Bikernet Blog Search Bikernet
Ride Forever -
Saturday Edition

Review: Chopper Hobo by Shovelhead Dave

A Book Review that kicks some sense & hits you with wit & wisdom

by J J Solari

Share this story:

This book is gettin’ a lotta flack from people with no discernment complaining that it’s not Hunter S. Thompson or Jack Kerouak. The bwa ha ha’s and the ha ha ha’s seem to annoy them.

The book doesn’t have long paean - look it up - to the nobleness of destitution, suffering or sadness…... nor long tirades against the relentless oppression of the government and “the greedy corporations” and Man’s inhumanity to trees or anything else remotely whiney. This utter lack of depressing content and mega overdoses of relentless can-do-ness CAN be upsetting to some readers who demand to be driven to despair via their reading material.

And you are not going to get that kind of a book from someone who, from what I have read so far, is the human version of a river otter.

The target audience for this book is other chopper hobos or at least other chopper lunatics. I don’t mean chopper criminals, I mean chopper lunatics. The joy of captaining a Harley that has been transformed into looking more like an eel than a capybara is not for everyone, certainly not sane people, because motorcycles are inherently dangerous enough and this would be the case even in a world without automobiles - all the drivers of which consider an accident with a motorcyclist to be, if anything, a piece of good fortune. Because, let’s face it, they could have hit another car or even a truck. Hitting a motorcyclist?…….why have empathy for someone who is traffic-tie-up-proof and is going to get where he’s going before you do? This is how drivers think. Despite all the efforts of “biker awareness” lardheads who think slogans and activism is going to change all this. Auto drivers not only resent motorcyclists they don’t actually CARE if they hit them: THEY won’t be hurt. They’ll be like Superman accidentally flying into a goose. Except in Superman’s case it actually would be accidental.

Getting back to choppers: chopper fanatics turn an already really bad idea - the large-engine motorcycle - into a really enjoyable experience. But they also turn it into an even worse idea than it was to begin with! It is only lunatics who have this particular circuitry that translates turning an already savagery-filled machine into one that is even more-unwisely configured for safety but also a lot more relaxing and fun and still goes like hell. You cannot really LIKE chopper-riding…..and be normal. So they’re NOT for everyone. They’re for lunatics.

So the target audience for Chopper Hobo……is other lunatics. Lunatics don’t care if you say bwa ha ha a lot. Plus, he only says it when he has sublimely overcome what to anyone else would be a deal-breaking misfortune or piece of stupidly bad luck, or when he squeaks by via impromptu cleverness what could have been a real problem, either from an inanimate object or another human.

A “chopper hobo” should not be confused with the one category of “chopper addict” that existed in the “Chopper Hobo” days that was leagues-ahead in lack of “upper crust affiliation” and lack of personal couture than a chopper hobo, and that would be the “one-percenter” category. The chopper hobo of the Chopper Hobo book is as different from the one-percenters of the '50s, '60s, '70s and '80s as, well, a river otter is different from a Nile crocodile.

Getting back to Chopper Hobo, not only was Shovelhead Dave pioneering the exploring of the Great American Western Road System on a chopper, the chopper was laden down with camping and travel supplies. They ain’t designed for that. They ain’t designed for anything, actually, other than looking cool and killing you. Every day had so many separate either rewards or calamities that there is a reason they are recorded inside his head with relentless and accurate detail. Keep in mind this began in 1979: when anyone who did this sort of thing at that time was considered a demonic stooge acting under orders from Satan. Actually, as you continue along on this travel and adventure-log of exploration of “life as an individual” - you realize that this “hobo” is actually a mechanical technician, a woodworking expert, and a pool champion, and you don’t learn this LAST item except as a brief explanation almost at the end of the book of how he got even with a pest in a pool hall.

Can we talk about the woodworking?

Enclosed is a picture of the Neiman Marcus Rotunda in San Francisco. There is a lot of woodwork visible. A lot not visible. The guy that spends most of this book sleeping in the dirt, who would today be called “homeless” …. though that would have been news to HIM, and who very often for the years spanned in this book didn’t know where his next meal was exactly coming from….was part of the woodworking crew of artisans who did all the shit you’re looking at. If he wants to say bwa ha ha or anything else in his own book, I’m gonna take my hat off no matter WHAT the fuck he says or how many times he says it. To review?….the Harley bum who wrote this book helped create the interior you see in the photo. Of, no, not a Walmart: a Neiman-Marcus. They oughta hang a fucking sign from the imported-from-France ceiling that says “CHOPPER HOBO WAS HERE.”

Dealing with how you make each new day not only survivable but also enjoyable - even though nothing that has happened so far is going to resemble in any way what’s going to happen five minutes from now….and finding it all interesting and mostly cool as hell… what this book is all about. It’s not a book for the self-pitying. It’s a book for the enthusiastic. And if you don’t know what enthusiasm is….Chopper Hobo will walk you through it. Ok, ok, pack you down with bunji straps through it. Whatever. Jesus. Critics everywhere. BWA ha ha.

On Amazon at:

Click for action
Click for action

Share this story:

Back to Books, Movies & Music Reviews

Reader Comments

Another article from J.J. Solari almost had me "paean" (look up the pronunciation) in my pants. The guys a national treasure.

Sunday, August 6, 2023
Editor Response Hang on!
This is just a really fun read. Having lived in Alaska, Oregon, and now Washington, I can relate to the roads this man has traveled. His writing and stories are entertaining and brings this old man (I'm 67) great recollections of traveling these areas on my shovels "back in the day" before the bikes started to become obese, overpriced and underpowered. Brought back a lot of great memories! (I like the BWA_HA_HA'S. Guess you had to be there...)

Olympia, WA
Wednesday, July 26, 2023
Editor Response You just made his day.

Your thoughts on this article

Your Name
Anti-Spam Question:
Please enter the words you see in the box, in order and separated by a space. Doing so helps prevent automated programs from abusing this service.