Motorcycling: More Divisive than Politics?

HD tat

It’s a lot of fun, especially at this time of year, to point out the myriad hypocrisies involved in politics. You know, all of a sudden everyone’s religious, everyone’s out to help “the working person”, the decrying of “Swift Boating” tactics just because they got away with it and you didn’t, and so on.

Do you think that politics has become too divisive? Too polarized? Too “it’s us versus them, with no middle ground”?

Then don’t take up motorcycling.

You think there’s a divide between “red states” and “blue states”? That’s nothing compared to the divide between Harley Davidson riders and Everyone Else.

You would think that all motorcyclists would be brethren (or sistern or whatever), because we all ride on two wheels, we all love the feeling, the thrill of motorcycling, we all face the looming threat of the clueless cage drivers, and so on.

But you’d be wrong.

Yes, you gotta love the Harley crowd. Those “rugged individualists” and “rebels”, living their lives their own way, by their own rules, not following the crowd, offering only disdain for the rest of you sheep.

Well, God help you if you’re not wearing the uniform.

q       Black T shirt (preferably HD logo infested)

q       Jeans with heavy wallet chain

q       Bandanna on your unhelmeted head (see below)

q       Tats (preferably on your breast or rump if you’re a woman, ‘cause you’ll have plenty of opportunities to display them publicly)

q       HD branded outer garment, or chaps, preferably with fringes (only if temps drop below 60 – and if they drop below 50 fuggetabouddit – put the bike in storage), even though you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing anything with fringes otherwise.

And if you’re riding in a helmet-required state (which we all HATE because we believe in FREEDOM (as long as you’re not violating the above criteria)), and PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY (except when we ride for an hour, toss back six beers, then try to ride home) you have to have the absolute minimal helmet, basically the size of a large yarmulka, worn far back on the head where it will do the absolute least good in a crash, and which MUST be adorned with anti-helmet and/or anti-social stickers.

Oh, and be sure to remove at least some of the noise-suppression baffles from your exhaust pipes, because “loud pipes save lives”. Actually, loud pipes just piss everyone off, alienating neighbors, fellow motorists and giving motorcycling in general a bad name. But hey, you’re not one of the lemmings. You’re an individual. You do what you want to. Especially when everyone else in your group does it too.

Your other vehicle (the one that you actually use 97% of the time) should have a “my other car is a Harley” bumper sticker or license plate frame, or you must have a Harley Davidson window decal prominently in the rear window.

Because, as we know, you’re a rebel.

Most motorcyclists, when encountering another on the road, wave to each other. Just a friendly little wave as if to say “this is great isn’t it? We’re sharing a fantastic experience that only we on bikes can truly appreciate. Good luck getting a wave from a Harley rider, if you’re not on one as well. Because you don’t count.

Now, you could get deeper into it, dividing the “real” Harley riders apart from the “RUBs” (abbreviation for Rich Urban Bikers; typically nouveau-riche senior level executives with more disposable income than they know what to do with, so they buy Harleys to enhance their flagging manhood because Corvettes are, well, so 80s), but that would be picking nits.

People don’t ride Harley Davidsons because they are the best bike available. Top heavy, poor handling, uncomfortable for long periods of time, they are generally rather mediocre. And don’t fall prey to the “Buy American” argument – in this global economy Harleys are made from parts sourced all over the world, particularly Asia. Just like everything else.

Go to a motorcycle convention or gathering some time. If it’s a gathering for most kinds of bikes, most of the people who came from a distance rode their bike there, perhaps even over the course of several days, because they love riding. If it’s a gathering featuring Harleys, you can be sure that most of them either came from less than a couple of hours away, or trailered or trucked their bike to the destination, then rode the remaining few miles to make their appearance on their well-polished, chrome-adorned badges of social differentiation.

You’re riding a Harley to make a statement. You’re a dissident. Different from the rest of us. You don’t play by anyone else’s rules.

Uh huh.


Non Harley Rider

Non Harley Rider


Harley Rider

Harley Rider



7 responses to “Motorcycling: More Divisive than Politics?

