Today we are talking with Hipster Killer, Austin Johnson! Austin has been riding bikes for a LONG time – like longer than some of you have been walking the planet! This man has been there and done that!!! Let’s see what he’s got to say…..
Let’s start with a soft ball….What’s your name and where are you from?
2. How long have you been killing Hipsters?? (had to throw that in)
I have been killing Hipsters since before they were born.
3. So Austin, how long have you been riding motorcycles? What got you interested?
I fell in love with choppers in 1966 when I saw the “Wild Angeles” with Peter Fonda. I didn’t get my first bike until 1967.
4. You have been good friends with Spade George for awhile. How did you guys meet?
As far as M.C.M.F Spade George goes, we meet in Greenwich Village in N.Y.C in 1967, Greenwich Village was a hangout for bikers in the 60s, a great place to hangout. It was the crossroad of everything hip everything cool. Pull up in the Village and see 60 or 70 bikes…. that was cool. In the early days it was hot in the West Village then in the late 60s it switched to the East Village, St. Marks Place and 2nd Ave.
5. You’ve been at this bike game for a long time……you’ve seen the trends come and go. Any trends you glad to see go and hope never return??
I am glad that the fat tire bikes are gone, and I’m looking forward to when the Club Bikes go away also.
6. How crazy was the NYC bike scene back in the 60’s and 70’s?
As far as the as the bike scene goes, it was definitely crazy. Too many good times to even tell. In 1969 when me and George were in a club together on a very nice Saturday morning, a guy pulls up outside of the club house and asks to speak to the president of the club, he told the president that he was the owner of a movie theater and that they are showing two motorcycle movies today. He asked if he would bring the club to the movie and if we came he would let us in for free and we could have whatever we wanted from the concession stand. Our president said “ok what time should we be there?”. He gave us a time and when we got to the movie theater there was such a big crowd of people all over the place. As we start to park in front of the theater the owner said “no, don’t park out here bring the bikes inside and park down front of the stage!!!!” . Not to many people can say that they did that.
7. If I recall correctly, you said you rode cross country to Cali back in the day…can you tell us a little bit about that and what it was like taking that trip solo?
My trip across the country goes, one of my friends was moving to Hollywood and another friend was driving him and all his stuff out. I said that I’d like to go out also and I asked if they had room for me and my bike. They did so I loaded it in with all of my friends stuff. When we got out there, the place that he going to living was a rooming house full of bikers who asked me to stay and hang out with them. I told them that I had to go up to San Francisco because I had people that I had to see. I get to San Francisco, get a job in the Motorcycle business and stayed about a year. I got home sick and one day got on my 51 panhead and hit the road for the east coast. 6 days later I was home. Once I was home I said to myself why did you come home???!!!!!!
8. You spend alot of time in Brooklyn, What was the scene like in Brooklyn those days ?
Brooklyn in the 70’s was a great place and time for me and my friends. We had a club that was all choppers , only Harleys, and for a mostly black club that was very different from any other club in N.Y.C at that time. All I can say is that we had one hell of a good time
9. You have one of THE baddest shovelheads around, Burning Love. Can you tell us about the bike?
My bike Burning Love, was put together from parts that I had laying around, one day I looked and said that I have almost a hole bike here. The only thing that I didn’t have was an engine. So I took a trip out to the Dragon Man on L.I . And picked up a all black shovelhead engine for $500 from him. I put the bike together but it ran like shit , the motor needed to be rebuilt. Now at the time , I’m riding a 93ci shovelhead that is running very nice and it’s my number one bike. So the new bike is just a throw together that I really don’t care that much about. At this point, I take the bike to a friend who had a shop called Performance Unlimited in Brooklyn N.Y. His name was Bill the Greek.. He said let me build a killer engine, so he put together a 98ci shovelhead that kicked ass from day one. I fell in love with it and it has been my number one bike for 31 years.
10. Are you working on any new bikes? Can you tell us anything about it?
As for new bikes , yes I have two new bikes, will one is new and one I’ve been building for years its a 109ci shovelhead that is about 75% complete, I’m going to give it to someone to finish for me . It’s called Blackout because of Hurricane Sandy. That’s how long I’ve been building it. The other bike is White Hot, it’s finished all I have to do is put some miles on it, it’s a 113ci S&S evolution engine in a four speed frame.
11. I love all the old school pix you put on Instagram. Amazing you still have them. What kind of reaction have you been getting ?
The reaction from people who have seen my I.G. page is very good, people are getting a N.Y.C chopper history lesson. I was lucky to have taken some pictures back in the glory days of choppers and even more lucky to still have them.
12. If people want to check ya where can they find ya on social media?
If you haven’t seen my post you can check me out at @shovelhead98austin. As always your friend M.C.M.F Austin a Hipster Killer since 1967.
Thanks, Austin!!! Really apprecaite you taking the time! Check out Austin’s IG account for some real chopper history lessons. If you see him out at an event, stop over and say hi. You’ll be glad you did. He is one cool cat with tons of cool stories!!
#shovelhead #hipsterkiller #harley #motorbikes #harleydavidson