Sunday, November 5, 2017

Interview With A Biker - Bobby The Biker By Yann Leblanc

Bobby and a motorcycle he sold to the humorist Michel Barrette
Pic © Bobby The Biker
The interview was actually about my grandma’s neighbor and his point of view towards motorcycle. Bobby is now at the age of 66 years old and he had a lot to say about his motorcycle or motorcycles in general. It’s been approximately 3 years that Bobby stopped working. The last 20 years before his retirement, this motorcycle lover was working for Mortel, where he made industrial electric vehicles that are only used in industries and never on roads. He also was a welder for many years before working for Mortel. Since a young age, Bobby has always been fascinated into modifications of antique motorcycles. Every time he saw the evolution of his motorcycle, he had the feeling of bringing it back to life. The goal of this interview with Bobby was to learn about his feelings towards motorcycles throughout his life.


Bobby’s Honda Valkyrie before making it a bobber
Pic © Bobby The Biker
I started by asking him his true opinion about motorcycles at first, and when exactly he started riding one. He answered that even as a kid, he had this feeling of admiration while looking at one. Around the age of 15 years old he started working to win a small amount of money. One day after work, one of is co-worker asked him if he wanted a ride on his scooter. Once he arrived home, this was like a revelation. It’s at this moment that he knew he wanted one absolutely. All the money he received from his work, he invested it for his future scooter. The first one he bought wasn’t even working (this is probably why he bought it at a very cheap price). At this moment, he started working and doing some modifications to his own things. Once he got his scooter to work, he had this feeling of maturity while riding and sense of pride when people said they were jealous. Bobby stated: “When I first got the scooter and started riding, I felt free. I also had this feeling that people thought I was cool and just like a model”. Not long after this, he had bought his first car. This brought me to ask him how it felt. His answer was typical to a person who is just in love with motorcycles, he said: “Although it brought this sense of freedom, it wasn’t comparable to the feeling of riding".

Bobby's Bike Today!
Pic © Bobby The Biker
When asked when he had made the transition from scooters to motorcycles he responded that everything started with the movie Wild Angels, which is based on a motorcycle gang. It’s at this time in his life that he started having some preferences in motorcycles and knowing more and more about them. When he began riding his own, it was all about gang and friendship. Just like Bobby stated: “it was all about doing what you like and being with friends, it was just amazing”. Modifications to motorcycles between friends became a passion, creating some bobber motorcycles. A bobber is a personalized motorcycle whose parts, except for parts that contribute to speed and performance, have been removed or shortened. Around the age of 18 years old, Bobby joined in a motorcycle gang known as the Hell’s saint. Their meetings took part in his basement. There were approximately 10-12 bikers in front of his house every night and the gang grew up to 22 members.

This brought me to ask him, “Do you still have the same perception of motorcycle today or your point of view changed through years?” He started by explaining that at a point in his life he began loving other types of bikes like touring motorcycles. He also said: “It was mostly because of the time where I left my motorcycle gang.” He said that before the end of the gang, things started to be more complicated. In other words, some members of the gang where friends with people who were part of 2 other gangs (Atom and Gitan). These 2 gangs where in a conflict and people started to fight, it also aggravated up to some killings. Also, some members of the group started to be more mature and wanted to form a family. These reasons were mostly the cause for his motorcycle gang to bury their colours. At this moment, Bobby started to ride more for pleasure and more for the comfort of motorcycles. He did twice the tour around Florida and twice around Colorado. During this period, he was working for ABB and had right for a fireman formation. He then decided to join a motorcycle club called the Red Knights, which the members were only firefighters. He really loved the feeling of doing motorcycle trips as a group, the conversations were really interesting and it created some new friendships.

Pic © Bobby The Biker
I then asked him, “What about today? How are you still connected to the world of motorcycle?” He answered that his passion to touring motorcycle is over and he is more into bobber motorcycles. He answered that with age, he still has the same sensation of freedom. The thing is, he lost the passion of riding but still admires motorcycles in general. Bobby said: “I pass more time working on modifying my bike then riding.” He now has a Honda Valkyrie, and made a bobber out of it. It is a 1500cc, has 6 cylinder with 110 Hp. What he loves about modifying his own motorcycle, is the fact that he creates something brand new with his imagination, something that no one else has and that is unique to him. It gives him a sense of admiration, pride and happiness. This experience made me see another side of the motorcycle community. I really had the feeling that I was interviewing a big fan of bikes. It was interesting to see how motorcycle can be present and as important in someone’s life. I learned that Bobby could spend hours and hours in his garage working and trying to fix things, to add humour to the interview, he even stated: “this is probably why I am not married”.  He strongly thought that you never should count time while doing a passion you really like. 

Acknowledgements


I would like to thank Bobby The Biker for taking the time to be interviewed and for letting me have the honour of sharing his story.

About Yann Leblanc


Yann Leblanc studied at Champlain College Lennoxville located in Quebec, Canada. Interview With A Biker - Bobby The Biker was written as part of a class project for a course titled Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Studies in the Department of Humanities.

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