There’s something wrong about the guilt I felt this past weekend celebrating bikes built by non-American manufacturers. I am a proud flag waving American who for over a decade has been riding Harley’s almost exclusively. I pride myself on riding a great American Motorcycle and representing the strongest American brand. At times I have contemplated testing Indians or Victory Motorcycles with the justification that they are created under the protective canopy of the stars and stripes but my tastes and wallet would never would I actually venture too far from Milwaukee’s finest.
The Motoblot rally this past weekend in Chicago was an anomaly and my eye started to wander into unfamiliar territory. Along with thousands of Rockabilly, café racer and bobber aficionados, I gawked at the spectacular workmanship of two-wheeled imports.
Sprung-seat Bobbers assembled on Yamaha frames. Rat rods encasing Triumph powerplants. Café Racers flaunting the Moto Guzzi brand on the mirror chrome tank suggestively whispering “come sit with me”. The fantasy of an Italian Supermodel sipping a cappuccino at a café in Milan who takes interest in a shy American tourist. I was drawn into the scattered, untamed nature of the event. Every booth, parking spot and corner featured a unique sample of something amazing! My horizons had been broadened and the friendliness of the mixed-brand crowd perpetuated this euphoria.
Unlike the overly regulated Laconia Motorcycle week just seven days prior, self-governance was the order of the day. Bars overflowed with patrons in front of the main stage that echoed rockabilly music. Proud builders showed off their most recent masterpieces. Streets lined with bikes and layered with pinup-dressed women. And if one of the beautiful attendees asked for a photo on your bike, you could just pull the machine into the middle of the street allowing optimal sunlight to capture the beauty of woman and machine. This is just what we did after a boot shine at the Flo’s Chop Shop by Progressive. The two models on the bike below were there to give manicures to pinup girls (anything that gets more women to rallies is a good thing) or to provide anybody with better-conditioned riding boots (we love the additional rain protection)! [More below]
In advance of July 4th, our nation’s independence day, this rally was a great reminder that we do have certain freedoms that are not extended to those in other countries. We have the freedom to ask three models to test the suspension of a Japanese sports bike. We have the freedom to attend an event that doesn’t have the oversight of over commercialized events that normally attract a crowd. Most importantly, we do have the freedom to appreciate the form, power and allure of motorcycles no matter the origin. I hope that we can do it all over again next year where I’ll proudly ride in on my trusty Harley Davidson… not out of obligation but rather out because it is my freedom to choose the bike that best represents who I am.