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Jap Crap!! or Herd Mentality.

“Blah, blah, blah, Jap Crap, blah, blah, blah.” When I heard my brother utter those words I thought I was having another of those pesky flashbacks. No wait, we ARE in 2008… not 1968 or 1978… I say 1978 because that was the first time this particular brother had ever seen, touched or heard a Harley Davidson. He was about 9 and I was nearing the end of my second tour in the Navy.

When he bought his HD low-rider (first and only bike) a couple of years ago, I was happy for him. My 78 AMF Harley was the FXS Lowrider, so I figured that had something to do with his choice.

Since then the boy has gone skull and chrome crazy. He fits right into the Harley Herd… everything he has is branded – from his “wannabe” metal studded boots to his pickup truck.

Apparently somewhere along the way he and his buddies have gotten lost. Harley ISN’T the only American bike maker left, they AREN’T struggling to survive, Japan isn’t dumping bikes into our market, and “Made in Japan” does not mean the same thing it did in 1978.

I had a buddy who had a parrot. He taught him to say some crude things, which worked in 1978 when he was single, but in 1998 – when his daughter was about 8, they really became a problem. The bird didn’t know what he was saying… he was only saying what he was taught.

I feel like that is where we are now in 2008 with the whole harley vs the world stuff… and the Jap Crap comments. Nowadays we have the mimics, the “little” brothers who listened to our words but never really understood their meaning. We saved Harley and the competition with Japan has benefited us all. The world has changed and we live in a global economy – but still the Parrot spouts words from 1978.

Unfortunately, all these cliches’ from bygone years have become yet another part of the Harley Herd culture – like the black leather uniforms, chromed “cookie-cutter” bikes, and the rest. To participate you must conform. You must ride the same bikes, dress alike, and talk alike. You’re a “bro” only as long as you are atop a Harley.

Seems to me its the man who makes the bike not the other way round. I’m the same person on a Drifter or a Harley. I’m not the “herd” type. I rarely ride with others. I don’t own my bike for social reasons and I really don’t care what you ride.

This isn’t an indictment against all Harley riders. There are plenty of great folks on HD’s who feel the same way I do about this situation. Fact is, sometimes I still ride HD’s myself. There is a difference between a HD rider and a “Herd-Rider”. To be fair, I want to recognize the difference and not fall into the same trap as the herd-riders.

My brother needed to pay attention to at least one other thing which has carried over from the past. Don’t disrespect a man’s bike if you don’t have the gravel to suffer the consequences. I think that lesson was reinforced at least.

Cheers.

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