The image of motorcyclists in America has changed over the years. In the 50′s and 60′s most people thought of, “The Wild Bunch” when it came to bikers. One of the pivotal moments in the way the American public came to view motorcyclists was Honda’s 1963 advertising slogan, “You meet the nicest people on a Honda.” Honda portrayed riders of their 50cc Super Cub as housewives, and other regular people. The following year, Honda became the first foreign company to sponsor the Academy Awards taking the campaign national. From the 70s up through the 90s motorcycle riders weren’t necessarily considered criminal, but most of the public still thought of them as a little eccentric.
As we rolled into the 21st century, the baby boom generation was dealing with the empty nest syndrome. Many of these people had had bikes when they were in high school. Others didn’t have bikes, but had friends who did. Now, with the kids gone and more disposable income that before, many of them bought motorcycles. The cost of motorcycles soared as they got larger and offered more features and accessories. As result biking developed a following of financially and socially stable hobbyists. To many people the image of a biker is now an aging boomer, throwing money at a mid-life crisis.
As we begin closing out the first decade of the 21st century, a new and disturbing image of motorcycle riders comes to us from the turbulent middle-east. Video and still images snuck out past Iran’s media crackdown show thugs intimidating protesters from the seat of motorcycles. Let’s hope motorcycles don’t become symbolic tools of totalitarian control.
— Guy Wheatley