Dodging the RoadkillClarksville, Tn — If you were to say “biker” to ten people, you would probably get ten different images of what a biker was.  Part of the mystique of a biker is the image that the culture has.  

Bad boy, dangerous, rough, are just a few of the ideas most people have.  Rightfully so, in some cases.  The image has been perpetuated by Hollywood, AND real life.

The Hell’s Angels and other notorious motorcycle gangs give most people an unfavorable idea about motorcycles and those who ride them.  The way some of us ride causes some people to resent us or dislike us. 

Needless to say, that image has changed over the years.  I think deep down inside, most of us who ride, ride for the experience.  

Today, I think that with the influx of motorcycle brands, styles, sizes and accessories, that “renegade” image has softened a bit.  Even though the old school biker doesn’t like it one bit. But the “old school” biker is fading away, unfortunately.

When you learned that your banker, or insurance salesman owned a motorcycle, you probably thought, “what the???”  I promise you, I NEVER imagined I would ever be doing this and be so passionate about it, much less, be able to ride as often as I do.

Luxury motorcycles, touring models, sportsters and the like, have brought motorcycles into the mainstream.  Normal everyday people ride bikes.  The extent of their motorcycle “gang” is a local riding club, or a H.O.G chapter membership.  

I’ve met every type of biker you could probably meet.  The guy who’s been riding since he could walk, who doesn’t have any of the “whistles and bells” on his bike, no windshield, fairing, radio, GPS etc. and doesn’t consider anyone else as a “real” biker.

Hank Bike

Hank 2017

Then you have the modern day rider who has a slicked up, modern day motorcycle that the dealers are producing to introduce more people to the culture.  Regardless of what type of biker you might be, the passion of the experience and the brotherhood of the culture is the same.  

Within the biker community there’s various attitudes about “Old School,” and “Baggers,” and “Crotch Rockets.”  Doesn’t faze me.  We all have our favorites.

I think most bikers don’t really care about image. 

We all know there are people who just don’t like motorcycles and don’t do us any favors when out on the road.  They’re probably the same ones who always remind us of someone they knew who was killed on a bike.   Are they really concerned for my safety or trying to tell me I’m a “dumb-ass” for riding one?

Might be a little of both.  Doesn’t bother me. I spent my career in radio and all my life people who would meet me for the first time would say, “you don’t look like you sound.”  

HUH?  Is that a compliment?  I’m not sure, but I don’t think so. 

I don’t feel it’s my responsibility to project an image, or even care about one.  I’m so consumed with the experience and learning about my bike, that I couldn’t care less what other people think about it.  I DO know, I have never met a biker I didn’t instantly connect with.  It didn’t matter where I was, we had a connection and that’s the best part of the experience.

Now, in my mind, if I’m Steve McQueen, or James Dean then that’s ok.