Early on in Sonny Barger’s raucous autobiography, The Hells Angels leader laments the club’s choice of Harley Davidson motorcycles as their one and only, largely because of their shitty engineering early on. This surprised me to no end, given the reverence outlaw bike clubs, or “1%er’s,” as they were known long before that tag was hung on the greedy rich, have for the Harley Davidson Motorcycle.
He has a theory that I happen to agree with. What bikers love about Harleys is the low-end torque that makes the bike vibrate and rattle; transferring an almost sexual charge through your whole body. Never mind that you have to wrench-up the old bikes about every 200 miles or so, if you’re lucky. That they make your balls vibrate like a tuning fork has not hurt the appeal of the big American bikes.
Barger himself admits as much. He should have known that if they were the choice of the military–that these guys like a deal–the military almost always bought the cheapest shit out there and around the time of WWI and WWII, the cheapest bikes were Harley Davidson. In Barger’s life story, he takes great delight in relating how much he altered, chopped, forked and otherwise remade his Harleys. The bike was a mere template for him and the full-dressers were for squares.
Barger tells a very good story and puts an emphasis on the idea of the motorcycle being the object most central to the Angels forming a fraternity; central to everything bikers are about is the machine. It equals freedom. . .and nobody being able to catch you. It is the closest thing many men have to flying.
This club is called the Black Knightz, from Pomona California. Their charter reads: “Building Better Men,” and they do a lot of work with young men as well as veterans. If their annual picnic video is indicator, they are also not opposed to meeting girls and drinking beer. They are an African American Club, again, very much structured like a military unit, and I suspect a great many of these guys are veterans. On their website there is a group portrait of the Knightz and they are some serious looking guys. Their president, Big Ques, has a Ving Rhames vibe about him and you don’t want to get on the wrong side of this guy. There are some big guys in this club. There are also all kinds of motorcycles–lots of Kawasakis, Ducatis and other new brands kind of built to look like Harleys, like the Victory bikes. These guys are mostly working class guys with jobs. they’re not an outlaw club–too clean-looking.
This is actually about 90% of bike clubs. Very few of them are outlaw clubs.
It is a worth a visit to the Black Knightz to see the picnic video. Check it out. You’ll thank me.