I love Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Ever since I was a kid, I have been in awe at the sight and sound of these massive bikes, especially when they travelled in groups. As a young boy, I remember spending my summer months in New Hampshire with my family. One of the biggest biker events in the area was held down the street from my family’s house: Laconia Bike Week. It was nothing short of mesmerizing to me. Watching these big, beautiful, noisy, motorcycles form a never-ending parade through town left quite an impression on me. I was so impressed by the power, the freedom, and most importantly, the individuality. Every motorcycle that went by was different; as different as their riders. There was a beauty in that, and an expression that is unmatched in nearly every other facet of life. That concept fascinated me.
Skip 20 years. Now I ride my own Harley. I have seen, and ridden, a great amount of Harleys. I have watched the changes in bikes, and how the brand has progressed through the years. I have ridden my Harley on both sides of this beautiful country, but one thing remains unchanged: My love for Harley-Davidsons, and what they represent, at least to me.
To me, Harley-Davidson stands for freedom of expression, and the ability to customize something and make it my own. It is the freedom to be uniquely individual, in an ever-changing society bent on reducing our individual freedoms and forcing our conformity. It is one of the last bastions of totally unique personal expression. It is art. It is not unlike a painting or a theatrical performance. It molds itself to whatever characteristics, personality, and whims the author feels. The draw is that your artwork is simultaneously your transportation, and it becomes a physical manifestation of your individual spirit and imagination.
The power of Harley-Davidsons, at least to me, is that unlike a painting or a sculpture, it is a piece of art that affects all of our five senses: I can hear the rumble of an exhaust, and feel the unmistakable ground-shaking effect of a Harley motor. I can see the brilliant flash of chrome and paint as it moves past me. I can smell and taste the sweet mixture of oil, gas, and exhaust that brings life to this iron God. It overpowers me, and even to this day, it still impresses me and brings a smile to my face.
You could tell me that this whole rant is the workings of a boy at heart who loves motorcycles and Harley-Davidsons, and you’d be right. There’s more though. There’s something else there, some powerful force that draws certain people into this lifestyle. There is an allure which infects our spirit, and to which there is no going back. There is no therapy other than further customization and work to create something more uniquely “us.” It becomes a part of our lives, and is as unique as the DNA which creates or corporeal bodies. It is the ultimate outward manifestation of our psyche and personalities, and drives us to continue being ourselves.