Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Living Legends In The Motorcycle Culture


Written by Rob Flemming

Ever think about what a legend is, and what makes something a legend? If you look up the word legend in your favorite dictionary, the word legend means a recount of history that is popular, but has not been verified as true. Some call them folk tales or lore, but whatever you choose to call them, some of these stories that have been handed down through the years have helped to shape and strengthen their place within the world they live in. If you ask anyone who rides a motorcycle what they think about the living legends within the motorcycle culture the will tell you that the stories about the forefathers of the motorcycle and the culture they helped create are real and not fairy tales or lore. 

If it wasn’t for William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson, the name Harley Davidson and the Harley Davidson motorcycle would be absolutely meaningless to the world and motorcycle culture as it is lives to day might not even exist as all! The rich heritage of the Harley Davidson Motorcycle Company started in 1903 with their first motorcycle; a design that would soon become the standard for American motorcycles, the leader in engineering and the focus of other motorcycle manufacturers who would spend their collective lifetimes tying to recreate a motorcycle that could stand up to the quality, design and engineering of a Harley Davidson motorcycle. 

From their humble beginnings, the Harley Davidson Motorcycle Company only had one simple goal, to design and build the finest motorcycle possible, and while they were slow in attracting the attention of the general public, it was long until this proud symbol of American engineering, design and craftsmanship was the talk within working class circles and the envy of those who didn’t own one. 
The Harley Davidson Company didn’t waste any time with production of their motorcycles, and by 1914 the first V-Twin engine was released, and ever since it has been often duplicated in look but never surpassed in engineering, or quality. The value and service quality of the motorcycle became very attractive to police and law enforcement and by 1908 the first Harley Davidson Police Motorcycle was sold and delivered to the Detroit Police Department. It wasn’t long until Harley Davidson was shipping their police duty motorcycles to law enforcement agencies and municipal service bureaus nation wide. 

The Harley Davidson Motorcycle Company and their employees are hard working people; they took pride in the quality and craftsmanship that went into each and every piece on every motorcycle. With the threat of war approaching the United States, the company expanded to include a division dedicated to research, design and production of motorcycles for use by the military.  

As the heroic tails of the military men who rode the Harley motorcycle in defense of the country were reported in the local newspapers, newsreels and on the radio, there was mad rush by men all across the nation to purchase a Harley. Maybe it was a patriotic gesture or just maybe the trill and excitement that was depicted in those newsreels and reports was just too much and they wanted to experience the feeling of being in the wind for themselves. 

In short time the Harley Davidson motorcycle was involved in racing, breaking speed records, and you could see stuntmen performing death defying acts in traveling carnivals, sideshows and even the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Baily circus had a act with stuntmen riding Harleys that drew in large crowds, oh and lets not forget the men who bought their Harleys to spend the weekends traveling the back roads of America for nothing more than pure relaxation! 

By the end of WWII men where coming home from the war and they bought surplus military Harleys, formed clubs and added another stitch into the fabric that made the motorcycle culture a living lifestyle. There were rebels that were depicted in Hollywood films, weekend warriors, and just hard working men and women who worked hard all day and played hard atop their Harleys. There was so much to do and see riding your Harley, groups and individuals were making runs to motorcycle events and rally’s, owners groups were springing up everywhere, and motorcyclists were gathering to discuss important issues and ideas and all the while this motorcycle lifestyle was rapidly growing and spreading across the nation and even as far as Europe and other parts of the world. 

The motorcycle industry and the motorcycle lifestyle grew rapidly and with this new growth many new businesses such as parts and accessories manufactures, custom motorcycle builders, painters, and many other service companies were born to meet the needs of motorcyclists and the motorcycle industry. 
There were a few financial ups and downs for the Harley Davidson Motorcycle Company and the motorcycle industry in general, especially during the great depression. This didn’t dissuade Harley Davison, and when they had to they simply tightened the collective belt and circled the wagons and worked through those hard times as best they could. With a thriving division serving law enforcement and municipal agencies, the Harley Davidson Motorcycle Company worked through economic hardships. 

After 108 years the Harley remains the leader in the motorcycle industry, with their innovative engine designs, feel and unique engine rumble that has been duplicated by rival motorcycle manufacturers, but just isn’t the same.  
The legend of the world’s finest motorcycle wasn’t created solely by the Harley Davidson Motorcycle Company, it was a compilation of over 108 years of hard work in design and engineering, the men and woman who embraced the Harley as more than a two wheeled transportation vehicle and incorporated into their lives until a new lifestyle was born, and so the legend lives on through the men and women who choose to ride nothing but a Harley Davidson Motorcycle. 

