INside Story

Lessons to learn from Indianapolis motorcycle culture

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Motorcycle culture is based on life lessons. Many riders call their bikes “equalizers” when it comes to creating a community that celebrates differences.  

Jimmie McMillian, president of 317 Ryders MC, says all communities can benefit from lessons learned in the motorcycle community. “It is it’s very much about freedom. It’s all about being who you are. By day, I’m a lawyer for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. … This freedom allows me to enjoy this and that. I don’t feel like there’s a separation.” 

During a time when most the country had to be apart for the coronavirus pandemic, the motorcycle community thrived on riding together and still being socially distant.  

Brett Johnson, owner of Northbilt Customs, said it’s the sense of community that those who do and don’t ride can learn from.

“Sometimes, you’ll see the bikers are a little tough and so on and so forth, and, honestly, they’re some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, and they’ll be the first person to lend you a hand if you’re in trouble and that’s, I think, that’s what makes it,” Johnson said.  

From the sights seen, the people met and the lifestyle adopted, 317 Ryder MC member Lisa “Mocha” McMillian said wisdom is the gift she’s been thankful to receive from the lifestyle. 

“I’ve learned how to communicate and listen, a lot. Loving; we’re all different, you know … the different personality learning to love your brother’s sister,” Mocha said. “For whatever reason, you know, it’s kind of hard for (people), but, like I said, being a family, we (the motorcycle community) have to do that. We do have to do that, stick together.” 

Jimmy Light from Horsepower Inc. agrees with McMillian that the freedom of the lifestyle turns friends into family and allows joy to be created. 

“‘Freedom’ because you can just get out and disappear. You know, that’s, that’s what a lot of people do is they just get on their bike and go. It’s kind of enjoying some people enjoy that,” Light said. 

 Marshall Tucker from LA Choppers hopes the growing motorcycle community and the thriving business will keep the legacy of motorcycle culture alive.  

“I can only hopefully see it growing from here because, you know, a couple years ago, the motorcycle industry was kind of struggling. We were wondering what it was going to take to make motorcycles cool again and who knew was a pandemic,” Tucker said. 

McMillian hopes a sense of understanding and respect for the culture continues to have a positive impact on the community. 

“When people see us on our motorcycle, I want you to think is positivity. I want you to think that is a beautiful thing. I want you to think ‘I wish I could ride with them,’” McMillian said.

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