BIKE LUST: Harleys, Women & American Society

Barbara Joans, Author . Univ. of Wisconsin $21.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-299-17354-8

It's hard to be in love when your friends don't quite approve. That's the fix in which anthropologist Joans (director of the Merritt Museum of Anthropology at Merritt College, in California) finds herself in this mix of memoir, anthropological study and apologia for the love of "hogs." The apologia is weakest: "Harley riders, as a group, are racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, and misogynistic," she admits, but so is "most of America." The anthropology here is accessible, despite occasional academic terminology; for example, she divides bikers into seven overlapping groups of men: Old Timers, One Percenters (outlaws), Ten Percenters, Old Bikers, New Bikers, Rich Urban Bikers, and Occasional Bikers." The two major female categories (passengers and riders) further subdivide: Biker Chick, Lady Passenger, Passionate Passenger; and Lady Biker, Woman Biker, Woman Rider. But Joans's passion for the Harley and its riders is evident in affectionate, respectful profiles and interviews. Joans, who rides a Harley-Davidson Low Rider, is most engaging as a memoirist. Her accounts of bikers training their kids to ride and a wedding attended by 3,000 bikers with "the bride and groom, leather-dressed to kill" successfully convey "the glory and godawfulness of riding the wind." Photos. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/27/2001
Release date: 08/01/2001
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