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Lowriders - What's The Attraction?
By Alastair Hamilton
The lowrider bike craze, sweeping the urban United States, is energizing the creative impulses of young adults, as they express their personalities on comfortable bikes.
I was just a little kid in the late 1960s, when the TV show The Munsters was on the air in Prime Time TV, young enough to feel that Eddie Munster (the werewolf son) was my favorite character on the show. I don't remember him riding the "converted Schwinn Stingray" which was apparently the first lowrider bike featured on TV, and which started the craze for the lowriders during the late 60s and 70s.
I do remember that I wanted to sleep in a bureau drawer as he did - I felt that would be nice and snug!
What I most remember about the show, in the technology department, was the car they drove - the converted hearse. Now that was a car!
Anyway, that's just a bit of historical interest. Most kids today have never even heard of the Munsters - or if they have it's the remake done in the 1980s which had none of the charm of the original - give me Fred Gwynne, Yvonne DeCarlo and Al Lewis any day of the week!
It wasn't a TV show that brought the lowrider back into favor in the late 1980s, however, but merely the concerted creativity of people in the Chicano neighborhoods of Los Angeles, who began exercising their creativity by tricking out their bikes with chrome, paint, and all sorts of accessories. The hobby caught on and has spread through urban areas throughout the United States.
Lowrider bikes are not built for speed - they are built for leisurely rides along the beach (hence the fat tires), or through the neighborhood. The riders want to "see and be seen in style."
Lowriders are usually considered to be among the most comfortable of bikes. The "apehanger" handlebars extend up so high that riders are forced to sit up straight - reducing the stress on the back which is one of the chief causes of biking discomfort. The tires are cushiony, the seats, whether banana or some other kind, are roomy and comfortable. Most of them have only one speed and a simple coaster break, so they don't break down that often.
With the new space age materials of which bikes are made, these bikes aren't as heavy as you might think, so if you're thinking of getting a new bike, and would like to indulge in your creativity, you might want to consider getting a low rider. (Even if you don't want to trick it out, or "pimp it" as the slang goes, it is still a classic "retro" design and a fun ride.)
But if you do want to trick it out (a term I prefer to "pimp" frankly, as I think that word has unpleasant connotations) there are plenty of stores, both bricks and mortar and online, where you can purchase practically any accessory you can think of - from gold and chrome mirrors, rims and spokes, to hand-painted murals on the frame, to rows of mirrors on each side, to a baby spare tire mounted on the back!
So check out your local store or surf the web, and have some fun!
Alastair Hamilton loves writing for http://www.bikecyclingreviews.com . You can find more information and resources on lowrider bikes at his website.