49 YEAR RIDE – GENERATIONS ON THE ROAD | A FILM BY MARC BENCIVENGA

“Steve Leandro has been building and riding bikes since the late ’60s and has inspired many over the decades dedicated to his passion.  I was able to uncover some Super 8 footage from 1974 of the ‘Run To the Redwoods”, which he was a part of, and some 1972 Super 8 footage of the influences in Steve’s life to create a piece that I believe acknowledges Steve’s humble beginings and honors his current impact on those who love an old Harley.”  –Marc Bencivenga, filmmaker

1969, Santa Rosa– Tony Aeillo and Austin Hall (a still from– 49 Year Ride – Generations on the Road)

Another great short film by Marc Bencivenga called 49 Year Ride – Generations on the Road.  Steve Leandro of S&J Motorcycles opens up about coming up in the motorcycle scene when he was young, his shop and love of bikes, and passing the torch on to his grandson Zak who he’s able to share his love of bikes and builbing with. Marc also shot another great short– A Prayer For Cool which we featured on TSY a while back. Enjoy.

Steve Leandro’s grandson Zak who clearly already has been bitten by the bike bug.

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SCOTT TOEPFER’S ORIGINAL BLACKBIRD PHOTOGRAPHY | DENIM ON 2 WHEELS

Good friend Scott Toepfer shot some amazing images for the TSY x PRPS x TRIUMPH Blackbird limited edition jean were all the buzz at the event held at Fast Ashley’s Studios in Brooklyn, NY. Those of you poor souls who were unable to attend deserve a gander too because they are that good. Looking forward to doing this again!

The Black Flag tribute on the helmet is simply strips of everyday black electrical tape. Brilliant. Blackbird event original image by © Scott Toepfer photography

TSY x PRPS x Triumph Motorcycles limited edition Blackbird 14 oz jean — Blackbird event original image by © Scott Toepfer photography

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“LIVING THE LIFE” | EPIC OLD SCHOOL BIKER POETRY BY SOREZ THE SCRIBE

“Ricky’s Beach”, circa 197? from “Living The Life” –Image by © Doug Barber

Having featured the photography of Doug Barber (AKA Q-Ball) in “Living The Life”, it’s now time to honor the epic biker poetry of Eddi Pliska (AKA Sorez the Scribe). Like I said, his scribes throttle, brake, and pull no punches and together with Doug they have created a 1%er’s masterpiece that is truly one of a kind. Sorez’s work has graced the pages of Outlaw Biker Magazine, Easyriders, and he’s a member of the Highway Poets Motor Cycle Club– “America’s Only Bike Club Of Published Journalists.” 

Sorez’s love of the biker lifestyle started at the tender age of ten yrs old when he picked up his first copy of Easyriders, and at thirteen he got his first bike– a Harley-Davidson 350cc Sprint that he walked ten miles to his home and repaired himself. Sorez never finished high school– instead learning life on the streets, and finding family and friends in the clubhouse– some still brothers some 30 years later. He’ll always remember on caring teacher telling him on his way out– “Don’t ever give up writing. One day your works shall be read.”

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“LIVING THE LIFE” | OLD SCHOOL 1970s BIKER PHOTOGRAPHY & POETRY BOOK

Photographer Doug Barber (AKA Q-Ball), and poet Sorez the Scribe’s “Living The Life” is an honest and straight-up look into the old school biker lifestyle (fetishized by many youngins today) that’s so achingly gritty and real– it has every newbie with a murdered-out custom and a half helmet tripping over each other trying to co-opt its badass-ery. Q-Ball’s images make you feel like a fly on the wall– knee deep in the mud, the blood, and the beer. And Sorez’s biker poetry throttles, brakes, and pulls no punches. Together they create a 1%er’s masterpiece that is truly one of a kind. I have a prized copy, and I can tell you that the pics and poetry are priceless if you dig this stuff.

Q-Ball himself was kind enough to hand-select several favorite images from the book, as well as share his colorful commentary and recollections behind each one, for us all here at TSY to enjoy.

