The African-American Motorcycle Experience

Those close to me know that I am not prejudiced against any national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, brand of motorcycle, etc. When Ben Harris, executive publisher of Rides Magazine showed me this video, I thought that it was time for me to show a side of urban bike culture that most people don’t get to see. I don’t endorse or support any club in particular but have respect for all those who ride.

Zipper's

54 Responses to “The African-American Motorcycle Experience”


  1. 1 H. Shulz Feb 24th, 2011 at 9:17 am

    Bravo for running this video.

  2. 2 Carter Feb 24th, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Some are going to dislike that you run this video but they should know that the Easy Rider bike was built by a black person and that black people have ridden Harleys, not only sportbikes, as long as we did.

  3. 3 Luis Feb 24th, 2011 at 10:36 am

    I really wish “urban” wasn’t a euphemism for “black”. It’s pretty ignorant to assume all black people live in the city or the hood.

  4. 4 Donnie Feb 24th, 2011 at 10:39 am

    I think the people featured in this video”Brothers Of The Bike” is a club in New York. May be the reason why Urban is used.

  5. 5 zyon Feb 24th, 2011 at 10:53 am

    The sentiments in this video transcend race and are echo’d by anyone who loves motorcycles. I saw nothing specific to african american in this story so why does the video have to focus on this. Obviously the people in this video segregate themselves as a black culture just by pointing out they are different. Why can’t they say, “We are human and we like to ride..end of story.” Why do they have to point out that they ride and they are black. Personally, I could care less what color you are. If your gig is motorcycles, then you are cool in my book.

    We have a local hispanic club in our area and the majority of them all ride street bikes like Ninjas. One day, I was at Wendy’s and a group of them pulled up. When I came out, they were eyeballing my chopper. At first I thought, I was about to have my bike trashed. I kept a cool head and we ended up talking for about 30 minutes about the differences of our bikes. After that, they invited me to ride with them. They didn’t care that I was white or that I rode a V-Twin, they cared that I was motorcycle guy and i treated them with respect. To me, that was cool and they never considered race…it’s about the ride for them.

  6. 6 Patrick Feb 24th, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Zyon. If I correctly read Cyril, it’s exactly the kind of reaction he expects in comments.

  7. 7 Wolf450 Feb 24th, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Zyon, bikers in this video don’t segregate themselves as a black culture. They don’t point out that they are different. They point out that people think that only white bikers ride Harleys. As simple as this.

  8. 8 Dylan Feb 24th, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Great video. Would love to see more.

  9. 9 Richard Feb 24th, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Great video. It clearly shows this group is no different than the club that I rode with for years. They feel like the rest of us about motorcycles and riding together. They are motorcyclists, friends and H.D. kind of guys.

  10. 10 zyon Feb 24th, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Wolf, my point is, why do we even need videos pointing out that black people ride cruisers and not just crotch rockets. Until we as a society get past the need to point out “what we have in common” and we just acknowledge that we are all similar we will never get past the race issues in this country. Not once in my 33 years have I thought black people don’t ride Harley motorcycles. I figure if anyone, white, black, hispanic asian, gay straight or anything else wants to ride a motorcycle, they will ride one. What makes them special different or the same as everyone else.

  11. 11 Manhattan Choppers Feb 24th, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    “If It Ain’t Long, It’s Wrong”
    Long live Sugar B.

  12. 12 Jeff Nicklus Feb 24th, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    For all of you eager to be tolerant folks patting yourselves on the back and endorsing this “non racially motivated video”, let me ask you this question: Have any of your read the title to this clip? Let me help you here: “Brothers of the Bike: The African-American Motorcycle Experience” …. the name itself reeks of racism. What if the title had been: “Rich Suburban Dudes: The White-American Motorcycle Experience” …. Holy crap Jesse Jackson and his cronies would be all over it, CNN would be jumping up and down and the White House would be demanding sensitivity training for all the participants in the video.

    Why can’t the title be simply: “Brothers of the Bike”? …. End of story!

