The American Biker. The History. The Lifestyle. The Truth.

The biker lifestyle. Many not living it try to define it from outside. And by definition, it’s impossible to explain a culture that you don’t live and share. You can’t expect truth coming from a fantasy-driven entertainment industry, tv, movies or magazines. Those living it can feel it but would have difficulties explaining it in writing to others. Is the Biker Lifestyle something that can be defined, explained? Is it beyond comprehension, a level of living that can only be experienced?

Bill Hayes is one of those very few motorcycle culture historians who is both riding and writing since the 60’s about his vast and deep experience with all the spectrum of a lifestyle filled with love, camaraderie but also with hard realities like biker harassment, politics, etc.

American Biker, his new book about the lifestyle, its history, its members, from activists to builders to MC Clubs, is a very comprehensive and introspective observation of the biker world.

The motorcycle brands, the characters, the commitment to brotherhood, the power of clubs, the rallies, the politics, the police encounters, the biased medias, etc are described from the inside by somebody looking passionately at reestablishing the truth about his own lifestyle.  Helping Bill Hayes in his quest are the “voices” of former United States Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Easyriders Europe Editor Michael Stein, Harley-Davidson historian and museum restorer Bill Rodencal, actor and biker Robert Patrick, Motorcycle Hall of Famers John “Rogue” Herlihy and Keith Ball and many more. My only regret after reading “American Biker is that pictures, some to maybe become historic, are published in too small size. Except this, in all fairness, it’s probably the ultimate book about the true biker lifestyle. A must read if you read my Blog. American Biker.

23 Responses to “The American Biker. The History. The Lifestyle. The Truth.”

  1. 1 Kirk Perry Jan 29th, 2011 at 10:27 am

    I read his first book “The Wild Ones” which covered the Long Beach, Big Bear, Calif. club scene and from the many pictures within, learned that you didn’t need an operable fork damper if you installed a Hydra-Glide fork on a non-damper-pin Knuckle frame – an possible issue that has driven the motorcycle world to distraction. But not now.

  2. 2 metal parts Jan 29th, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    it is a book deserve to read for all of us! i like it!

  3. 3 Larry R Jan 29th, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    Just finished the book and highly recommend it. It defines the term biker for me. Apparently they are few and in between. Kudos to Mr. Hayes. L&R…..Larry

  4. 4 nicker Jan 29th, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    “…Is the Biker Lifestyle something that can be defined, explained? …”

    Well, OK, but first ya got-a defining “The American Biker.”
    So, here’s the perfect bench-mark for that definition, from the guy who coined the term “unobtanium,” (first at T.T. Motors, then in his writings for Iron Horse magazine and other classics:

    “… you’re born black, you’re born Chicano, you’re born Anglo-Saxon, Protestant, Jewish, Polynesian, whatever. Nobody is born a biker. It’s something you do by choice. A biker is under a complete psychic necessity, right, in that he is one half of a symbiotic organism of which the other half is a motorcycle…”

    Google “paladin nobody is born a biker”

    And so, each of us does it in our own way, the American way, as individuals, one individual at a time…… but first and foremost ya have to “…eat, sleep, dream, live and love motorcycles…”


  5. 5 Todd8080 Jan 30th, 2011 at 1:41 am

    In my mind there’s only one defining characteristic that determines whether you’re a biker or not, and that’s mileage. It has nothing to do with beer, tattoos, attitude or how much you spend perfecting the “just got out of prison” look, if you do the miles all the rest is incidental.

    Unfortunately you can’t put those miles on a credit card, you actually have to ride them yourself.

