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In Defense of the Garbage Wagon

Garbage Wagon
A stock or nearly stock motorcycle which has all the standard equipment intact, but is very heavily customized with saddle bags, chrome parts and a bewildering array of lighting and accessories. A term which is often used in scorn by some riders and outlaw bikers to describe touring bikes.


You’ve seen them parked in front of diners and drive-ins, proudly displayed alongside a 1988 Buick Park Avenue in driveways in your city and gassing up at highway truck stops across America.

Yes, the Garbage Wagon.

Adorned with enough seat padding, grab bars, conchos, fringe, accessory lights, bags, trunks, crash bars and electrical gadgets to stock the shelves of an Arizona bike shop.

These bikes are the Dukes of the Highway, ready at a moment’s notice to take off for parts far and wide and unknown carrying riders well past the age of consent on a last-chance power drive to the nearest VA hospital.

They may be a touch on the gaudy side, and they’re sure not the most nimble or fastest bikes going, but the
“garbage wagon,” or to be a touch more diplomatic, the “full dresser,” is seriously long-haul road ready. With enough room to carry a passenger and lots of gear, the dresser is a two-wheeled utility vehicle par excellence. Smooth riding, highly visible and possessed of all the necessities for a thousand-mile haul, the dresser says of the man who rides it:

“Eat a mighty cloud of dust and shield your eyes against my glory all yee who gaze upon my magnificence.”

It also, at least in general, says, “No one under the age of 60 need be seated here.”

But that’s another story.

While my lovely and truculent wife (the arbiter of all motorcycle aesthetics) says they’re not fit for anyone without an onboard tub of hemorrhoid cream,  I kind of like them.

Obsessive customization is clearly a sign of love.


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