by Victor Wanchena

My wife has lamented that until last month’s From The Hip column I was getting too serious and rather preachy. After reminding her of the tremendous weight readers give to the opinions I express in From The Hip, I decided to tackle that most sensitive of topics for riders, motorcycle fashion.

Thanks to the wide range of temperatures that Minnesota offers its riders in the spring I have already been witness to the varied and many-colored splendor that is motorcycling fashion. We have all worn strange items while riding, I once wore a mask and a cape for a midnight Halloween ride so nothing really shocks or surprises me, but there are a few things that make me giggle. Fringed leather has to be one of the greatest “image only” items in a rider’s wardrobe. Interestingly enough, fringed leather was initially employed by cowboys to help keep flies off them and their slow moving horses. If modern fringe wearers only knew … or maybe they do.

The people responsible for perpetrating neon colors on motorcycling should be rounded up and forced to live in a world of soft grays. Attempting to buy any piece of motorcycling gear that isn’t black requires you to wade through a sea of brain numbing colors to find that desert island of plain shades like blue or green. A quick scan through the average motorcycle apparel department usually leaves me agitated from color overload or somber from the funeral like procession black everything. Give me plain colors, not some hippie’s Technicolor acid flashback.

I own a couple of clothing items of the same brand as my bike. I even wear them while riding that bike. I do not look like I stepped directly out of an apparel catalog of that brand. Invariably those folks that decide to go for the “catalog model look” right down to the motorcycle brand tighty-whiteys are squeaky clean. Not one crusted bug or mud stain. As we all know that equals zero street credibility. So my advice is if you want to toughen your image try a little break dancing in a dirt pile. Or better yet lay your garments out on your driveway for a week. Run them over, let the dog mark his territory and allow the sun and rain to work their magic. After a week you will look like a grizzled veteran and the tire tracks across your back will make great conversation starters.

On the opposite spectrum from the rides nearly naked crowd are space-suited Power Rangers I alluded to last month. (For the record, you could easily accuse me of this) This highly safety conscious set goes for the “leave no skin exposed” look. Regardless of the temperature we bundle up like an astronaut and then slow cook in our own juices on 95 and sunny scorchers. Interestingly enough we rarely die in crashes, instead we grow old and bitter, complaining about colors and the price of gas.

Another of my favorites is the impromptu rain suit usually fashioned out of trash bags. In an attempt to keep at least some small portion of their body dry a rider pokes their head and arms through the bag and proceeds to do their best impersonation of a giant prune. Once back to highway speed, the bag typically begins to disintegrate as rapidly as their outlaw image. Leaving only a Captain Knevel cape and a soggy frown.

So this month ride fast, take chances, and do it with a style.



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