  6. 6 Wiz Jan 30th, 2011 at 6:33 am

    Whenever you see Bill Hayes he’s got a green bandana on, you know why? He’s a “Boozefighter” that’s why. Just one of the oldest clubs in America! I am honored to know him personally, mostly through my association with my “Brother from another Mother” Charlie Brechtel, who is the guy on the cover of the book. He has a band called “The Charlie Brechtel Band”, what else, and Bill is the bass player for it. Bill knows his poop on bikers, and more importantly he knows how to write about it. Hey Bill ‘an Charlie, sorry I didn’t get to spend more time with you out at Sturgis last year, maybe this summer. Wiz

  7. 7 ROGUE Jan 30th, 2011 at 8:09 am

    I am in Bill’s book and know many of the others that are. Talking to some of them we agree that the book tells it like it was.
    The history is correct as to what I and they were involved in EXCEPT for (1) one thing and that is on page 293 he says that Lou Kimzey one of the founders of “Easyriders” magazine and of ABATE – A BROTHERHOOD AGAINST TOTALITARIAN ENACTMENTS later changed the name of that organization to A Brotherhood Aiming Towards Education. That Never Happened.Some of the groups using the name ABATE did that on their own for what ever reason.
    I contacted Bill as I was one of the original people involved in forming ABATE and told him of the error, Keith Ball who was also involved and Lou’s children verified that to be true.
    Bill has agreed to change that in the next printing of AMERICAN BIKER
    The people that have read the book and contacted me have all had good things to say about it. I would suggest you get a copy, read it and then let me and or who ever else know what you think about it.

  8. 8 zyon Jan 30th, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Todd 8080…you are absolutely right. A biker rides a bike and does so every chance he gets. You are not a biker if you opt to take the car with when there is a 60% chance of rain. You are not a biker if you only ride “when your biddies are riding.” You ride because you’d rather be on a bike than in a car. If I don’t have one of my kids with me then I’m on my bike (solo seat.)

    Being a biker and being in an outlaw club are two different things. I do’t belong to any club, outlaw or not because I’ll ride with anyone.

  9. 9 Mike Greenwald Jan 30th, 2011 at 11:27 am

    The book is meaningful because it is NOT a rewritten history by a flunkie, ex-journaslist with an agenda motivated by a shyster that pumps out advertising dollars for opinion pieces under the guise of safety.

    Thank God we have guys that were there that tell the story straight.


  10. 10 charlie brechtel Jan 30th, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    thanks bill for all the cool stuff you do

  11. 11 Grey Beard Jan 30th, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    All do respect Cyril, If I have to read a book to find out if I’m a biker, then that means I’m a wannabe or poser.

  12. 12 Jeez Jan 30th, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Grey beard. I find your comment quite dumb. Where do you read that it’s a book to know if you are a biker? It’s clearly a book about the biker lifestyle, what it implies and its history.

  13. 13 P. Hamilton Jan 30th, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Just ordered 2.

  14. 14 Quint w/ Jan 30th, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    We’ve interviewed Bill Hayes twice, once for each book. As preparation for the interviews, I read each book. Bill’s anecdotal style is easy to read. I enjoyed reading about the bikers that came before me. With my career as a broadcaster and motor journalist, I thought I was the most “literate biker”, but it was my honor to cede my title to Bill Hayes. (jk) Bill is the real deal.

  15. 15 Grey Beard Jan 31st, 2011 at 2:44 am

    Jeez… It’s not a dumb statement. If you lived it, you’d know what I ment.
    I’m not knocking the book, probably interesting reading, but as for me, I’ve been around long enough to know what it’s about.
    To sum up what a biker is, if I’m wrong, correct me. There has always been three worlds relating to bikers. A biker (motorcyclist), the biker lifestyle, and mainstream society. A biker (motorcyclist) is someone who likes riding his scooter, the biker lifestyle is a way of life. The early yrs the biker lifestyle evolved from the true bikers. The real bikers who lived the lifestyle kept a low profile, living in their own world with a few select friends, living parallel with mainstream society, you stayed in your world and they stayed in their world. Today the three worlds still exist, but Hollywood has tried to blend the two biker worlds together. I don’t know how old you are, but if you were around back in the 60’s when it wasn’t a fashion statement, then you’d know what I’m saying.

