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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Alittle interesting reading, on how we are perceived by others, and how our actions affect opinions about us.

I broke this up into 2 different posts, since the first part is mainly about sportbikes, etc...and the second part, posted below, talks about other types of rides. Sorry it's so long..but hey, it'll give you something to do while your at work, while you rest your hands from typing so much, right.. (or taking a break from whatever you do)

On the streets of L.A., you are what you ride
In a divided motorcycle culture, the bike defines the rider -- and the two-wheeled clan.

By Susan Carpenter, Times Staff Writer

It's obvious the instant a motorcyclist flips his lid and gives another rider the once over:

Uncreased leathers straddling a Ducati 996 with center-worn treads? Sport-bike poseur.

Clean-shaven mug all geared up on a Harley, rumbling fresh from the showroom floor? Rich Urban Biker (or more sneeringly, RUB).

Flip-flops and shorts weaving through traffic at 90 mph on a Yamaha R1? Squid.

To drivers, motorcyclists seem like a unified group — those death-wishing two-wheelers, splitting lanes, cutting in line and otherwise conspiring to make the daily commute miserable. But unbeknownst to most people in cars — or vans or trucks or buses — all along the city's congested streets, sprawling canyons, desert flats and endless strip of coastline, it's a bike-versus-bike world.

What you wear, where you ride, who you ride with and how is largely dictated by the machine you happen to be revving around on. Cruiser or sport bike? Weekend warrior or daily driver? Too fast or too tentative? Wave hello or stare straight ahead? Full-face helmet or "brain bucket"?

No matter what road you take, the fact is motorcycle riders self-segregate based on their bike. It's more of a snobby superiority than a serious fight. You won't find riders running each other into the ditch over their differences, but there's no shortage of insults. (Filthy bike loaded down, Joad-style? Ratbike. Fringy, overdressed Harley? Garbage wagon.)

You'll find them all here. There may be no better place than Southern California for bikers of any ilk. Chalk it up to the weather and a multitude of places to ride, but anywhere there is pavement — or wide, open swatches of dirt — you'll find two wheels, especially on the weekends. Ask motorcyclists why they ride, and you'll get the same answers from every one of them: It's the adrenaline rush, the freedom, the in-the-moment thrill.

But that's pretty much all they agree on.

Sport bikes

During the week, canyon roads are for commuters, but on the weekends they belong to bikes, when packs of swarming, buzzing motorcycles head into the hills for a few hours on the twisties. The roads that switch back and forth through the Santa Monica Mountains are home to riders of all stripes — anyone who's up to the task of twisting the grip and testing their skills — but sport bikers have the edge when it comes to handling knee-scraping turns.

On Sundays, nearly everyone who's been rolling on and off the throttle up here will find their way to the Rock Store, the greasy spoon on and Highway that serves as a pit stop for riders in need of solid ground. In the mornings, that means sport bikers, who've kick-started their day with a shot of two-wheeled adrenaline. In the afternoons, it's Harley guys, who prefer to ride on a full stomach, eating first and cruising second.

But if they do find themselves there at the same time, they'll squeeze through the congested gravel turnout to park their bike near a like brand.

"You've got the chrome over there, and you've got all the fanciest, newest technology over there," said Andrew Lin, a 23-year-old financial analyst who parked his electric blue Kawasaki Ninja next to a stranger's Suzuki GSXR.

The Harley contingent, in the minority before noon, have stacked their Sportsters and Road Kings at the other end of the lot.

"The Harley guys basically have this perception that we're the fast, crazy guys, that we're reckless and we don't care," said Ahmad Shahriar, proud owner of an egg-yolk-yellow Ducati 748. "Even riding through the canyons, a lot of people wave at each other out of respect just because we're bikers. The Harley guys, unless you're a Harley, they'll never wave at you."

Shahriar, a jewelry salesman from nearby Pacific Palisades, says it doesn't bother him.

"Not at all. I just have never been into Harley. I just think it's a big, bulky, cumbersome lawnmower."

The rivalry between Harley riders and sport bikers is clear and longstanding. Yet even among sport bikes, there are divisions — between those who understand the power of the engines they are straddling and ride within the limits, and squid, the reckless riders who push the limits, pay the price and give the sport a bad name. "There's not many guys who can ride these bikes to their full potential. You can't. You'd be an idiot if you did because you're not on a track and you don't know what's coming through a blind turn," said Shahriar, 32. "There's a lot of guys who do that."

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Cruisers, choppers

"That's retarded," says Randy Botelho, watching a sport biker pop a wheelie in speeding, PCH traffic. It's Sunday afternoon at Neptune's Net, the fried-fish shack and biker hangout on the Ventura County line, and the smell of grease hangs in the air along with the unmistakable — and patented — grumble of fast-gathering hogs.

"All these guys," Botelho continues, "they try to show off too much. That's what I can't stand. A lot of these guys are weekend warriors. They don't really ride that much, not that it makes them worse or better, but it's dangerous."

Botelho, 30, has been riding since he was 10 years old, starting on a dirt bike, moving to street bikes and now to a custom, self-made chopper with ape hangers (those high handlebars), a suicide shift (an old-school relic) and blue flames licking across the tank.

