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“Random Thoughts Throughout the Years”

By Bob T. with photos from the exclusive Bob T. Collection

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One thing I remember the most is we “rode” our bikes not ride them. We lived the life. Rode hard and fast and built our own bikes to be different.

In front of Bandit's Long Beach pad, early '70s.
In front of Bandit's Long Beach pad, early '70s.

Bob T. lost again.
Bob T. lost again.

There were no 60-Grand off-the-shelf bikes. It was the commonality of brothers, and trust was earned. Help was there when needed. If you needed a part, it was a given, but you better use or return it for someone else.

When in the fast lane we owned it, it was our style. Looked out for each other, you always knew there was backup between each other.

Riding was for the miles, the more miles we rode the better. Be it a short putt during the week or that weekend ride to nowhere. Pulling in to a local bar we always took it over the beer and woman, bartenders knew if there was to be no trouble beer was the answer.

Bob T. still lost.
Bob T. still lost.

We had nicknames like, Attitude Fred, Dirty Rich, Racist Roger, Monk, Percy the Professor, Big John, Uncle Dave, Jungle Head, Gentlemen Jim, Hippy John, Mute Ron, Mexican Mike, Pig Pen, Jaws, Bandit, Dago Mike, Tiny, Danny M, Cowboy, Preacher, Angle Mark, Pop, Tonto, Airhead, Wing Nut Frank, Hangmen Mark (RIP), Little Mike, Big Steve, Sportster Danny, Knucklehead Red, China Don, Lug Nut Louie, White Truck, and so many more, I can’t remember.

For years, I did not even know their real names-- that didn’t matter. We had something in common, our bikes and riding.

We had no cares but the next ride to nowhere just the ride. Out running the cops was no big deal, some got caught, some got away, but we all lived to tell about it.

Packing a chick was always a pain, got to the point we didn’t need to pack, with all the women out there, there was no AIDS or all these weird diseases out there now. We didn’t care, pussy was pussy, and it was out there. I can even remember coming back from a run late on a Sunday, Two of us. We picked up two babes on the Freeway.

Haulin’ Ass Home that’s a story in itself.

Smiling Bob George on old friend Dennis Weitzel's Chopper (RIP), at Bonneville.
Smiling Bob George on old friend Dennis Weitzel's Chopper (RIP), at Bonneville.


Bikes were short and low, Ape Hangers, Drag Bars, Broomstick, Z-Bars and Flanders Risers. Had to have a Jockey shift or you were a pussy as some would say.

Each bike had its owner’s personality. We didn’t have to look at magazines or internet to get ideas. Stock front ends, VL Front end, or a stock H-D Springer were the best at the time. For us a long front end with pullback handlebars was a joke. They had no control in the traffic. Had to be functional.

Bandit, riding to the Terminal Island Prison Run.
Bandit, riding to the Terminal Island Prison Run.

Chrome! Who cares just more to clean, took away from the ride. A can of 49-cent flat black was the answer. You needed to kickstart your bike in the first or second kick or you were left holding the bag.

Yes, we kickstarted our bike’s. When the sound of an Electric start bike was in the air, it meant parts. Back then it was survival, parts were parts, but bad Karma always came with it, so that stopped. Making your own part for your bike was part of the personality you put into the machine.

Cool was taking parts from the ‘30s, ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s and making them work on your bike. Having all glass lenses, not plastic was cool. Everything was American made no foreign crap. Flatheads, Knuckleheads, Panheads and Shovelheads. God and Harley-Davidson said no to clones.

Another 100 years Harley will still be here. Going to Sturgis once a year behind a Motorhome does not mean you lived the life. No need to go to the local H-D dealer to change our oil. Up sweep pipes, Shotguns, Drag pipes or a Dick Allan 2 in-to-one collector. Ape Hangers over your head, drag racing with a Jockey Shift, one pair of Levies (which we called originals) we wore for years, when they were falling apart, we found a Hippy chick to stitch them back together.

Jesse, George Christie, Bandit and...
Jesse, George Christie, Bandit and...

Horseshoe taps on our engineer boots was not for the noise but to keep vehicles off our ass, put your boot on the pavement and throw a fury of sparks in the air like a Big Rig just exploded or throw a ball bearing in the air and it would hit the windshield like a 357 magnum.

Not to take 3 days to clean your bike for a Run but to make sure everything was tight, tuned and had fresh oil. If she leaked some oil you didn’t run to the H-D dealer, just meant she was alive. The bitch just left her mark on the pavement showing she was there.

Bob T. lost again.
Bob T. lost again.

Didn’t like to be told what to do, had enough of that in the military, most of us were Vietnam Era Vets and still had partners dying in Vietnam. The open road was our home, our life. Live the Life and We be Cool… That’s my opinion. Opinions are like assholes, and everyone has one. And that’s that, and I hope you don’t like it…

No Breakdowns, always made sure everything was good to go; you didn’t want to come home in a truck, because the harassment was crazy, always left ready for anything.

The ride lasted for years; it was the life we had.
Things sure have changed; the technology today in the bike industry is amazing, but what else? Hang on.

I knew some guys back then who were ahead of the times like Dick Allan (RIP) and Bob George (RIP). They did things that changed a lot for the industry.
What gets me is reading some of the Bike Mags. You see some bikes that took years to build. Years can’t image that, look at time you lost riding. Oh well, to each his own.

That's Bob George, the master behind the Easyriders Streamliner, on the left. Taught Bandit how to rebuild Panhead engines. Got Andy Hansen going with H.E.S.
That's Bob George, the master behind the Easyriders Streamliner, on the left. Taught Bandit how to rebuild Panhead engines. Got Andy Hansen going with H.E.S.

Well, I could go on for a few more days. Didn’t want to bore you with the good old days.
Everyone says their generation was great, but ours was the Best, The Bikes, The Road, The Women and Most of all The Freedom…Enough Said……………

--Bob T.
Bob T. trying to find his way home.
Bob T. trying to find his way home.

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Reader Comments

Try to continue to travel the roads that have been paved by our fore fathers. I have traveled many many miles across the 7 western states alone and with Brothers. This piece of American history your speaking of rears its head once in a blue moon, although more-so when traveling alone or it may just be the side effects of the peyote.

Needless to say losing oneself on the road is where you find oneself. Reminder, you're Never really lost. Ya just haven't been there before.

Larry D Petrie
The Zoo, CA
Friday, October 22, 2021
Editor Response Good to have you back Larry.
DAMN! 71 years old. Seen it felt it got the scars, still up and riding. Thanks for a great article. Brought back a lot of good memories of good times and good friends

Chuck Todd
Seguin, TEXAS
Tuesday, October 19, 2021
Hey Bandit, you hit the old nail right on the head with this article. Things sure have changed!!

Tom Rodan
Tujunga, ca
Tuesday, October 19, 2021
Editor Response Bob T. handled that piece and supplied the photos from when we rode together.
Great look back in time to the peak of the west coast chopper scene. But now I feel like I was ten years too late to the party with photos and accounts like this article the only way I can ever contact the genuine bikes, bikers and life of those days now that the guys I knew who were there are no longer around to pass on those stories and lessons on.

Vern Moore
Kingsley, PA
Friday, October 15, 2021
Editor Response We will try to keep up with the stories from the old guys.
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