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    The tumultuous history of Indian Motorcycle

    The tumultuous history of Indian Motorcycle

    If you ask a random motorcycle enthusiast to name the two most iconic American motorcycle brands, their answer would undoubtedly be: Harley Davidson and Indian. While the Indian brand doesn’t transcend the motorcycle niche in the way that Harley Davidson does, Indian riders are still very enthusiastic and plentiful.

    It’s easy to see why Indian is such a well supported brand. Since the early 20th century, Indian has been responsible for producing some of the most legendary motorcycles of all time.

    Early years

    The company formerly known as Indian was founded in 1987 by George M. Hendee as the Hendee Manufacturing Company. The first motorized bicycle produced by Hendee was was created to pace bicycle races in 1901. In the following year, a single-engine motorcycle with a chain drive was sold to a retail customer - thus beginning the legend.

    Also in 1902, Indian made a successful debut in racing - winning a long distance race from Boston to New York City.

    In 1903, Indian’s chief engineer broke the world speed record (56 mph) riding his Indian vehicle.

    Already differentiating itself from the competition, Indian delivered a motorcycle in 1904 with a highly distinct, vermillion red coloring - this color is still associated with the Indian brand to this day. That year, sales exceeded 500 units.

    In 1907, Indian stopped outsourcing its engine design to the Aurora Company and moved into an expanded plant in Springfield, Massachusetts. With a larger workforce and more business resources available, Indian started making new innovations to its motorcycles.

    During WW1, the company created its most iconic vehicle to date: the 1000cc Powerplus. This model was used heavily in the American war effort, with over 50,000 units being used to supply troops on the European battleground.

    Inter-war era

    In the early 1920s, the Scout and Chief V-twin models were released - immediately generating notoriety and sales. The Scout featured a middleweight design, whereas the Chief was a larger model.

    In 1923, the Big Chief was released, featuring an upgraded 1200 cc engine. The same year, Hendee Manufacturing Company changed its name to Indian Motocycle Company. Interestingly, the company chose the archaic spelling “motocycle”: a 19th century term pertaining to carriages without horses. This added to Indian’s allure and uniqueness.

    In 1930, a merger occurred between DuPont and Indian, which led to several new iterations of the already popular Scout model. The 101 Scout (released in 1928) featured a long wheelbase, low seat and handled excellently. However, the 1932 Standard Scout featured the same frame as the Chief, which made it heavier and less maneuverable.

    The subsequent model was the 1934 Sport Scout, which featured eye-catching flared fenders and a tribal Indian Motocycle logo.

    1926 Indian Scout

    Pictured above: 1926 Indian Scout

    War production

    Once again, the world became locked in deadly combat, and Indian makes its contribution to the Allied Forces. The company created 500 Chiefs with sidecars to assist the French Government. These quaint vehicles were delightful to behold and could reach a top speed of 100 mph when tuned.

    The company also developed the Indian 841 for the US Army.

    Post-war adoption and obliteration

    After the conclusion of WW2 in 1945, American troops returned home with a newfound love for motorcycles. Many veterans replaced the adrenaline-pumping experiences on the battlefield with riding motorized vehicles. Around this period, loosely formed motorcycle clubs were established and riding became seen as a cultural phenomenon.

    In 1949, Indian released the 149 Arrow and the Super Scout 249. The next year, the lightweight 250 Warrior was released. In this period, the Indian head-fender light “Warbonnets” started to become a key feature of the band (one that remains today).

    Despite these innovations, Indian’s post-war sales were inadequate, which led to the dismantling of the company in 1953.

    Bleak wilderness

    In the decades that followed, the Indian trademark was swapped and sold numerous times. Despite this unfavorable period of misfortune and bankruptcies, the Indian name still remained in the public consciousness.

    For instance, in 1967, 68 year old New Zealand native, Burt Munro, descended upon the Bonneville Salt Flats and set a world speed record of 183.586 mph. Munro was riding a heavily modified 1920s Indian Scout, which led to an abundance of news stories about “The World’s Fastest Indian”.

    The record still stands today and the story was eventually made into a 2005 feature film starring Anthony Hopkins.

    Resurrection

    After the latest bankruptcy in 2003, it appeared that Indian would be forever relegated to the annals of motorcycle history. However, in 2008 Stellican Ltd. (a British private equity firm) purchased the rights to Indian, which were subsequently sold to Polaris Industries in 2011.

