Qian Dao Lake, China

By Carlos Barria

β€œThey’re not scared of you. They’re scared of what you represent to them.”
“Hey, man. All we represent to them, man, is somebody who needs a haircut.”
“Oh, no. What you represent to them is freedom.”

– from the movie Easy Rider

A girl arrives at the parking lot wearing tiny leather shorts and sits on the back of a bike with a horse power of more than 1,000 CC. Next to her a man gets ready to ride, wearing a skeleton mask. It’s more than a fashion show, it’s an extravaganza on two wheels along Chinese roads.

Last weekend, around 1,000 Harley Davidson enthusiasts from all over China met at the exclusive resort of Qian Dao Lake, in Zhejiang Province, southeast of Shanghai, to celebrate the 5th Harley Davidson National Rally in China, as part of the company’s 110-year anniversary.

Riders told me that for Chinese consumers, owning a Harley is more than a symbol of freedom, as conceived in the 1969 movie Easy Rider. In China, they said, Harleys confer status and turn heads.

β€œFor me (it) represents freedom, total freedom,” said Phillip Chu, from Shanghai. “And actually it is a tool, a tool that offers you attention. You attract a lot of attention from others when you ride, even when you start the engine and the sound. People around you will note it .. ah, this is a Harley Davidson.”