From “Living the Life” foreward: “For years I have been encouraged to compile a book of these images. I hesitated pursuing a book because I did not want to explain, or analyze my photos. The thrust of this book is a collection of my biker photography accompanied by compatible Sorez’s biker poems. ‘Living the Life’ is a personal view of a biker’s existence. Allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions from the material presented. It is not my intention to stereotype the folks in my photographs. This is because all bikers are not alike, but share the same contempt for being categorized.”  –Doug Barber (AKA Q-Ball)

“Dirt That Moves MC”, circa 197? from “Living The Life” –Image by © Doug Barber. “The name of my old club “Dirt That Moves MC” was earned honestly by two of the founding members. After spending a month on the road with little more than the clothes on their back, and sleeping where ever they fell down, they pulled into a Harley-Davidson dealership. It was raining buckets and they were looking for some shelter and free hot coffee. As they walked across the showroom floor dripping puddles of muddy water, someone behind the counter said, “Well, here comes dirt that moves”. With that a club was born. We wore the name proudly, and fought to keep its honor. We were an unorganized band of tightly bonded brothers, and damn proud of it.”  –Doug Barber (AKA Q-Ball)

“Dirt Drags”, circa 197? from “Living The Life” –Image by © Doug Barber. “One of my crew’s favorite runs was the Dirt Drags. It was an all day adventure getting there, and a long time before we got home. While we were there we excelled at getting drunk, falling down and getting dirty after all we had a reputation to uphold. One of the events we won nearly every year was piling on a bike, and seeing how far you could ride before breaking bones. The reason we did so well? We practiced all year long at getting drunk and breaking bones.”  –Doug Barber (AKA Q-Ball)

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THE PHOTOGRAPHY OF BILL RAY, 1965 | HELLS ANGELS & HOT OLD LADIES ON ICE

As Irish Rich correctly said, “Bill Ray wasn’t the Lone Ranger…” meaning he wasn’t the only dude photographing the ’60s bikers/hippies/counterculture in a meaningful way – share the love. That being said, he did capture some really stunning images of the original Hells Angels of Berdoo and their striking “Old Ladies” for LIFE back in 1965. It is the Old Ladies (actually quite young), who in fact steal the show with their melancholy beauty and faraway stares. They hold me mesmerized as I search in vain for silent clues to who they were, where they came from, what brought them here. Truth is that their beauty is long gone by now, and they may have even left this world – yet somehow looking at these images they seem like ghostly beauties frozen forever in a place in my mind where time feels irrelevant. If I could only find a way back there. Truth is these Old Ladies are no longer available on the menu. Thank God (oh, and Bill Ray) for these images.

I love the personal commentary Ray shares regarding some of his favorite shots, and the behind-the-scenes escapades while out on assignment with writer Joe Bride covering the San Bernardino Hells Angels. The story for LIFE would never see print as it turns out, but the shots have become legendary despite that and are available in the book Hells Angels of San Berdoo ’65 | Inside the Mother Charter which is definitely worth a look. But don’t stare at the old ladies too long. They will lure you into the deep, dark waters and drown you.

Two of the women riding with the Hells Angels hang out at a bar. According to LIFE writer Joe Bride’s notes– “The girl kneeling by the jukebox is Ruthie and she’s the ‘Old Lady’ of Harvey, a Diablos member from San Bernardino. Harvey attends Angels’ meetings and rides with them but is not a member. It’s only two in the afternoon but Ruthie has already ‘crashed’ from beer and bennies [benzedrine].” Bill Ray has a real liking for this particular photograph. “This is one of my favorites from the whole shoot. There’s something kind of sad and at the same time defiant about the atmosphere. Ruthie is probably playing the same 45 over and over and over again. A real music lover.”  —photograph by Bill Ray © Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

“Outside the Blackboard in Bakersfield, Hells Angels, hangers-on, and their old ladies conduct a seminar in advanced loafing.” –photograph by Bill Ray © Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