"I still love street bikes, but my friends and I were going out every night and riding wheelies and doing a lot more crazy stuff. I decided to just kick it down a notch and hang out and cruise more."

For Botelho, a professional welder, that meant building his own chopper, which he finished six months ago.

"I wanted this bike to not get lost in the crowd when I pull up. All these bikes are like people buy them off the showroom floor and out of catalogs."

Of all the biking subcultures, cruisers make up the biggest piece of the pie — roughly 50%. As such, they have the most gripes, many of them directed at riders within their own cruiser community.

Harley-Davidson is, of course, the gold standard. For the old-schoolers, who've been riding them for decades, their scorn ranges from the garden-variety dislike of "rice rockets" (high-performance Japanese sport bikes) to disdain over "clones" (bikes that look like Harleys but aren't).

It's the old-school guys who have the most respect issues — lacking any for the newbies who only ride on the weekends and who are content to leave their bikes "as is" off the showroom floor without swapping out at least a few parts.

Those would be the RUBs — the middle-aged doctors, lawyers and businessmen who've been steadily co-opting the rebel culture that made motorcycling cool back in the day.

"If you look at most of the people here, 10 years ago they were afraid of me. Now they want to be me," said Bob "Reno" Christie, a bearded, 53-year-old member of the Vagos outlaw motorcycle club.

Reno will log 300 miles today on his green-trimmed, swing-arm FLH traveling the long way between Lancaster and Ojai.

"I've been doing this my whole life," he says. "I won't wear a leather jacket because of them. It's 90 degrees out, and they walk around here with chaps on. They put a leather jacket on, they think they're bad. This is me every day."

Sipping a cup of coffee, he surveys the endless parade of panheads, rigids and non-Harleys pulling in and out of Neptune's Net.

"Ever since they started coming in to it, they've made everything so unaffordable. My first motorcycle was $1,000. Now you've got to pay $20,000," said Reno, who started riding at 15. "I used to go to Laughlin. It cost me $30 for a room. Now it's $1,500 for four days. They're pricing people like me, people that started it, right out of it."

Classic bikes

Every Thursday night, the Cretins vintage motorcycle club throttles up Los Feliz Boulevard past the Big Foot Lodge, doubling back on the sidewalk to park in front of this Atwater Village hipster bar.

Triumphs from the '50s and '60s, Hondas from the '70s and more obscure rides like a 1950 Vincent Comet and 1967 Triton sit side by side, their proud owners lighting up cigarettes and walking around Brando-style in cuffed jeans and patched leather jackets.

Let other bikers straddle the latest in quick-start, fast-acceleration technology. The Cretins prefer the classic lines and unreliability of old machines.

"We're kind of the forgotten class, the outcasts of the motorcycle world," said Cretins member Eric Orr, who owns 10 classic bikes, including the chopped-up silver Honda he was riding that night.

"What I find quite interesting is when I'm out riding on a vintage bike, I'll ride past sport bike riders and not get any reaction, but when I'm on my modern bike, I'll get waved at every time," said Jonnie Green, a native Brit who works in L.A. restoring classic English bikes.

"It's the same with all walks of life, though, isn't it? You'll get that with a guy that drives a Ford and he comes across a guy that drives a Chevy. There will be a divide there. I really don't think it's limited to motorcycles; it's just human."

Dirt bikes

Asphalt doesn't forgive. That's why you'll find so many riders punching it across the desert sand and on dirt tracks, where the earth helps cushion the fall.

Dirt bike culture is largely separate from street bike culture. Unless the bikes are dual sports — built for both dirt and street — you won't find them commingling with hogs, crotch rockets and vintage bikes.

With dirt bikes, the division is primarily internal — playing out between the guys who ride tracks and those who do it on the open terrain.

The sport of motorcycling saw explosive growth throughout the '90s, much of it in the high-flying sport of dirt biking, thanks to the X Games.

Although the number of dirt bikes has doubled in a decade, the amount of open, public space for riders has decreased, bringing more riders, many of them inexperienced, into already congested areas.

"People could be riding backwards. Or people are hunting, or this and that," said Travis Bellah, shirtless and sweating on a Saturday morning at the Glen Helen Raceway, where he'd already taken a few spins around the course with his buddies.

"There's people that come out and drink beer and ride and stuff. Unfortunately, that's a pretty good population of people that ride out in the hills. That's why we have bad statistics out there — one of the reasons.

"But the tracks, you don't get a whole lot of that. It's safer. I recommend keeping it separate."

It's only 9 a.m., but the motocross track is, quite literally, jumping with Honda-Yama-Kawa-Zukis grinding corners and catching air over mounds of loose, bull-dozed earth.

"It's all testosterone. It's not like one bike's better than the other one," said Jimmy Bateson, a former pro motocrosser who's also owned sport bikes and Harleys.

"It's just all preference. It's a total statement. For the most part, it's what people do on the weekend anyways, and they want to feel like they've got the best equipment out there. But you know, it's nothing too serious."
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