Harley Davidson has designed some of the most iconic bikes on the road since it was founded 110 years ago in Wisconsin, USA. Now, in its fourth year in Ukraine, What’s On investigates why Harley Davidson bikes are so unique, why bike owners are so loyal and how anyone can get involved.
Closing The Season
First and foremost, Harley Davidson for some is not just a bike; it’s a lifestyle choice. Even when the bike is parked, Kyiv’s Harley Owners Group, otherwise known as the Kyiv chapter, organises events such as their end-of-the-season event this past autumn. On 28 September, fans gathered from all over Ukraine for the tradition, which mixes masculinity with community. Engines roared and muscles bulged as awards for the loudest bike and strongest biker were given out, amongst others. Riders reminisced about the season, occasionally toasting to the future, as rock group Ser’Ga played in the background.
There are not many owners clubs like this. Even the pencil and notepad I was armed with was soon replaced by complimentary beer and food; a pretty unusual occurrence for a journalist in Ukraine!
The Men From The Boys
Harley’s are relatively new in Ukraine compared to their American counterparts. The spectacle of a bad boy stereotypical biker with a Gandalf style beard, a bandana, leather and lots of skulls is unusual. Saying that, Ukrainian bikers don’t exactly dance around in Hawaiian shirts doing the conga. Instead, the movement is becoming more orientated towards the upper-middle class; a new model in Ukraine comes with a price tag of minimum $11,000.
Professionals from all walks of life, including doctors and lawyers, can be seen cruising the streets. Many see buying a bike as buying a piece of American culture, creating a nostalgic feeling. Even George Clooney, Elvis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and my grandma have been among Harley fans. Many riders understand that although traditional Japanese bikes are reliable, nothing replaces the combination of metal and leather, a near must if you’re planning to join the Harley team.
There is a set procedure for local membership applicants no matter where in the world you are. Here in Ukraine, the most popular clubs are the MFC Crazy Hohols and MFC Padonki, although there are others. Changing from one group to another can often take several months, as approval is required by the group’s leaders before the transition can take place. Par for the course are long-distance; one of the longest for the Ukrainian constituent being a 19-day trip from Ukraine to Cape Roca, the most western part of Portugal. Those riders not affiliated with any bike club in particular, can meet and arrange rides at Kyiv’s best-known biker watering holes: Route 66, Dejavu, and Docker Pub.
Although some classic motorcycle clubs stick to the “girls ride on the back” tradition, more women are increasingly in the driving seat. Biker chicks are sometimes pretty alluring (if I may say so myself), although they tend to be breaking away from that conventional babe label slowly. More and more bike models are being aimed towards the ladies, and most women don’t seem to mind wearing lipstick and high heels while they cruise.
In fact, the Miss Harley Davidson Ukraine beauty contest held throughout the year, and coming to its completion this week, illustrates well how they embody the Harley Davidson philosophy. With 12 of the most attractive and charismatic beauties competing for the title on 11 December, this is going to be an evening you don’t want to miss; especially with Ukrainian Playmate for April and Russian Playmate for July Irina Bondarenko making an appearance, along with, Alloise, VV and a fabulous bunch of DJs.
Miss Harley Davidson 2013 Finals
11 December at 19.00
Admission: invitation only
Caribbean Club (S Petlyury 4)