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GOING THE DISTANCE
"BIKERS STUCK IN THE 1960s"
PHOTO BY GENGHIS
JEFFERSON AIRPLANE, FILLMORE EAST 1968:
Like the Airplane, I'm stuck in the 60s.
MICHAEL ARNEGGER, SAN FRANCISO:
"What do you think of the V-Rod?"
"Not a real Harley, Mike. A traditional Harley has lots of torque, lots of low-end grunt. The V-Rod to me is more like a Japanese motorcycle."
I've known Mike Arnegger since I took that picture of the Jefferson Airplane at the Fillmore East, but haven't seen him for over 40 years. Ya see, I used to be married to Mike's sister, a long time ago. However, I've kept in touch with Mike because he's like my younger brother. Mike's thinking about getting a motorcycle, much different than the vehicle he owned when I last saw him in San Diego around 1970. Back then, he had a Volkswagen Karmann Ghia. Mike's question got me to thinking about how the biker world has moved on past my antiquaited biker opinions, and has seemingly changed drastically beyond and not above, but below what I consider true biker principles, as represented by the prevalent opinions of 40 years ago.
Is it true? Has the biker world changed that much, or is what we see in print media and TV not really representative, of what the biker world is now? I say that the biker subculture is the same as it's always been with true bikers, and that the biker world as depicted in the media, is not in lockstep with the subculture. The subculture has gone underground, thriving but unpublicized. Why seek publicity when ya have all ya need as a biker, your Harley-Davidson? Traditional Harleys have always been the backbone of the culture, and they always will be, end of story.
Yeah man, represent! Represent what true biker values are, or what they should be! Are there enclaves of bikers who still think like me, and feel that the current scene is pussy-whipped and lame? I hope so. Forty years ago, the biker world was all about the bikers 'emselves and the outlaw ethic. The essence of the biker world (or the way it's represented in the media) seems so watered down, where it's now all about the styles of bikes, celeb "master builders" and superficial issues, rather than the outlaw ethic that drove the biker subculture since the 1930s. B.S and Biker Lites, man--they prevail now. I recently picked up a bunch of biker rags on a whim. Among 'em are THBC, American Cycle, Backstreet Havoc and Cycle Source. The only one I've cracked open so far is Cycle Source, and what do I see on the editorial page, speaking of? The editor of Cycle Source on a V-Rod.
I haven't opened the new THBC yet, but I know what's going to hit me in the eye like a big pizza pie, but it ain't amore', man. It's gonna be a gazillion Japanese Junque chops hacked and sawed until only the essence of the motorcycle is left: a disposable toaster of a junk motor that has about much class as Lohan's latest felony charge. It's disturbing how this magazine encourages what is obviously a mortal sin in the real biker world: the proliferation of junk bikes based on junque platforms.
I can tell you this right now, regardless of what year this is. Regardless of whether this is 2011 or 1968, class shows in Harley-Davidson motors. I admit that any motor after 1983 leaves me cold. After the shovelhad powerplant, the other motors that were hatched by The Firm inspire zero feeling in me. While I can recognize and appreciate their capabilties, this cognitive nod to their technical benefits is not the same as recognizing that certain motors have soul, and class.
The same could be said of Japanese bikes, that one could render an objective opinion about their capabilties, but the biker subculture doesn't revolve around road tests and 0-60 times. The subculture is built on a foundation of traditions. Traditions beget tenets, which should be upheld with the utmost due diligence, something that the current biker media does not do in its rush to broad-based appeal. There isn't a more passionate and loyal group of people who are single-mindedly dedicated to their core principles, than bikers. This is a culture in which its members would rather fight than switch. Harleys Forever, man.
Instead of upholding the highest standards of the biker subculture, magazines are pandering to the lowest common denominator in an effort to broaden their readership base. It must be about the money, man. Why else would magazines feature bikes based on what the biker subculture has always reviled as Junque? Junque bikes reveal Junque principles. Junque principles dilute the purity of the biker subculture. You gotta be kiddin' me with all of the Japanese bikes that litter these magazine pages. It's like a total sellout.
Can any biker worth his 60 weight look at a Yamaha 650 custom and say with a straight face that this type of motorcycle has any right to be considered part of the biker subculture? I doubt it. It has a right to be in the motorcycling world, but that is a different and more less exclusive animal than the biker subculture, as we know it. Or is that knew it, past tense? Are the biker subculture and true bikers endangered species?
As bikers, we have to stick to our principles, or else we all become Biker Lites Emeritus, just like the sellouts.
Could you imagine yourself trading your knuckle, pan or shovel for a V-Rod? How about for a Kawasaki chopper? I didn't think so. The current scene as represented by the media has become much too P.C.---kissing the posteriors of bikes that were always considered outside the traditional subculture box for good reason: no class. Later.