Motorcycle: Live Ride - Bad Boys
Date: Sunday, October 31 @ 14:23:48 UTC
Topic: Motorcycle, Motorcycles, Motor Cycle
Mention Harley-Davidson to anyone in the street and they'll probably mutter back something about "Hell's Angels". The original Angels were a California bike gang of Second World War veterans sensationalized by magazines such as Life and author Hunter S. Thompson in his book The Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motor Cycle Gangs. Almost overnight, the Angels became a role model for "outlaw" groups across the globe.
According to many observers, such groups revelled in their new-found celebrity status and, in living up to their reputation, became even more shocking and antisocial than before. Inevitably, bikers in general and Harley-Davidson riders in particular were tarred with the same unsavoury brush. Some stereotypes persist, but the bad old days of negative biker images have largely passed. In the United States, Harley owners have been growing older, wealthier and better educated. In 1984, the average age of a Harley buyer was 34; today it is almost 40, around one third of whom enjoyed a college education. Indeed, the modern stereotype is more of the well-off professional cruising any city's more fashionable streets rather than the grime-ridden outlaw of the past.
These days Harleys are the weekend wheels of lawyers, mayors and bankers: respectability, with an edge. This is all in motorcycle manufacturers' interests, for minority groups, apart from tarring the rest, inevitably buy in minority numbers. One of the secondary purposes of HOG - the factory-sponsored Harley Owners' Group - was to broaden both the marque's appeal and its respectability, a service from which all bike producers benefit.
Hell's Angels and other so-called "outlaw" groups survive, and occasionally their activities hit the headlines. Perhaps the most notorious was a wave of knifings, bombings and shootings between rival Canadian gangs in the early 1990s, which left around 40 dead yet only attracted serious police attention when an innocent bystander became a victim. In the late 1970s, Australia was the scene of a shoot-out in a supermarket parking lot between rival gangs. More recently, Denmark witnessed a spate of murders and even anti-tank missile attacks arising from a long-standing feud between the Angels and Bandidos for control of drugs interests. Crime — particularly the sale of stolen goods — and later the manufacture and dealing of hard drugs has long been a source of income for some outlaw bands which, in Europe in particular, are also associated with neo-Nazi activities. Even the FBI has shown an avid interest in them and certainly not because the G-men have an innate love of motorcycling. These self-styled "One Percenters" mostly exist on the fringes of Harley-Davidson culture and of motorcycling in general. Ironically, much of HOG's paraphernalia — its insignia, colours and organisation into "chapters" —echoes the ways of the outlaw gangs. Beards, badges and leather are part of many everyday Harley riders' uniforms but the trappings don't always say much about the person underneath. Sometimes the individual in the street must be hard-pressed to tell the difference. Perhaps Milwaukee likes it that way.
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