    FYI: I agree it is a good video that tells the story of how we “ALL” feel about riding.

    Just my observations.

    Over & Out,

    Jeff

  13. 13 bigitch Feb 24th, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    if you were to start this video and turn the the screen off, or turn around so you couldn’t see the screen and just listen to what is being said, then without any idea of who’s talking you would all agree that what is being said is agreeable.

    as a youth i had access to BSA’s, Norton’s, Triumph’s, Riverside’s, Vespa’s, and the new orient produced bikes that were around. but i bought my first Harley, not because of the make but because of an advertisement that said:

    “your not buying a motorcycle, your buying an attitude”.

    it’s the fact that you ride a bike, is all that should matter

  14. 14 hddave Feb 24th, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    I really don”t care what color those guys are,they have some nice fu*king bikes!

  15. 15 RUB Feb 24th, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    thanks Jeff , someone had to say it ……………….

  16. 16 fluke Feb 24th, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    It seems the coloured biker clubs are the same as non specifically coloured ones.

    Not a woman; black, white or whatever to be seen in that video.

    discrimination isn’t all about skin colour. even Cyril forgot to mention he doesn’t discriminate against gender in his intro. Ignoring over half the planet seems kind of a big deal to me.

    sorry, pet rant.

  17. 17 Admin Feb 24th, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    To RUB in Hartford, CT. Your comments go automatically in moderation because our anti-spam system has detected that you try to hide your identity behind the fake email mike33455@yahoo.com. If you want freedom of expression, state publicly who you are. Us, we know…

  18. 18 DJ Feb 24th, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    I strongly agree with Zyon. Quit trying to unite by making everyone seperate. I did not see a single “African American” in that clip. I only saw americans that were black. I bet not one of them have ever been to Africa, much less born there. We are all Americans so stop it already. I am Italian in heritage, American by birth… Not Italian-American! but if we insist on celebrating minorities then everyone should praise Us Italians because there is far fewer on bikes then blacks or Mexicans.. Except that won’t fit the mold will it?

  19. 19 nicker Feb 24th, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    When i heard Sugar Bear tells of how Negro bikers were excluded in the 60’s, in that context, the message in this video would certainly have been appropriate……. at that time.

    Not sure it’s particularly relevant today, other than as a club recruiting message for the patches depicted.

    Anyone with half a brain should be past all that old stuff by now.

    IMHO anyway.
    -nicker-

  20. 20 Joe Feb 24th, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    Very, very cool video. I like it. A lot. Kudos to Cyril for publishing it on this site.

  21. 21 Johny Feb 24th, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    DJ. You are born in America from Italian descent. You say that you are American. Right. If you were born in Italy, naturalized American, the proper term would be an Itallo-American. African-American is in the title of the movie, probably the reason why Cyril uses it in his title. And if you are white, born in Africa, naturalized American, what is the right name? Not African-American! You know why? Because it’s our government that coined the term African-American to describe only black people. The appellation is still on government forms!

  22. 22 Harry Feb 24th, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    DJ. Want to explain to us why American Natives are called Indians and pure blood ones have an Indian passport.

  23. 23 Kemper Feb 24th, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    Cyril knew exactly what he would get when posting this video. A lot of comments! Let’s continue the debate.

  24. 24 David Feb 25th, 2011 at 12:01 am

    Jeff…..I’m with you, as long as someone categorizes people whom ever they are there will be racism….So I beleive the procducers of this video are racises and know what their doing !

    SSDD; David

  25. 25 Sugar Bear Feb 25th, 2011 at 12:58 am

    This video was put together to let people know that the A-A experience is not recent. You need to understand that my image nor any A-A image was allowed in magazines from 1972 to 1996. The riding public had no clue until 2006, when “The History of the Chopper”aired, that the Easy Rider bikes were built in Watts by Benny Hardy, 37 years after the movie.

    You would be surprised at the number of riders that have approached me and told me they had no clue that A-A’s ever rode H-D’s and especially choppers. The image presented in industry media did not include A-A’s for years, so for the most part, H-D seemed to be the province of the “non-urban” rider.

