Monday, July 7th, 2008...11:42 am

#60: Garage Your Hog

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Having just returned from a 700-mile road trip, I can tell you with certainty that every motorcyclist on the American highway is at least 56 years old. All the biker babes have Nice ‘N’ Easy covering their gray and pot bellies straining against their leather pants. Motorcyclists may think that roaring along on a hog makes them look cool, or young, but as the elderly vehicle of choice, bikes are right up there with Winnebagos.

How did motorcyles go from being a symbol of youthful rebellion to one of middle-aged desperation? The timeline begins with Marlon Brando looking young and hot in The Wild Ones, in 1953. Hippies and bikers united in the counter-cultural beliefs in the 1960s, until the Rolling Stones hired the Hells Angels to police their concert at Altamont in 1969. A fan was killed, a riot ensued, and the image of motorcyclists went from cool to terrifying in two seconds flat.

It got even weirder after that, when a band of Angels plotted to kill Mick Jagger, attacking the Hamptons by boat.

These image problems discouraged young people from taking up motorcycling over the past few decades, so that now most of the active motorcyclists are middle-aged or older. If it’s youthfulness you’re after, trade in that hog for something more daring, like racing junk. Or a fixed-gear bicycle. Look Ma, no brakes!

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