Showing Your Stars and Stripes Two-Wheel Style
Another Independence Day is upon us, and I found myself contemplating the nature, indeed the culture, of patriotism. It’s no secret that motorcyclists have a tendency to value liberty and freedom, and the bikes themselves become something of rolling shrines. Sometimes this takes the form of a paintjob; other times serious bodywork, but always with the underlying celebration of our core values. I’ve picked a few examples of just what I’m talking about here, so join me while I show you what I’ve got in mind.
Continue reading for my look at the Fourth of July, 2016.
Peter Fonda and Captain America
First on my list is probably the most iconic Harley-Davidson ever; the “Captain America” bike ridden by Peter Fonda in the 1969 film Easy Rider. Originally there were four stretched choppers built from sketches Fonda drew for the project, and there is much controversy over exactly how many authentic bikes remain. While the bike itself boasts a Stars-and-Stripes motif, its status as an icon of the ’60s-era social revolution is really what it brings to the table.
One of these bikes recently auctioned for $1.35-million, showing that much like a fine wine, age and rarity increases value, and of course all that star power doesn’t hurt either. That’s an awful lot of cheddar for an old panhead chopper with a U.S. flag gas tank and rigid frame that would beat the teeth out of your head if you were to try and ride it, but icons like this aren’t for riding, they are for someone to display, and the rest of us to covet.
Stars and Bars Hayabusa
Next up is a creation from Nick Anglada at Custom Sportbike Concepts in Winter Garden, Florida. It’s a few years old now, but the Stars and Bars stuck in my head as one of my favorite custom ’Busa models, second only to The Predator. The draw for me lies entirely with the paint, but let’s look at what’s underneath first.
Polished chrome frame members and exhaust components turn even those mundane parts into part of the collective bling, and the single-side swingarm and “Phat Ass” 240 mm rear tire puts it over the top with an air shock that can drop the rear end up to five inches on demand. Yeah, the pneumatics are a little sophomoric in my opinion, but what the heck, some people like that sort of thing.
What I like is the paint job. It’s so very easy for U.S. flag-themed paintjobs to come off as cheesey, garish, cartoonish, or some combination thereof. Not so with the Stars and Bars, whose full-body plastic and flowing lines act as the perfect canvas for a rendition of Old Glory. The voluptuous curves of the Hayabusa make it seem as though the flag is in flight, an optical effect that is even more pronounced once under way. Like I said, it’s one of my favorites, and one of the most tasteful flag-bikes to come out in the last decade or so.
Rock, Flag and Eagle
My last choice isn’t really patriotically themed at all, but instead represents a slice of classic Americana by connecting to a time when patriotic fervor was high, and automobile design was much more of an art form than it is today. I’m talking about the Boss Hoss ’57 Chevy trike that borrows heavily from the car for details all over the ride, but especially the rear end, which is delightfully obvious with just a glance at the fender fins.
Mostly it just suggests at the look of the ’57 Bel Air though, the chrome trim on the fins isn’t quite right, and the oval taillights are definitely wrong, but those are subtle points after all, yeah? You can get it with a 295-horsepower, V-8 engine, or really get crazy with the 445-horsepower version. As much as I don’t get the V-8 bikes, somehow the third wheel suddenly makes a mill that big OK in my book, though I still think anyone that needs a motor that big is compensating for something. Not a judgment, just an observation.
Bottom line is; it looks just as American as a Bald Eagle dropping a baseball into an apple pie, and the look of the old Bel Air strikes a chord that runs much deeper than any brand loyalty or motorhead fandom, so this Hoss is sort of a “stealth patriot,” of sorts.