    So, relax, since “urban bikers” been excluded for a long,long time, they just want you to know that they’ve experienced the same feelings for their bikes and riding as others have. Hence, the title.

    Some of the riders in this video are friends of mine that I started riding with in the 60’s, 70’s, etc,…. till now. They just feel they have never had a forum that allowed them to express that they feel as you do about riding.

    Believe me they don’t like the tags, and they didn’t invent them … they just want to ride.
    Nicker….. There are still a lot of people out there with less than half a brain

  26. 26 DJ Feb 25th, 2011 at 5:11 am

    Johny,
    My point is exactly that! It is coined by the government. It is a left wing liberal culture to use terms like that that which devide us. Until the division stops, there can be NO UNITY. I don’t need any help defining my heritage thank you.. I am an American. My great grand father prohibited Italian to be spoken by the family when they came here because they were American the day they came through Ellis Island. I am an American war Vet who went to battle for your right to be an American. And as for you Harry, the “Indian Passport” is of there own design to make it easier to obtain all the Indian Entitlments that we have to pay for 200 years later(Thanks Van Jones!)

  27. 27 Bernie Feb 25th, 2011 at 6:38 am

    Who is African American?

    Since 1977, in an attempt to keep up with changing social opinion, the United States government officially classified black people (revised to black or African American in 1997) as A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. Other Federal offices, such as the United States Census Bureau, adheres to the OMB standards on race in its data collection and tabulations efforts. In preparation for the United States 2010 Census, a marketing and outreach plan, called 2010 Census Integrated Communications Campaign Plan (ICC) recognized and defined African Americans as black people born in the United States. From the ICC perspective, African Americans are one of three groups of black people in the United States.

    The ICC plan was to reach the three groups by acknowledging that each group has its own sense of community that is based on geography and ethnicity. The best way to market the census process toward any of the three groups is to reach them through their own unique communication channels and not treat the entire black population of the U.S. as though they are all African Americans with a single ethnic and geographical background. The U.S. Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation categorizes black or African American people as “A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa” through racial categories used in the UCR Program adopted from the Statistical Policy Handbook and published by the Office of Federal Statistical Policy and Standards, U.S. Department of Commerce, derived from the 1977 OMB classification.

  28. 28 Stephan Feb 25th, 2011 at 6:47 am

    Right on Cyril for daring make a point. Right on Sugar Bear for your explanation. We are ONE and we ALL ride.

  29. 29 Gas Man Feb 25th, 2011 at 7:02 am

    Great Video of some awesome looking bikes rode by some nicely founded AMERICAN riders. End of story. As an American I would just like to see the tags dropped. Just like Morgan Freeman not that long ago on 60 minutes.

    Thanks for the video Cyril.

  30. 30 Ben Shogren Feb 25th, 2011 at 8:14 am

    Perfect timing to say that Sugar Bear & Cyril Huze should both be inducteed in the Hall Of Fame for their contributions to the motorcycle industry.

  31. 31 Henry Feb 25th, 2011 at 8:17 am

    I remind everybody that to be open minded is not to be a Liberal. It is to be open minded. I met Cyril several times. He is open minded about everything and everybody. Respect.

  32. 32 Rick Lossner Feb 25th, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Excellent Video…..

    ROT Rally 2010 was the first time I’d encontered any Black MC’s…. caught me off guard at first ( simply becuase it seemed a first for me in five years attending there)….

    What REALLY caught my attention…. they were riding some NICE bikes!!! Few decked out Hayabusa’s…but , some BEAUTIFUL HD’s ! Couldn’t keep my eyes off a few and came back with some pics and ideas 😉

    “Black Month” overall nauseates me …. I don’t get it, don’t believe in it… This video though, stands on it ‘s own, and is awesome. However, It’s obviously making it’s way out due to Black Month, but I’ll overlook that fact 🙂

  33. 33 HARLEYS RULE!! Feb 25th, 2011 at 10:00 am

    I AM A HARLEY LOVER TILL THE DAY I DIE!! AN AMERICAN TRADITION, LET’S SUPPORT IT!!

