Notes: Bikers in Hong Kong (Pt 4/finale)

Tuesday 7 February 2012, 9.00pm HKT


From Part 3

7. We have our own fair share of jaw-dropping biker douchebaggery (a.k.a. guidoism, fratboyeurism).

  • On a lean, mean and preened muscle chopper, you wear a hiking anorak, hip-hop hoodie and Reeboks
  • Full Grand Prix racing gear on a scooter
  • Gay-bondage leatherwear on a BMW (well, not too mismatched, if you ask me)
  • High-wing bars and a pinstriped shirt and tweed jacket
  • Instead of saddlebags on a chopper, plastic tailbox (the kind used by deliverymen)
  • On deathrider choppers, Quadrophenia-style scooter helmets
  • On Vespas done up Quadrophenia style, deathrider leather gear

Please, I don’t want to go on, I beg of you.

Please look the effing part, mate!
Mods in 1960s and 70s UK

*

8. Be seen (and heard) to own an expensive bike is paramount.

Here in Hong Kong, owing an expensive vehicle makes it almost obligatory to instigate some kind of shameless maximum ‘exposure’ — and that takes first place over any need to cultivate the right looks.

Which amply explains our biking and automobile douchebaggery.

Like no other place in the world, our ‘bikers’ wouldn’t bat an eyelid and be seen wearing ‘chav’ or fratboy’y gear like a Burberry scarf or a Dunhill leather jacket or a Hilfiger something whilst riding a Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic* with air-cooled twin-cam 103B engine and six-speed cruise drive.

* Basic, no-frills price HK$247,000 (roughly US$32,000 or £20,000).

There’s just no accounting for taste over here.

*

9. Our bikers customise their machines to death to make it look just like one thing.

As a rule, bikers are customisation freaks. Theirs is a yen to make their beloved machine special, unique, different, kewl, evil — the ‘wow’ factor is big with them.

But here, our bikers customise their machines to resemble a Harley and nothing else.

Anyone with any money left after the mortgage payments, rent, card bills, gambling debts, etc will do their hardest and bestest to transmogrify their Yamaha, Honda, Kawasaki, etc into their favourite model of Harley.

And another thing: when Hong Kong bikers customise, they customise for ‘camp’ (hence the psedo-death-metal-goth look) rather than ‘normal.’ That’s because the stuff they read in Japanese biking magazines (their main source of information) is mostly OTT (over the top).

Originality, as you’ve gathered by now, is not our forté even when it comes to copycatting.

The most expensive bike ever made,
at the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum in South Dakota, USA

*

10. Hong Kong has no real biker gangs. We have something deadlier.

No biker gangs the likes of which we see in America, Britain or Australia, criminal or otherwise.

Our ‘biker gangs,’ so to speak, are corporate financial suits and other playboy types with impatient personalities and insolent attitudes who additionally own luxury sportscars like Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Alfa Romeos, etc.

In our raw capitalist city where living space is microscopic and cost of living is astronomical, choppers are mostly the preserve of playboys and corporates. The hoi-polloi make do with scooters (whose prices, incidentally, are just as expensive as choppers), or public transport.

These fratboys with bikes and shites frequently have it out in the wee hours of the night in illicit auto races that unnervingly mirror the high-speed car chases in ‘The Fast and The Furious.’

Their favourite ‘racetrack’ so to speak is a long, straight stretch of creepy-feeling highway called Tuen Mun Road (屯門公路) in the northwest corner of Hong Kong.

The only biker gang type we have

There’s bloody big money involved when off-duty policemen and on-duty mobsters join in the races as suitors or tributes.

Everybody here knows that cops and robbers face off b(w)ankers and playboys in illicit races — it’s an open secret even among non-drivers.

The best part of these internecine races is the obligatory life-ending crashes and their participants’ highly mutilated body parts strewn over a wide area usually by 5am when road surface conditions become shitty because of morning air damp over that highway — just in time for the highly educational 7am bus rides of the schoolchildren.

Yup, I lurve the smell of petrol and burnt flesh in the morning.

The ‘winner,’ so to speak, is the one who survives long enough to be ferried to the local favourite ICU and dies a horrible death fully two weeks later.

The whole thing clearly is evolutionary natural selection in action.

The most recent racing crash was around middle of last year, when some dude died practically bodyless after ramming his black Ferrari costing a cool HK$4 million (US$516,000) into a tree or something with the force of a thousand suns. I think the fire brigade recovered a kneecap and a few bits of bone, but otherwise nothing else.

I honestly hope the insurance company is okay with a bodyless traffic fatality, otherwise the insurance agent-person might lose his job handling that account, and it ain’t nice to be an innocent victim.

It’s very easy even for an outsider to know what’s going on. When there’s a news report of a racing fatality, if the authorities get cagey about the victim’s details other than that standard-issue phrase “still under investigation” — it’s a cop.

