Pimp my Bike | Mexico | Living in Mexico

Pimp my Bike

Advancing inexorably into geezerhood, I find I'm missing all the trends. Time was, I was on top of it all. The first crack in my hipness appeared in the late '70s when The Police made the cover of Time Magazine. I had no idea who they were.

Way back when, someone could tell me about their chopped and channeled '49 Merc' with frenched taillights and a roll-and-tuck job and I knew exactly what they were talking about. Today, I'm not sure what bling is.

When Jean and I were in Santa Barbara last September, sitting in a cafe on State Street, I watched a line of lowriders go by. Like this:


Photo courtesy of Lowrider Magazine.

As I watched them bouncing along, I thought "How retro. Only in Santa Barbara." I figured lowriders were a fad that had dried up in the '80s. The War song was off the top 40. The dotcom boom was starting. Auto mods were passé.

So when two guys whizzed past me on Avenida Vallarta in Guadalajara on these...


... I was blown away. I thought, "These bikes look just like lowriders!" Welded chain steering wheels, hyper-spoked wheels—I used to see this stuff on cars. Subsequent investigation has confirmed: They are lowriders. They're a big deal. There's magazines devoted to lowrider bikes. Specialized shops sell parts for them. Where was I when all this happened?

I'm probably wrong, but this looks like a quintessentially Mexican idea. Up north, pochos (wiki) can afford to pour thousands of dollars into pimping cars: lowering them, adding powerful hydraulics so they'll jump. In Guadalajara, most people can't even afford to own a '72 Toyota. But they maybe can put a couple thousand pesos into a bicicleta.

These machines are wonderful: bizarre front suspensions, four rearview mirrors, dual exhausts, spare tire, bulb-operated dual-tone horns, whitewall tires, a raccoon and a Chivas flag. All they lack is hydraulics.

Why the hell anybody would want to do this is beyond me. But then again, I did apply several pounds of Bondo and gray primer to my '41 Plymouth when I was 17. Frenching its headlights and taillights. At the time it seemed like the thing to do.

A final note: These bikes are sitting right out on a busy thoroughfare with their owners nowhere in sight. They are not locked. In Sunnyvale, they would have been gone two minutes after they were parked.