Motorcycle exhaust 'smell of life' for Russian bikers
August 29, 1999
From Correspondent Steve Harrigan
MOSCOW (CNN) -- A fortunate few at the recent biker rally in Moscow showed off their beloved Harley-Davidson road hogs. But most were riding iron horses from the Soviet era.
No matter what type of motorcycle they rode, the uniform was the same: black leather, no helmet. Some of the ladies even wore high heels.
"Everybody says that I'm crazy," said Natasha Galykina, a willowy biker with long blonde hair, one of about 50,000 that showed up for the third annual rally on the outskirts of the Russian capital.
Elite riders, like the Night Wolves, who organized the three- day event, ride fine imported machines.
"I, of course, ride a Harley," sniffed Night Wolf Andrei Sazanov. "Because we have one image of our club, and everybody must ride a chopper."
Less fortunate riders, furiously trying to kick start their engines, or pushing the ones that won't start, tooted around on diminutive, aging Russian-made machines.
All of them, however, breathed in a common elixir. "For us, the smell of exhaust is the smell of life," said one biker.
Once a mass-produced means of transportation for Soviet farmers, motorcycles are slowly being remodeled, for a new generation of urban cowboys.
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