“I remember seeing some of the women take a razor blade and trim their eyebrows, and a lot of them managed to achieve this very hard, distinctive look. It’s a look that’s difficult to recreate, I think, and one that, when you look at these pictures, is really of its time. This look says mid-1960s. That’s what I see here, without a doubt.” –photograph by Bill Ray © Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

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HARLEY-DAVIDSON | AMERICAN IRON, INGENUITY & PERSEVERANCE

The folks at Harley-Davidson were kind enough to invite me down to Milwaukee, WI for a tour of the museum, and their storied archives. This trip had deep, personal significance for me, as I grew up on the rumble and roar of Harley. There is no other sound or feel like it. It quickens the pulse, raises the hair on your arms, and brings a pie-eating grin to one’s face. The distinctive “potato-potato” idle of the v-twin is iconic to the brand, and resonates deeply within many loyal riders who have made their lives one with Harley-Davidson. It’s the personal stories of these cultural icons who forged their destiny with Harley-Davidson, evolving together through the decades, that I love– and that are a source of inspiration and pride to this day.

In my mind, there is no other brand that better epitomizes the American spirit of Independence, ingenuity, and perseverance than Harley-Davidson. Hands-down. The cultural impact they’ve had on America (and around the world) is undeniable and evident all around us. It didn’t start with Easy Rider either, it goes back much further in time.

My mind immediately races back to the early days and the numerous innovations H-D had on franchising and branding. The following success of their notorious and ballsy “Wrecking Crew” racing team (that risked life & limb for victory on hostile dirt tracks and battered, oil-soaked wooden board tracks with dubious, improvised safety gear) further cemented Harley as the one to follow. I think of the soldiers returning from WWI & WWII–  maybe they rode a motorcycle in wartime, or were pilots looking to replace the thrill of flying, and coming home they bought a Harley-Davidson because they yearned for an intense, physical experience of freedom and speed that only a Harley could give them. A lot of those same servicemen who fell between the cracks of what society or themselves deemed “normal” formed the first motorcycle clubs that would inspire Hollywood films, fashion, music, art and attitude to this day. And yes, 1969’s Easy Rider which became the iconic counter-culture biker film that drove the chopper / Harley customization craze for decades to come, and created a look and lifestyle that many would influence for generations to come. Hell, my stepdad was nicknamed “Hopper” after his character “Billy” in the film because of his dark looks, and that suede vest with fringe that would whip in the wind as he roared down the road on his ’79 Low Rider. Two things he impressed upon me– never ride a Sportster (chick bike), and never use your electric start (for pussies).

The point is, Harley-Davidson and those who ride them are a breed apart. There is a profound connection between man and machine that is beyond words. It’s more than a motorcycle— a Harley has a soul. A mighty soul born in a crude wooden shed over 100 years ago.

ca. 1903 —  William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson built their first motorcycles in this simple structure. Harley-Davidson’s very first “factory” (if you can call it that)– a wooden 10′ x 15′ shed that sat in the back yard of the Davidson family home. In 1907 Harley-Davidson was incorporated and the company was valued at $14,200. (Rewind– Harley-Davidson was started in a freaking 10′ x 15′ shed?! That’s the American “can-do” spirit in a nutshell, people. When I first heard that, I realized there are no excuses for anyone to not get out there and make it happen.) — Image by © Harley-Davidson Archives

1939 — The original shed was later transplanted to the new Juneau Avenue factory (built in 1906, and still the site of  Harley-Davidson’s corporate headquarters) as a symbolic reminder of the company’s humble beginnings. (The lesson– Never get so big that you don’t remember where you came from, folks. And never start acting like a big company– especially when you are one.) Tragically, the original shed was accidentally destroyed in the early ’70s by a careless crew doing clean-up at the H-D factory. — Image by © Harley-Davidson Archives

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A PRAYER FOR COOL | 1970’s INSPIRED BIKER FILM BY MARC BENCIVENGA

A Prayer For Cool is Marc Bencivenga’s first film, and a fine one at that.  Inspired by 1970’s outlaw biker lifestyle– it was shot solely and soulfully on a 50 year old super 8 camera.  Big congrats to Marc, who won “Best Narrative” at the Los Angeles Motorcycle Film Festival for this original & comedic biker flick. It gets a TSY thumbs up, enjoy!

