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Photo by Genghis

MY SUPER GLIDE "MABEL:" Extolling her virtues causes mixed feelings in readers.


"I really love this guy's writing. Gets me all fired up The dude definitely has no problem putting his opinion out there for sure, and his writing brings out emotions from down deep. Sometimes I get a little bent at his constant jabbing at other peoples' take on what is, or is not a beautiful and functional bike. Don't get me wrong, I definitely have my own opinion on these things as well. I just try to realize that the next dude probably doesnt give a .... what I think about his bike. This is something that is truly personal to an individual.

Such a 'matter of fact" opinion ironically comes off a bit like the 'elitists' you so often take .... on, and makes a young and relatively fresh guy like myself, (who could not care less what everyone else is doing to their bikes), feel like somehow my ideas are invalid, lame, or that I'm somehow following a trend. I ride an EVO, it has a push-button start, no rear suspension, and more time put into aesthetics than engine performance. But you know what, .... you dude!

The only engine Harley ever built in my lifetime is an EVO and mine runs great, I totally dig my push-button start, and if I can't afford to own a 1948 panhead, or a shovel right now, then I'll keep customizing my 2007 sportster to reflect all the things I love about those older bikes, hardtail, springer seat and all. Not because anyone else did it, or suggested it, but because that's exactly what the ... I want to do. To be completely honest, I feel like I am pretty goddamn clueless as to what's cool or not cool in "biker culture". I've always just kind of embraced my naivete and resigned myself to do whatever I think would be awesome, and if it's lame to everyone else, .... 'em.

I suppose it wouldn't bother me in the slightest little bit if I didn't agree with 98% of what this dude says, but as it turns out I actually respect his opinion, just like I do yours, so when his words jump off the page at me, it's as if he has somehow kicked me directly in the nuts. As I read, I constantly remind myself that opinions are like assholes, everybody's got one. I'll keep doing whatever the .... I want to do to my bike and loving every second I spend riding it, and that's that. Keep sending me these things. I dig this guy, even if he pisses me off sometimes."


I like it when my writing makes readers think. I like it even better when it makes 'em think and feel passionate about Harleys and the biker subculture. You know you've got 'em, when they say that you ticked 'em off like hell, but they they still respect you anyway. That's what gratifies me about writing. It's gratifying to me that a reader is feeling so passionate about his Harley, that he defends his turf: His choice of bike. A biker's motorcycle, is his heart. His Harley Heart, and it beats close to his soul. That's what it boils down to in the biker subculture, one's relationship with his or her bike. All else is extraneous and peripheral to the center of it all, one's bike.

When Anonymous Reader said that I sound like the "elitists" I accuse others of being, he is right. But that is merely a matter of persepctive. As soon as Anonymous Reader admits that I'm always right, then his perception of me as an elitist will quickly evolve into the correct opinion, that I'm always right and my detractors are always wrong. When someone in a crowd cries out, "Oh my God!" I think someone's calling me by name. When someone drops a quarter on the ground and gets on his hands and knees to retrieve it, I think he's bowing down to me.

Just kidding.

I can relate to what Anonymous Reader feels. Even though I spent much of my time while I owned my '68 XLCH pining for a shovelhead, I still loved Sally The Bitch. Obviously, I felt the Super Glide was more the bike for me, more in tune with my brain's Harley Waves than the XLCH, but that doesn't mean that there are absolutes with respect to what's "best" or "better." Look at Snow's choice of bike now, a 1969 XLCH. That's more in tune with his mind's Harley Waves, but I don't believe that he'd proclaim Sportsters the "best" or "better" than Big Twins.

Many photographers get caught up in the stupid "what's the best camera" debate, when they should be concentrating on improving their technique instead. There is a saying in photography, about what the "best camera" is: The best camera, is the one that you're carrying at the time. For each biker, the best motorcycle is the one he or she is riding at the time. Bikers have a great deal of pride tied up in their motorcycles. That should respected. The exception to this rule, are japbikes. These are pure junque. Publications that promote japjunque are suspect.

