exactly how I would have expected them to handle it. If this were a Starbucks, I would have expected a different outcome.

I don't know of any biker bar that kisses your ass.

The real test is if this biker bar loses business over this, and so far it hasn't had much effect. Construction on the highway on which this establishment is located is having a greater effect. Either people are taking the attitude that they haven't been disrespected by this place, or that they love the hard-nosed service they get.

So what makes a biker bar? Aside from a great location, cold beer and good food, it's the clientele, or rather, lack of a certain clientele. You don't want to hang out some place where kids are running around, and where you have to refrain from foul language and be on your best behavior. In other words, you want a bar that scares most people away so that you can be yourself and be free from the non-riding public. That's why biker bars are what they are.

Otherwise, you'd just go to a TGI Fridays and enjoy shiny happy service.

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Friday, February 1, 2008

Women Who Ride Motorcycles

woman who ride motorcyclesThere's a lot of guys who'll say that there's something sexy about a woman who rides her own motorcycle.

I've tried to figure out exactly what it is that these women have in common that women passengers don't have. And I can't put my finger on it.

I know a lot of women who ride their own, and they're all different. Even if you look at the chicks that ride only as passengers, many have the same personalities and characteristics as those who operate a bike.

I can certainly agree with those who say that there's something sexy about these girls. But I don't think it's that they're more sexy, it's just that they offer a chance of pace. Sometimes you want a gal who submits to you, other times you want a gal that takes you on "mano a mano", and other times you want to just relax and let her do the work. Both women riders and women passengers are equally as sexy, it's just what mood you're in.

Of those women who'd rather ride as passengers, many of them are fully capable of mastering a motorcycle, but just rather not learn how. They're still very much capable of doing things on their own. But then again, I know of some female passengers who I doubt could ever master one.

I know of one gal who can easily hold her own in anything she does, but takes the attitude that it's her place to ride on the back of her husband's bike. She says she puts all her faith into his ability to ride, and that there's no reason why she should have to ride her own.

Contrast that with another gal I know of, who loves to ride her own bike, and would prefer to take a 300 mile ride through the twisties and hang out with us guys over some beers, than go to a Pampered Chef party. If you had a girlfriend like this it would be like having a riding buddy that you could stick your dick into.

The thing is that many women who ride their own often ride smaller bikes, like Sportsters, or pretty bikes like Deluxes. It would be even more sexy I suppose if a gal was riding something more "manly", like a Road King or a heavy tourer like a Yamaha Venture.

I saw a statistic somewhere that the Softail Deluxe was the closest thing to a "chick bike" that Harley has, simply because on a male-to-female sales ratio, it's the closest to a 1-to-1 ratio of all bikes. You'd think that the Sportster was closer to a 1-to-1 ratio, but apparently there's still more guys buying Sporties.

So, if you're a gal who rides a motorcycle, and wondered what bike you could ride that would make you really sexy? I suppose that answer varies from one guy to another, but I think a Road King with apes, or a Dyna Wide Glide, looks pretty awesome when piloted by a chick.

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Motorcycle Therapy

motorcycle therapyWent riding today with a friend of mine, first stopping at a cafe for lunch, and then taking a short ride around the area.

Just before leaving the cafe, we ran into a mutual friend of ours who we often ride with. He was talking about having to go to marriage counseling, or actually "communication therapy", whatever that is. He said he told his doctor that he already rides his motorcycle for therapy.

I think pretty much all motorcycle riders get therapy from riding. It's why many of them have stuck with riding for so long.

It pretty much makes sense. When you're riding, you're by yourself, even when riding with others. You can run away from all the crap that gets on your nerves, and get out into the "great wide open".

You could still drive your car instead, but being in a car gives you a sense of protection and enclosure from the outside. It's being outside and moving through the air that provides the therapy. And it doesn't hurt to lay on the throttle and feel some torque.

In warmer temperatures I like to peel off layers down to a t-shirt and jeans. The more I am able to jump on my bike with no preparation, the more I feel as if I'm running from my troubles. Conversely, putting on the leathers, packing some supplies, and performing a check of the bike, kinda ruins the spontaniety of motorcycle therapy.

Full face helmets is almost like driving a car for me. I used to wear a full face helmet in my college days, and I much prefer the half-helmet. I remember during those college days learning how to sneeze inside a full face helmet without splattering the face-shield.

A couple of years ago I embarked on a 12-day motorcycle trip up and down the Pacific Coast with a friend of mine, riding north up the coast highway, over to Idaho, and coming back down the 395 along the Sierras. During the trip you get a sense that your world has been reduced to just the road and your buddy, eating at whatever place looks good, and finding a place to camp, or maybe splurging on a hotel. Either way, all the options were on the table, we could do anything we wanted.

What sucked was trying to adjust back into my daily routine once the trip was over. I fell into a brief sense of depression. After 12-days of life on the road with no plans or committments, it was tough to be productive again.

The thing about "motorcycle therapy" is that it doesn't really refocus or replenish your being. Rather, it just makes you feel good. As soon as it is over, you don't feel any better, you're just bummed that you have to slip back into your routine.

I wonder if someday I'll be able to sell my house, and live a life on the road; and truly live the biker lifestyle. I'll pack my laptop and carry it with me everywhere I go, and earn my living publishing websites like my Biker News blog.

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About Steve

A vagabond who hauls a motorcycle around the country in a toy hauler, earning a living as a website developer. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, craft beer, and/or public nudity. (Read more...)