Having just arrived back from the 2016 Northampton Biker Jam, I’ve had loads of time to ride and have a think about biker fashion and its relationship with the colour black. At Northampton, surrounded by hundreds of gleaming veh
icles of all shapes and sizes, I was struck by the wide spread lack colour throughout our community. The intimidation factor of biker culture is something we’ve discussed before (see: Bobble Hats & Fur Gillets) but the fascination with the colour black can be considered as something separate.
Think of your classic British biker, and you will no doubt imagine him in black leathers. These are a staple of our culture, but why? Thought about logically, in order to avoid accidents it would be wise to wear brighter colours, all the better to be seen. Why blend in with the road at night, when you could be boldly standing out, announcing your presence to the rest of the road users? The answer is simple, and the causality stems from the very reason many of us became bikers in the first place: to be cool.
Black is, and always will be, cool. In a toss up between a jet black Armani suit and a bright red one, the choice is obvious. Step away from motorbikes and tread into the world of sports cars. Take a look at these ridiculously sweet Tech-9 Porsche parts and you’ll be faced with a similar crisis. Your 911 Carrera needs a new interior: cream leather or black? You know what will feel cooler, but what will look cooler? The purchasing decisions of a biker are constantly fraught with these questions of aesthetics, much more so than any other sub-culture. But if the motorbike is already imbuing us with a high base level of cool (much higher than, say, a remote controlled car enthusiast) then we should take more risks when it comes to our choice of colours.
If we approach this from a pop culture angle, and look at some of the most iconic biker looks over the years, not all of the most famous bikers have been wearing black. Take Uma Thurman’s Bride in Kill Bill Vol 1. Bravely matching her bright yellow Kawasaki ZZR with her similarly lurid leather jacket, the look is emblematic of the film’s cutting edge style, it’s astounding that this trend hasn’t caught on. Just imagine it, at the next Northampton Biker Jam, hundreds of bikers are protected in stunningly bright leathers. Countless hues of reds, blues, yellows – the spectrum only matched by the similarly vast array of motorbikes. We own the bikes, we own ‘cool’ and its up to us to set the tone for biker culture for years to come. Lets step out of the shadow of black – and enter a new era of technicolour.…