Bubba Buford finally takes delivery of his brand new $40,000 relic of a bike after waiting over year to buy it. The first thing to go OFF the bike is any thing that could resemble muffling. When not in the shop for leaking oil, Bubba takes his small land yacht to recapture his youth of the days of Med School at Yale.
On weekends, he really gets wild. After dressing head to toe in all black leather, he goes over to West Hollywood… oh wait… I mean he grabs the smallest helmet he can find and straps it to his head. Straight up and upright, he finds the straightest route he can find to the local bike bar. If the road happens to take any type of curve, he's usually scrapping metal and bitching that those damn Sportbikers keep trying to get around him. "I'm not getting out the way" yells Bubba, "I've been riding these roads for 100 years and it's mine" says the brand new rider.
Bubba has been banged up and bruised. Not from riding fast, but from drinking too fast and falling over in the parking lot. Thank god he had his "beanie" helmet on to protect his pony tail head that drives the young girls crazy. "At a six pack of beer, everything comes alive" he said.
From the garages of Beverly Hills to the driveways of middle suburbia, cruiser cyclists have been getting in the way and waking up the neighbors since time began, injecting an element of "cool" and "rebel" while eating lunch out of their HD (Hundred of Dollars) lunchbox, wearing their HD shirt, HD hat, driving their HD truck with the HD stuffed animals most of which was bought at the Wal-mart. You know, that's wear all the Rebels are shopping these days.
They ride an old breed super slow, over priced, unreliable, super slow motorcycles and sport black jeans, black t-shirts and black fringe that give them the look of a rebel straight out of the Blue Oyster (think Police Academy). These Rebels in training among them play "lets see how drunk we can get before hoping on the overweight and underpowered noise makers" often looking for cops hiding in the dust.
In recent years, the biking world is BECOMING dominated by the Sportbike Crowd, most of them younger riders that prize the rush of controlled speed and skill associated with sport oriented riding.
Many of the older bikers are in it for something else – tobe a part time rebel and show how much money they can spend on an inferior motorcycle. Police admit they could probably out walk some of these museums on wheels.
Today's cruiser motorcycles are just as heavy and slow as those produced five decades ago. Frame made are made of the heaviest steel and with never enough chrome and fringe.
But the smallest change has been in the engines. Many leak as much oil today as a they did 50 years ago.
A standard motorcycle license and a HUGE wallet is all that is needed to ride them. And with many of the bikes selling for more the $50,000 - - 5 X the price of Sportbikes - - they appeal to the yuppie doctor wanna be rock stars.
Sales of Cruisers in California have exponentially risen in the last few years, according to local noise pollution estimates.
The view among many Cruise riders is that you haven't lived until everything is chrome and fringe and you've survived a night of Tequila inspired bar brawls. Some carry cell phones to finish their weekend deals. "Chrome is really expensive," said Bubba, "and if I don't close the deal, I can't get the chrome flux capacitor. I don't know what it is, but my dealers says I won't be cool without a chrome one."
"Chick magnet with keys," Bubba calls them.
He's been a motorcycle fanatic since his neighbor Dr. Jones traded the BWM for his.
But on these bikes, even the most fastest riders can't get our of their own way. "As soon as you twist the throttle," Bubba said, "it's like blasting a Big Rig Jake Brake."
For protection, they wear thin, fringe leather vest and small beanie like helmets.
Bubba's solid black outfit, speckled with black , black and black, cost him $1,500 and is considered top of the line because it's official HD wear.
Bubba looks cool in this outfit and according to the latest edition of Vogue, this look is in for two more years.
Once, Bubba was riding his stool at a bar in the mountains and took his eye off his beer for one second. When he looked up, it was gone. When he regained consciousness, he saw the outline of four bikers who had seen the beer leave and came to help him buy another one.
Despite his antics, Bubba is on the conservative side of the beer drinking-biking world. The real daredevils perform prefer to cruise the Boulevards and fashion malls in search of the ultimate coolness.
Freddy Franswa, who loves caviar and models, says walking away from a the hottest restaurant without serious damage to the credit card is my type of danger.
He should know. He has grossly overpaid for every bike he ever owned.
"If you're can't buy coolness," Franswa said. "You're wasting your life."
Franswa moved to the West Side about three years ago, abandoning the family fortune in the 714, so he could ride to the Sunset Strip year-round.
Franswa and his friends often videotape their lunch, trying to earn a starring role on videos such as "Easily Rider" and "Breakfast at Tiffanys."
Among his favorite places to show his bike are Rodeo Drive, Sunset Blvd and Chic ala Chic in Santa Monica.
One of Franswa favorite tales of misadventure involves a lunch in San Francisco with a few friends two years ago. "After picking up the bike from the shippers (god forbid we RIDE that far) we went to Fu-fu and Tofu in downtown Frisco. The waiter brought out water. I took one drink and realized it was tap water. TAP WATER! Can you believe it? Luckily I had packed a couple cases of Avion in the side packs. Tap water….." he said.
Joe Bob Smith regularly runs into cruisers on the Ortega Highway, a narrow, two-lane road through Cleveland National Forest that connects San Juan Capistrano and Lake Elsinore.
"It scares the hell out of you," Smith said. "These guys come crawling behind you leaking oil and blasting their exhaust. Thank god for all the chrome or I might never see them all dressed in black. They're obscene. They're obnoxious. And they ought to be horsewhipped."
The beer drinking and oil spilling riding are especially aggravating to Sportbike loyalists, many of whom are drawn to the open road less for a need to look cool than for the fellowship and feeling of freedom.
Squid riders such as the ONES MENTIONED IN THE LA TIMES ARTICLE make up a small portion of the Sportbike crowd, and garner headlines for dare devil antics and random acts of stupidity. But most of the Sportbike crowd are track day warriors who enjoy a morning of hauling azz where appropriate in full gear under controlled conditions..
On weekends, Harley riders pull up to the biker hangout, tattoos and all, on vintage relics like those seen in the film "Easy Rider." Sport bikers are already there in equal numbers, finishing up their rides before mid-day when the beer drinking riders arrive. By the time the place fills up, it looks like a bunch of leather clad wannabe got lost on their way to a Johnny Cash convention.