I’ve been thinking about the tagline that graced the cover of Thunder Press for many years: “The journal of the American V‑­Twin community.” Even after we rebranded the magazine as American Rider in 2022, that motto still holds true today.

I began to think about what it means to be part of a community of riders while I was aboard the High Seas Rally, a seven‑­day cruise that brings together bikers for a shared experience among like‑­minded people. 

Rubber-Side Down Community
Bike-building legends Paul Yaffe (left) and Dave Perewitz clown around on the High Seas Rally. The Road Glide in front of them was built at Bagger Nation and painted by Perewitz. Yaffe rode it to Sturgis this year, and it was raffled off during the cruise.

A community is a group of people who share culture, norms, and identity, providing a feeling of personal relatedness and a shared emotional connection. Boiled down, the soul of a community is a shared story and a sense of togetherness. 

In an article on Medium.com, psychologist Toby Lowe defines a community as follows: 

“A group of people who share a story that is so important to them that it defines an aspect of who they are. Those people build the shared story archetypes (characters) of that community into their sense of themselves; they build the history of those communities into their own personal history; and they see the world through the lens of those shared stories.”

As motorcyclists, it makes sense for us to gather in locations where our fellow riders congregate. It could be at rallies like Sturgis and Daytona, or it could be at bike shows and other moto‑­centric events. Most frequently, we flock to biker bars and riding hangouts. 

“There’s this camaraderie amongst bikers in general, which we share at rally after rally,” acclaimed bike builder Paul Yaffe told me while on the HSR cruise. 

Indeed, the sense of a shared identity is a source of positive personal feelings, and studies indicate that people who belong to communities are less likely to develop mental disorders like depression. Our communities shape our understanding of each other and provide a shared belief about how we should treat our peers. 

Rubber-Side Down Community
When bikers aren’t riding motorcycles or talking about them, they can often be found reading about them. The Easy Rider feature story from our March issue gets perused aboard the High Seas Rally.

“It’s in their blood, and it affects what they do,” Yaffe continued. “Maybe they dress a certain way or live a certain way or feel a certain way, and that’s a common bond bikers share. We’re connected.”

Yaffe and his Bagger Nation business are sponsors of the High Seas Rally. Many bikers might scoff at a rally event in which you can’t ride motorcycles, but there remains a lot of common ground even while captive on a cruise liner.  

Find more moto-events at American Rider‘s Events Calendar

“The people who come on the ship are really one of the best slices of the motorcycle community – the motorcycle community how we all want to imagine it. The people are fun‑­loving and free of ego and want to have a great time. They ride motorcycles, which is a common thread that we all share, and it’s one of those things that everyone does together. It’s a celebration of the motorcycle lifestyle.”

Click here to learn more about the High Seas Rally

And there you have it: an instant motorcycle community, even while floating on the ocean. Stay tuned for a feature story on the HSR in our February issue. 

“It’s kind of that ‘If I have to explain it, you wouldn’t understand,’” Yaffe summarized with a laugh. 

Find more Rubber-Side Down columns here


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