American Biker – Book Review

American Biker by Bill hayes

I received an e-mail from Beverly Roberts of Flash Productions asking if I would like to review a new book. Of course I wanted to; that’s what I do (among other things). I received a copy of American Biker signed by the author Bill Hayes! He inscribed the book to me:

To Jay!

This book is dedicated with love & respect to the entire biker culture!

Motorcycle Hall of Famer, Keith Ball, refers to Bill as “The world’s most literate biker”. Bill has been living the lifestyle and writing about it since the 1960’s. Not just a journalist writng about the lifestyle but a patched club member giving you the inside scoop on the biker culture, no holds barred. Full emotional double barrel truth from the author’s perspective. A perspective true American Bikers will respect. Bill is also the author of The Original Wild Ones: Tales of the Boozefighters Motorcycle Club. I believe Bill is a member of the respected Boozefighters MC. The BFMC is one of the oldest motorcycle clubs in existance and most renowned for their acts at Holister in 1947. The Boozefighters MC were the original Wild Ones; the inspiration for the first biker flick: The Wild One. A new era was ushered in and Bill’s book the American Biker is now here 67 years later to give you: The History, The Clubs, The Lifestyle and the Truth

I’m a HOG member, not a patched club member. I don’t live the lifestyle but I envy it. I am fascinated by it and anything to do with motorcycles. I’m an enthusiast, not a biker. At least I don’t think the likes of Bill Hayes or Sonny Barger would consider me a biker. I read this book with some mixed emotions on whether I liked it or not. After reading it from cover to cover it inspired introspection on my part so I have to say it was a great book! Many a book can be good and educate you, but how many books challenge you and leave you thinking deep thoughts about what it is you hope to accomplish in your short time on this planet as a special guest in the biker culture? That is the affect this book had on me.

I can’t help but try to compare this book to One Percenter by Dave Nichols. Dave is the Editor of Easyriders and Bill has been a columnist for Easyriders. Both authors cover many of the same topics giving a history lesson of how this phenomenon of the American Biker came to be. The style of the two books however come across totally different. I reviewed One Percenter and likened it to a text book. It is put together well and published by a Motorbooks Publishing, a fairly large publisher. American Biker comes across less polished but with more edge. This is not the product of large corporate America. This book is the product of a small independant publishing company dedicated to the truth about this culture. This book was written by a man who has seen this culture from the inside and had a burning in his gut to tell you the truth about it with passion from his own personal view! And so he does! As I read it I felt like this old school biker had grabbed me by the ear, sat me down, told me to shut up and schooled me in everything related the the club culture. I imagined us drinking a few beers as he lectured me on the way it was and the way it is!

Now we have at least two books covering the history of motorcycle clubs. If you are an old school biker like Bill Hayes and Sonny Barger you don’t need to read a book on this subject because you know. You were there. Then why write the book? I think the first reason is to educate people like me. If at all possible we don’t need a bunch of RUBs running around on Harley-Davidson motorcycles thinking they are the American Biker. We need to educate these new bikers on the culture that they grew from. They need to understand how this sport and this fraterntiy came to be so they can respect it. Secondly the Old School Bikers of the 50’s and 60’s who created this lifestyle, who molded this image, will pass. Bill Hayes has done this country a great honor by documenting the lifestyle for future generations of Americans. It would be a shame if the original red blooded American Bikers passed without a book like this to share the truth about American Bikers. Thank you Bill Hayes!

Although I make a few cents commision if you buy this from my Amazon store I feel obligated to tell you-you can buy it for less and get a signed copy from Bill Hayes through the following website:

12 Responses to “American Biker – Book Review”

  1. This is definitely on my “to read” list. Bill Hayes has a great perspective on biker culture as it was meant to be. I am currently reading “The Harley-Davidson Reader” which Pam got me for Christmas. One of its chapters features a large excerpt from “The Original Wild Ones” titled “The Tale of Grandpa and the Bottle of, uh, Milk…” Just reading that one segment made me want to go out and join the Boozefighters!

    I will say this though, I think perhaps you give yourself short shrift by not classifying yourself as a “biker”. I would hate to think the one percenters out there should hijack everyone else’s right to use the moniker “biker” just because we don’t fall into a set of hard and fast rules separating us from “normal society.” Granted, those of us who either call ourselves bikers or wish to legitimately live up to the right to do so don’t want just anybody using that sacred name. I’ve heard many discussions and read many debates in newsgroups where fellow riders have tried to pinpoint the fine line that separates the “enthusiast” from the “biker.” I’m pretty sure this argument will never be clearly resolved. Probably because it has as much to do with spirit as it does with checking things off on a requirement list.

    As for me, I’ve always considered myself a biker. I’m sure there’s some other bikers out there that might want to split hairs and tell me I’m not due to the couple of occasions when I went without a bike over the years, but they matter not to me. Back in 1980 I was tempted to join the Outlaws because I had become friends with a number of guys in the Chicago chapter. I did some airbrush work for them which included some pretty risque stuff. It didn’t take me long to realize being a member of a one percenter MC does not provide the freedom most people imagine when it comes to the biker lifestyle. The reasons for joining an MC are far more complicated than “freedom” alone. However, you can’t help but admire their focus on brotherhood and their commitment to building an entire lifestyle around motorcycles.

  2. Dang! All my paragraphs disappeared when I posted that. Oh well, sorry for the long block of copy!

  3. Rick, no problem about the paragraph breaks. Bill Hayes sent me a copy of The Original Wild Ones. I’m reading it now and it is really really good as you can tell from the excerpt you read. Book review to come shortly.

  4. Very cool! I look forward to reading what you think about it.

  5. I was just in the TV room reading a few chapters. I’d say don’t even wait for my review and get yourself a copy. Great book!

  6. […] so far. As you can see by my archives I have read quite a few; including Bill’s second book American Biker. This book (Bill’s first) is the MOST fun, the MOST entertaining, the MOST nostalgic, […]

  7. Rick,
    Sorry I’m so late getting around to seeing your first comment. Personally, I like FLHX Dave’s term “soul rider”…it speaks to your state of mind and heart with a passion more intense than the term enthusiastever could, but at the same time does not step on the toes of anyone who might be offended or ired by your use of the term biker because you do not fit into their definition of the term.

  8. Hey Diana, no worries. I agree with FLHX Dave too. In fact, “soul rider” is a far better term than merely “biker.” And if anyone has the cred to distinguish between to two it would be Dave.

    On the same token I really prefer the biker world of today much more than that of 25 or 30 years ago. There was a lot of posturing between bikers back then. Whether it be Jap vs American, men vs women MC vs RC, black vs white, three patch club vs any patch at all…the list goes on.

    I’ve grown weary over labels and certain groups who insist that a biker has to fall into certain camps or criteria–from politics to personal income and everything in between.

    In my humble opinion a true biker is one who shirks all of those things. One who is willing to be who they are without any posing or apology. A true iconoclast who dares to stand alone. A person, man or women, black or white, liberal or conservative who’s love to ride matters more to them than any stereotype. I guess with all that in mind my romantic view of the biker will always be personified in the characters of Wyatt and Billy from Easy Rider.

    I’m kind of rambling on here. Sorry about that! I’m thinking I may need to write an article on this issue!

  9. I think a common thread in Bill’s books is that brotherhood is a vital component in the biker community and a component of being a biker. Perhaps Billy and Wyatt understood brotherhood. First they were two. Then they picked up another brother and he rode rode bitch. Then they hung out at a hippie commune and made a bunch of new friends.

  10. Love it! Works for me.

  11. To Jay!This book is dedicated with love

  12. ?

Discussion Area - Leave a Comment