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Biker Rally in Honolulu

Mods vs. Rockers: A biker rally this month brings together scooter and motorcycle enthusiasts.


Members of the Hawaii Moto Ryders club line up their custom bikes in Chinatown before a recent night ride.

photo: courtesy ELLIS VARELA


7 p.m.: VIP Mixer
The Mercury Bar (1154 Fort Street Mall) Live music and DJs

FRIDAY, May 31

6 p.m.: Old Pali Route ride, meet at Next Door’s back lot (43 N. Hotel St.)

6-8 p.m.: Vintage bike expo at Next Door’s back lot

8 p.m.: Show by The Business (UK punk) at Next Door


11 a.m.: South Shore Ride, meet at the Republik’s parking lot (1349 Kapiolani St.)

6 p.m.: Vintage bike expo at the Republik’s parking lot

8 p.m.: Show by The English Beat at the Republik

2-6 a.m.: Secret, all-night, afterhours dance party
(location TBA)

SUNDAY, June 2

11 a.m.: North Shore (Poker Ride), meet at Haleiwa

6 p.m.: Luau dinner party at La Mariana, prize giveaways and cocktails at sunset

Not everyone riding on two wheels is drawn to the Harley. Some embrace a different ideal of cool. They ride Triumphs and Lambrettas, listen to underground music, and revere the past. This is the vintage bike scene, and it’s alive and well in Honolulu. This month, the growing subculture welcomes all comers with Cafe Blue Hawaii, a scooter and motorcycle rally that’ll be happening at venues across the city.

The tongue-in-cheek theme for the event is “Rockers vs. Mods,” but the two groups are hoping to unite everyone who digs the lifestyle. Rockers embody the tough-guy image of rock ’n’ roll, leather jackets and fast motorbikes, and Mods the more artistic look of punk, Motown and jazz, scooters and tailored suits. Everyone knows they’re more than half a century removed from the post-World-War-II youth angst that created these aesthetics, but that same basic spirit of rebellion and style is what today’s movement uses to define itself.

The look and bikes go hand-in-hand. Joe Agogo, executive producer for Jet Setter Productions, lives and works the lifestyle. He’s organizing the rally, working out of a Nuuanu home office complete with a Union Jack covering one wall and low-seated couches and animal prints setting the tone. He says riding his Vespa is “like starring in your own B movie with a killer soundtrack.” No one in this scene is looking to be an extra; everyone’s a star who stands out.

To those in the scene, popular brands such as Harley, Kawasaki and Honda all have a mass-produced feel. By putting some English on the maintenance of a Triumph Thruxton and cruising the South Shore in a leather jacket that doesn’t make you look like a Power Ranger, you’re rebelling enough to join the ride.

At least, according to Ellis Varela and his fellow admins of Hawaii Moto Ryders. “I respect the ride and want everyone to take pride in theirs,” he says. His friends chime in on how good it is to see people bring old bikes out of storage, never seeing two identical bikes and working on something that doesn’t feel disposable.

Honolulu’s scene is a fairly new and undefined one, and HMR members are still meeting each other for the first time. Having just started in December of 2012, the group’s Facebook page now boasts more than 200 members and this rally will be its first major gathering. Buzzing from the arts district in Chinatown to the clubs and venues of Ala Moana seems the perfect fit for meet and greets, concerts and showcases that will set the tone for Honolulu’s Vintage scene. All are welcome to see if the scene fits you; so show up, be cool and ride safe.

Got a custom ride and want to get into the local scene? Check out facebook.com/groups/hawaiimotoryder.

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Honolulu Magazine September 2020
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