Have you ever seen the t-shirt or bumper sticker that says, "I don't care how they do it in California"? What's that all about? I'll try to explain. Forget about all the bad things California is known for. Just in case you don't know: floods, earthquakes, fires, crime, crazy traffic, high cost of living; the list goes on. One thing California always had going for it was being the birthplace of all things cool. When their weather cooperates, it's the perfect place to cruise down the boulevard, be it on two wheels or four, in or on the ride of your dreams. In the motorcycle and car world, new looks and trends, 99% of the time originate in California. Once the latest thing goes mainstream in California, it bounces over to the East coast of the United States and then eventually works its way to middle America and then the rest of the world. Once everyone has caught onto what started in California, the trend or style is old news in California and the cool kids are onto the next new thing that will take the world by storm.
Sometimes, something cool takes root and the fad or trend then becomes a staple in pop culture and is here to stay. Over time this new movement, be it art, tattoos, kustom paint jobs on motorcycles/cars, music, etc. evolves but usually stays close to its original identity. Nothing exemplifies this idea like the Low Rider Culture and Lifestyle that started in California back in the 1940's. That’s right, all things Lowrider started over 80 years ago. Now the appreciation for the culture has spread all over the world from Asia to Europe, as well as Central and South America. The Lowrider influence is so wide-ranging, that each segment deserves its own blog. This first blog, in a series about the Lowrider culture, will be about the Lowrider influence on motorcycles.
In particular, let’s talk about Viclas. Up until recently, I had never heard that term. We use a photographer in Australia, @jimmyteephotography , for pin-up girl-style photo shoots. Nothing goes together like a beautiful woman and a sleek car or motorcycle. So, whenever we would ask Jimmy to send some photos of motorcycles the model could pose with, he was always talking about shooting with a Vicla. I was like Vicla? what's a Vicla? After he sent me photos of the bikes, I said a Lowrider style bike? His response is the proper name is Vicla. You learn something new all the time. Currently, there is a huge Vicla motorcycle craze going on in Australia. A trend that started years ago in California has traveled around the world and is taking hold down under.
So, what is the history of the Vicla, and what makes a motorcycle a Vicla? The Vicla started, sorry to keep saying in, in California back in the 1960s. Stock motorcycles were torn apart and customized to the rider's vision of what he wanted to ride. Change out the exhaust pipes, handlebars, seat, front end, you name it, the motorcycle would take a new life as a stripped-down chopper or go to the other end of the spectrum and create a Vicla. The foundation of a Vicla-style motorcycle is a Harley Davidson. The most popular Harley models used to customize into a Vicla are Road Kings, Heritages. and Fat Boys. Low Rider Motorcycle, Chicano Style, Gangster Style, and Vicla are all names used to describe the same style of motorcycle.
A Vicla is not just a kustomized motorcycle. Yes, a Vicla, stands out from a stock Harley, with its candy-colored metal flake paint jobs, its complex hand-engraved chrome parts, and its detailed airbrushed murals, but is more than just that. The motorcycle is a reflection of the Chicano pride, passion, craftsmanship, culture, community, and brotherhood. The builders of these Viclas are expressing their pride in their heritage as Mexican Americans with their motorcycles, creating works of art that can be ridden as a daily ride. The appreciation for the Chicano style motorcycle is widely admired by non-Chicano bikers as well. Anybody, who knows motorcycles, can recognize the blood, sweat, and tears that went into these two-wheeled works of art. The blend of Chicano, Cholo, and motorcycle culture has reached a wider audience in recent years, with the popularity of TV shows, like "Mayans MC". A show depicting a Mexican American Outlaw Biker MC, who ride some sweet Viclas.
Chicano style has for sure left its mark on the motorcycle community around the world. It's not about race or ethnicity. Skin color has nothing to do with enjoying motorcycles. This generation of Viclas riders appreciates the craftsmanship, uniqueness, and heritage of this style motorcycle while staying humble, staying true to themselves, and living in the wind with their ride. Viclas, however, steeped in Mexican American and Chicano influences - are much bigger than any one person or culture.
At the end of the day, Viclas are about enjoying the freedom of the road, expressing one's individuality, and the passion and hard work reflected in the one-of-a-kind Vicla!
Check out some of these Chicano inspired products from Lethal Threat: