Being a Free Bird To Sturgis And Back. It’s What Is All About.

freebird1freebird2“Hey Cyril, How about blasting at 90 mph to Sturgis and back on a left-over parts homebuilt chopper with everything you need to survive bungied on. You alone, putting your faith in your efforts with no back-up truck followin’ ya. Motor homes with trailers, yuppies [Wild Hogs] on baggers, all in a blur as you fly past them on a lonely two-lane backroads highway [homey don’t do interstates]. Not all bunnys and rainbows as you fix things on your pony.

Through the course of the week I replaced my battery [had to buy one out there even though I had 4 on the shelf back at my shop], replace my clutch [3 hours to go 2 miles to the Chip from Sturgis will play hell on any clutch, finally gave out on Needles Highway], Rebuilt front brakes and master cylinder [gotta slow that puppy down somehow], rejetted the carb for altitude, and breather issues [just wipe it down at yer gas stops and ‘keep on jammin’].

I’ve been going to Sturgis on 40 years now. Back then there weren’t any “Welcome Bikers” signs. They hated to see us come [maybe 5 to 10 thousand of us] on our old scooters we found in barns and chicken coups [that’s where I got mine, a 1948 panhead for $250., burst into flames the first five miles I rode it, but that’s a whole ‘nuther story]. Grateful to have made the journey after breaking down a half dozen times to get there. Fixing them with bailing wire and matchbooks. We would take over city park and raise hell for a week before seein’ if our putts would get us home again.

If you wore a Harley t-shirt an’ didn’t own one we would rip it right off yer back, an’ if you just bought a new one you were low man on the totem pole. It was all about the machine that you gave life to. Its soul, so to speak. Nowadays after paying the dealership $ hour to put your “Live to Ride” mirrors on, putting it on a trailer behind your more mammoth the better motorhome, putting on your do-rag and a skull t-shirt, an’ thinkin’ that all being a “Biker” is “Boobs an’ Booze” an’ then acting like a no-rules idiot. I understand their inner rage and frustration from our modern society and that’s why the biker lifestyle is appealing to them to break loose, but they just dabble in it and then go right back into supporting the system that caused all the stress in the first place. To me it is all I am and I don’t take it lightly. I have sacrificed alot for it. Starting at the bottom: 3 broken toes, 2 shattered ankles, 50 stitches right leg, torn ligaments both knees, broken tailbone, 4 cracked ribs, bullet holes clean through me, tore my nose off, shattered nosebone [whatever you call it], ripped my forehead and the top of my scalp, multiple brain concussions [they say it causes “dain-brammage” but I don’t think it has affected me any], and my wife is paralyzed from the waist down when we were riding on my 1940 flathead and a 16 year-old kid ran a red light down in Austin, TX 28 years ago.

I have paid my dues therefore I get kinda upset to see others take it so lightly. Granted my business is building bikes/trikes for others, but I try to impress the gravity of the lifestyle. Freedom comes with a cost. Anyway I thought I might let you know what Sturgis is all about from this old scooter tramps outlook. Thanks”.  Wiz at Freebird Custom Motorcycles.

43 Responses to “Being a Free Bird To Sturgis And Back. It’s What Is All About.”

  1. 1 BikerMarc Aug 21st, 2009 at 8:15 am

    Oh,the good ‘ol days.

    I appreciate your blog note.Brings a reality-check/reminder to the lifestyle.

    Ride on brother,


  2. 2 Cliff Aug 21st, 2009 at 10:17 am

    I never really got into this “biker lifestyle” thing & it has zero appeal to me. I just like to ride & really don’t understand why one has to adopt or pretend to have a certain lifestyle in order to enjoy it. One thing really has nothing to do with the other for me. What does it matter what I wear or how I act as long as it gets me where I’m going?

  3. 3 Scott Aug 21st, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    So it is ok to be a corporate turd during the week and a flaming asshole on the weekend?
    I know that it fails to impress me when I see a group riding in 80 degree with more leather than a gay pride parade with their white tennis shoes. It does nothing but piss me off when they think that racking their pipes off in the gas station parking lot is the only way they can start their bike. I fondly call these kind of people attention whores.

    Maybe I’m just wierd… Acting like something you are not just makes me laugh at the poor pathetic fools.

  4. 4 nicker Aug 21st, 2009 at 5:45 pm


    “…putting your faith in your efforts with no back-up truck followin’ ya…”
    “…breaking down a half dozen times to get there. Fixing them with bailing wire and matchbooks…”
    “…I have paid my dues therefore I get kinda upset to see others take it so lightly…”

    Dude, ya nailed it!

    Care to comment on OCC…..???…. 🙂


  5. 5 Paul Aug 21st, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    I never really wondered what you thought of me when I blew by your cobbled together piece of shit on my shiny new custom bagger. But now I know. And guess what? I still don’t give a shit! Rolls eyes…..

    You enjoy your ride through life. And I’ll enjoy mine. Peace!

  6. 6 gina woods Aug 21st, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    A refreshing perspective.

  7. 7 larry Aug 21st, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    It was a different world on the road before cell phones and credit cards. How many of us have seen a bunch of bikes overheated at the top of Billings grade 20 years ago, or rode the Deadwood Canyon before it was ‘inproved’, or always slow to make sure a guy alongside the road is ok. Big part of the fun was talking with the other riders at a gas stop or sharing a table for a meal. talking about the bikes and what adventures we had getting to where we were. Now the second question seems always to be “did you ride or trailer” The common excuse for not riding is always the time factor. When we all rode bikes that couldnt do 80 all day and required constant attention at any speed, it took us longer on worse roads to go the same distance and many of us did it without much thought. Like camping in City Park, those days of Sturgis and all rallys are gone. Went on to Nebraska after Sturgis and came back through on my way home a week after the rally. Stopped for fuel at what we used to call Phil Town and was approached by a guy in bandana, chaps, boots, glasses and fingerless gloves who asked me about my T shirt and what it meant. It was a Jackpine Gypsy old T I have had for a while. i explained it to him and he just looked at me blankly, walked away climbed into his pickup towing a trailer with a Road King on it and drove away. Like so many thing we cant go back, but I will bet that we all have better memories and storys then a lot of riders today. Thats why some of us have done it for a lifetime and will continue on !

  8. 8 Johnny Blaze Aug 22nd, 2009 at 1:17 am

    Ditto on the bike bursting into flames!

  9. 9 Rodent Aug 22nd, 2009 at 8:25 am

    They use to be called bikers todays riders are enthusiasts…there is a difference

  10. 10 Bigfoot Aug 22nd, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    I know about the injuries. I have a broken neck, an eigth of my brain missing 4 popped discs and 4 crushed. They told me they found me dead after a woman came over to my side of the street and chased me into a yard before hitting me with her car. That was a 29 day coma. I live in Rhode Island and it is a nice ride to Sturgis from here. I have only been able to make it there about 20 times because I can’t always get time off from work. Started going there after I got back from Nam in 1970. It was all real bikers back then. We were there to cut loose and party but we didn’t lose controll like the “new breed” do because we couldn’t pay our lawyers to fly down to help us. We had fun but respected where we were so we could come back again. It was a lot better then.

  11. 11 Curt! Aug 22nd, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    Been there, done that. Keep the rubber side down. Watch the 90+ on the 2 laners. The cages are out ti kill you.
    To the rest of you~~ If you don’t understand I can’t explain it.
    Ride on, Wiz.

  12. 12 nicker Aug 23rd, 2009 at 1:52 am


    “… I never really got into this “biker lifestyle” thing & it has zero appeal to me….. I just like to ride….”

    Ya, lots of confusion about “biker lifestyle.”

    “… What does it matter what I wear or how I act as long as it gets me where I’m going?…”

    It’s not about how you dress or act, or even how much you ‘Ride.”

    But, just “getting to where your going” does miss the point completely
    (even if its on Paul’s “shiny new custom bagger” )

    Read the part about campaigning a “… machine that you gave life to. Its soul, so to speak….” again.

    Before anything else, being a biker is about who you really are and what ya can do. It’s an exercise in self sufficiency. It’s a bout experiences accumulated over time.

    Ya can’t pay your dues with a check.


  13. 13 Todd8080 Aug 23rd, 2009 at 4:59 am

    A lot of Wiz’s lines resonate with me. I’ve been riding 41 years and have seen the Harley “lifestyle” go from one extreme to the other. Incidentally, I don’t refer to myself as a biker but a motorcycle enthusiast, since the former connotes different things to different people.

    Like Wiz, I ride a homemade Harley (my seventh), not to be confused with a customized bike; I built it from the ground up and designed & fabricated many of the one-of-a-kind parts. I’ve put over 200,000 miles on it and it’s been rock-solid reliable the entire time.

    And like Wiz, over the years I’ve had my share of injuries entirely due to others’ negligence. They include two concussions, five broken ribs, an artificial hip, three herniated discs, broken arm, broken leg (in twelve places), crushed foot & ankle, broken nose, broken fingers, numerous cuts & contusions and a stab wound in the chest from a mirror stem.

    I’ve ridden in every state in the contiguous U.S. (some many times) and all through Canada & Mexico and have never once trailered a functional bike. I don’t wave back to people on motorcycles unless I’m fairly certain we have a good deal more in common than just Harley ownership, though I never fail to stop for those on the side of the road.

    I confess to having alienated a few people on my website with my less-than-favorable opinions on everything from waving to trailering to fake oriental Harleys to thinking that ape hangers on a stock Road King magically transform it into a chopper.

    Unlike Wiz, I’ve pretty much quit going to rallies. There’s nothing there I haven’t seen a million times before and these days I don’t seem to have much patience for low-mileage RUBs whose lack of riding skills are exceeded only by their lack of alcohol tolerance. Maybe once the Harley craze fades a bit and the recession takes some of the fadsters out of the equasion things will improve.

  14. 14 Conrad Nicklus Aug 23rd, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    Ok, WOW. I don’t know where to begin with this besides some of you are completely arrogant idiots. What does it matter if you ride your bike or trailer it or have someone with a truck behind/in front of you? It has nothing to do with it nor does how much money a bike costs or if it is new or used. The point of riding is to be free and have fun, let all the worries and stress of the days go by while you are riding and paying attention to all your surroundings. That is what riding is all about to me especially after a long, stressful day at school or work. Getting your mind set on watching cars, trucks, bikes, birds, scenery etc is where it is at, not bickering about someone’s new bagger, new rider lifestyle with their clean new Harley shirt and their leathers. Give me a break you guys, that is absurd to place blame on so called “money men” because they want to ride too and enjoy what we all enjoy here, motorcycles. My goal is not to piss anyone off here and I give credit where credit is due, good post but completely arrogant and biased to the fact that you are the “old age biker” not the now a day biker which does not give a damn about blasting at 90 or riding 1500 miles because they don’t want to be known as someone who trailers.

  15. 15 Todd8080 Aug 23rd, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    Not to split hairs, Conrad, but trailering a bike isn’t the same as riding it. Trailering is a way to NOT ride, and you don’t even need a bike to NOT ride. All those Genuine® MotorClothes® seem a bit out of place without one, though.

  16. 16 Conrad Nicklus Aug 23rd, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    My point is that you dont have to make the 1500 mile trip on the bike to be considered a rider who enjoys the bike. Maybe they dont like some of the scenery they would have to go through or maybe they just want to go ride the mountains and relax while they are there and take the truck to dinner one night…Its not the fact that maybe some of these guys are not Born Badass Bikers but ot is the factt hat they are bikers none the less and we all need to understand that. It is a brotherhood, yes even with those damn crotch rockets and Jap made want to be Vtwins.

  17. 17 Sam Aug 23rd, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    I don’t see what the big deal is worrying about how other people are with their motorcycles.

    Ride & Let Ride!

  18. 18 Mike Greenwald Aug 24th, 2009 at 12:01 am

    The point of this whole topic has evolved about the disingenuous posers that have the ego,the costume and the bike that will get drunk and run their mouth about all the “bad” they have purchased. It can’t be wrong, loads of LEOs belong tp their own MC clubs.

    Let them have the circuses that claim to be rallies. Don’t talk about the tradition nor about those who have whored out motorcycling. Move on and don’t bring these folks with. Let them flounder or prosper with what they have.

    I am guessing that they won’t last and that the rates at the RV parks will keep on skyrocketing.

  19. 19 Wiz Aug 24th, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Oh CONNRADD, Time to wakey-wakey, get up and go to school, OLD SCHOOL that is!! Back in the old days we would have a special EDUCATION for little twerps like you out by the flag pole after school. But alas your numbers, like lemmings, have taken over everything that we held near and dear, along with Sturgis, ideals like respect, honor, earning what you have and being gratefull for it. The older I get I realize how much more there is to learn and grow. and to rise above and tolerate those who think they have it all figured out. There are sooo many things I would like to enlighten you on but I don’thave that much time left in this world. All I can do is wish you well on your journey as a fellow human being. Take Care, Wiz

  20. 20 nicker Aug 24th, 2009 at 3:29 pm


    “…old scooter tramps…”

    AA was started by a depression era scooter tramp.


  21. 21 Conrad Nicklus Aug 24th, 2009 at 4:48 pm


    ……special EDUCATION for little twerps like you out by the flag pole after school….

    See now this is something I am all fucking down for but I would say I think you under estimate my capabilities because I am a “new age biker” who likes Ferraris as well as classic cars. I have been in my fair share of fights, God knows being a boy/man is all about going and fucking around with people and getting your ass kicked and kicking someone elses ass it does not affect me like most. I believe in school yard fights and shaking hands, not lawsuits and shooting someone because you are a pussy and lost a fight. I understand where you are coming from with the “grunge” effect to add to the old reputable “biker” phenomenon as to which we have tried so hard to beat out of the publics eyes. The “new age biker” is a classy, go to work everyday kind of person, not a lets go start fights and act tough because we ride bikes built from shit we have laying around ( I love to build cars and bikes out of things I have laying around so I understand you 110% there) But what I dont get is why do what you did back in the “old skool” days when we have all the technology and such that we have today?. I say build a bike from scratch, thats cool and I respect the hell out of that BUT dont go and trash on the people who choose to ride a bike because they want to and have the money to afford a $35,000 custom and call them RUBs or YUPPIES..Thats fucking rude and is like me calling you or whoever trailer trash or biker scum. In my eyes we need to protect all who ride motorcycles and watch for cars/trucks etc. I know when I am in my cars or my truck I always watch bikers, I get behind them and watch out for their sake and if someone does something stupid I will damn sure put myself in the way so a biker does not get hurt, my truck or cars can always be fixed, we as bikers can easily lose our lives because we are doing what we love.


  22. 22 Todd8080 Aug 24th, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    Conrad, lest you get the impression that I’m an old dog who knows no new tricks, my bike doesn’t fall into the “built from shit we have laying around ” category (although it does contain parts from many different years).

    While it definitely has the classic Harley look & style, it incorporates ideas & technology not found on any bikes, new or old.

    When Buzz Kanter happened to see photos of some of the bike’s unique features at my site, he immediately emailed me and suggested featuring it in American Iron. That doesn’t happen to many slapped-together rat bikes.

    All that aside, I think the point some of us are trying to make is that just buying a Harley and an outfit doesn’t mean you’ve paid your dues. Riding is great, but you can never truly be one with your Harley until you’ve had it completely apart (including the motor & tranny) and successfully put it back together. Kind of like the difference between dating and sex.

    To me the worst sin of all is trailering, because it clearly indicates the bike is only being used as a prop for some made-up lifestyle, not as the vehicle it was intended to be. If someone “lives to ride” they have no need for a trailer. Or to paraphrase Yoda, “Ride or ride not, there is no trailer.”

  23. 23 johnny Aug 24th, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    can some of you self-professed biker types give us the list of dues we need to pay?

    get over yourselves- self righteousness isn’t any better than those you seem to criticize.

    i only ride about 25000 miles a year and wear a full face helmet and jacket. it was probably dipshits like you who made comments to me in sturgis about not being a biker.

    i cut my hair and threw out the beanie because i wanted to, i don’t see a reason to live like it’s 1971 for my whole life. i can still ride, i can wrench, i can build a motor, i can do it with a matchbook and three wrenches and a swiss army knife. so what? i don’t need to impress you, why the need to deride others?

    for me and the real bikers i grew up with, if you weren’t worth it, you kept your mouth shut. why do you care someone trailers their bike? really? why?

    most bikers like fat chicks, or that’s all i see hanging around the real bikers. i don’t like fat chicks. i like hot, young, skinny chicks, and that’s who i roll with. is there something wrong with me because of that? should i do meth and shoot people in sturgis or laughlin? is that what being a biker is? a bad ass?

    so please- go back to your life and live it. just ignore the people you don’t want to hang with. but really, old man, you degrade yourself by making yourself seem superior by diminishing others.

    you are no biker. you’re an arrogant dinosaur who happens to ride a bike.

  24. 24 Conrad Nicklus Aug 25th, 2009 at 1:12 am


    I often read your posts…Usually I am 50/50 and this time im on the lower part of agreeing with you. My opinion is why does someone have to know how to tear down and rebuild their bike to be called a “biker”. Granted I can and I understand most do not have the ability to do so, therefore we are ahead but behind as well? Maybe they have a quality, like we have, that we dont. If you see what I am saying there.

    I understand your point but I still believe it to be a biased standard of opinion. I dont agree with always riding everywhere and I do not believe in trailering everywhere either. As for the “prop” comment, that is quite uncalled for. I understand some people out there do that but I also think you are kind of acting like one of them by using your bike as an excuse.

    Ill tell you a story. When I was 16 my father gave me a bare rolling chassis at our shop as my bday present, not a car but a bike chassis, wire wheels and forks/trees/lower legs. Now over the next couple months I built the bike from old parts in the shop, ebay parts, parts from wrecked bikes customers insurance companies had sent to the facility etc. In Sturgis a few months later a guy named Greg came up and was taking pictures, not knowing who he was at all I explained about the bikes we had their since our employees and my father was busy assisting other clients. Greg went to all the bikes and then went to mine, next thing I know he asked if my bike was a production bike or if it was a “one-off”. So I told him it was mine, how I built it, what I used etc. Next thing I know Street Chopper Magazine asked me if I would allow them to do a story and spread on my bike. Well hell what do you say to that besides yes? LOL and guess what I trailered it there, showed it, won some events throughout the year and still rode the shit out of it, didnt use it as a prop, did burnouts, my father did burnouts, we got it dirty as hell etc. So my point is jst because people trailer their bikes does not mean the bike is just a prop for a ficticious world as to which they may be living in. Some are while some are not, what else would you expect in this world???

  25. 25 Todd8080 Aug 25th, 2009 at 5:45 am

    “My opinion is why does someone have to know how to tear down and rebuild their bike to be called a “biker”.”

    A better question is, why is it so important to be called a biker in the first place?

    Concerning the trailer thing, I guess if everyone around you trailers their bike, it probably seems like the preferred way to transport your transportation, but consider this:

    Thirty years ago, nobody, and I mean not a soul, trailered their Harley. Had they not yet invented trailers? No, trailers existed all right, but they were only used to transport disabled motorcycles.

    So what changed? Did Harleys become more difficult to ride? Less comfortable? Less reliable? No, just the opposite, today’s rubbermounted, counterbalanced, fuel injected, ultra-comfy Harleys are so easy to own and operate, an idiot could ride one.

    Ah, I think I’ve stumbled upon the answer…

  26. 26 Mike Greenwald Aug 25th, 2009 at 7:44 am

    If you could not trailer your bike, how far would you ride and when?

  27. 27 Wiz Aug 25th, 2009 at 8:08 am

    Yuk-Yuk-Yuk, It is to laugh! All I can comment on is that it has been my life, good, bad, or indifferent. It was the path I have chosen, I cannot change anyone else, it is useless to try. All you can do is get your knickers in a bunch if you do, as is evidenced by the above replies, pro and con. Everyone has their own journey to make, give each other space so we don’t run into each other and it’s cool. Bless you all, Bye, Bye! Wiz

  28. 28 Conrad Nicklus Aug 25th, 2009 at 8:48 am


    Yes, trailers were there from the on set. BUT the typical “biker” at the time could not afford to have a trailer and/or truck to haul a bike somewhere, not to mention had all the time in the world. Now with the fast growing economy and business fields people can not afford to take 2 3 or 4 weeks off to ride to Sturgis and back. It is faster to get a group of guys in a truck/trailer with some bikes, get there with little to no problems most likely and head home on a saturday/sunday in time to get back to their job Monday relaxed.

    See my thing is look at how many of the original “bad ass bikers” were actually employed with full times jobs. Then look at the percent of motorcycle riders now who have full time jobs, I would venture to say the numbers are way off. I know you dont understand my argument here but it is quite simple.. TIME = MONEY and trailering a bike somewhere is quicker and , in some cases, more reliable. I love to ride and if I had the time I would hop on my bobber or a rigid of some sort from the shop and ride 1500 miles right now, but sadly I do not.

  29. 29 Todd8080 Aug 25th, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    Ah, geez, Conrad, now you’re really reaching. You’re saying the only reason nobody trailered their bike thirty years ago is because not one Harley owner in America could afford a trailer? They could all afford the most expensive brand of bike but not a hundred dollar trailer? They all desperately wanted to trailer their Harleys but just couldn’t come up with the scratch?

    Everybody these days has a million excuses why they simply must trailer their Harley, and believe me, I’ve heard ’em all. But unless the roads are unridable because of ice, there’s only one reason an ablebodied person would trailer, and that’s because they don’t want to ride, period.

    The “no time” excuse just doesn’t hold water. There’s no way anyone could get anywhere faster in a car/truck/SUV pulling a trailer than I could on a bike. Not a chance. Hell, just in the time it takes you to hitch a trailer to a vehicle, load up a bike and strap it down I’ve already covered fifty miles.

    Then there’s the family excuse. “Gee, I’d like to ride but bringing my family along is more important”. Okay, let’s examine how that works. Say you’ve got a wife and three kids. You load up your giant SUV and put your touring Harley on a trailer and off to Daytona you go.

    Then what? When you get there do you pile your three kids and your wife on the bike and all go for a ride? Do you take just the wife and leave the kids to fend for themselves? No matter how you work it, it ain’t no family hour. So much for that excuse.

    I live in Fort Lauderdale and every year it makes me want to puke when I see the conga line of trailers making the mere 235-mile drive to Daytona in perfect weather because it’s just too far for them to ride.

    But once they’ve stashed the trailer away at some motel (taking two or three parking spots), it’s time to make their grand entrance on Main Street where suddenly they’re God’s Own original badass biker.

    It’s the same crap every year and I just can’t bear to witness it anymore. I don’t know whether to laugh at the absurdity of it all or mourn the passing of the American motorcyclist.

  30. 30 Wolfeyes Aug 26th, 2009 at 1:39 pm


    You have so much to learn, grasshopper. Would that I could teach you a bit about dignity, honor, and respect. And about the saying involving a pot and a kettle, and the color black. How is it you feel comfortable taking Wiz to task for deriding people who trailer their bikes,and in the same post be derogatory about “fat chicks?” Obviously if the physical form is all you consider important, your water pond is pretty shallow, dude. And that makes your opinions questionable.