  16. 16 Wiz Jan 31st, 2011 at 6:02 am

    Hey Rogue, I’ve been an active ABATE member for…Hell, 38 years now I guess. Started in the early days in South Dakota, had to high-tail it to Texas ’cause of the law [all the outlaws hide out in Tejas] , started ABATE of Austin,TX, ‘an came back to Dakota after the statute of limitations ran out, and now I’ve been traveling to the Capitol of the Sturgis state for over 20 years now for the opening of the Legislature to keep not only the bikers of South Dakota as free as possible, but since we host the world’s largest motorcycle rally a responsibility to the free-wheelin’, fun lovin’, like-minded individuals of the entire planet! One ABATE chapter I belonged to was “Those Guys”, known as the hardest partin’ bunch of cretins you would ever want to meet! Others would say “All those guys want to do is get drunk ‘an raise Hell.” So we started our own chapter ‘an named it, what else, “Those Guys”. I brought in alot of members by saying ABATE stands for “Always Bring Alcohol To Events”! It’s now the second largest chapter in the State! I now belong to the “Zzen” chapter because “Those Guys” wasn’t rowdy enough ‘an I ruffled too many feathers there. Zzen is the mafia of ABATE ‘an that’s all I can say iffin’ I don’t want to “Sleep with the Fishes”! You remember us meeting up on the stage out at the chip with Charlie? Take care you Freedom Fighter you! Wiz

  17. 17 Mike Greenwald Jan 31st, 2011 at 7:53 am

    Not really seeing caricature, bitch drunk bikers that the acronym ABATE fighting for my rights. Y’all give freedom fighters, bikers, enthusiasts and associates a bad name. Get out of the motorcycle rights business and just be another drunk on a bike. Oh, get your balls out of a knot if this is addressed to you.

  18. 18 ROGUE Jan 31st, 2011 at 8:07 am

    There seems to be a lot of people in ABATE that are just there for the parties and to each their own reason for joining.I have heard Always Bring Alcohol To Events”! More and more about some of the chapters.
    You Said:
    “One ABATE chapter I belonged to was “Those Guys”, known as the hardest partin’ bunch of cretins you would ever want to meet! Others would say “All those guys want to do is get drunk ‘an raise Hell.” So we started our own chapter ‘an named it, what else, “Those Guys”. I brought in alot of members by saying ABATE stands for “Always Bring Alcohol To Events”! It’s now the second largest chapter in the State.”

    Some of the other chapters and state organizations have changed to Motorcycle Safety Organizations more than right organizations. Some are taking money from the goverment for helping legislation pass in the form of Grant Money (Payoff?). As long as these organizations are up front about what they are and people know what they are joining then it should be their business.
    The problem arises when people join what they believe to be a organization that is fighting for their rights and the organization turns out to be something difference. That does account for the large turnover in membership some chapters and state organizations have.
    The Mafia in ABATE why am I not suprised at that.
    Hopefully I will see you in Sturgis in 2011

  19. 19 Luuezz Jan 31st, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Hey Rogue,
    Thanks for sending this info to me. I’ll buy it after work today, i’ve been looking for a good book to read lately. Luuezz

  20. 20 charlie brechtel Jan 31st, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    i love the book and the guy on the cover is cool to lol lol

  21. 21 Wiz Feb 1st, 2011 at 4:24 am

    Mike, If you try to get people to join a motorcycle/legislative organization by describing all the work, letters they need to write, membership dues ‘an fees,contacting and getting involved with candidates ‘an elected officials, unpaid traveling expences, phone trees, newsletter composition, and the plethera of whats involved to successfully run something that is made up of free-thinking, independent, individuals that don’t like being part of anything, they’ll run like Hell! ABATE is a political/social entity. If you entice them with the social aspects like Poker Runs, Toy Runs, Swap meets, campouts, ‘an general Sunday afternoon runs to get them in there then you can do something collectively once you got your numbers together. You ain’t gonna catch no fish iffin’ you ain’t got bait on the hook! And yeah, we have a good time doin’ it I must admit. But the end justifys the means. ABATE of South Dakota is one of the strongest ABATE’s in the nation. Other states contact us on how we do it. Think about that when yer ridin’ in Sturgis without a helmet on yer noggin, ’cause they try to push it through every year ‘an we got to shut ’em down. Wiz

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