    Manufacturing relocated to the Polaris production plant in Iowa, where Indian motorcycles would finally be revived for good.

    In 2013, Indian announced a new lineup of motorcycles, which would catapult the brand back onto the world stage. At Daytona Bike Week, the Thunder Stroke 111 V-Twin engine was unveiled and a replica of the Munro Special streamliner was driven into the party. This created eager anticipation for Indian’s new vehicles.

    Combining modern technologies with Indian’s trademark aesthetics (valenced fenders and warbonnets in particular), the new lineup of motorcycles has been graciously accepted by Indian enthusiasts worldwide.

    The Indian Springfield features a compelling, retro aesthetic, whereas the Chief Vintage takes inspiration from the Wild West - a mesmerizing hybrid of leather and chrome. The Scout gets a new lease of life too, and is available in a range of tones (including Indian’s patented vermillion).

    The Indian Chief Dark Horse features a deathly, matte black finish (all over, from war bonnet to fender) and is the lightest of the Chiefs, with a weight of 751 pounds. If you’re looking to try out your first Chief, this model could be an excellent entry point.

    Given Indian’s recent resurgence, the war with Harley Davidson continues. May it never cease - for Indian riders worldwide!

    Night riding - how to tackle the darkness

    Night riding - how to tackle the darkness

    In addition to riding in the blistering winter, riding at night is a significant fear for some motorcyclists. A nocturnal ride is one of the most tranquil, yet exhilarating experiences you can have as a motorcyclist - but the lack of visibility remains a major concern. Fortunately, there are several safety precautions you can take to ensure your night rides are rejuvenating rather than dangerous.

    1 - Make yourself more visible

    Riding a colorful motorcycle will help to improve your visibility, but if your ride is jet black, it’s not a problem. Ensure you have a high visibility jacket and a proper face helmet (such as the LS2 Metro Firefly, which features graphics that illuminate in the darkness) for night rides. Applying reflective tape to your motorcycle won’t have much of an impact during the day, but at night it will make your motorcycle look larger than it is and act as an independent light source. While some riders don’t enjoy the aesthetic of high visibility clothing - it’s better to be alive than fashionable!

    Ensuring that your headlamp is free from dirt and debris is also essential in order to make yourself more visible, but also to see further and avoid hazards.

    2 - Improve your field of vision

    For night rides, you should only ever ride as fast as you can see. One way to improve your field of vision is to get a high quality LED headlamp, such as the Kuryakyn 2246 Phase 7 LED Headlamp, suitable for Harley, Indian and Yamaha motorcycles. LED headlamps are very intense and can be an excellent precaution if you’re concerned about the safety aspects of riding at night. They’re also less energy intensive and last longer.

    Remember to thoroughly clean your visor before embarking on a night ride, as you’ll need your sight to be functioning excellently, given the circumstances. Tinted visors are not recommended for night rides - always ensure you have a clear visor available and bring some wet wipes with you for the journey. Getting insect splatterings and debris on your visor can be dangerous at night, so always stop the motorcycle immediately if your vision is impaired.

    If you’re concerned that your vision may not be optimal, get your eyes checked out before riding at night.

    3 - Don’t ride when you’re tired

    There are better ways to relax when you’re tired than riding a motorcycle - particularly at night. Don’t be tempted to compensate with coffee or energy drinks. If you’re tired, you will not be functioning optimally and your reaction time will be diminished - regardless of what stimulants you put in your body. It’s simply not worth risking your health by riding while tired. Get some rest and hit the road in the morning when you’re fresh!

    Studies suggest that in 40 to 45% of motorcycle crashes, the rider has been consuming alcohol. If you’re thinking about riding, particularly at night when visibility is diminished, don’t even consider having a drink. Alcohol consumption can lead to an increase in confidence, which can lead to an increased proclivity to risk taking, which is a recipe for disaster when riding a motorcycle!

    4 - Be aware of situational hazards

    The anticipation of hazards is necessary for motorcyclists in any situation, but at night there are specific dangers to be aware of. Because most people consume alcohol at night, be aware of erratic driving. Keep your distance from anyone obviously speeding, as they might be under the influence. This is particularly crucial at intersections and red lights, where speeding drivers might not slow down - you may wish to install LED rear lights to deter drivers from coming too close behind you.