    This particular “old fat chick” has ridden her own scooter since 1982, when there weren’t that many women who ride. This particular “old fat chick” puts as many miles on her bike a year as you do. This particular “old fat chick” can run circles around your hot, young, skinny chicks, and could show them a thing or two about sex appeal, and substance, and character.

    Choose your ride, choose your gear, put on your miles. I applaud that. But learn some respect along the way, why don’t you?

    By the way, Wiz is a brother of mine. You won’t find a better human being on this earth. Here’s a ticket to the clue bus…don’t talk out your ass about things you know little to nothing about. And about Wiz’s wife that he mentioned in his post? The one who was paralyzed in an accident? She rides her own too…a custom trike that Wiz built for her so she could continue to be free, as well. I’ll put her up against your centerfold airheads any day of the week. There isn’t a more beautiful woman in the world.

    Johnny, I worry for your future.

  31. 31 Wolfeyes Aug 26th, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    One last thing, Johnny…

    You want to know about paying your dues? I’ll tell you…

    Paying your dues means realizing a dream of always wanting to go to Sturgis by getting on a 1973 ironhead Sportster and riding 4500 miles from Alaska to South Dakota with nothing but a tool roll, a sleeping bag and a small bag of clothes and essentials strapped to your bike.. by yourself with no back-up vehicle, no cell phone (this was before cell phones), no credit cards. (Man, I love my husband for that. It was the best trip of his life! He’s well earned the Road King he rides today.)

    It means that even though the weather isn’t perfect, you still get on your bike anyway because you love the ride so much that you’re willing to deal with hardship and discomfort, because even a bad day on your bike is better than the best day in a car.

    Having a few trips like that is what paying your dues means. It means starting at the bottom and working your way up, just like in a job. It means earning what you have, not getting the best right off the bat without understanding and respecting what others had to go through in the past to make the best possible.

  32. 32 Todd8080 Aug 26th, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    I wasn’t going to add any more to this thread, but Johnny’s question, “Why do you care [if] someone trailers their bike?” is one I’ve been asked before, and since it’s a logical question, I’ll answer it.

    I care because when a Harley owner does something stupid in public it reflects on us all. When millions of Harley owners do the same stupid thing, it’s more than a minor embarrassment, it becomes a part of our collective heritage.

    The non-riding public used to see Harley owners as rugged individuals who weren’t afraid to ride all day, stand up for themselves, take risks or get their hands dirty. But thanks to all the trailer queens, the public now assumes all Harley owners are namby-pamby office workers who are too wimpy to even ride short distances on ultra-comfy touring bikes.

    What makes it even more insulting is that these same trailer-dragging wannabes go to great lengths to look, talk and dress like actual riders, based on what they’ve seen in old biker movies, on the Discovery Channel and in Easyriders magazine.

    So now, no matter how many years you’ve been riding or how many miles you’ve traveled, you’re seen as, treated like and lumped in with “them” simply because you have a Harley.

    I have little doubt that at least 80% of the Harley owners reading this also own a trailer, so I don’t expect my comments to be well received, but if it’ll make you feel better, I’ve written a poem you might find helpful:

    How to Be a Biker

    A Sarcastic & Satirical Poem by Todd8080

    Bikers are a subculture, you might have heard folks say.
    But how’s a man to join this clan? Must he ride every day?

    Is there a special set of rules that helps define the rider?
    And how long is this journey to becoming an insider?

    Does one just go and buy a bike to claim their rightful place?
    To get there will you need long hair and whiskers on your face?

    Well, take heart, it’s your lucky day. I’m here to set you straight.
    Just play it smart and act the part, then you won’t have to wait.

    No dues to pay (unless you count the fortune you’ll be spending).
    No greasy hands or club demands, it’s all done with pretending.

    See, preparation’s paramount to taking on this role.
    Without the right appearance you’re just one more rich asshole.

    The “just-got-out-of-prison” look is what you must achieve,
    So cultivate it carefully and you’ll make folks believe.

    Naturally you’ll have to get yourself some Motor Clothes®.
    The whole ensemble’s pricey, though, as every biker knows.

    But that Official Uniform will suit you fine, you’ll see
    (It’s sure to underscore your individuality).

    Some new tattoos will show the world that you’re bad to the bone.
    The tribal ones are popular, though which tribe is unknown.

    Regrettably they hurt a bit; your skin will bleed and swell.
    If that won’t do there’s fake ones, too, and they’ll work just as well.

    Wearing helmets is for squares, so they should not be used.
    Are you pro-choice? Have you no choice? Admit it, you’re confused.

    Don’t bother thinking for yourself, mimic what others do.
    Within a week you’ll go from geek to hardcore biker, too.

    If all this seems like too much effort just to play a part,
    Pretend it’s year ‘round Halloween and you’re a kid at heart.

