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The commercialization of the biker scene. Has commercialization watered down the biker lifestyle?

James Macecari New Age of Biking & Brotherhood
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By James “Hollywood” Macecari

We all know in the last twenty years or so the biker scene has been watered down to the point sponsors dictate rally behavior. This can be seen at major rallies all over the country. Motorcycle rallies had humble beginnings, but turned into a cash cow, for major corporations. It’s unfortunate because the scene used to be about supporting biker owned businesses, not so much anymore. For example, the independent motorcycle shop, something that is disappearing more and more. Why is that? Manufacturers like Harley-Davidson, Honda and the others have convinced the weekend warrior and new riders to go to them.

I have to admit they’ve really done a good job at convincing these people they are the only ones to go to. Larger motorcycle companies place restrictions on the warranties to ensure they come to them. One of the ways they’ve accomplished this is by H.O.G chapters. You have to admit the marketing ploy really worked out for them. H.O.G chapter members spend most of their time hanging around the dealership, buying their parts and having them work on the bike. I cannot tell you how many times I would get sick to my stomach seeing this crap. Personally, if you have to hang around a dealership to get your kicks, you need another life.

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How did we allow this all to happen? 

Here’s the problem I have. How did we allow this all to happen? The rallies belonged to the bikers and not the corporations. What in the hell possessed some of us to fall for the bullshit these companies were pushing? Here’s a suggestion. Go to an ABATE rally. An ABATE rally are some of the best rallies I’ve ever been to and the closest you will ever come to the true beginnings of a rally. Daytona and Sturgis, and all the others, started out good but were overtaking by commercialization and weekend warriors. It’s time to go back to basics if you ask me. Bikers everywhere should throw an old fashioned rally at the woods, sleeping on the side of the bike and getting back to their roots. I will be doing a series over on our YouTube channel ( doing just that. By the way, the channel is getting ready to get active, so get over there and subscribe. There is an intro video right now, but the rest will start with the Progressive Motorcycle Show in February.

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One of the themes on that channel, I will be pushing, is getting back to the basics. Getting back to the basics will get you in touch with what it’s supposed to be all about. The commercialization of the lifestyle isn’t what it’s about. There was a time when freedom actually meant something. Freedom wasn’t about hauling a motorcycle on a trailer or staying in a big RV. Freedom was all about the man and the machine. This most basic part of the lifestyle has been lost or never experienced by many of the newcomers. There is nothing like putting a rack sack on the back of your ride and just going. There is nothing like finding an open spot on the side of the road and setting up camp. If you want true freedom and an experience you will remember forever, try it out. I can almost bet you will regret never doing it before. The point is, get away from all the bluster these corporations push on you. Get away from what has become the norm in the scene. These extravagant rallies are not what this lifestyle is about. I argue it’s actually a contradiction to what being a biker is all about.

Being a biker in my eyes is living the life you want to live without worrying about what others think. It’s about going out with those who love riding and building a bond over a common purpose. In this case the love of riding. Over the past decades the meaning of being a true biker has been debated over and over again. It’s not that hard people!! Two wheels and the love for freedom is the only thing you need to be considered a biker in my eyes. Common sense and the lack of self confidence has taken a back seat to wanting to fit in with the crowd. One of the things I preach over and over again on our morning biker news program is “do you and fuck everyone else!” Don’t worry what others consider a biker. All you have to do is know in your heart your for real. Fuck all their games!

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I know, kind of got off track didn’t I ? Well no, I believe getting back to the basics has to include knowing what this lifestyle is supposed to be about. Once someone knows what the basics are, then they can chart their path.

