First off, it's important to understand why big motorcycles are loud as they hurt the ears of anyone on the street or within 50 feet. Why is this important? It's important because it's not about being loud; it's about being heard, on your own biker terms.
Just why one wants to be heard is not the question to ask jumbo sized bikers. They really won't answer such a foolish question but just give you a snarl and a jumbled mumble. In the end they assure you they know but 'just can't seem to put it in words'; a typical biker behavioral cop out.
It's all about the chopper but in a certain sense it isn't. The true essence of bikerhood brotherhood is not riding but "talking" about your bike. If there is one thing bikers love more than their bikes it's talking about their bikes.
But who are we wannabes to judge. Our middle-aged Michelin man bodies can't take much riding around on a bare frame. We have to pull over, take a breather, get a beer and have a smoke and most importantly look for any available opportunities to talk motorcyclese.
The problem for amateurs is real bikers can tell right away if you can talk motorcyclese or not. To get away from being an obvious wannabe, you have to be proficient in motorcyclese.
Motorcyclese is like learning a foreign language and the best way to learn a new language is called immersion. If you want to learn Spanish, you go to Mexico City. If you want to learn motorcyclese, you go to a chopper shop.
Right away you probably guessed that chopper guys aren't concerned so much about your spiritual needs as they are about your motorcycle. Actually, if you really dig hard and deep enough, you will find for many their spirituality is their motorcycle.
Having said that, one then comes to the conclusion that the whole big motorcycle thing is all psychological; a perceptual smoke and mirrors show. This enlightened concept is almost certainly to be greeted with disapproving biker growls.
Why grown middle-aged men would want to bruise their posteriors and find solace with comrades that have also bruised theirs, is well, a certain type of peak religious experience. On a certain level. OK a lower level. OK, on a lower brain stem level.
But more likely it's an aging body with little rebellion left that can actually let the motorcycle do all the rebelling...that is of course, unless one falls off. And at that point one may have to in fact enlist the aid and succor of a professional biker babe.
The professional biker babe fills three primary biker functions: 1) keep her biker guy from falling off 2) pick him up when he does fall off and 3) wire him back with Mexican baling wire if he is in more than three pieces.
Clearly big motorcycles aren't a typical female thing; biker babes are not known for their dainty femininity. Most biker guys will reluctantly admit there are better ways to chase after dainty women than riding smelly, loud, big motorcycles. It emits an image.
And maybe that image and resulting self image is getting closer to our answer. That's why the only way to really learn motorcyclese and big motorcycle chat is by totally immersing yourself.
It's not just the raw motorcycle technology, but the look and feel of your big motorcycle self-expression that truly matters.
The first tactic is to speak wistfully of motorcycle parts like tapered exhaust phalanges; understanding you really have to be wistful or it will clearly ring phony. It's not just knowing about tapered exhaust but having your self-expression actually exude tapered exhaust passion.
Then again just for fun you could try going into the local chopper shop and start talking carbon footprints and such; make sure to feel the warm reception you get from all the biker tribe. Beware here as some of the biker guys only think of face and footprint in one context.
Just remember never insult a biker's babe...she might be his wife. These days smart bikers are known to find women that drink less than they do so they always get a ride home. To a certain extent that does dampen the rebelliousness benefit but then practical is practical. After all, past a certain age any barroom floor is just too hard.
And never question a biker's motives; you can question a lot of things but not his motives. So in the end we are stuck with fancy explanations like 'rebellious spirituality' or simplistic ones like 'better than a scooter'. Right.
But like many bastions of thought, there one day comes the true revelation like "Big guys ride big motorcycles because they don't fit on little motorcycles."
Like many things in life, the truth is often laced with disappointment. So take a deep breath and rest assured it's okay. It's highly unlikely you will see 350 pound men riding around on Vespas.
Just don't forget to swagger a little bit as you approach any showroom with the sign Harley or Hellbent written over the door. It's really important for you to keep up your biker self-esteem.
JD Deal owns JD Deal Business Consulting, Capitola and Santa Cruz, California 95062 831-457-8806. Related articles, ideas, strategies, tactics and tips can be found at and .