The 1970’s found Attorney Russ Brown as another member of the motorcycle culture; Russ just always loved motorcycles. Going to UCLA and majoring in marketing Russ graduated and made his way into corporate America, and sadly it was wasn’t long until Russ decided he just wasn’t happy and longed for something meaningful to do with his life. Russ went back to college and was on his way to earning a degree in law. 
While practicing law Russ discovered that injured motorcyclists were not being treated fairly by insurance claims adjusters. He found that many times less than honest tactics were used to settle injury claims out of court and this infuriated him, so from that point his law practice was focused at helping protect the rights of motorcyclists who became victims of motorcycle accidents.  

The motorcycle community embraced Attorney Russ Brown, because he just wasn’t some lawyer trying to make money off of the misfortune of injured biker, but rather he was a lawyer who also rode and lived the motorcycle lifestyle and understood the issues a motorcyclist who was injured in a motorcycle accident faced. Russ knew he could help these bikers, and this further helped his acceptance within the motorcycle community. Because Russ was the only Attorney representing motorcycle accident victims at the time, his law firm was able to help many bikers secure damages after being hit on their motorcycles. Being the victim of motorcycle accident himself, Russ knows first hands the ordeal of being hit on a motorcycle. The pain and injuries from the accident itself are most times overwhelming, plus dealing with insurance companies, police and accident investigators can almost be too much for the average person to deal with.  

Attorney Russ Brown is still practicing the law and his nationwide law firm is working diligently to help as many motorcycle accident victims as they can.

Motorcyclists are not only hard working people, but they are also social and live to hit the open road and have a good time. Because motorcycle runs and events are a big part of the motorcycle culture, there are thousands of events and rally promoters who work non stop creating events and activities for bikers nationwide.  

Ever since 1938, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally has been the granddaddy of all motorcycle events. With motorcycle racing at an all time high in the late 1930’s it didn’t take the Jackpine Gypsies long to come up with the idea to host a motorcycle racing event. Originally called the “Black Hills Classic” the event featured racing and motorcycle stunts. With only 19 in attendance who would have believed that future Sturgis rallies would host more that 800 thousand bikers from all over the world? 

With each year the attendance growing rapidly, rally are promoters working long and hard to keep up with the challenge to make every rally bigger and better than the year before. When the City of Sturgis outlawing camping at camping at Sturgis City Park, camping spots were now at a premium and from this need the Sturgis  “Buffalo Chip Campground” was born. Originally the “Chip” as it is commonly known was created to provide camping for bikers and a place to relax when not out enjoying the rally.  

As more and more bikers began attending the Sturgis Rally, the Buffalo Chip expanded it’s old school camp ground and turned it into an almost separate event within the Sturgis Rally itself by offering live music, loads of good food, plenty of beer and other drinks, a variety of camping options from tent sites, camper and RV spots, to full blown rental campers. The Chip even has WIFI for us hardcore road warriors. 
Boasting one of the best live sound systems and professional lighting, seeing musical acts like Bob Dylan, ZZ Top, Kid Rock rivals any other music venue I have seen these acts at, and this is probably why so many bikers chose the Buffalo Chip over the other place you can camp at. 

Working year round Rod Woodruff, family and his staff have made the Buffalo Chip much more than a tent and campfire spot at the Sturgis. The Chip’s stage is set in the middle of the camp ground with the food and drink court running in a semi-circle opposite the stage. With an easy 2 or 3 minute walk from the campgrounds to stage, there is almost no need to ever leave the Chip. 

Another sweet attraction at the Buffalo Chip is the Miss Buffalo Chip contest. Nothing like good music, good looking women and plenty of good food and drink to make a biker happy. If you are into tattoos and body piercing, then the Buffalo Chip is where it is at for non-stop fun and excitement during the Sturgis motorcycle rally. 

As the living legends that help the motorcycle culture and lifestyle to continually grow and blossom for millions of bikers and motorcycle enthusiasts around the world, you better believe that they are far from folk tales or make believe tales of fantasy, cause all you have to do is get in the wind and you will see for yourself what millions of bikers already know, and that itself makes the legend live on…