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.


  1. Thanks for sharing your views on motorcycling image. Thought provoking. I can agree with some of your comments about bikers following sheepishly the Harley crowd. Let me present you however with a different view on protective motorcycle clothing.

    I believe in wearing appropriate clothing. When I meet customers I usually wear a necktie. If I do some bike maintanannce I wear my blue overall. If I grind metal I wear eye protection, if I use my circular saw I wear tough gloves too. I take my jobs seriously and part of this lies in the preparation. In the workshop I wear tough hard-nosed boots, even when it is hot. Saved my toes a number of times from injury.

    Biking is the same. Here in the UK a biker is about 30 times more likely to be involved in an accident resulting in serious injury or death compared to a car driver. My padded leather suit will protect me to some extend from the worst of road rash. My full-face helmet will protect my head from brain injury. Riding with full protective gear is my way of saying "I take riding a motorcycle seriously". Now it is summer time here in England and I wear a padded mesh jacket and kevlar reenforced jeans.

    When I see people riding in their T-shirt and flip-flops then I think that they do not take their own safety seriously enough, nor do they treat riding a motorcycle with enough respect. OK you live in a warm climate but you can still get protective clothing. You cannot assume you'll never have an 'off'.

    As for helmet stickers, how about one that mentions a consent for organ donation and the telephone number of your next of kin?

    Cheers from England, Mansie

  2. you shouldn't want to look like a biker unless you are one then you don't have to try. Dumbasses. And I aint ridin no kawasickie. Fag.

  3. maybe it comes down to each there on, different strokes theory.I do think its odd when somebody that never showed intrest in bikes suddenly gets the bug.they cant ride for shit and in a week they are the bikers biker.I ride when i can and do my own repairs. I have been doing that since i was 12yrs old [about 32 yrs].So when a newbe comes around and in a week and has a new bike and head to toe leather and all the pins and patches the internet has to offer.and wants to think he more of a biker than me it does make you think about whats a real biker.........

  4. I am willing to introduce motorcycle clothing , made in Leather and Textile. We are also having a range of accessories like safety jacket and gloves for bikers.

  5. Interesting, I can get behind your logic regarding the doo-rag and the patches. I can also fully endorse the deeper suggestion that one should simply be themselves. Not that my endorsement was needed.

    However, I saw within the post a condemnation of safety equipment on the basis of looks, cost, and inconvenience. While the amount and quality of safety gear should always be an individual choice we need to be real and acknowledge that a helmet alone is not enough. There is a significant cost to the individual, the motorcycle community and society as a whole whenever a biker sustains unnecessary injuries that could have been mitigated by riding gear. I still believe choice trumps those costs but to discourage the use of gear on the basis of gear cost, inconvenience, and looks does a disservice to everyone. Thinking you are too good to go down is arrogant at best.

    Wearing riding pants could save a leg from amputation due to rash. That is something I would call cool. I know this post is about a year old but had to comment. Thanks.

  6. Interesting, I can get behind your logic regarding the doo-rag and the patches. I can also fully endorse the deeper suggestion that one should simply be themselves. Not that my endorsement was needed.

  7. I had to add this about the 'doo-rag'. I wear one always under my helmet, but then again, I wear it at work (welder at a steel mill). And yes, I occasionally do wear 'em when I go up to visit my mom. True enough, though, if you don't wear 'em, tying a brand new, crunchy one around your head will make you look like kind of a squirrel!

  8. Your views and comments put a smile on my face. It was like you was speaking on my behalf? Although I never knew what a Do-rag was...LOL. It takes a while to be (not become) a biker. A long time ago whilst in jail me and a buddy had a simular conversation as you did. The question came up "whats the difference between a Biker and a Motorcyclist? From absolutely nowhere came my answer.....Maybe it was just a natural reaction maybe not? I siad. "When a motorcyclist is not on he's bike he becomes a pedestrian". Obviously that remark (or fact) does offend some "Motorcyclists" But then I have to ask....."DILLIGAF" Thanks man. All the best. Vini

  9. whats with the shaved head and goatee?

  10. Since when is a metric bike "better quality" than a Harley-Davidson? Let's count the metric bikes in the junk yards and then "try" to find the Harleys. I hope I have wised you up a bit son.

  11. I have seen more posers wearing literally thousands of dollars in Harley branded gear, that have no clue how to ride. Its not only harley riders but as a rule of thumb its most, that I see like this. This is just an observation.

    All of that aside, this is my take on the above subject. I wear chaps, vest, and a bandana, and boots (all unmarked). Technically I am a new rider, although I have spent more hours off road on 2 wheels than most have period on 2 wheels. I wear this type of gear for the same reason I wear chest waders and a fishing vest while I'm on the river instead of shorts and keeping my fly box in my pocket. Or wearing jeans and a hoodie while snowboarding, instead of the full gear I do wear. Because I dress the part of who I am. I have chosen my hobbies because its who I am. I fully immerse myself in my hobbies. It doesn't make me a fake or a poser. I wear all of the above for protection, and practicality. Wearing jeans alone and a t shirt on a bike is idiotic.

  12. Quit judging. It doesn't matter what you wear or what you long as you ride. Harley gear, do-rags, metrics, vests, t-shirts....who cares. Wear what makes you feel good. Ride what you can afford, and ride enough miles per year to keep your skills honed. The rest will take care of itself.

  13. You are awesome man, you described me. You are the best.Thanks.

  14. I'm quite amused by the attitudes here. It doesn't really matter if you look like a dildo or a 1%er. Be safe my friends and enjoy the ride. Its not about a name-brand or a look. Its about doing what you want. If you are riding to impress someone, try being yourself and do something else. Safety first! Ive survived for 55 yrs with this advice. Looking like something that you aren't can cause you some bad problems.

  15. true brother, I don't really CARE what bikers wear. I am a biker myself, almost. I'm 15, and I have a family of bikers, and no not the Sons of Anarchy. I made my own mc called The Weed Reapers of West Monroe. I am the only one besides my old lady.

  16. The original story is dead on. I'm a biker. Besides weather conditions making me dress differently I wear jeans, sneakers and a t-shirt. Me and my ol lady get a kick out of watching the summertime ride crowd all flocking around in their "biker" gear. No disrespect to my old timer brothers who truly dress that way cause that was the times and falling off your scoot was much more common. Right wing capitalists love wanna be bikers LMfAO. Club riding is different with your vest representing your brothers on a ride. But 95% of my miles per year up here in the north is just done in jeans and a t-shirt. It's what I wear everywhere. As the story writer says. Why dress different to get on your scoot. By the way I'm not safety conscious if that makes you think I'm an idiot well I guess I'm an idiot lol. Ride on!

  17. do whatever makes you feel good, no one gives a fuck anyways. if you wanna wear cowboy boots and a snapback go for it


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...)