    Depending on where you live, a number of creatures might find their way onto the road during the nighttime, and if you’re going too fast then you won’t be able to stop in time. While a collision with a rodent can result in an injury, if you live in a country like Canada where moose and deer collisions are common, this can be fatal. Always have your wits about you and remember, night is not the time to throw caution to the wind.

    Ride slower than usual and be prepared to stop if you encounter an unexpected hazard on the road. You should always be able to react if a hazard appears in your field of vision, whether riding during the day or at night.

    5 - Account for a drop in temperature

    Remember that at night, the temperature drops, which also affects the road conditions. This drop can be significant in desert regions, and when you also account for the wind chill when riding at a moderate speed, your ride can be very different to what you anticipated. Check the weather forecast before you embark, and ensure you have adequate equipment, such as windproof, high visibility motorcycle gloves (bare knuckle gloves are not ideal for night conditions).

    6 - Be a pilot

    In a survey by Back Country Pilot, 85% of pilots responded that they also ride motorcycles. This is because the both disciplines appeal to a certain personality type - those that lust for freedom and enjoy mastering a technically complex discipline. While pilots are known to maintain a level of calmness while flying airplanes, motorcyclists are typified as aggressive and reckless.

    When riding at night, calmness is crucial. This isn’t the time to put your pedal to the metal and explore the power of your ride. Instead, it’s the perfect time for revisiting your riding fundamentals and appreciating the dark tranquility of the present moment. With the increased safety risk of riding at night, there’s no need to be a daredevil.

    There are few things as rewarding in life as a solitary ride under the dark veil of night. Take the proper precautions and then submerge into the black! Good luck, nyctophiliacs.

    The genesis of the Harley-Davidson Sportster

    The genesis of the Harley-Davidson Sportster

    The Sportster is one of Harley Davidson’s most iconic motorcycle lines, yet it’s also one of the most polarizing. Either you love the motorcycle’s versatile design, with its iconic twin-shock rear suspension and “peanut” gas tank, or you think it’s an abominable creation for novice riders and women.

    For those who are fans of the Sportster, no other motorcycle can compare. Elvis Presley was firmly in this camp and can be seen riding upon his two-tone “Deluxe” KH on the front of his Return of the Rocker compilation album.

    While the Harley Davidson XL, commonly known as the Sportster, firmly arrived on the map during the 1950s, the landscape was primed for its arrival several decades prior, during WW2.


    Early origins

    In the 1940s, US soldiers got a taste for many aspects of foreign culture - high on the list was a newfound appreciation for British motorcycles. The lightweight, minimalistic designs found in British motorcycles caused returning servicemen to customize their motorcycles (this preceded the rise of the American bobber and chopper). 

    The stylistic demands of American motorcycle enthusiasts continued to evolve, and in the 1950s, British motorcycle companies started exporting heavily to America to capitalize on the booming postwar economy. Because consumers were demanding faster, lightweight motorcycles, Harley Davidson needed to rapidly innovate in order to avoid getting blown out of the marketplace by foreign competitors.

    In 1952, Harley Davidson introduced the K series - the most sophisticated bike on the market to date. It was capable of a top speed of over 100 miles per hour and immediately became popular with young, thrill seeking riders. This motorcycle was the predecessor of the Sportster, which shortly followed in 1957.

    Innovation and mass adoption

    The Sportster had the same beautifully shaped gas tank, front suspension and fenders of the K series, but the engine marked a significant step forward. 

    The 55-cubic-inch pushrod overhead valve engine allowed for better breathing, a higher rpm and improved cruising speed. It’s cast iron cylinder heads resulted in the engine being known as the Ironhead - now a part of motorcycle lore. This engine was used until 1985 when it was replaced by the Evolution engine.

    Less than 2,000 Sportsters were built in the first year of production, but in subsequent years, demand increased. In 1960, over 2,700 units were built and by the Sportster’s pinnacle in 1974, this number had increased to over 23,000! This surge in popularity came after 1972, when displacement increased from 883 cc to 1,000 cc.

    In 1977 and 1978, Harley Davidson became swept up in the cafe racer craze, releasing the Cafe Racer XL which was based on the classic Sportster, but with cafe racer stylistic alterations. This model was dropped in 1979, along with many of Harley Davidson’s small motorcycles - leaving the Sportster as the brand’s smallest displacement (still 1,000 cc).

    In the 1980s, more innovations took place.

    In 1986, the Ironhead engine was finally retired and replaced with the new Evolution engine. This engine was lighter in weight than the previous Ironhead, with aluminium cylinders and heads which resulted in better durability and less oil leakage. 

