Category Archives: Motorcycle Culture

THE MOTORCYCLE AND MAN: A SOCIAL HISTORY (BEGINNINGS, TO THE 1950S)

Motorcycle and Man A Social History

 T.E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia,” 1888-1935) loved to ride his motorcycle. On a damp early morning in 1925, former Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence, now living incognito as the lowly Royal Air Force enlistee Airman Shaw, rose and slipped into his breeches and puttees in the dark. By 4:00 a.m., Lawrence finished breakfast at his quarters. He […]

Motocross Looked Like This: Tim Hart

Tim with one of his Maico's

“We were just kids who wanted to race.”[i]   One of the most recognized images of off-road riding, and possibly the sport’s most iconic photograph, comes from the early years when motocross first captured the American imagination. It is that of a lone, airborne motocross racer. The image was first seen on the December, 1972 […]

Go to a Vintage Bike Event!

Do you want to get started enjoying the fun of old motorcycles?  One of the best ways to learn about the hobby is to attend a vintage motorcycle event.  These are often referred to as “swap meets” or “bike shows.”  Let’s get started!

The T-shirt and its role in Motorcycle Culture

1920 Excelsior 20R t shirt

The Beginning of a Phenomenon The T-shirt with printed image—a phenomenon dating largely to the 1950s, exploding in popularity in the 1960s, and with its ancestral roots in post-World War I returning servicemen—is an ideal medium for proclaiming classic motorcycles. Interestingly, Marlon Brando, the actor whose portrayal of a motorcyclist in 1954’s The Wild One […]

Definitions, and the Maico as Material Culture 1.1

1981 Maico 490 t shirt

A Social History of Motorcycle Technology This post and many to follow is a social history of a technology.  By this I mean that it examines an item of technology—in this case the German-made Maico motorcycle—and explores the links between the object and that segment of humankind who interacted with it.

The History of Maico Motorcycles and American Sport Motorcycle Culture – Preface, Part 2

The Maico – The People and the Culture As the premier tool used by the most dedicated racers of the time, I see the Maico motorcycle as an excellent touchstone for this little-studied American group. By analyzing the motorcycle as material culture and studying the relationship between this machine and the people who interacted with […]

Friends Talking: DIRT BIKE Magazine and Conversational Journalism in the 1970s

DIRT BIKE Magazine, 1972

    Abstract: In the very early 1970s, at the height of the worldwide motorcycle boom, an ad salesman named Rick Sieman envisioned a journal which would enable honest information to be exchanged between enthusiasts. He imagined this journal as the equivalent of “friends . . . talking,” and leveraged his modest resources to found […]

Going Hunting

junkyard motorcycle

By David Russell Saturday.   The day of Recovery, if not The day of Rest.  The one day of the week when it’s OK not to work; to not even consider work, and not obsess upon the waiting tasks you’re not accomplishing.  A time-out—that half-a-weekend without even Sunday’s frantic early-morning combing of little boys’ hair, […]

The History of Maico Motorcycles and American Sport Motorcycle Culture – Part 1

motorcycle

By David Russell   Introduction Most Americans would profess to some basic knowledge of the culture and history of motorcycling in this country. Some among them have likely encountered Hunter S. Thompson’s Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga , and may have at least attempted to absorb Robert M. Persig’s Zen and the Art […]