Motorcycle: Riders View - Mods, Rockers & Angels
Date: Sunday, October 31 @ 15:46:23 UTC
Topic: Motorcycle, Motorcycles, Motor Cycle
Mods, Rockers & Angels
The bad boy image has been an integral part of motorcycling for years, and probably always will be. Bikes are a potent symbol of speed, rebellion and youthful aggression. And despite the ever-increasing numbers of respectable, leisure-time riders, many people still view motorcyclists as undesirable and outside the law.
In the 1960s the main cause of the bad reputation, particularly in Britain, were the Rockers. Generally dressed in studded black leather jackets, jeans and black boots, they met at cafes such as the Ace, in north London, and Johnsons, near Brands Hatch circuit in Kent, to drink tea, talk bikes and go street-racing. Favoured machinery included BSA Gold Stars, Triumph Bonnevilles, Norton Dominators and the legendary Triumph/Norton hybrid the Triton, generally with tuned motors, lightened chassis and turned-down Ace handlebars.
When the Ace regulars were not racing against each other or outrunning a Daimler V-eight police car, a popular trick was to put an Elvis or Eddie Cochran single on the jukebox, then run out to the bike and attempt to complete a pre-set road circuit before the disc ended. Despite plenty of brushes with the law, the Rockers were more into bikes than violence. Even so, their bank-holiday seafront battles with their rivals the Mods - scooter riders dressed smartly in suits and anoraks -made national news regularly in the 1960s.
The Hell's Angels, whose notoriety peaked at about the same time, were a different and much more dangerous proposition. Formed in 1950 in San Bernardino, California, but later best known through the chapter based in Oakland, near San Francisco, the Angels were by far the biggest and most powerful of the many American outlaw bike groups that included Satan's Slaves, Gypsy Jokers and Commancheros.
Angel fever spread worldwide, and numerous chapters still exist in Europe and elsewhere. But their profile is much lower than it was in the 1960s when the Angels, famously dirty, wearing their ever-present colours — the winged-and-helmeted skull symbol — and riding chopped Harley-Davidsons, became a feared force through clashes with police and civilians. They were immortalized in films including Hell's Angels on Wheels and Hell's Angels '69, both of which starred genuine members of the Oakland Angels, and in Hunter S Thompson's memorable book Hell's Angels.
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