Keith R. Ball, Founder, Bikernet & Author: 2nd
Media Man Australia explores the often misunderstood
world of biker culture.
this revealing interview, we ask the hard questions,
and get the real answers, from a leading authority
on the biker scene.
Ball takes us on a journey from when he first got
involved with bikes, all the way up to how the Internet
creation, Bikernet, came about.
when and why did you get involved in the bike business?
loved motorcycles since I was 15 1/2, 40 years ago.
As soon as I came back from Vietnam and was discharged
from the Navy I dove into bikes. I bought and sold
used police bikes, helped friends build
bikes and learned how to rebuild engines while going
to college on the G.I. bill.
is it that attracts people to the bike culture, be
it, casually or "hard core"?
a good question and I'm sure answers run the gamut.
To me it's all about freedom. Bikers are like flying
along the pavement dodging the world. Plus there's
unlimited freedom to be creative with
did Bikernet start and what's the response been like?
began when the Internet was set free to roam the world
commercially. In 1996 a web master wanted the Easyriders
account and was turned down. He felt that the next
was to work with me on a site. The ER publisher didn't
like fiction so I devoted the site to biker fiction
and my books as a promotional device.
do you consider to be the highlights of your career?
that I can create, touch a woman and ride is a highlight
and I've had many.
holds the Guinness World Record for a bike trip. Tell
us about how that came about?
have to ask Dave. He's written several books on his
are your favorite bikes and why?
a tough one. To me bikes are like paintings you can
ride. Many are so inspiring, so intriguing or so fast.
It's difficult to pick a favorite. Besides there's
always a new one, a new builder out there endeavoring
to rock the world with a new fandangled contraption.
are your top few biker films / docos and why?
One and Easy Rider. That's it. I'm waiting for someone
to do it again. Maybe with one of my books like Orwell.
the bike business became over commercialized? explain.
the old school perception, yes. Bikers lived a life
untouched by mainstream society. It's as if they've
been violated. To the business side of the industry
the answer is, no. Television shows have opened the
market to a much larger, excited, active audience.
for bikes, what else are you into?
working out, sailing and writing.
was the best thing about 'Easyriders'?
a sense it broke the industry wide open in the early
do you express your creatively and what makes you
desire to accomplish and enjoy every second of life
through creativity, makes me tick 24/7.
may be an obvious question to some, but tell us the
relationship between tattoos and bikers? (clubs and
chapters etc), but I would like to hear the full and
real explanation in your own words?
is another element of society tipped upside down.
My answer won't apply today. Tattoos were once middle-class
insignias for sailors, truckers, soldiers, bikers
and oil industry workers. It was a way for a man to
say, "I do what I do, and fuck anyone who doesn't
like it." Now it's a whole different world. Hell,
some fans are art collectors now.
have you found the (traditional) media to be both
a positive thing, and a pain in the butt?
years the media wouldn't cover anything to do with
bikers. We were second class citizens. Bikers fought
tooth and nail for respect and recognition. I'm not
a big fan of the general media. It's livid
with hypocrisy in the USA. I could beat on them for
the biker films and docos to date done the culture
and no. It depends on how you looks at it. To many
hard-core ruffians the violent edge maintains the
fear factor level, and that's a good thing. Some,
who want to be accepted by the world at large, prefer
that all bikers be portrayed as good citizens.
level of interest and success have your biker novels
reached in the film world?
varies from day to day. One day they're hot with a
movie deal fast approaching. The next day nobody's
sparked your interest in writing?
it's a freedom issue. Like a painter, a writer can
create on his own. The expression is solitary and
unlimited. A man can write or paint almost anywhere
at any time. There's a vast sense of freedom
There. The key is to prevent starvation while creating.
is the biggest misconception about both yourself and
the biker culture and business in general?
not sure there are any misconception about myself.
I'm sure some or many people view me, my life and
my accomplishment different than I would. I would
need to evaluate an individual's concept of me to
tell you whether I disagreed with his summation or
the biker culture and business there are many misconceptions
and generalizations that apply today, but not tomorrow,
apply to one man and not another. There's one deadly
misconception that should be address for all riders.
For decades police accepted the motorist's excuse,
"I didn't see him," and riders lost their
lives. If that same motorist ran over a toddler in
the street, that excuse wouldn't hold water and he
or she would face manslaughter charges. In the United
States some states are endeavoring to pass Right-Of-Way
laws to recognize that bikers are highly vulnerable.
can motorists do to help stop the carnage on the roads?
attention, be considerate and allow the mad men bikers
to scream and yell and rev their loud pipes. In a
sense bikers are men with a warrior spirit and motorcycles
allow them to vent their rage or violent tendencies.
Let 'em be. It's a much more positive release than
the fastest speed you have even ridden (and you don't
need to tell us where you did it, unless you care
to : )
probably been 130 mph in the desert, flying passed
jack rabbits and tarantulas.
"alternative" lifestyles and cultures seem
to attract an element of booze and drugs. In the biker
scene, how much "stuff" goes on, and how
much is "talked up" and exaggerated?
have a crazed notion or formula regarding this question.
First, I don't think drinking and drugs are solely
used by bikers. Getting high is a man thing. You could
ask that question of men who attend major league baseball
games. Men have spirit, desire, ambition, goals and
drives. When some elements are out of reach, other
elements fall to favor. Think about it. If you can't
play major league baseball, you can drink beer and
watch it. I lived through the '60s and '70s and tried
my share of drugs. I fortunately avoided addiction
or mental destruction. It didn't have anything to
do with motorcycles or rock and roll, it was just
a searching era.
is it that attracts "hot" and "wild"
woman to the biker club culture?
attraction is the excitement, the flash, the non-stop,
never-a-dull-moment attitude. Some of it revolves
around power, creativity and risk. The same formula
applies to any man who races cars, boats, planes,
is involved in sports, rock and roll, acting or climbing
us of some of the perks of being a "wheeler and
dealer" in the biker world?
are perks and responsibilities. It's always a blast
to be on the cutting edge of any industry.
do you think about the biker scene and business in
Australia? (I know it's a broad question)
not that familiar with the Australian action. Can't
answer that one.
are your current projects?
currently working on two fiction book projects, writing
for five different motorcycle magazines, rebuilding
a 1923 hotel into my dream shop/study, building the
ultimate chopper (in my humble
opinion), building a ground-up Sportster, modifying
a 100th anniversary Road King, and looking for a Harley-Davidson
Peashooter from the '30s to restore.
answer involves upbringing. I also covered it above
in the, "What makes you tick question."
It's all about drive and accomplishment. One of my
adages is, "No time to lose." Life is short,
make the most out of every minute.
other important information should we know about you
and the Bike business?
a man who has made many mistakes in my life. I've
been married five times. I've walked on a couple of
wild sides, through dark alleys and deadly situations.
Can't believe I'm still alive. The bike business mirrors
my life in many respects, still it keeps growing and
flourishing like a bad weed. We won't give up, hide
or go away. It's all about survival at 100 mph on
a street named treachery.
Time to lose and never a dull moment.
note: "KRB" told it straight. An amazing
interview that will have them talking from LA to Sydney
to beyond. It's no wonder folks go for the biker way
of life. We feel honored that Keith has shared his
thoughts with us, and Media Man Australia looks forward
to a great deal more collaborating with Bikernet and
the good folks behind it. Never a dull moment indeed.
"Cosy Cool" Young
massacre movie planned - 23rd June 2002
Barr official website
of Sturgis Rally website
Department of Transportation
Angels On Wheels (Amazon.com)
(Internet Movie Database)
Movie Makers Market
in Arms: Book Profile