If you’re unfamiliar with the term “One Percenter,” perhaps you’d better turn in your biker card. Don’t have one? Fair enough, but this book still may be of interest to even the most casual motorcyclist. “One Percenter” refers to a comment made by the AMA way back, that 99% of motorcyclists were law abiding citizens. That last one percent was then adopted by self-designated Outlaw clubs. History lesson over.
One Percenter Revolution: Riding Free In The 21st Century is actually the third installment in Dave Nichols’ telling of the evolution of the Outlaw biker phenomenon. As the editor of Easyriders, Dave certainly has a good perspective on the subject. This book focuses on the future of the outlaw biker in a world where media has taken the subject and turned it into a soap opera. Those who actually know what goes on in a real outlaw club are tight-lipped, making the mystery that much more appealing.
The book itself has a good balance of pictures, historical bits, and interesting theorizing of where “the movement” is headed. Nichols points to modern Hipsters as the future of the Chopper movement. He points his focus on an LA-based club, who are thumbing their collective nose at the current establishment of show bike builders, as well as rank-and-file 1% clubs as we know them.
I’m not in agreement with him, to be clear, nor am I impressed with the bikes and people he cites as the torch-carriers of the movement. His idea is that these modern riders are adopting the old iron and ideas of yesteryear, preserving them. That’s important, but not core to the 1% mentality.
Makes for likable Instagram posts, however.
The bikes included in the book are by and large properly built Seventies choppers in the most authentic sense of the word. Panheads, Flatheads, Knuckleheads, Shovelheads, and a real relic of an Arlen Ness digger are profiled. There’s even a CB750 chopper or thrown in for good measure.
In keeping with the “old is new” theme, there are profiles of shops and builders scattered across the country who are powering this trend.
Riding Free does stand alone as a fun read on the LA chopper scene and the bikes and riders trying desperately to emulate bikes from an era that many riders would prefer to forget. Dave manages to romanticize bikes that are uncomfortable, unreliable, and unpleasant. To be frank, what’s presented here as the last salvation for a lost art is the type of motorcycle that many people, myself included, built as basic transportation because it was all we could manage.
I could go on, but I really need to get some damn kids off my lawn.
$28. Hardback, 224 pages, 6.69” x 8.86”. Learn more and get your own at Amazon.com.
This story originally appeared in our August 2017 issue, which you can read in all its original high-res glory here.