Article By Chris Callen, originally published July 2019
I am an old soul at heart. I reflect back constantly to the old days coming up to find clarity for where they need to go next and, in that way, I am reminded this month of the words from the old kids when I wore a younger man’s clothes. “The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same.” will be my choice for this offering. Those words fell on mostly deaf ears as I was coming up. Of course, I was a hot shit young punk that knew everything and left home before the world could prove me wrong. Had I only stayed a little longer I may have picked up those last few lessons that could have saved me the trouble of hard knock learning. Never the less, I didn’t, and here we are today.
So, what does this have to do with motorcycling? Well, in the climate we sit today there are so many things to talk about… The business of motorcycles, the good times, the hassles, to chop or not to chop, in short, the same as it always was. But I will surely not let you off that easy dear reader, oh no. Together we must forge on into what pisses me off most directly today. There has come to my attention a line in the sand if you will between the “They” crowd and the “Us” crowd like I haven’t seen in a while. In a time where all roads should lead to a combined effort for the better good in this motorcycle thing, people are dicing it up like mad and running off to their perspective corners. The one slice that stirs my pen today is one that is most commonly referred to as “CORE.” This is my group, probably yours as well if you are reading this, and this is the core riders who have already bought bikes, been around the block for a minute or two and have made some commitment to motorcycles as part of their life. On the other side of this coin are the Non-Riders. Now, there is nothing wrong with those who have not grown up riding and getting them to ride a bike is an important part of our future just like everyone keeps preaching, but the problem I see looming is that the growing concern is going more towards the Non-Core and away from the Core — in short, leaving the passion and the history and all those consumed in it behind in favor of finding a new herd. Well, this might be the new marketing slogan and the way they go, but it will not be ours. From this day forward, I will promise you more about the history of this thing, more celebration of the core riders and the places we go, the bikes we ride and the way we chop the hell out of them before we go.
If we are going to show you a new product it will be that of a handmade artisan, or company that supports the core rider in what they do. Surely that would gain our support in return.
So why in the beginning of this little rant did I say the more things change…? Well, in the beginning of this whole custom bike thing there were a small handful of companies that a scooter rat had to choose from, the parties were far from a return to Mecca, usually, you waved at other guys on a bike just because you rarely saw one. We started to ride for the freedom and the individuality of what it stood for. It was dangerous and a little trashy, and GOD we loved it just like that. Possibly the last vestige of true American Blue Collar Culture that was left on the planet and as much as it may have seemed to change on the commercial level… for the rest of us, who cares! There are choppers to build, parties to ride to, drag races to run, circle tracks to tear up and the ground to sleep on if nothing else. Sounds the same as it always was to me!