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Flustered by the presence of super smooth biker “Smokey”, Foo Man Lou attempts to kick start his new chopper. Frustrated with Foo Man’s failed attempts and lack of finesse, Smokey has just about had it until a visit from the divine changes Foo Man Lou forever…

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TSY SATURDAY SLOPPY SECONDS | THE 1970’s BADASS BIKER ROUNDUP, PT. II

Just too much 1970s Biker badass goodness to not go sequel on y’all, and in full color no less, bros and bras.  Check the great ozone fade in a lot of these old pics that have been used and abused, and finally landing here for prosperity.  I’m honored to give them a home. While I’m at it–  also revisiting custom bike legend Jeff McCann.  His awesome archive of work has been lovingly featured on TSY before to mad fanfare, as it should.  Let’s get to it, shall we?

Love some old school 1970s Harley Digger action.

Roberta Pedon on a Panhead chopper. Not many are fit to print, I’m glad to have this lil’ gem.

“Run to the Redwoods”  Jeff McCann’s run featured in this 1974 Custom Chopper magazine. “While I claim no credit for the success of the “Redwood Run” in later years, I was the one who was it’s initiator. Bob Dron was at “The Run to the Redwoods” and is the guy parked by the side of the road watching the passing bikes in the first photo above the title. 4 years later he purchased the Oakland Harley-Davidson dealership from the surviving Self brother. At the Northern California Dealers meetings he began lobbying for a revival of the TTT event and suggested they follow the format I had established, ie. live band, food and drink provided and use the same (now improved) campsite. When it was finally approved sometime later he called and told me they had decided to call it the “Redwood Run”, a slight variation on the nameI used. The call was a courtesy to see if I objected and of course I did not.

I attended the first event and for many years afterward. As the run grew in popularity it became profitable to a small degree. The dealers had begun contracting with the local Kiwanis Club for all site services. The local sheriff announced the dealers where going to have to begin paying for his departments “overtime” costs incurred by policing the event, to the tune of $40,000, the dealers canceled the event. The very next year the Kiwanis took out ads in several newspapers and motorcycle magazines and announced the continuation of the “Redwood Run” just as everyone had known it before.”.  Jeff McCann

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TSY FRIDAY FADE | THE LATE NIGHT 1970’s BADASS BIKER ROUNDUP

It’s Friday, folks.  No heavy lifting.  Sit back while TSY rolls-out The Best of 1970’s Biker Roundup. Badass bikes built by real bros.  Slamming Bud in tin cans.  Braided ol’ ladies with an aversion to bras, bouncin’ on back, bracin’ the sissy bar.  Sucking SoCo from a skin.  Passing out shirtless in the tall grass as the bonfire fades into dawn.   Why, oh why did it have to end?  Because it was too rad to last…

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Because he can.  And back then it might get ya’ a boob flash. In a Herculean effort to prove the 45 Magnum is a lightweight, Randy Smith hoists 203 pounds of machine off the ground, solo. The whole 45 magnum weighs only slightly more than a unit Sportster engine. 


The bodacious Roberta Pedon straddling a Harley Panhead chopper.  Think she knows how to ride?

Proudly have pics like this in the ol’ family album?  We may be kin.  via

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EPIC BIKER ART LEGEND | LONG LIVE EASYRIDERS’ HAROLD R. ROBINSON, JR.

Easyriders was a great biker mag– back in the day. In fact, it was the official reading resource of our household growing up.  Yeah, I read the articles, snuck peeks at pics of ol’ ladies (pre-silicone days, and looking like their upper half had been subjected to major G4-force wind, if you catch my drift…), but mostly I drooled over the mesmerizing artwork of legendary illustrators Dave Mann and Hal Robinson. Hal will always be remembered  for his “Red Rider” and the epic “Miraculous Mutha” cartoons.  What an amazing artist who influenced a generation of illustrators that followed.  Sadly he passed on to the other side back in ’84, but his art will live forever.

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