    Subsequently, Harley Davidson started offering 883 cc and 1200 cc variants of the new Evolution engine. Naturally, the 1200 cc variant was the most popular and it became the standard protocol to have one.

    Also in the late 1980s, Harley Davidson introduced the Sportster Hugger, which featured a low seat height and received a polarized reception. The Hugger is the reason that the Sportster has feminine associations, as this motorcycle was initially designed to entice female riders towards the brand.

    To this day, the Sportster is regarded as an excellent motorcycle choice for women, as well as men with shorter statures. This is because it’s the smallest of the three Harley Davidson engine categories, and it offers excellent maneuverability - however, it doesn’t have the beefy, masculine look often associated with the brand.

    Minor innovations continued in the 1990s.

    In 1991, Sportsters received five speed transmission and the chaindrive was replaced with a belt in 1993. Belts helped with noise reduction and made the bikes require less maintenance.

    The modern era

    Unlike other motorcycle styles, which soared to notoriety and vanished just as quickly, the Sportster casually rolled into the 21st century with a loyal fanbase. In 2000, the motorcycle received upgrades to its internal transmission system, front brake calipers, crankshaft and wheel bearings.

    With constantly changing consumer demands, Harley Davidson decided to give the Sportster a more significant revamp in 2004.

    Historically, metal mounts were used to join the motors and chassis. As a new innovation, insulated motor mounts were used to reduce vibration and create a larger, more masculine aesthetic. This made the motorcycle weigh more, and the cost also increased. The transmission door was also scrapped and the exhaust balance pipe was relocated to showcase the motor.

    As gas prices soared with the war in the Middle East and the popularity of the gas guzzling chopper waned, fuel efficiency became a concern of motorcycle enthusiasts - so the Sportster made the change to fuel injection.

    In 2007, the XR 1200 was released, utilizing fuel injection technology. It was immediately cherished by Sportster fans. The ride was fast, highly maneuverable and nice to look at - although the detailing certainly wasn’t popular with everyone.

    In 2017, the Sportster range is still going strong and a variety of models are available for purchase from Harley Davidson. The Superlow is notable for its low seat, low centre of gravity and adjustable suspension, which makes it perfect for cruising, whereas the Roadster is renowned for its agility and garage-built custom style.

    Perhaps most notable of the modern Sportster range is the Forty-Eight, known for its fat front end, adjustable rear suspension and cast aluminium wheels. The Forty-Eight represents the minimalistic style associated with the Sportster series, yet benefits from modern engineering and a beastly 1200 cc Evolution engine.

    Pictured above: 2016 Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight

    In addition to the stylistic and performance attributes, Sportsters are popular because the aftermarket parts available to them are vast. Many custom builders choose Sportsters as their base models because of the huge array of design options available to them.

    Whether you love or hate the Sportster, you cannot dispute its iconic status and enduring appeal.

    The café racer movement: freedom and individuality

    The café racer movement: freedom and individuality

    In recent years, we’ve seen a resurgence of the café racer motorcycle style, which features a stripped down appearance and a predilection for performance. Similar motorcycles roared down the winding roads of England during the 1960s during the halcyon of the café racer movement. In order to examine this movement in full, we have to take a step back to England after the conclusion of World War 1.

    Early origins

    After 4 years of brutal conflict, WW1 ended in 1918 and England’s economy finally began to return to normality. As transportation technologies improved, motorcars and motorcycles were now a part of everyday life (instead of novelties) and the antiquated English road systems needed to evolve in order to fulfill these new traffic demands.

    Transportation and road haulage industries began to boom, and with this, roadside stops and cafés cropped up to cater to the new horde of weary travelers. Several decades later, these same establishments would be used as recreational sites where motorcycle enthusiasts would frequent before racing each other to the next café.

    While the new motorways in England had certainly evolved from the past, they are nothing like the modern motorways we see in the country today. They were still difficult to navigate, with plenty of tight turns and narrow passages which would give motorists headaches. The young men returning from the war now found themselves with a bit of extra cash, and were able to get hold of motorcycles which they used to ride up and down the country for recreational purposes. While recreational riding diminished after the advent of World War 2, it would come back in a more potent at the war’s conclusion.