The only opinion that should matter to a biker is his or her own. This is as it should be. By my stating what I believe is the best, I am not directly attacking others opinions, merely touting mine. Anonymous Reader states that only his opinion matters. That's good. That is a principle I've lived by: I don't give a crap what anybody thinks of me, I'll do what I think is best and right. I'll judge what I think is correct, and in my eyes, I'll be right 100% of the time.

Photo by Genghis

MY OLD SPORTSTER SALLY: I wanted a Super Glide, but still loved Sally.

I'll say one thing for Anonymous Reader's Harley. It is a Harley, and all Harleys are head and shoulders above the bikes owned by the Hacked Up Hondas M.C. Sportsters have such an illustrious history that they should be Oranges, as compared to the Big Twin Apples. That being said, when I was a young guy on a Sportster, I constantly dreamt of the day when I could own a shovelhead, so strong was my desire for one.

To be honest, the only biker I've ever known who owned Big Twins and couldn't wait to get an XLCH, is David Snow. David has always marched to a different drumbeat, but that means that he thinks for himself. Isn't that what I'm always preaching about, bikers who should think for themselves instead of follow trends, or cave to peer pressure? Nope, Snow is definitely not a member of the Me-Too M.C. Dave's a free thinker.

Regardless of what type of Harley you ride though, we should all be concerned about a new health hazard of Harley riding, that I just learned about. Did you know that you could go deaf from riding yer Harley? Yup. It's true, and I'm not talking about loud pipes. I almost went deaf today, while riding Mabel. The Mabes and I were toolin' along at a nice legal pace of 50 plus, when the traffic on the highway piled up and came to a stop. It then started and stopped, and started and stopped in frustrating fits, and this in temps of close to 100 today. Mabel does not like to idle in such weather. I thought to myself, "Must've been a wreck ahead, just great...' As Mabel and I both fumed.

After a mile of this starting and stopping, never gettin' out of first gear, a fire engine pulled directly in back of us, blaring its' siren at full blast. I mean that the fire truck's front bumper was five inches away from Mabel's rear fender, and the siren that was mounted there was of a height so that the sound was aimed at my head. I couldn't tell ya how many decibels that siren was screaming its little heart at, because I wasn't carrying a decibelmeter with a Absolutely and Totally Deaf range for needle movement. Place an air horn about three feet from your head and blast away, to appreciate the experience.

Now, we were in the right lane of a three lane highway. The fire engine wanted the cars in the middle and left lanes to swing into the right lane, so the fire engine could advance to whatever disaster was causing the traffic jam. But natch, the cars in the middle and left lanes were doing no such thing. So, with nowhere to go myself, my ears had to endure the cacophany from the wailing siren, until we reached the nearest Eye & Ear Specialty Hospital. Can you say ruptured tympanic membrane? Man, just point me to the otolaryngology department!

The traffic soon loosened enough for the fire truck to advance past me. So did cop cars, ambulances and a flatbed tow truck. Turns out that two cars wrecked each other at high speed. At one point where the traffic wasn't moving at all, I turned Mabel off because I was worried about her overheating. She was grateful. This brings up something I have in common with Anonymous Reader: Mabel has electric start too. I wouldn't have been as quick to shut her down on the highway, with kick-only. I'll be honest with ya, man. Today was one day when I was happy to get off the bike, and climb under a cold shower.

Photos by Genghis

COULD IT BE?: Rigid Sporty with a push-button starter.

I've been seeing this Sportster on Avenue A in Alphabet City in NYC lately. Let's see, Anonymous Reader has a rigid Sportster with electric start. Could this be his bike? Hmmm. By the way, this bike has no plate on it. Just an observation to Anonymous Reader about statements along the lines of, "....if I can't afford to own a 1948 panhead or shovel right now, then I'll...." Statements like this remind me of what bikers on Limeys in '60s said, which revealed what they really thought deep down about their Britbikes. They'd say, "I'm riding this (insert "Trumpet" or "Beezer" here) until I can afford a Harley." Later.