Why do we as "bikers" feel the need to dress to the genre of our motorcycle? It seems like functionality has taken a back seat to fashion in the motorcycle community. Is there some rule I'm not aware of which states that American V-Twin riders must be dressed like leather clad extras from Pirates of the Caribbean with a $7 "helmet" and sport bike riders must be dressed in a hi-viz onesie that matches their bike with a plastic Mohawk stuck to to the top of their helmet?  And the hipster bikers aren't getting a free pass, either. These crafty folk seem to have gravitated to a mashup of all that came before them, everything from a Frenchman on a penny farthing to Wild Bill Hickok's favorite jacket is fair game. All these chopper social media darlings look like a Woodstock poster had a baby with a barista. Let me go ahead and totally generalize a few groups of motorcyclist and break down the current motorcycle cosplay situation.

Old School Bikers, Heavy American Bikes

One of the biggest stigmas out there (especially with "hardcore" bikers) is helmets. To a lot of old school bikers, wearing a helmet is almost a sign of weakness...it's like you hate freedom bro. And if they are forced to wear a helmet by law they find the crappiest plastic sand bucket they can and wear it as a sign of some sort of rebellion. Don't get it twisted, I 100% think it should be the rider's choice to wear a helmet. It just seems fairly obvious to me that the logical choice would be to wear one. But of course it doesn't stop there, you have to complete the ensemble. You know what I'm talking about, the prototypical biker-in-a-box, rocking the bandanna / leather vest /fingerless gloves combo. Having said that, can someone clue me in on few things? Fingerless gloves...why? Are standard gloves just so restrictive people are willing to possibly sacrifice their fingertips in a crash? The weird tan lines alone are enough to keep me from that fashion trend. And sleeveless shirts and a vest, don't get it. I have a vest I generally wear over an over-shirt, and I definitely ride around in a t-shirt in the summer, but I fail to see the protective qualities of a leather vest and sleeveless shirt. At this point we're just playing dress up. And the bandanna surely doesn't provide any protection (see helmet rant above) it just guarantees you another weird sunburn line to match your fingerless glove tan.

Invited Builders , Choppular Folk and Cafe' Racer Pilots

While that vintage jacket you scored at the second-hand store may look rad in your Instagram pics, that sucker is gonna blow apart like the Hindenburg (Google it) if god forbid you ever hit the ground. Same thing goes for that vintage helmet - 1970's helmet technology sucked then and it really sucks now. That helmet reached its shelf life expectancy about 40 years ago. Besides the fact that it's not remotely safe, it has to smell like formaldehyde and sweatsocks. I'd love to make fun of your scarf situation, but that could actually be useful on a bike, assuming it doesn't wrap around you rear wheel and suck you off the back of your Ironhead chop....on second thought, ditch the scarf for a balaclava or wind collar. You fashion-forward biker folks have probably had one of the biggest influences on the style of moto gear in the past few years. The development of jackets, gloves and boots to look like casual gear while still maintaining its protective qualities could probably be traced back in part to the influence of invited builder shows.

Dyna Bro (and some Sportsters)

I'll give the Dyna bros this, they generally wear rad helmets. But the extra long Dickies shorts are probably gonna blow back and get caught in your chain when you're rolling a dank wheelie. And you're going to be re-thinking those tall socks and Vans when the nurse is scrubbing the gravel out of your road rash in the ER. To me these are the people that would benefit most from the advancements in gear today. You wack jobs ( I mean that in the most loving way) are the ones pushing the limits of cruisers. No one would have imagined 10 years ago that someone would be hitting circle wheelies on a 650 lb. Dyna. Ditch the ankle length shorts for some Kevlar reinforced moto-jeans, trade the MX gloves for some leather units and maybe toss on a jacket instead of a flannel when you're practicing no-handers. Again, plenty of slick gear out there that will keep you out of the ER and won't have you looking like a Star Wars character.

Uber Sportbiker

Dude, it's not that serious. While I admire your dedication to safety, I really don't think it's necessary to be schelping around Starbucks with the arms of your race suit dragging on the ground. We both know you're boiling hot in that leather onesie. I get it, you want everyone to see the scratches on your knee pucks so we know that you're riding that pasta rocket to its full potential. But seriously man, there are a ton of highly protective options out there for aggressive riders that are more comfortable, better looking and extremely protective. Trust me, it's perfectly OK that your jacket doesn't match your Repsol Honda edition, it's still a rad bike. By all means, if you want to match your jacket to your fluorescent yellow Gixxer, knock yourself out. Just know there are other options if you aren't into the Power Ranger look.

The point of all my trash talking is simple. Too often we try to define ourselves and each other by the type of bikes we ride. The motorcycle industry is huge on putting labels on things. Cafe' racer, bobber, chopper, bagger, scrambler, the list goes on and on and lines get drawn.  If you're a chopper guy you should be wearing a 3/4 helmet and a dirty shirt, if you're a sportbiker your gear should match your bike, if you're on a bagger you get scoffed at if you wear a helmet. See where I'm going here. I'm not sure when we turned motorcycling into cosplay but it happened. Although it's fun to mock I feel like its creating a division among bikers and is especially detrimental to possible first-time buyers. Immediately the stereotypes are thrust at them. If they buy a certain bike, they will be looked at a specific way. And that's not how it should be. If you want to roll an Ironhead chopper and wear a hi-viz road race jacket, get the brightest one you can find and wear it loud and proud. We as seasoned bikers should be welcoming all those who have an interest in two wheels. Showing them a path that will undoubtedly change their life for the better, getting them to experience a literal vehicle to adventure to take them through the rest of their natural born days. Being a biker is about individuality, stepping away from the sheeple and cutting your own path. So do just that. Don't get sucked right back into a stereotype, you do you.