Support your local biker owned business

This is another aspect of getting back to the basics. Support your local biker owned business, instead of some corporation, who could give a damn about you. Harley-Davidson is case in point. I’ve never understood the reason why bikers would put their logo on their skin. When I was a tattoo artist and owned a shop I would always ask this to those getting the tattoo. The most cited reason was that they thought it looked cool and nothing could beat a Harley-Davidson. I get you love the make of your motorcycle, hell I love the Fatboy, but you won’t see me supporting the bastards. Harley-Davidson lost its way and the shareholders are the only thing that matters to that company. This is one of the reasons why the prices of a new bike can equate to a down payment on a mortgage. Fuck all that noise!! I never bought new because the used market was just as good. Actually this is the problem Harley-Davidson is having right now, the company is competing against itself. Anyways, putting on a company logo, especially one who doesn’t care about you, is a head shaker to me anyways.

Here’s what you’re doing when you support a local biker owned business. 

  1. You’re keeping the lifestyle alive the way it was all started.
  2. Supporting a local biker owned business shows loyalty to what you believe in.
  3. Most of all you’re helping one of yours, not some damn corporation who can give two shits about you.

Bikers are from all walks of life. Most bikers are made up of hard working blue collar folk just trying to get by. These bikers are struggling to keep a living for their families, just like you and I. Give it a try, find out the local biker owned businesses in your area and make sure to spend some money with them. When you go to these big rallies stay away from the corporate owned booths, go to the regular everyday vendor. Patronage them , make their day, because these damn big rallies rape them on the taxes and vendor space fees. Most of the time these vendors make little or no money. My reasoning is simple. Why in the hell let these suits make money when our own people are supposed to be the ones making it? Think about it and tell me I’m wrong.

Is there a dark side of being a biker? Especially a biker in a motorcycle club. Is there participation in dark activities, such as dealing in illegal substances and other vices?

Let’s talk about the commercialization utilizing the internet

I talk about this all the time. There is a whole new industry that has come into the scene. That industry is influencers on the internet in the biker niche. What’s an influencer first and foremost? An influencer is someone who has a following of people and they speak on specific areas in which those people are looking for. Our business is biker news, as well as motovlog and event coverage. We are not into the motorcycle club protocol crap anymore because the scene is so much bigger than that. There is nothing wrong with that niche, it’s just something we think is on a local level . The only way you will learn about motorcycle club protocol is getting around your local club.

Here’s where I start getting turned off by some of the influencers you see on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or what have you. The biker scene isn’t all cookies and ice cream! I don’t believe in pushing certain subjects, especially ones that could get people hurt. This is what I believe when it comes to those protocol videos. Someone on the East Coast or West Coast can’t speak about what is happening in the Midwest. When someone does that kind of stuff my first reaction is it’s all about the money. Is there money in being an influencer? Simple answer is yes, if you work at it and people can see you care about what your doing. Problem is money can have a negative effect on some of the material being put out. Money, instead of quality real videos, ends up being the motive behind the influencer.

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I’m often criticized by some motorcycle club members and their supporters. For one, I’m a shock jock type of influencer. Secondly, I believe in telling all sides of a story. I’m not someone who believes in putting out half the story. My niche is to help the biker scene and the issues facing it truthfully and head on. If this means I don’t always buy into a narrative, of clubs being right all the time, then so be it. My goal first and foremost will always to work on behalf of the scene as a whole, not just for an individual club. Unfortunately, many others have a different agenda.


I believe the bottom line of this article is about the importance of supporting your own. It’s about being true to the scene you profess to love. What are your thoughts on this subject, do you think it’s time to bring it back to the origins of what started it all? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section.


  1. Great article Hollywood! I am looking forward to reading more articles like this. Sometime in the future it would be cool to see some history and articles on the very first clubs that many people don’t know about (Top Hatters, Yonkers MC, San Francisco MC, Boozefighters, etc.) Truly these clubs started it all and I would love to hear your thoughts on some of these original clubs and where are these clubs today if they are still in existence. Thanks for the content.