    Post-WW2 England & the Rockers subculture

    During the 1950s, young men came back from the war and with some extra financial resources, rediscovered their love for riding. Combine this with a rise in youth culture, with rebellious heroes in leather jackets such as Marlon Brando inspiring many, and the café racer movement was born.

    The café racer movement was inextricably linked with the rise of rock and roll music in the 1960s. Rocker culture was completely unfamiliar (and generally abhorrent) to older generations, which only made it more compelling for those looking to distance themselves from the uninteresting ways of their elders. Young Rockers with their leather jackets, slick hairstyles and customized motorcycles would meet at roadside cafés to socialize, listen to musicians like Elvis Presley and enjoy their freedom. The most famous café of this period is London’s Ace Café, which still exists to this day! Their website reads: “At Ace Cafe London we welcome all who share our passion, based upon the traditions of motorcycles, cars and rock n' roll.”

    In environments such as these, bravado was widespread and impressing girls (and each other) was extremely important. One of the ways you could convey your masculinity was by passing the 100 miles per hour mark on your motorcycle, a feat known as the “ton”. Although this doesn’t sound like a lot by modern standards, 100 miles per hour was a lot in an era when most people were riding 350cc motorcycles! In order to achieve feats like this, motorcycles were customized for speed (and coolness) - comfort was largely ignored.

    Bike specifications

    Owning a customized café racer was a way to showcase one’s identity, hence no café racer was the same. However, there were common attributes which helped to define the café racer as a style. Typically, the motorcycles would feature an elongated fuel tank with dents to allow the rider to grip the tank with his knees - this was reminiscent of the Grand Prix racers of the 1960s. Clip-on bars, low hanging racing handlebars, large carburetors, fiberglass (or aluminum) gas tanks and swept back pipes were also commonplace. As an ergonomic consideration, rear-set footrests and foot controls were also typical, as were race style fairings.

    Interestingly, some of the most popular motorcycles in this genre were hybrids of two separate types. For instance, the “Triton” utilized a Norton Featherbed frame and a Triumph Bonneville engine. This combination resulted in excellent performance characteristics, perfect for doing the “ton” and impressing the opposite sex!

    For those with a more modest budget, the Triumph engine could be used with a BSA frame. This type of vehicle was known as the “Tribsa”. Alternatively, a Vincent engine with a Norton frame was known as a “Norvin”. Racing frames by other manufacturers such as Rickman and Seeley were also used to create unique café racer motorcycles.

    Similar to the chopper movement in America, café racers were formed by taking factory motorcycles and removing the unnecessary, plus adding a few things in to make them look more unique! Unlike the American choppers which could be ridden on long, straight roads, the café racers were more suited for maximum handleability, in order to cope with the treacherous winding roads in England at the time.

    Modern day

    In the 1970s, Japanese manufacturers began to dominate the British manufacturers in the marketplace, and style demands changed. Leading European motorcycle manufacturers such as Benelli, BMW and Bultaco started producing factory variants of the café style which customers could purchase, essentially destroying the personalization aspect which was endemic to the subculture. As technologies evolved, the café racer modifications were no longer improving performances, they were simply making the rides less comfortable, hence they started to die out.

    Unlike other youth motorcycle subcultures which were considered as hostile irritations, such as the Bosozoku gangs of Japan, the café racer movement is often looked back upon with a romantic lense. The iconic café racer represents an era when the youth of England sculpted their own identity and developed a sense of freedom, as they daringly raced each other across the nation, through winding roads and dangerous turns, all to rejoice at the next roadside stop!

    Bōsōzoku: biker gangs of Japan

    Bōsōzoku: biker gangs of Japan

    Japan is a country known for its reserved and respectful culture. This makes the appearance of bosozoku gangs an outlandish anomaly. In their heyday, they could be seen riding their flamboyant motorcycles up and down metropolitan streets, honking their horns and generally causing chaos. These groups used to ride without motorcycle helmets, in kamikaze jackets and with outrageous custom motorbikes. It was common to remove the mufflers from their rides in order to create as much noise as possible.

    Bosozoku gangs in 1980s Japan were primarily comprised of malcontented teenagers, but the bosozoku phenomenon actually traces back to the chaotic 1950s. To determine the origins of this peculiar subculture, we need to examine what life was like in Japan during the post-WW2 allied occupation.

    Unsavory origins

    The socioeconomic situation in Japan during the 1950s was dire, to say the least. Unemployment was widespread, infrastructure was damaged and resources were dwindling. Out of the chaos of this period spawned a subculture called kaminari zoku, otherwise known as “thunder tribe”.

