INside Story

An introduction to Indianapolis’ culture on wheels

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — It’s one of the fastest-growing populations in Indianapolis and across Indiana. 

The rumble of motorcycle engines can be heard. Those riding may even be seen in traveling in packs, but there is much more than what meets the eye when it comes to the communities that ride motorcycles. 

“Their motto is as long as you have wheels, let’s ride, let’s have fun. Let’s hit the highway,” said Lynetta Miles, an avid rider.  

Lisa “Mocha” McMillan is a member of the 317 Ryders Motorcycle Club. She said it is the goal of making communities better that serves as a bond to many within motorcycle culture. “We all do try to help the community. We all try to do right by each other and by the community, for Indianapolis, for anybody, actually, especially for our city,” Mocha said. “We try to come together to do as many things as possible to keep us together.”  

Indianapolis is home to thousands of bikers. Some are teachers, mechanics or even attorneys by day. They include Jimmie McMillan, Indianapolis Motor Speedway senior legal counsel and Penske Entertainment Corp.’s chief diversity officer.  

“If (riders) didn’t tell you, you would never know. Here you can really be you. This is a place where you can express yourself and be yourself,” McMillan said. “It’s a culture of brotherhood and sisterhood, and love and respect. I’ve seen people literally throw their bikes in front of cars to protect their brothers and sisters from getting hit.” 

From bike nights to charity events, motorcycle communities operate as if they’re families. 

“On bike night, you are definitely going to see a lot of burnouts and wheelies. You’re going to see, you know, a lot of great bikes, honestly, and a lot of good mixture of great bikes,” said Brett Johnson, owner of Northbilt Customs in Indianapolis. “Absolutely, absolutely, yes, it’s a multimillion-dollar industry.”  

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the motorcycle industry has seen an exponential boom.    

“No, I don’t think anyone has really seen this (jump in business) before. It’s kind of just went across the board. Everybody has been like ‘It’s bonkers,’” said Jimmy Light from Horsepower Inc. in Indianapolis. “What a lot of people don’t know is Indiana has some has the highest numbers in the Midwest of registered motorcycles. There’s a huge scene in Indy motorcycle scene. It’s always been like that.” 

Motorcycle culture in Indianapolis is a breeding ground for a type of togetherness that even those who don’t ride can learn from. 

“I’ve seen people take the last dime out of their pocket to give to some cause. We do charity rides all the time,” McMillan said.