All My Friends Know the Lowriders - OZY | A Modern Media Company

All My Friends Know the Lowriders

All My Friends Know the Lowriders

By Eugene S. Robinson


Because nothing exceeds like excess, and no bike is more excessive than a lowrider.

By Eugene S. Robinson

Bikes are wonderfully functional and carbon-footprint sensitive. Riding them is good exercise, too.

Which makes them sound a whole hell of a lot like spinach. Good for you, but without sex, sizzle or any combination thereof, so: so what?

Well, one answer to “so what?” was the sleek and simple fixie, or fixed-gear bike. You pedal, it goes, and as long as it goes you’ll be pedaling. No coasting. One revolution of the wheel equals one pedal cycle, and braking is accomplished by slowing your pedaling. The lines are simple, unadorned and almost zen. And fixies need some small amount of skill to ride, so until you gain the skills? They stay as dangerous and exciting as ever.

As the fixie has become de rigeur for hipsters, it’s gotten farther away from cool. Which is where the lowrider bike comes in.

A bit of danger and excitement are pretty sexy sometimes though. They’re just not always cool. And as the fixie has become de rigeur for hipsters of all stripes and varieties, it’s gotten farther away from cool.

Which is where the lowrider bike comes in.

In the lowrider car culture captured every month in Lowrider magazine, cars are customized and lowered to about 2 to 3 inches off of the ground; lowrider bikes are an extension of that, bringing the same colorful, crazy ethos of more to the typically all-function, straight-ahead bicycle.

With wonderful excesses of chrome, ornate metal work, metalflake paint jobs and wildly contorted handlebars, these rides are not meant to be ridden very fast. Nope. They are meant to be ridden slooowly — so other people can see what a badass looks like. 


Santa? If you were curious? Yeah: this.

Lowrider bikes cost about the same or less than fixies. Some of them are as cheap as $200, with prices for more tricked out models running into $500 or higher. And if you look at a lowrider hybrid like the Limo, our personal fave, you may start to feel the irrational exuberance yourself. Southern California is the undisputed home of the lowrider, but if you’re not in the vicinity, then online ordering of complete bikes is perfect, and is the perfect place to do it.

Is authenticity your thing? Then build it yourself, just like it’s done in Chicano car culture. The work is self-directed, and the more unique and original, the better. And building it could start at But caveat emptor: This is clearly the road to a certain kind of craziness. 

“I like how it just announces itself,” says Michael “Cholo” Killen, a San Jose, California, hairdresser and lowrider bike enthusiast. “And I never really have to worry about it getting stolen and me not recognizing it again on the streets if I see it. I think it’s safe to say I can’t live without mine.”

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