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Born to Be WildThe Rise of the American Motorcyclist$
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Randy D. McBee

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469622729

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469622729.001.0001

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You Ain’T Shit if You Don’t Ride a Harley

You Ain’T Shit if You Don’t Ride a Harley

The Middle-Class Motorcyclist and the Japanese Honda

(p.91) 3 You Ain’T Shit if You Don’t Ride a Harley
Born to Be Wild

Randy D. McBee

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter examines the rise of the middle-class motorcyclist and how their impact on motorcycle culture shaped the public's perception of motorcyclists. Postwar affluence and an increasingly pervasive consumer culture contributed to the 1960s “craze” for motorcycling. The middle-class motorcycle enthusiast made motorcycling respectable and family friendly and stood in sharp contrast to the traditional working-class rider. The middle-class rider was simply better at consuming motorcycles than producing them and affected a style that highlighted those differences. The potential to change motorcycling culture was clear, and it translated into an increasingly bitter debate over brand-name loyalty, highlighting the ways in which race shaped motorcycle culture but also reflected a deep-seated class divide that became more conspicuous as consumption became one of the defining issues dividing motorcyclists.

Keywords:   middle-class motorcyclist, consumer culture, brand-name loyalty, motorcycle culture, class divide

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