Hell’s Angels and Harley-Davidson go together like no other combination. That’s not to say or imply that only Hell’s Angels ride Harleys. But is it the bike of choice of the Angels?
For a fascinating insight, Sonny Barger, former president of the Oakland Hell’s Angel chapter and easily the best known of all Angels, reveals how the Angels decided on Harley for their machines.
“.Unlike today, they didn’t have much choice. In 1975 it was either ride a Harley or settle for a Triumph or BSA. They’d already stopped building Indians. It’s always been important for Hell’s Angels to ride American-made machines.
“In terms of pure workmanship, personally I don’t like Harleys. I ride them because I’m in the club and that’s the image but if I could I would seriously consider riding a Honda ST1100 or BMW.
“We all missed the boat not switching over to the Japanese models when they began building bigger bikes. I’ll usually say, ‘f Harley-Davidson. You can buy an ST1100 and the motherf..... will do 110 miles per hour right from the factory all day long.’”
Sonny goes on to add a qualification. “However, Japanese motorcycles don’t have as much personality.” Many would argue that’s still true today while Japanese owners would argue that their machines have the reliability factor.
His view is expressed is in his autobiography, Hell’s Angel: the Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club. A section of the book is included in a new book, The Harley-Davidson Reader, Motorbooks, £12.99.
The book, which has extracts of articles and books from writers including Hunter S. Thompson, will appeal not only to enthusiasts of the marque but to riders generally, be they Harley fans or not; it’s a bikers’ book.