Wednesday, 23 October 2013

What makes a biker?

Before I start, I would like to point out that my examples are all stereotypes and I realise that there are exceptions etc... But for the sake of this article, I'm going to use these stereotypes.

A 125 commuter travels to work and back everyday. Regardless of the weather, he wears his same textile suit or waterproof overalls and rides the same 40 mile round trip everyday. He never uses his bike for a nice ride at the weekend, it's purely a form of transport. He does approximately 10,000 miles a year.

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A Ducati 1098 rider wheels the beast out of his heated garage, whenever the sun is shining and the roads are sure to stay dry. He wears one piece Dainese leathers, knox gloves, Sidi boots and an Arai lid. All of his gear is brand new, squeaky clean and matching the colours of the Duc. When he goes out for a scratch, he is back within an hour or two, cleans his bike and then wheels it away for the next time the sun comes out. He does around 300 miles in a year.

A Harley Davidson owner spends most of his free days polishing his Road King, buying extra bits to bolt onto it and when there's no polishing or buying to do, he flicks through catalogues and custom chopper magazines, reading about other people's different Harley's etc... He rides the Road King occasionally when the weather's really nice but most of the time it's sat in the garage being cleaned. He does around 500 miles a year.

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There's a 16 year old boy on a Aprilia Sr50 scooter. He rides around his local town, never riding any more than 3 miles away from his house. He sits outside McDonald's and carparks with his mates, also on scooters, blasting out music on most nights. He wears no gear as he doesn't feel the need to and does around 2,000 miles a year.

The owner of a streetfightered 1998 Suzuki Bandit 1200 attends all the bike meets, goes out in most weathers and who's bike is a bit tatty and well used. He wears second hand leathers, a nitro helmet and in bad weather he wears hi-viz. He does annual bike trips with his mates and is prepared to go as far as his bike will take him. He is a member of several forums who all discuss bikes, he also makes YouTube vlogs and writes a blog. He does around 8,000 miles a year.

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Now, out of those 5 examples, which ones would you call a 'biker'?

Do you need to ride your bike everyday to be a biker? Or can you wheel it out of the garage once a month and still be called a biker? Do you need to have a big expensive Ducati to be a biker? Or will a 50cc Scooter be enough? Do you need to be a part of the 'online biker community' over YouTube and forums to be a biker? Or can you ride solo everywhere and still be a biker? Are fair weather riders not bikers? What about the gear you wear, do you have to be fully kitted out to be a biker or will a jumper, jeans and trainers do?

Now that's a lot of questions. Technically, all of my examples are bikers. They ride bikes don't they? But is there a checklist out there which must be filled to become a true biker?

My personal view is that they all are bikers. Prejudice is an easy mistake to make, perhaps the Ducati rider has an important job which requires him to attend all sorts of conference meetings around the country so he simply doesn't have time to use it as much as he would like. And for when it rains, he probably just doesn't want his Ducati to rot away. 

As for the Harley rider, I think he's a biker. He obsesses over making his bike look the way he wants. Remember, biking isn't just about the riding, it can also be about the tinkering and the pride you hold in your bike. The commuter's a biker too, he relies on his bike day in, day out, riding in all weathers - that's pretty hardcore if you ask me. The bandit rider uses his bike frequently and loves it, he participates in all sorts of bike meets and in my book he is definitely a biker.

However, the tricky one is the young lad on his scooter. A lot of people would argue that he isn't a biker and that he just uses it for a bit of independence and a stepping stone for getting a car. But, isn't independence very relevant to motorcycling? That's what it is for most people, having something that is totally yours that can take you wherever you wish to go. I think he is.

So that's it. Everyone with a bike, in my point of view, is a biker.

But what do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Feel free to comment below...


  1. Really interesting article, your questions raise up loads more questions. The root of the problem is that no one can agree with the definition of "true biker". Obviously, as mentioned, a biker can be said of as someone with a bike, but in my opinion a biker is a lot more.

    I'd say a biker is this - an individual who has a keen interest in one or more form of motorbike.

    Notice how I didn't use the word owner. Now this definition does not exclude or include any of the stereotypes you have given, as more information is needed.

    For example, if the commuter loves that his machine is a bike, and wouldn't change to commuting in a car, even if the costs were equal, then I'd say he's a biker. If he is only riding to make his commute cheaper, with no other reason, not really liking the bike, I'd say he's probably not a biker.

    Also, if the scooter rider only is such because it is cheap, longing for a car instead, then I'd say they would not be a biker. However, they could easily be a biker if they love being on two wheels, or if it is all they can have at the moment.

    So all in all, it's a really tough choice, and I don't think one person should get to choose whether or not you are a biker. So it's down to this - if you feel you are a biker, then you are one!

    1. Yeah that's nice man! Good job! :-)