  1. Pingback: Pages tagged "divisive"

  2. Amazing how much you know about all us Harley riders. You clearly spend a lot of time dwelling on this subject though you’ve clearly never spent one second on a Harley or around Harley owners, if you had you would not be stereotyping us as you have blindly done here, my suggestion is you quit watching us from across the parking lot and take a little time to get to know some of us. I know you’ll be surprised, that is if you can open your mind up enough to see past the leather, which is worn for S-A-F-E-T-Y, yes style too but first and foremost it is worn for safety’s sake, a word you think Harley riders care nothing about based on the dribble you have written…

    Let’s see, we all wear no helmets or useless helmets, we drink 6 packs of beer before riding and we drive our cars 97% of the time because we store our bikes anytime the temp drops below 50 degrees. Wow you’ve got me pegged to a Tee. Not! I never drink and ride, and never drink to intoxication EVER. I wear only the best helmets, made of Carbon Fiber & Kevlar, with DOT and SNELL approval, I ride all winter and I ride anytime it isn’t snowing, sleeting or raining HARD with no end in site. When I do park the Harley, I drive a Chevrolet. Do you see a common theme here? I buy American and I do so because I am a patriotic American, I like things made in America and I support American companies and workers. Is every piece on my bike or truck made in America? No, but that’s not by my choice. It is an American bike made for Americans by Americans though which is more than I can say for a Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Ducati, Motoguzzi, BMW,Aprilla, Triumph etc, etc, etc.

    So next time you feel like spouting off about something try doing a little research, then maybe you won’t come off looking so stupid. By the way, waving at Harley riders does not qualify as research! Besides, when was the last time you actually tried that one out anyhow? 1973 at a pack of Hells Angels?

    Finally, my Harley is as reliable as anything you’ve got and way more comfortable than any Jap bike I’ve ridden so… that about covers it. Clearly you just make this crap up based on your jealousy over Harleys and their riders. Get your facts straight. I know one guy who has racked up over 300,000 miles on his Harley and several more with way over 100,000, reliability is not an issue, it was in the 70’s when AMF owned Harley-Davidson but it hasn’t been a problem since 1983. Try a Harley, I think you’ll like it and deep down inside you know you really want too, you just need to admit it. Peace, Jason

  3. darren miller

    here in ireland/u.k harley riders wear the same clothes as any other biker , camo/jeans band/bike tshirts and no one gives two shits who you are what your bike is , its the fact you got off your arse got on the bike and RODE to the rally, me and my family go to rallys with other harley riders but these rallys sports bikes &and street bikes everywhere. Get your facts straight , the bike clubs here in ireland/uk have harley riding members and sport bike riding members so that clearly puts your theary up the shit pipe ! get your facts straight before you start mouthing off this bull shit!

  4. I’m a Harley rider. I wave at everyone. I ride all year. I don’t drink and ride/drive. While I do prefer the Logo, I think HD shirts are hideous and don’t own any. In fact, the only Harley apparel I wear is a rain suit.

    You’re wrong in your stereotyping. I think you should try a Harley out some time in the future. The dealers have events every few months or so where you can test ride one. Give it a try.

  5. I agree, Harleys are terrible handling and ugly. The uniform is too funny, all the leather daddy fetish garments. Harleys are just a style/status statement. Harley riders don’t even understand what a modern motorcycle is capable of.
    My capacity for fun on a motorcycle is so far beyond the Harley, loud pipe, ape hanger fashion statement.
    Harley riders don’t get IT. They are an American stereotype that is disliked by just about everyone nationally and world wide, the epitome of the rich, stupid, fat, ugly American.
    No wonder everyone hates us.
    I would ride a Puch before I was caught dead on a Hardley Ableson.
    All Harley riders can eat a dick. Fuck you all.

  6. I own two non-Harley motorcycles and live on what should be a quiet neighborhood street. Whenever a cataclysmically loud motorcycle roars past at jet-afterburner volume 90% of the time it’s a Harley Davidson without any baffles in its mufflers. One offender who will roar past multiple times in an hour will rev his engine between shifts to achieve loud gunshot backfires. Finally, at wit’s end I waited for his fourth pass (didn’t take long) and flagged him down. He was a 220lb black guy using a backwards baseball cap as a helmet. Knowing I couldn’t use reason or logic on this imbecile I instead made up this ruse-
    ME: Hey man, my dad lives in this house and is dying of Parkinsons. Every time you roar past it wakes him up!
    THUG: My dad died too! (Revs engine loudly, takes off at full maximum volume)
    Since then he targets my house with additional noise making, and now there’s another Harley rider who waits until my house for full volume revving.
    In summary: this is not a subset of Harley owners. It’s the dominant paradigm. I’d like to echo the sentiment of Geoff, above: all Harley riders can eat a dick. And I’ll add – choke on them and die. I’m sick of your testosterone bullshit. You’re lucky I don’t chase you down in my truck and run your asses over.

  7. It’s amazing how jealous and hate filled some people are towards Harley riders.

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