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  • Are You A Real Biker?


    reprinted from BB.com , October 2004
    copyright owned by author



    Are You A Real Biker?

    Welcome to October's edition of Customarily Minded. Cooler weather is upon us now that summer is over, and many motorcyclists are out on the road either enjoying said cooler weather or logging their final miles of the year before putting their rides into hibernation for winter. This month I will reflect on an offspring topic that came from the article I published last month ("This Brand versus That"), and it also serves to counter a point I got into from last October's editorial ("The Wave"). This is a topic that becomes a highly debated one in many forums, often tarnished with slanderous remarks, so I can only hope that this will put some closure on it. It will for me at least. That said, let's strap on our DOT approved biker lids and look into the much heated issue of what a "real biker" is.

    Many of us by now have heard the remarks of what construes a "real biker". Probably the single largest one would have to be "You have to own a (insert brand/model/size here) to be a real biker." Last month's editorial shed some light from the point of view based on a Motorcycle Club member (often referred to as a 1%-er), the type of person that most "real biker" comparisons have to stack up to, since these types of riders are the ones that truly live the motorcycle lifestyle. Let's face it, many of these types own a motorcycle and little else, and their devotion to their club and the motorcycle lifestyle is unparalleled. So I thought that those words were not only inspiring but true, especially considering the source.

    But unfortunately those words fall on deaf ears (and blind eyes as is the case for published internet content), as there will always be that "elitist" group that has to set their boundaries on such premises. And sadly that group isn't comprised of a single type or class of people, they come from all walks of life; be it the wealthy upper classed, urban middle classed, all the way down to the lower and under classed. Yes, it stems from yuppies all the way down to the homeless when it comes to measuring up.

    Measuring up is something I got into in last October's edition, but alas another year has passed. I'm a little older, a little wiser, and I'm beginning to find hair growing in weird places...but back to the point. I have to reflect on what I once thought about as to what a "real biker" is again, and attempting to point out where I felt such folks fell short in the past. Was I right? I thought I was, but a year later I think otherwise. Do I continue to look down on folks that don't ride but choose to measure up my "bikerdom" based on what I ride? Definitely yes, but allow me to continue. I have since matured from the "die yuppie scum" mentality to one that is a bit more user friendly. What difference does it make if you ride to a bike rally or trailer the bike there? Does one really make you more of a biker than the other? Let's just say that I've come to another realization: Trailering your bike to a rally is fine, just don't counter it by buying patches that say "I rode my Bike to the Rally" (That's another gem I collected from the 1%-er crowd).

    Okay so I seem to be glorifying this 1%-er group. While I don't condone or condemn these groups or individuals, I have learned from them. I can respect them for what they are, individuals that are part of a group of other like-minded individuals, totally committed to the motorcycle lifestyle. Me, I'm more of an enthusiast, I doubt if I could ever leave it all to live that lifestyle, and this is where I fall short in their eyes. But they don't hold that against me, since I don't hold it against them. I respect them for their decisions and they respect me for mine. There's a mutual respect anytime I come into contact with such folks, they aren't measuring me up as a biker... instead they are measuring me up as a person. If I show them respect I'll get some back, but if I show them attitude, ignorance, or other negative remarks, well I'd certainly deserve whatever I get coming, no matter how you regard these folks. Simple ethics here, disrespect earns you problems.

    But what I'm getting at here is these folks are the ones I and countless others construe as "real bikers", and none of the ones I've interacted with have ever felt the need to tell me I'm not a real biker. I'm not saying that there aren't any such elitist types in any of those organizations, I'm sure there are, just like in any other situation there will always be the (often self-imposed) supreme beings that feel the need to stand on a soapbox and tell the rest of us "like it is". And since those guys that I looked up to as being the "real biker" on my yardstick never told me like it is, who am I to tell it like it is to anyone else? I came to realize that why should I look at anyone that doesn't fit into my lifestyle profile as anything less (or more) than what I am?

    In short, motorcycling allows us to be individuals, exposed to the completeness that can only be described as ultimate freedom. Freedom means being able to do what you want. If I can't do what I want based on the opinions of others, then I'm not free. I suppose what I'm getting at here is that if I have to measure someone up to what takes to make them a real biker, then I'm not one myself. And if I have to further explain that to you...well I'd probably have to rehash some overly played out decades-old cliches as well and you probably still wouldn't understand.




    Let Shadow Shack know that you probably understand by emailing him through his profile


    Customarily Minded Machine of the Month



    This month's Machine is quite the fruit of labor. What we're looking at here is a custom Softail Sportster. There isn't much stock Sportster left on this bike, outside the engine everything is aftermarket, from the raked softail frame to the extended forks, the wild bodywork to the streamlined seat and handlebars, from the custom rims and tires to the meaty exhaust; this bikes screams the word custom in every regard.
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