  34. 34 Did You NOT Read the Title? Feb 25th, 2011 at 10:04 am

    The title says AFRICAN-AMERICAN MOTORCYCLE EXPERIENCE. Since it is BLACK HISTORY MONTH, maybe it’s a tribute to African-American and/or Black American Motorcycle riders. People are so touchy about everything. There is nothing wrong with ANYONE being proud of their culture. We are all different, we are all the same, that’s life!! Ride & shut up haters!!

  35. 35 Bsark Feb 25th, 2011 at 10:50 am

    Why can’t the title be simply: “Brothers of the Bike”? Because it’s about African-American riders. If it was about women riders it might be called might be called “Ladies of the bike”. Would you have a problem with that?

  36. 36 burnout Feb 25th, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Thank you Sugar Bear. When you speak YOU SPEAK!! peace

  37. 37 Larry R Feb 25th, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    I like the video. It is amazing how people can get so nitpicky over guys riding bikes and enjoying it. Thanks, Cyril.

  38. 38 Paul Feb 25th, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    I worship at the altar of hddave: “I really don”t care what color those guys are,they have some nice fu*king bikes!”

    Who give a rip, just ride!

  39. 39 Delski Feb 25th, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    ” White people get you some black friends ”
    ” Black people get you some white friends ”

    Quote : Kat Williams

  40. 40 nicker Feb 25th, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    Sugar Bear,

    RE:
    “…There are still a lot of people out there with less than half a brain…”

    Ya, i guess there still are……. 🙁
    I think the point that people like me, Jeff & David are making is that those idiots have, and will continue to decline over time. And kind-a fungus in the bathroom, they’ll never completely go away.
    But continuing to make a point of such issues, at this point is counter productive.

    Today is a far cry from the 1950’s, we’ve transcended a lot of bigotry since then and that process will continue over time. When Rosa Parks moved to the front of the bus it was a Big deal. Today nobody gives it a second thought, not even Crackers.

    As i see it …… keep building, riding, and enjoying scooters….. the more people see ya the more mainstream ya become. Hell, even OCC haves become “acceptable”……….. 🙂

    The down-side is, it takes time. Ya, 1972 to 1996 is a long time…….. 🙁
    But then everything good takes time, be it wine or justice.

    The trick is to remain visible, everyone sees the person sitting at the front of the buss.
    So, brother, where ever ya ride, do it straight-n proud & Keep the rubber side own.
    You will be noticed….. 🙂

    -nicker-

  41. 41 Keith Stone & Kiki Feb 26th, 2011 at 12:47 am

    I like the video.. IMOP, I dont care who you are, if you like,love,ride motorcycles your a friend of mine… PERIOD !

  42. 42 Wiz Feb 26th, 2011 at 3:23 am

    Right On, Ride On, Right on!! You guys are alright in my book! You are proud of being black, as I am proud of being white/native! You gotta take pride in yourself, if you don’t nobody else will! Take care my Brothers of the Wind!! wiz

  43. 43 Englishman Feb 28th, 2011 at 8:55 am

    Wow, that was pretty prejudiced! Towards Harley Davidson!

    I love this stuff. One thousand guys just went “HUH?” because they had no idea this happened and continues to happen.

    Just a bunch of guys that like to ride.

  44. 44 JSDiamond Feb 28th, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    “a better high than drugs or alcohol…” “my bike is a problem solver…”

    So true. Great video about being a biker.

  45. 45 Joe Mielke Feb 28th, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    Read the book Soul On Bikes, History of the East Bay Dragons and the Black bike sceen in Oakland as told by Tobie Gene Levingston. He is in this video. It’s a good read.
    Peace
    Joe

  46. 46 Eric Maurer Mar 1st, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    WOW….. this is an absolutely awesome video!!!!!

    Thanks Cyril for posting.

