What Does it Mean to be a Real Biker? By Andy Davidson

Welcome to Thoughts from the Road. Here’s Andy Davidson on what it means to be real biker…

What is a Real Biker
Picture of By Andy Davidson

By Andy Davidson

Mad or Nomad

Andy and Alissa are Mad or Nomad. Together they’ve been riding around the world since 1st January 2018 and run the Mad or Nomad website. 

Before their world trip, Andy had been travelling on bikes since he was 17 and took on a number of big trips – including a solo ride at 23 from the UK to Iraq. 

He worked as a motorcycle journalist for MCN in the UK for six years before leaving to ride the world indefinitely with Alissa. 

You can find out more about their adventures here:

What is a real biker?

Ever wondered what it means to be a “real biker”? No? Me neither – until I had an interesting little encounter while riding in the Philippines back in January 2023. We had just shipped our Yamaha XT660R from Bali to Australia and flew to the Philippines while we waited for it to arrive. As we travelled around the country we rented scooters to get about. One day…

Alissa and I pulled up on our little rental scooter outside a launderette and parked next to a bunch of bikes outside a bar. While Alissa ran in to grab our laundry, a bunch of chaps in the bar (Europeans probably in their 40-50s) shouted over and said I couldn’t park my scoot next to their (rental) bikes. That this side of the road was for proper bikers and I had to move my bike and park it on the other side of the road (next to all the battered old scoots).

They were joking around of course (I think…I hope).

I had carelessly parked next to their big bikes (KTM Duke 390, Honda XR200 and a few others). In reply I said: ‘hopefully one day I’ll be a real biker’ and stayed put.

They all had a good laugh at this, Alissa came out, jumped on and we scootered off.

No harm done.

But although they made their jokes tongue in cheek, I sensed an underlying tone of seriousness. Unfortunately, it’s unsurprising. Go on Facebook, forums and websites and you’ll find people mocking people’s bike choices. Somehow they’ve come up with a criteria for what makes someone a ‘real biker’.

So, here’s the question… what the hell is a real biker anyway? And what gives someone that title? Why does the the size of your machine make you more of a biker? Why does where, how far or what weather you ride in make any difference?   

Does any of that really matter? And more importantly – why does anyone even care?

Here’s my take on it. Buy what you can afford, ride what puts a smile on your face, enjoy yourself, have fun, support others and never put anyone else down – we’re all bikers and that’s all the matters.

Andy Davidson

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11 thoughts on “What Does it Mean to be a Real Biker? By Andy Davidson”

  1. If you’ve rebuilt your bikes carburetor on the kitchen counter you might be a real biker.
    If you washed your bikes transmission gears in the shower you might be a biker.
    If you overhauled your bikes engine on the dining room table you might be a real biker.

    • Hey Dynoking! Thanks for your comment, sounds like you need to be a pretty good mechanic to be a real biker then haha!

      • Hey Andy,
        Each one of the repair story I mentioned came from the wife of the bike owner. All of them were WW II vets who returned home with not a lot of money, and bought bikes, got married and moved into apartments. The engine overhaul was for a ’40’s era Indian. The carburetor(s) – BMW boxer. The transmission – heck I can’t remember. But the stories were priceless. The analogy is my own.

        Keep the shinny side up.

  2. I go pillion on our bigger bikes for months at a time and many km, and ride my postie bike to work and on gravel and 4wd tracks….I think that means I am a biker!

  3. Having and having had more than a few bikes from 50cc putt putts to a stable of liter bikes, I’ve long and loudly maintained that “anything with 2 wheels and a motor” is the all time funnest way to spend time- I’ve further made it a point to “mismatch” bikes in a parking area, “(with a bunch of Harleys “Hey look, My Moto Guzzi is an air cooled twin too”) and so far have yet to be pummeled for it…

    • Hi Nicholas, thanks for your comment.
      “Anything with two wheels and a motor” – I like it! haha. Yeah, as long as people are out there and having fun, that’s all that matters ey.

  4. Size doesn’t matter it’s all about the motion of the ocean…oh wait wrong forum!

    In my opinion there are no real bikers just people that are drawn to the feeling of riding. In the end when we’re riding our mechanical beasts ,or in some cases chihuahuas, all that mental clutter dissipates, so what is a real biker? it doesn’t matter it’s about the ride, it’s about possibilities, unexplored horizons, that perfect sweeping bend, that moment when the mind shuts off and you forget whether you are your bike or if your bike is you, it’s about that friendly wave to another explorer in far away lands, it’s about those screams of joy you have as you turn into the most amazing view you have ever seen in your life and just can’t suppress the joy of being alive, it’s about those moments when you’re sat on your bike on the top of a mountain pass watching the immensity of the world unfold in front of you, it’s about that and much much more to be a real biker, it’s about being in your reality and feeling it all!


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