For many decades, two contradictory, almost mutually exclusive images of bikers have taken shape. On the one hand, bikers are freedom-loving and strong people who are not scared of anything. They fear neither death and risk, nor rain and wind. The speed is their best friend and the long road is their loyal companion. This image is especially cultivated within the biker communities. On the other hand, the media has created an image of bikers who disrespect the law and ‘civilians’. In the eyes of regular people, these motorcyclists are destroyers, enemies of society. The close connection of the bikers with crime became a stereotype. So … bikers, what are they? Adventurous, bold, romantic in their own way, or are they criminals on motorcycles who reject the laws and norms of society? Let's figure it out.
The Modern Image of a Biker
Until recently, the concept of a biker extended exclusively to owners of choppers. Typical bikers wear leather clothes and an abundance of biker jewelry made of silver and steel. Long hair and beard complement this look.
Today, this image is fading away and gradually losing popularity among the masses. Now a more pretentious and “fashionable” image has emerged, which formed under the influence of modern youth trends, especially related to the so-called sports bikes. The high speed of a sports bike forces a motorcyclist to wear astronaut-like gears. Such a look is at odds with the canonical image of old bikers. With rare exceptions, modern motorcyclists do not have an idea of how to behave in a certain situation or how to properly maintain the image of a true biker. Only some clubs headed by orthodox leaders and free riders (independent bikers) propagate the “good old” practices and pass down traditions from generation to generation.
Hells Angels and other similar MCs are called “outcast”. They were rejected by the American Motorcycle Association, which unites only “decent motorcyclists”. Such motorcycle clubs don’t treat the law, bikers don’t pay speeding or parking tickets, and this became a reason for the hostility of the American Motorcycle Association. The president of the AMA once has said that there is only one percent of such renegades among normal and law-obedient riders.
Outlaw biker is not a riding style, it is a lifestyle. Bikers despised the society around them; therefore, they created their own one, with their own rules and morals. Ralph Sonny Barger, the Hells Angels leader, is an author of this famous phrase: “It’s better to rule in hell than serve in heaven”.
Not all motorcycle clubs belong to “1%” and not every biker adds the 1% patches to his jackets. This applies only to those who oppose everything that constitutes the institution of “society” - civil norms, state laws, and bureaucratic restrictions.
So, what are bikers?
Earlier the biker movement was an alternative to the official power, a protest against the existing political regime and social system. Now being a biker has become prestigious. For some new motorcyclists, it is not more than a tribute to fashion to buy an expensive motorcycle and show it off.
You can become a real biker only after spending many nights in a garage, tuning your own motorcycle, singing rocker songs with friends at the fire and responding to the first call for help. The biker culture is a modern form of chivalry if you will.