    And what about the bike itself? Is pristine paint taboo?
    It’s true that chrome won’t get you home, but neither will bird doo.

    Adorn your scoot with skulls and flames so there can be no doubt:
    You scoff at death with every breath, it’s what you’re all about.

    A bunch of Maltese crosses is another way to go.
    What do they signify? Who cares, they’re only there for show.

    The bike is just a prop you see, stage dressing in your play.
    In full attire you’ll inspire all eyes to look your way.

    I’m sure you’ve heard loud pipes are cool; they’re proof that you are tough.
    Who cares if neighbors’ kids can’t sleep, too much is not enough!

    Don’t bother learning riding skills ‘cause you were born to ride.
    Cars can’t ignore your mighty roar, they all will move aside.

    One thing that’s very crucial is to have a wide rear tire.
    It won’t improve performance, but then that’s not your desire.

    Again, it’s all about the look; fat rubber implies power.
    They’ll never know your bike won’t go a hundred miles an hour.

    Avoid the highway at all costs, the boulevard’s your spot.
    More folks will see you, long to be you, riding skills or not.

    Mostly you’ll just park the bike and pose in public view.
    The hoi polloi can eye your toy while idolizing you.

    Of course you’ll need a trailer that can haul your iron steed,
    Paint on the side that “Live to Ride” is your official creed.

    And don’t forget to drink a lot, it’s part of the mystique.
    It makes you seem more interesting, rebellious and unique.

    Along with that comes attitude, the nastier the better.
    No one can know a faux Brando was once a frail bed wetter.

    Be sure to work on language skills, particularly curse words.
    A well-placed “sh*t” or “f*ck” is nice, or maybe you know worse words.

    All men are “bro”, all women “bitch” – this may take some rehearsing.
    But then who can remember names with all that drunken cursing?

    Brag about your bike, call it “your latest acquisition”.
    Mention you own three to further bolster your position.

    Status symbols don’t come cheap, you’ve earned the right to boast.
    The most authentic biker is the one who spends the most.

    Toss around some gearhead terms like “spark advance” or “VOES”.
    So what if it’s all Greek to you, odds are no one else knows.

    Just one last thing I must impart on how you should behave:
    If in our travels we should pass, please don’t forget to wave.

    Oh, I’m not saying I’ll wave back, but then I’m not a bro.
    I’ve just been riding all my life, so hell, what do I know?

  33. 33 nicker Aug 26th, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    “… give us the list of dues we need to pay?…”

    Understand that the legacy of the American Biker as a rugged individual is bequeathed us by the depression era motorcycle gypsies (or motorcycle hobos if you like).

    They crossed this country in a difficult economic time, without the aid of trailers, cellphones, or roadside assistance contracts. Basically, they took on the open road, backed only by their own initiative and ability.

    From our very introduction into motorcycling, many of us have been inspired by the image of the rugged individual taking on the challenge of the open road.

    So, “paying your dues” is about scrounging together your own ride and having it carry your sorry ass over as much road as you can cover in your free time. And using your ingenuity to deal with whatever fate throws at-cha.

    Now, granted, with today’s technology & roads we don’t have quite the “challenges” of the old days. But that was probably not much comfort to those caught out in the Sturgis ice storm….. 🙂

    While taking care of a massive fuel leak in an out of the way Wyoming parking lot and weathering the August snow storm when crossing over the Sierra’s Donner Summit wasn’t the challenge it could have been (without modern adhesives and tires), it was an adventure chalked up in the dues column.

    Moreover, its a adventure that that has to be “paid for” by endurance and experience not by a checkbook (or trailer).

    So, does that explain “dues”……….????


  34. 34 Conrad Nicklus Aug 27th, 2009 at 1:03 am


    ……”The non-riding public used to see Harley owners as rugged individuals who weren’t afraid to ride all day, stand up for themselves, take risks or get their hands dirty. But thanks to all the trailer queens, the public now assumes all Harley owners are namby-pamby office workers who are too wimpy to even ride short distances on ultra-comfy touring bikes.”……

    Man you are so far off here it isnt even funny. If the public doesnt think bikers are “bad ass mother fuckers” any longer than why is it I can wear a number of Rolex watches and drive a Mercedes and Corvette but I am, still a “trashy” person because I happen to have a ton of bikes sitting in my garage, can you answer me this? I think you see other GIFFY pop bikers as “sweethearts” because deep down you want the old days of the “slippy” biker to be reborn. You want the HA to start shit with everyone and the grunge to thrash places, but those days are done man. I mean no disrespect here and I am jsut showing my opinion from honest facts. I dont like to even tell people I ride and build bikes because I always get asked the same shit…..”how old is your bike” “are you in a gang” “do you sell drugs to buy the stuff you have since all the other bikers do too?” is your father in the HA” this that blah blah blah.. I wish we were all known as just another group just like chink burners and rice rockets are.