They know, I know, and so does everybody else. Just who are we kidding here?

FYI, I have never ‘raced’ (except in a courtroom), mainly because I don’t want to be part of any dead-end evolutionary natural selection process like that, thank you very much.

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012.

Images: Mods in 1960s UK via DS141 ♦ Chav gear via Chimpout ♦ Most expensive motorbike via Notes From the Cookie Jar ♦ Police motorcyclist via Motofoto.

Notes: Bikers in Hong Kong (Pt 3)

Tuesday 7 February 2012, 3.00pm HKT


From Part 2

4. Hong Kong bikers come in two (and only two) flavours:

  • those who ride as working transport (deliverymen, couriers, repairmen, etc)
  • those who ride for ‘image’

Let’s skip the working-transport bikers. There’s nothing interesting to write about them, other than that they’re the best drivers on the road.

If you’re a ‘one percenter’ (i.e. outlaw biker), I highly recommend you give these hardworking folks a wide berth. Obstruct their livelihood and you’ll receive a manually applied ‘facial UNrecognition software installation,’ namsayin’?

Only the ignorant, the socially isolated, the intellectually geared, and the media-driven fool with too much time on their respective hands imagine there is biker gang stereotype applicable to Hong Kong.

There is NO biker gang ‘thing’ in Hong Kong — read on to find out why. Stop being such a pretentious ignoramus noob.

Believe it or not, there are lots of people here who don’t know what a Ferrari is, much less what the hell a biker is — let alone what a biker gang is. Råtta encountered just such a Ferrari-challenged person in a job interview yesterday.

(I find people who tend to use the word ‘sustainable’ rather frequently tend to think there is a biker gang ‘thing’ in Hong Kong. Just something I noticed, and I’m not particularly arsed to find out why.)

Here’s a short story on MSNBC about Hong Kong bikers that should show you why we have no biker gangs, thank you very much. And another short story by one local university on the makeup of our homegrown biker gangs, if you can call them that. Both make for embarrassing reading.

Our kind of ‘biker gang’

*

5. Our bikers know but don’t ‘get it’ about the biker image. Not really.

Our ‘image’ bikers try very hard to emulate that ‘easy rider’ look or counterculture feel so famously portrayed in the 1969 movie “Easy Rider.”

And they get it mostly wrong.

It's Car City here - even with a 120% tax rate

Which means these people aren’t very observant or know how to watch a movie properly. (Now you know why 80% of any Chinese person you meet wear spectacles.)

They know what and where to get customisation parts for their machines — usually for four times the original American or British price.

They know what gear to wear — again, mostly from Tokyo for seven times the original American or British price.

But, again, there’s always something not quite right about their parts and wearables — something’s always a bit off.

That’s because Hong Kong is a ‘car’ city. We’ve never really had ‘real’ bikers to begin with because officialdom long prevented the popularity of motorbikes in favour of the higher tax revenue obtainable from cars.

Which leads to hearing this kind of conversation taking place:

Him: Darling, be my girlfriend. I will buy you a nice car, so you have something better and not have to drive that motorcycle and eat dust.

Her: So, a car is bigger, so it must be better than a bike, right?

Him: Bigger has to be better, of course!

Her: Then why don’t you buy me a bus?! Bigger is better, right?

(An actual convo. I just LOL’d in front of them just to rub it for the guy’s embarrassment. Muahahahaha!!!)

He ain’t an ‘easy rider,’ I’m telling you, man

*

6. That’s a Death Metal Goth look you’ve got there, dimwit.

We actually believe The Right Look is that of Alice Cooper having gotten a Bangkok-style sex change at a 7-Eleven run by AC/DC on barbituates covering Michael Jackson on speed. Srsly.

Telltale signs:

  • Black T-shirt with goth or death-metal insignias
  • Punk zip-up boots with 2-inch platform soles
  • Black ‘drainpipe’ cargo pants with red tartan embellishments
  • Chrome wallet chains and safety pins.
  • Mod-style leather jackets with knitted cuffs and bottoms (huh?!)
  • Prada and Louis Vuitton bags (what the—?!)

About the only thing Hong Kong bikers sort of get it right are the Ray-Ban shades. But, again, you’ll see people barely out of their 20s wearing them, when everybody knows Ray-Bans are for dudes and dudesses over 40, preferably 50.

Why? (You have to ask why?!?) Because our received biking wisdom chiefly comes from Japan, a.k.a. The Land That Gave Us ‘Weird’ Since 1957.

That should tell you everything you need to know about our Hong Kong biker culture. The real biker stuff from America, Britain, Australia or wherever just go right over our heads, to be perfectly honest.

Personally, I wear two types of biker shades. For fun, it’s the Janis Joplin-style cryospheres from the Sixties. For cool, it’s the smaller, fully circular Dickensian types from the Seventies — like the ones worn by John Lennon. Both are the Real McCoy flavours for non-gang chopper riders who are skinny and scrawny (me!) or big-sized. Don’t wear them if you’re fat (and fat means fat in my book.)

