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Blatherings - June 2024

MOTORCYCLIST OR BIKER

 

I wrote this blathering after conversing with a true Motorcyclist, Fred Rau.  Mr. Rau did editorials and "stories" in several of the motorcycle magazines back in the 90s and early 2000s.  I'm not sure if his website is still up, but if it is, it's a great read for any SEAT member.  His opinions on "Motorcyclist or Biker?" is actually quite humorous and spot on.  I did get a couple of "interesting" comments after this Blathering appeared in A View from the SEAT.

Rider, Biker, Motorcyclist?  What do these terms mean to you and which one are you?  Can you be one and not the others; or can you be all of them?  How you define these terms and how you see yourself depends on where you grew up and what the attitude towards motorcycles was in your neighborhood.  Here is my take on the rider, biker, motorcyclist definition.  Keep in mind this is just the way I see it; you may disagree and that’s OK.  No matter how you define them, motorcycles are the common denominator.

     I see the “rider” as someone who occasionally rides.  Motorcycles are not his/her life.  Just a thing to do on occasion.  They may ride due to peer pressure.  The doctor whose doctor friends all have Harleys.  It’s the image.  Put on the “costume” and go for a Sunday ride.  Not too long of a ride, mind you.  If it looks like rain, forget it.  Not going to get the iron horse dirty, it takes way too long to shine it all up again.  Generally good folks and they all deserve a friendly wave when you see them on the road.  They’ve put a bunch of money into the industry and for that we should be thankful.\

      I see a “biker” as the outlaw type.  When I was growing up the term “biker” referred to the undesirables who rode motorcycles.  Hells Angels and the like.  These folks tend to ride every day.  They may not even own a “cage”.   Any excuse for a “run” is a good excuse.  They look down on the cagers as they pass by on their cruisers…intimidation, the big, bad tough guy image.   Riding gear is basic…jeans, black leather jacket, engineer boots and a head bandana.  No pretext, they are what they are.  Most subscribe to the “loud pipes save lives” motto.  They "Live to ride and ride to live".  They don't put up with those rice burners or that European crap.  They do know how to party!  Don’t always wave though.

     I really didn’t hear the term “motorcyclist” until later in my riding career. When I started riding, they were the Goldwinger crowd, the goody-two-shoes type where the husbands and wives wear matching jackets and helmets.  If the speed limit is 55, these folks do 54 just to be on the safe side.  They live sensibly and ride sensibly.  A bit boring.  Don't want too much excitement.  You see them everywhere now days.  Outstanding folks, always good for a wave and a helping hand.

     Well…look at me now.  Wanda and I wear matching jackets, helmets, pants and boots.  We rarely “speed.”  I have taken the Motorcycle Safety Foundation Experienced Rider Course a bunch of times and have even read Mr. Code’s books dealing with style and speed.  Seems I started out as a rider who wanted to be a biker and grew up to be a motorcyclist.  Now, I define the term “motorcyclist” as someone who lives and breathes motorcycles.  It isn’t a hobby, it’s a way of life.  Riding is a form of relaxation, therapeutic.  It’s not one brand or one style, it’s riding.  Destinations are secondary.  There may be several different styles of motorcycles in a motorcyclist’s garage.  They are riders who've passed through the bikers stage and have become motorcyclists. 

     Deryle and Wanda, SEAT Members proud to be motorcyclists.

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