  2. Good piece..your right about commercial.. to obtain a harley davidson dealership now days you have to have… a new building…must be close to major traffic route ( high way) …must carry hd clothing.. alot of it……. bla bla bla… i have a soft tail and a decker… niether bought or serviced at these places… i dont have a chick with tattooed that walks with her shoulders thrown back like she is lookin for a show down.. i dont dress in black t shirts or leather all the time… . I have been around.. sometimes very close…to the club scene.. i have been invited in more than a few times.. i chose not to because i seen the clubs going commercial as well… harley became the all about the money and fuck the did alot of the people i use to ride with…. i was a younger man in the mid seventies but fuck me did we have a good time….now days when on my decker or my soft tail with a real fuckin scary engine kit in it i encounter these punks…..they pull up and see an old guy with a bit of a beer gut and give me the eye fucking…like i would dnjoy that or something… i like especialy when on the sft that ghey are on a jap bike… that time when the light goes green i show them how hrs pwr and ft lbs torque come together… i dont need my old friends who chose to hang on to a club and sell dope and all the other shit that is making someone rich but not them…..or the harley dealer to fight my battles…take me under a wing or fuck all… it me..and my bike..LIKE ALWAYS… both of these factions have changed.. and i remained….the part that really gets me though…is ghese punks have no idea .. i have rode with ..travelled with and partied in more club houses then they have had club house sandwiches… and i never went to a bank and got a big loan anx walking and said.. YA THAT ONE….NOW IM A BIKER.. dont think we can turn the clock back hollywood but if some young fuck with his sleved up gal on the back want to roll two up with me they best hold on tighgt… because im leaving the lights in an uncommercial manner like i have since mid seventies.. ill get my new back tire at the local bike repair. Not the fancy buolding near the highway with my credit card.. ..


  3. Hell of great article. Love how you tell it like it is. Believe people should always support individual owned businesses all the time.


  4. Long time reader. You nailed it. Corporations are making RUBS out of society. I started riding in 75 and had to work on my own because I couldn’t afford to let anyone else do it. Got parts at swap meets. I see some of these “bikers” in their $1000 leathers and custom bikes hanging out at rallies trying to fit in because they watched a TV show about fake bikers and they want that to be their weekend image. I don’t go to the big rallies any more. Too commercialized. I ride mostly by myself so I can stop and go when I want without asking anyone’s opinion. I take a tent and bag on long trips. If the weather’s good I sleep on the ground. That’s what this lifestyle means to me.

    My last thought…if you have to tell someone you’re a biker, you’re probably not.

    Thanks for your articles. I read them every chance I get.


  5. Amen. I’ve been in this life since the mid 70s and as a tattoo artist rallies were the most fun way to get your work out there. Seeing old friends and family and getting the parts you needed to stay on the road. Now it’s all about the company’s pushing their own parts and the small town builders don’t have a chance.


  6. Definitely spot on. I never understood why someone would buy a patch and think that they are the shit. Or someone who doesn’t work on their own scoot. It’s become this ridiculous joke watching the commercialization of “biker” lifestyle. Colors are earned, not bought. Knowing your ride inside and out because you built it yourself is a good start, fixing your knuck, pan, flattie or shovel in the middle of nowhere is becoming a lost art. Sleeping in the dirt next to your ride at some cold and rainy run is a thing most RUBs would never be caught doing. Thanks for the reality checks you write, much appreciated.
    von Zipper


  7. It’s the same phenomenon as people child proofing everything, not keeping score, everyone gets a trophy and wins. Bullshit. None of these little assholes ever learned to pick their own butt up, dust it off and start over having learned from what just happened. We did. I see a bunch of whiny ass losers who couldn’t keep up with me when I was 19 and building harleys. Nobody gave me shit over anything unless they were willing to pay the consequences. I may be crippled from an accident now, but I am still bleeding Red & White forever. Your article doesn’t give nearly enough credit to Sonny Barger. I know you didn’t write it. Just setting things right. I wish I could still ride. But I don’t want anything to do with these new bikes that do everything but wipe your ass for you. You’ve all turned into a bunch of babies.


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