  35. 35 Conrad Nicklus Aug 27th, 2009 at 1:05 am

    Also, I had the chance to meet Nicker on the last trip to Sturgis. Great guy and rode his bike all the way from California….How is your back Nicker??? Hope the ride was fun going home and you didnt get rocked by hail like me (not fun)

  36. 36 William Aug 27th, 2009 at 1:33 am

    Chink burners? Isn’t that kind of a racist Conrad Nicklus? I’m Chinese & I am very offended.

  37. 37 Todd8080 Aug 27th, 2009 at 4:45 am


    “If the public doesnt think bikers are “bad ass mother fuckers” any longer than why is it I can wear a number of Rolex watches and drive a Mercedes and Corvette but I am, still a “trashy” person because I happen to have a ton of bikes sitting in my garage, can you answer me this?”

    I’m not sure exactly who is labeling you as “trashy” besides yourself, but just how would anyone know from your appearance that you have “a ton of bikes” in your garage?

    It’s not about what you wear or how many motorcycles you’re able to accumulate, it’s about experience; the kind that only comes from many years of riding and a lifelong dedication to the sport of motorcycling (not to be confused with catching the tail end of a passing fad).

    Contrary to what you may have been led to believe, selling drugs, beating up innocent people and destroying property also have nothing to do with motorcycling.

    Unfortunately, based on the fact that you enjoy listing your possessions for strangers, I’m of the opinion that no amount of explanation can clarify this subject for you.

  38. 38 Jeff Nicklus Aug 27th, 2009 at 11:33 am


    I do not have a dog in this fight but I will say this and nothing more: KILLER POEM DUDE! Hit the nail on the head!

    Over & out,


  39. 39 nicker Aug 27th, 2009 at 6:11 pm


    “…I never really wondered what you thought of me when I blew by your cobbled together piece of shit on my shiny new custom bagger. But now I know. And guess what? I still don’t give a shit! Rolls eyes…”

    Firstly, a true Biker never cares about what anyone else thinks.

    Next, what ever it is that “blows by” is considered just so much more “traffic.”

    The piece was about haw and why anyone shows up at Sturgis.

    Obviously the Sturgis rally is based on a legacy handed down by the rugged individuals that pioneered American Motorcycling. Over the years may have invested time, effort, and commitment to continue that legacy. For what they have handed down to us they have earned and deserve respect.

    Many who attend Sturgis have contributed time and effort to sustain that legacy.
    There are also many who attend Sturgis only for the “Event.” And that’s fine.
    However, there are also those who would be “pretenders” to that legacy.

    So, if ya blasted by just to be “at the event”…. Cool!
    But only those who have work to sustain the Sturgis legacy have earned and deserve the respect of those who understand the issue at hand.

    IMHO, the piece is about those “pretenders.” Those who would demand respect without accomplishment. Couldn’t be that hard to understand how the Pretenders “diminish” the experience for the “Pilgrims,” …….do ya-think….???

    Which all begs the question,
    “What sort of biker demands respect” anyway……???


  40. 40 Conrad Nicklus Aug 28th, 2009 at 12:20 pm


    Point I was reaching there is people see motorcyclists such as Wiz and the bad guy. If he is the bad guy then all “bikers” are the bad guys. I get shit constantly about it, someone sees me riding a Bobber (my favorite kind of bike) and they automatically start to think of trash and grunge, they tell me shit constantly. My opinion is you dont know what its like until you ride a bike and get out in the open air, let the bugs hit your head (really hurts sometimes but that is part of it) and let kids in their parents cars wave and smile as you ride next to them.

    People still have the perception of the bad billy bike rider and that causes the nerds of America, who were picked on in high school, to be pissed off and want to think motorcyclists are all involved in gangs, selling drugs, using prostitues and killing people. All the gun fights in South Dakota, Nevada etc in the last few years have caused the situation to progress even more and it sucks.

    I still dont know if I am getting my reasoning to you because I honestly suck at proving my points over emails and such. Shoot me an email and I would be glad to call you and we can discuss it verbally. LOL, its easier.


  41. 41 Conrad Nicklus Aug 28th, 2009 at 12:26 pm


    ……”Chink burners? Isn’t that kind of a racist Conrad Nicklus? I’m Chinese & I am very offended.”….

    Deal with it, I am repeating what everyone, including the guys who ride them, calls them. Everything is racist to the most racist of all and besides that we, “white” people in name here, never bitch about racism and we are the most discriminated of all. So just deal with it like I do.


  42. 42 nicker Aug 29th, 2009 at 3:09 pm


    The back is fine now.
    Took about 4200 miles, but that appears to have fixed it just fine…… 🙂


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