Under The Influence

Editor’s Note

I’ve been customizing nearly everything I’ve owned since I was a kid on my Mongoose BMX bicycle. You see, I’ve never been content with leaving things as they come from the store and I’ve always wanted to make my stuff look unique.

Living in Southern California, you are exposed to a large variety of different people, scenes, and cultures. I’m into cars, tattoos, women, drinking, and of course, motorcycles and spend nearly all my free time participating in one (or several together) of those activities. Whatever scene you are into, it’s here and it’s probably big. Being surrounded by such a large variety of different cultures allows me to bounce in between them pretty frequently. It’s from that large pool of scenes from which my own personal style is derived.

I’ve noticed that within each respective scene, there is almost always a set of rules that dictate and define it. Whether it’s wheels, suspension, or paint, those that stray even slightly outside of preset boundaries are quickly labeled as a poser, newbie, or outsider. That’s always been bullshit to me.

While there are some traditions that have been formed over years that shouldn’t be broken, I can’t for the life of me understand why you can’t draw influences from other cultures and apply them in bits and pieces. Big H-D understands this concept. Some of the latest paintjobs they are putting on new models are directly influenced by Lowrider and custom car paint schemes that have been around for decades.

I’ve been working as a moto-journalist for close to 10 years, and I always hated when someone would ask me, “What do I need to put on my bike to get in the magazine?” There should never be a set of required parts and mandatory procedures to be considered a featured bike. Rules are for conformists that don’t have the balls to try something new or different from the flock of followers. If it weren’t for the rule breakers, every scene would quickly become static and stale. Trends come in cycles and what is lame today just might be cool tomorrow.

As I become more engrossed in my role as Hot Bike editor, I plan on bringing with me a set of influences from many different worlds. Some of you may not understand where I’m coming from. To others, what I’m saying will be old news. But without a doubt some of you will hate me for not liking the way it’s been done in the past. In my mind, love and hate are an emotional response that comes from the same place. I’d rather people hate me for not following the rules, then like me for accepting them. And it’s those that disagree with me the most that will ultimately be the loudest voices for my message to anyone that will listen.

John Zamora


[email protected]