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Girls on Motorcycles: Retro photos of pioneering biker chicks
01.31.2017
11:03 am
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It really all began with the bicycle in the 1890s when wheelmen clubs across America started promoting the bicycle as a new sport—an enjoyable way to travel, exercise and spend free time. Similar clubs opened up in various parts of Europe, but while these were mainly the preserve of the wealthy and leisured class, Americans had the greater opportunity through the cheap mass production of bicycles, the space, the inclination, the time and the desire to get about on two wheels.

There were literally millions of bikes in the US by end of the 19th century. Very soon women were taking to the road and cycling their way across town and city and into history. The women’s rights activist Susan B. Anthony said something to the effect that the bicycle did “more for the emancipation of women than anything else in the world.” Women she said were “riding into suffrage on the bicycle.”

Not everyone agreed or was even happy with this. One crotchety dinosaur at the Washington Sunday Herald newspaper in 1891 described “a woman on a bicycle” as “the most vicious thing” he had ever seen. But like the dinosaur such attitudes soon extinct as once women were off on their bikes, there was no just stopping ‘em.

In parallel with the rise of the bicycle was the development of the motorcycle which was originally just a bike with an engine—though some had four wheels for balance instead of two. By 1903, Harley-Davidson sold their first motorcycles. The demand was soon fierce and companies popped up across the States producing motorbikes with thrilling names like the Marvel, the Indian and the Excelsior.

When the Indian motorcycle company added front and back shock absorbers to their motorbikes in 1915, the once far-fetched notion of long distance travel on two wheels quickly became a reality. That same year mother and daughter Avis and Effie Hotchkiss completed a 9,000 mile roundtrip by motorcycle from New York to San Francisco. In 1916, Adeline and Augusta Van Buren traveled across country on their motorbikes.

Now let’s just stop and think about these two long grueling incredible journeys. At the time there were no proper freeways. Most roads were dirt and dust. And women traveling on their own a century ago would have had to fend off unwanted advances and the unwarranted censure of every hick town they visited. Also, these women had to know how to fix their bikes when things went wrong.

By the 1920s a new generation of pioneering women bikers were taking to the road and traveling across continent. One such woman was Vivian Bales who became the first female biker to appear on the cover of Harley-Davidson’s Enthusiast magazine. Vivian was a little over five feet tall and and lacked the physical strength to kickstart her own bike but she still made a 5,000 mile trip across country on her flathead engine D-series Harley-Davidson in 1929.

Vivian wasn’t the only pioneering woman who rode into history on her motorbike during the 1920s. These photos of women bikers in America and Europe—mainly from around this decade—document the two-wheeled revolution that brought a new kind of freedom for women.
 
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Avis and Effie Hotchkiss, 1915.
 
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The Van Buren sisters.
 
More pioneering biker chicks, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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01.31.2017
11:03 am
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Brigitte Bardot, badass biker babe
10.18.2016
09:40 am
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Brigitte Bardot posing on a yellow Harley-Davidson chopper built by Maurice Combalbert.
 
It’s fairly well known that golden haired French film goddess Brigitte Bardot was a huge fan of the Solex (or “Velosolex”), a kind of moped/bicycle hybrid which the bombshell was widely photographed riding around in the 1970s. No stranger to knowing how to have a good time Bardot was also photographed tooling around while looking flawlessly beautiful on other kinds of motorized two-wheelers such as a Yamaha AT-1 for which Bardot did a series of 1971 print advertisements clad in hotpants and white gogo boots.

Some of the most iconic photos of the actress/model/singer and animal rights activist (Bardot dedicated herself to helping animals after retiring in 1973) and a motorcycle were taken along with a Harley-Davidson custom built by Parisian chopper pioneer Maurice Combalbert when Bardot performed her wacky love proclamation to the iconic motorcycle on her 1967 French television special Brigitte Bardot Show.

Here’s a nice selection of Brigitte Bardot looking cooler than any of us will ever look on various motorcycles, as well as a few where she’s making riding a regular bike look like the best time ever.
 

 

More Bardot on bikes after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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10.18.2016
09:40 am
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Badass cat motorcycle helmets from Russia
02.05.2016
10:08 am
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I never saw myself writing “badass” and “cat” in the same sentence, but these are some seriously cool cat motorcycle helmets straight out of Russia. I dig the one that looks like an extra evil Cheshire Cat with that devilish grin. That helmet looks like it ain’t gonna take no shit.

The Neko helmets come in 12 different designs and are made by Russian company Nitrinos. The prices can range anywhere from $495 to $595 depending on which style you want.

I’m sure these things have been crash tested, but I wonder how the impact with the ears on the helmet affect the human skull? Is it safe? Perhaps I’m overthinking this?