    The majority of these kaminari zoku were from lower income families and felt forgotten by society. The movement represented the youth’s disaffection for the Japanese government and the country in general. In a society where they felt like outcasts, joining the thunder tribe gave these individuals a sense of purpose and more importantly, a feeling of belonging which was hard to acquire during this uncertain period. Many participants had served in the Imperial Japanese Army and felt disillusioned with the current state of society.

    Despite this rough economic time, the Japanese automobile industry started to generate serious growth during the 1950s and motorcycles became more popular in the country. With American films such as the 1955 smash, Rebel Without a Cause, gaining international attention, this influenced the disaffected youth in Japan and the motorcycle gang was born!

    Criminality and notoriety

    During the 1970s, the term bosozoku was created after motorcycle gangs got into several skirmishes with local police forces. The approximate English translation of bosozoku is: “violent running gang”!

    During the 1980s and 90s, the bosozoku movement had reached critical mass. Participation in the gangs was estimated at around 42,510 in 1982 - still a distinct minority in a country of 118 million people, but one that was creating disproportionate disturbances. Gangs would cruise en masse through metropolitan areas riding custom motorcycles, waving Imperial Japanese flags and generally causing chaos. New Years Eve was a popular date in the bosozoku diary for mass rides and pandemonium.

    The gangs would often attack one another with weapons and would sometimes go to war with random bystanders who expressed any condemnation towards them. Minor criminality such as speeding through highway tollbooths and drug use was also commonplace.

    The yakuza connection

    Herbert Covey, in his book Street Gangs Throughout the World, argues that bosozoku gang participation increased during the mid 1990s primarily due to their connection with the famous Yakuza (Japanese organized crime syndicates). Bosozoku and yakuza criminal partnerships were said to be commonplace, and in more recent years, the cash-strapped yakuza were said to have extorted the bosozoku in exchange for protection.

    Custom rides

    As with the custom bikes which became popular in contemporary America (such as the chopper), the bosozoku sought to make their rides as outrageous as possible, usually to the detriment of the vehicle’s handleability. Many rides had custom fairings, new exhaust pipes, no mufflers to increase noise production, high tail seats, lights and of course, horns for creating gigantic disturbances.

    Although the types of modifications varied from region to region, and from gang to gang, the more outrageous you could make your ride look, the better! Loud paint schemes, often with traditional Japanese cultural inspirations, were commonplace. Bright, oversized fairings stacked on top of one another were also prevalent, as bosozoku members tried to outdo one another in terms of who could be the most obnoxious.

    For those looking for a truly unique ride, the bosozoku motorcycle style has actually gained some traction in the west. Custom motorcycle shops occasionally receive requests from bosozoku enthusiasts for oversized fairings and traditional Japanese paintwork in order to differentiate their rides from everyone else’s. However, many of the typical modifications are illegal in the west, so we’re unlikely to see a revival of the bosozoku any time soon!

    Cultural themes

    In terms of identity and fashion, many bosozoku gangs took inspiration from traditional Japanese ideals. Revered creatures such as tigers and sharks were a strong source of inspiration for these gang members, and samurai themes were also recurring in their fashion. Perhaps these disaffected teenagers were trying to affirm their identities as ancient warriors in a rapidly modernizing world which felt alien to them! Imperial Japanese flags were often seen waving in the wind on the back of motorcycles as their riders caused mayhem on modern streets!

    The attire worn by these bosozoku members was also very unique. The special attack uniforms (also known as tokko-fuku) worn by kamikaze pilots during WW2 were reappropriated and adorned with colorful writing and gang insignias. Dyed hair and baggy pants were also associated with bosozoku membership!

    The last of a dying breed

    As a result of a change in legislature in 2004, arrests and prosecutions increased which caused a rapid decline on bosozoku participation. Although the bosozoku phenomenon has mostly disappeared, smaller groups can still be found riding their motorcycles through certain areas in Japan such as Tokyo and Aichi prefecture. Of course, aging bosozoku members still find themselves in trouble with the law here and there, even in 2016!

    This cultural relic in Japan’s colorful history is depicted in full in Vice’s excellent documentary: Revisiting the Glory Days With One of Japan’s Most Violent Biker Gangs. This is highly recommended if you want to learn about the wild hairstyles, insane fashion, customized bikes and violent acts committed by these notorious gangs.

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