Veterans and the two-wheeled lifestyle
War veterans and motorcycles have been a phenomenon for one hundred years. Vets returning from World War One, no longer content with going back to the farm, got into the new motorcycle craze in a big way. Bikes filled the need for excitement and enjoyment that the vets sought. They were an escape from bad memories; a fun and adventurous escape.
The same thing happened after World War Two. Vets helped save an industry in dire straits following the Depression. This time there was a different side. Not only did thousands of vets get into motorcycling for personal enjoyment and adventure, the motorcycle gang and motorcycle club phenomena both emerged. Very different in purpose but the same principle. Motorcycling became a group activity. It also became an activity with rules and protocol, in the case of organized groups. The concept of territory and use of identifying logos became important.
But the biggest impact of returning vets was felt in the Vietnam War. Vets returning from that war in some ways were more similar to WW1 vets - they sought individual involvement with motorcycles; a personal escape. Like WW1 vets, they were also on the front edge of a motorcycle boom period. The late 1960s and early 1970s saw a dramatic explosion in the number and variety of motorcycles available, and in the number of new riders getting on board, with Vietnam War veterans playing a major role in the phenomenon.
Veterans of more recent military deployments have continued the trend but without the dramatics involved fifty years ago. Today it's a normal and accepted lifestyle, thanks to those who dared to break molds and seek a lifestyle that fit them, even if others in society might have frowned on the lifestyle and felt it wasn't the wisest decision to make. Veterans always were a bit different than most people - that's what made them vets in the first place.