 

 

 
More after the jump…
 

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Posted by Tara McGinley
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02.05.2016
10:08 am
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Watch ‘The Italian Machine,’ David Cronenberg’s Ballardian motorcycle fetish short
03.09.2015
11:49 am
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I’ve already written an item for DM on Secret Weapons, David Cronenberg’s near-incomprehensible TV short from 1972 about a dystopian state that uses mind control drugs and a rebel biker gang that opposes it—in that movie, however, despite the stated existence of a biker gang, there were scarcely any motorcycles to be seen in it. That problem, at least, does not arise in Cronenberg’s 1976 short The Italian Machine.

It’s almost jaw-dropping how much progress Cronenberg had made between these two movies. The Italian Machine relinquishes all aspirations toward big-dick sci-fi in favor of a far more nuanced, engrossing, unfussy meditation on technology, art, decadence, and, shall we say, the pet obsessions of warring subcultures. The idea of the movie, which lasts only 23 minutes, is that a bunch of motorcycle buffs, having learned that an incredibly rare and high-quality Italian motorcycle, specifically a 1976 Ducati 900 Desmo Super Sport, has come into the possession of a local art enthusiast who intends to keep it in his living room as a sculpture, take on the moral imperative of liberating the machine from its outré confines and restoring it to its rightful purpose of kicking ass on the open road. 
 

 
What The Italian Machine, which first appared on the CBC television program Teleplay, most resembles is a really good short story; more specifically it reminds me a great deal of J. G. Ballard, which isn’t very strange considering that Cronenberg adapted Ballard’s Crash a couple of decades later. In The Italian Machine, Lionel, Fred, and Bug are three motorcycle nuts who enjoy the kind of nerdy oneupmanship that probably features on every episode of The Big Bang Theory. Upon finding out the identity of the Ducati’s purchaser, one Edgar Mouette, they concoct a plan to pose as a magazine crew of photographers doing a spread on Mouette’s interiors. That Ballardian angle resides mainly in Mouette and his cohorts, philosophical aesthetes to the max (when they’re not taking cocaine). Once Lionel and his buddies gain entry, it is the viewer’s task to decide which side is the nuttier of the two. Eventually they do get ahold of the bike, at which point their own ability to fetishize the machine unexpectedly manifests itself.

Truly, a top-notch piece of work, very in line with the many dark masterpieces Cronenberg would make in the years to come.
 

Posted by Martin Schneider
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03.09.2015
11:49 am
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Ghost Rider: The perfect motorcycle for All Hallows’ Eve
10.31.2014
10:09 am
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Now this is the kind of motorcycle you want to be seen riding when you turn up late to that Halloween party. This customized skeleton bike is a definite head turner—the bike Ghost Rider really should have had.

Take a look at the craftsmanship going on here: a hammer forged bike frame made from a skeleton rib cage and spine, with arm bones as front forks, bony hands as wheel hubs, and a skull with 32 teeth and a headlight in each eye socket. This beauty was almost entirely handmade by self-taught metal worker John Holt in his basement workshop in Boone County, Illinois, in 2004 and 2005. The bike has a 2.3-liter Ford engine with a variable flow hydraulic drive. The bike weighs 850 pounds; if made to stand up straight, the skeleton would be over nine feet tall.

This was the first bike Holt ever built—though he previously made a suit of armor in 1995—and he “fashioned the design” from a plastic model of a skeleton. Holt calls his bike “Iron Death.” Yep, that sounds right.
 
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Thanks to Duke Sandefur, via Vince Lewis
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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10.31.2014
10:09 am
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The Girls on their Motorcycles: Vintage photos of kickass women and their rides
09.02.2014
01:54 pm
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Kickass or badass—whatever you wanna call these tough biker ladies—here’s a selection of vintage photos of real-life motorcycle riding women.


Anke Eve Goldmann, 1958
 

Ann-Margret rode a classic Triumph T100
 

Bessie Stringfield
 

Some 70s Harley kickstarting action
 
More after the jump…
 

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Posted by Tara McGinley
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09.02.2014
01:54 pm
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Death defying: Helmet cam captures terrifying motorcycle accident
04.02.2014
01:29 pm
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Motorcyclist Jack Sanderson was incredibly lucky to walk away with only minor injuries after his bike crashed on the Cat and Fiddle Road, in Buxton, England.

The accident happened after Sanderson overtook two motorbikes and swerved to avoid an approaching car, as he told the BBC:

” I was too impatient. I should have stayed on the white line, I saw the car, and thought right I’m going to have to go off there.

“I’m just happy to walk away with my life and maybe it could be a lesson to others. If it slows anyone down by just one mph then that’s something.”

Sanderson was thrown from his 600cc Kawasaki bike down a 40 ft embankment. The whole accident was filmed by Sanderson’s helmet camera and he posted the video on YouTube to warn other cyclists and drivers.  You might want to skip ahead to around the 2:10 mark.
 

 
Via the Manchester Evening News.

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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04.02.2014
01:29 pm
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