    – Eric Maurer

    Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity

  47. 47 Blackmax Mar 1st, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Hi all, just feel the need to comment on this one:
    1. Don’t let the name fool ya’ I’m called that due to the proliferation on guys & dogs named “Max” around this part of the country.
    2. ALL (let me repeat)All of us you choose to indulge in this
    sport/lifestyle are MY brothers and sisters. You chose to ride, I will ride with you! And if I hold true to this statement, then I have no need to have a patch/rockers, whatever, on my back and yes I have turned down oppertunities to hold colors/patches in both Black & White clubs.
    3. I have never felt the need to identify or qualify myself by race Black Bike Week, White bike week, so on and so forth. I’ve had a good time at both and I don’t see, nor has anyone ever given me,
    a reasonable explanation on why there persists to be seperate
    (but equal??) events, in most of the time, the same locations at diffrent times. This was true once upon a time as Sugar Bear has said, but nor any more. I would like to think that the American Biker has evolved and changed for the better since those days.
    I ride with 2 local charity organizations,(20+ yrs with one, 6 yrs with the other) composed of mostly (95-99%) white members and have been an officer/board member and Road Captain for both and just finished a 2 yr stint as Director of one of them. If the old sterotypes still existed, how could I have even become a member much less a officer running the whole show. But that’s only 1 side of the story. I’ve asked Black club members to attend our charity functions, as they are for needy children in our communitity, regardless of race, and they never show up, don;t know why, no explanation. So the sterotyping is not just one sided and that’s really too bad as I think there is a lot we could BOTH learn?
    4. And the last point, the stereotypical brand put downs, granted it’s a H-D sponsered video, but come on, “If it ain’t an H-D, you’re not riding with us” I got a lot of friends who ride, work on and work for H-D, and I respect them all and their choices, but I also would like to think that they would respect mine. I don’t ride a Harley, but I would put my Nomad up against any (stock) Road King anytime, any place, as far as looks, style and comfort go. And with the new products such as the Cross Roads/Country from Victory and the new Vaquero from Kawasaki, serious inroads are going to be made into H-D’s heavy bike market, so why be closed minded about who you ride with? If ALL riders are due respect, regardless of color or sex, then shouldn’t the bikes we love and ride, be accorded the same respect at least for what they are???

    Sorry to get on my soap box Cyril, take care my friend …..
    Max

  48. 48 Kerry Mar 13th, 2011 at 1:17 am

    Pure HD exploitation . . .

    An historically repressed minority riding fully dressed up new CVO bikes, probably sold to them on credit with no money down.

    One more example of whitey getting rich off black folk.

  49. 49 Longrider Mar 29th, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    I ride a Harley, have owned 4 of them and some Hondas when I was young. My first bike was a 650 TR.. Have had a Softail Heritage, a softail standard with an expensive paint job and ape hanger s, an Ultra Calssic that was a anniversay model, “The Eagle” and now I ride a 2000 electric glide that looks like a new street glide. I ride to what ever event I want and in most cases not a problem, Many just look at me and wonder “why is he here?” I go on the Xmas Teddy Bear rides, I rode with about a 1000 other bikers to a white guys funeral in GA, and my wife and attend many biker events that we may only see one or two other African-American riders. So what, not a problem. We ride cause we love to ride.

  50. 50 Sonny-Willingboro Apr 8th, 2011 at 7:46 am

    Lets call it, Positive Recognition.I watched war movies and NEWS when i was young.I had cousins in the service i admired them the way these guys looked,SHARP but not in the news.Not enough black history is taught in schools today feb. isn’t long enough.So its up to the community and us to talk to people. Not being racist but, we do alot that is not in the news,they seem to focus on the negative.Well so much for that, did anybody see the movie Pride, about a black swimming coach I worked with him and rised my kids as swimmers a great guy a good moviefor us to see.This is the way we use videos,enternet to pass it on not being mean, but to let everybody know. Now Im going to put on some latin music on and polish my road king classic and hit road for a minute.Retired train operator out of Philly and Air Force Reserves,Be safe Nice Video.

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