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 […]
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 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 […]
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 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 […]
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 […]