From The Wild Ones to Easy Rider, the motorcycle has inflamed the imaginations of the media and the general public alike. Marlon Brando, sporting leather jacket, jeans, and moody glare, became a cultural icon summing up 'the road' in all its maverick glory. But does the myth of the renegade cyclist, an outcast from mainstream society who takes to the road in pursuit of freedom, correlate with reality in any meaningful way? Who really rides motorcycles and why? What are the chief concerns of motorcyclists and how are these represented and contested in the political sphere? This book, based on extensive fieldwork amongst bikers and the bikers' rights movement, overturns the ingrained prejudice that equates bikers with deviancy and explodes the myths emphasizing the rebellious and dysfuntional aspects of biking. Instead, the author focuses on what biking means to those involved - the rewards, the risks, the addictiveness, but also the stigma and attacks on the biking lifestyle. In response to the negative imagery surrounding bikers and growing legislative threats from Europe, bikers' rights associations evolved between the 1960s and 1980s in the UK and Europe. The author discusses the aims and achievements of these lobbies, and the future of motorcycling more generally as it becomes fashionable as a middle-aged, middle-class pursuit.
Suzanne McDonald-Walker, University College Northampton