Be nice, be right — she’s a bike babe, not a race queen

*

Carry on to Part 4

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012.

Images: Biker gang via Greenpeace ♦ Luxury cards via EwhoKnow ♦ Gang biker via Hair in the Wind ♦ Bike babe via Phuket-info.

Notes: Bikers in Hong Kong (Pt 2)

Tuesday 7 February 2012, 9.00am HKT


From Part 1

3. Bikers the world over are better drivers than the rest. The other road users are shite, dangerous and psychopathic, and the government is part of the problem.

But just like everyplace else, all the other road abusers users denigrate bikers as ‘a dangerous obstruction’ — when in fact everybody else on four or more wheels are even more dangerous in their driving abilities.

The government adds to the problem by laying on stringent driving standards on motorcyclists — pointless, because motorcyclists have even higher standards for themselves since they are the ones who sit outside of metal rather than the other way round.

It has never occurred to any government, ever, to increase driving standards on the other drivers in order to make roads safer for everybody else.

*

A GRUESOME ASIDE

Is motorcycling dangerous?

Answer:
Only if the government decides road safety is a priority.

First, a grim warning to the rest of us that ‘motorcycle safety’ is an illusory term.

In a motorcycle accident, the victim often loses shoes and trousers. Even slow-speed incidents at 30 mph (48 kmph) involve remarkable damage to the body — the rider gets torn into two right at the weakest point at the abdomen, around the waistline. Physics is cruel to the body.

Photos of real traffic accidents often appear surreal or unreal because very often there is little or no blood left at the scene and the bodies are cut so cleanly that they look like staged effects.

The biggest volume of blood at any one time is present in the aorta and vena cava inside the chest area. When the body hits the ground or a pole at only 30 mph, the blood pressure inside the aorta and vena cava becomes enormous and explodes, vaporising most of the blood in a big red cloud, and contributing to splitting the body into two.

Gruesome enough for you? Now you know why bikers are ‘next-level kind of people.’

Second, a grim warning to the rest of us that ‘road safety’ depends on which side of the fence you’re on.

In the name of road safety, governments worldwide put up lots of UNBELIEVABLY DANGEROUS things that kill or maim car drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians at the lowest-possible cost.

One of the most dangerous road-safety measure is dubbed The Human-Sized Cheese-Cutter.

This is a wire-rope safety fence designed to cut down on head-on collisions on divided highways and roads. Lately they have started to pop up worldwide along the edges of roads because they present a lower-cost alternative to all-metal crash barriers. They are a real worry for bikers and pedestrians alike.

Pedestrians should worry: The wire has serrated edges (left photo) designed to lock in a colliding vehicle in place. It’s also designed to snap free and flail all over the place so as to dampen the velocity of the vehicle. In effect, a collision turns it into clusters of little flying chainsaws that mow down anything and everything in their flight paths. It’s a great idea as an anti-personnel weapon for wartime, but I don’t think it’s quite what we need in a civilian traffic situation in peacetime.

Motorcyclists should worry: The serrated wire is plain bloody dangerous by any stretch of the imagination. When a motorcyclist comes into even minor, glancing contact with it, it will instantly slice you in half so fast that you won’t even have time to say, “Hey, that’s my liver!”

The cable system is another highly dangerous contraption being introduced in Australia. It uses cables of piano-wire thickness and is installed beside or between highways. The British invented this contraption in the 1950s and gave it up almost immediately after pilot trials showed it’s even more dangerous than just callously letting the vehicle hit a few pedestrians. The wires don’t snap and they actually bounce the vehicle in the opposite direction. The same wires on the other side of the road do the same, so the vehicle end up being pinballed all over the place. It’s the video game Pong but with a lawn mower for the blip.

The first time I saw the cable system in action was on British TV around 1976 or thereabouts, and it was bloody dangerous to watch. Cars literally and effortlessly sliced in half by the cables, and that was everything I needed to know about that system, thank you very much.

Then there’s the old standby of steel fences — like pool fences — for the middle of roads to make pedestrian crossings (where pedestrians are regularly hit by cars). For one thing, the steel fences obstruct the view of the pedestrians for the driver. For another, the steel plates after being hit flies off like Captain America’s shield and decapitate everyone at high speed within a 50-feet radius.

These ‘great ideas’ are starting to pop up worldwide and are lauded by many automotive-safety organisations as the best thing since sliced bread.

Just who the goddamned hell came up with those ideas? And how much did they bilk bill the government for?

*

If you’re still up to it, we’ll go on back to Hong Kong bikers in Part 3

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012.

Images: Motorcycle plates via Drew Steitz ♦ Human-Sized Cheese-Cutter via ssqq.

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