1974 - 1981
In the early days of Easyriders
Magazine, the ABATE section allowed
bikers to write asking for help in their
state and give information in regard to
anti-bike legislation on the state
level. In early 1974, the New York
Motorcycle Rights Organization (NYMRO)
sent an article written by Jed Tranquill
stating that there was to be a state
wide helmet law protest at the state
This article raised a great deal of
enthusiasm from bikers in the
On the spur of the moment and out of total frustration, Warren Bennett, Kemp O’Connell, and George Vigars organized their own Motorcyclist Rights Protest. It was thought up on a Tuesday and conducted five days later on a Saturday. One hundred flyers were designed and circulated to the local bike shops. We then went directly to the news media with our story. The local newspapers gave us a real good shot. Channel 10 TV talked us into bringing some bikers down to the State Capitol the Friday before the protest for an interview. Six bikers appeared on their choppers to give a first-hand analogy of the concerns of the motorcyclists rights. At this point in time there was a lot of talk about outlawing choppers, extended front-ends, springers, and raking, along with any alteration to the frame.
Two days before the run, the Albany Police Department issued an order to its men that any biker without a helmet was to be arrested. This being the first event gave everyone a case of the jitters. On Saturday about 60 local bikers rode to the State Capitol two-by-two. About half had helmets on. The police were more than cordial and no tickets were issued nor arrests made. We had proved our point. We had gotten along well with the news media and it paid off for us in the end.
A month later, Warren Bennett made a
In Keith Ball’s office hung a poster
about 8" x 3', stating “Helmet Laws
Suck, ABATE of
In the early days of ABATE of
At a monthly membership meeting, money
was raised among the members for an
ABATE clubhouse. A place was found on
With the clubhouse, ABATE grew so fast that it literally split ABATE apart at the seams. ABATE did not have any type of organizational structure, nor professional leadership. The bar and money was handled with little or no accountability to any one person. Everyone thought that the clubhouse would just run by itself with little or no responsibility on anyone’s shoulders. In a little less than three months, the whole thing folded.
Although money was being ripped off to some extent, and beer sales were unaccountable, along with some drugs being used inside of the clubhouse, the biggest problem that the ABATE clubhouse faced was with a local outlaw club. This club, at the time, did not understand ABATE, nor did the members of ABATE understand this club. Animosity developed between the two groups. The end resulted in Hondas being kicked over as the club members decided to antagonize their opposition and by ripping off a Superglide that was parked in front of the clubhouse. This bike was later recovered at the outlaws garage down the street from ABATE. This club (the Breed M/C) seemed to get their kicks playing head games with members of ABATE, who were not interested in any hassle.
Because of the bad mismanagement and a
lack of any strong leadership, ABATE
closed down the clubhouse. After paying
off the bills we were left just about
broke. Members who were involved with
this project ripped up their membership
cards and tore off their patches. All
the many problems were piled on ABATE,
making it responsible for everybody’s
shortcomings. ABATE of
After about four or five months, the
ones who were concerned about
legislation decided to make ABATE into a
mail order organization. No contact
would be made with the members, other
than a monthly newsletter. ABATE still
had some volunteers to lobby on its
behalf at the capitol, although their
unflagging zeal and morale was low. Out
of the 300-plus members who belonged to
It didn’t take long for the word to get out that ABATE had another clubhouse. To stop any misunderstandings, this group started their own motorcycle club, calling itself “Friends of the Road Motorcycle Club”, dedicated to the preservation of ABATE.
By having a clubhouse atmosphere (beer,
food, music, and pool table) it didn’t
take a lot of talking to get people to
stop by and lend a hand to ABATE. When
it came time to put together the
newsletter, there was always plenty of
help and volunteers. ABATE of
....As we go marching on. Shortly after the first clubhouse was closed, a group of ABATE members from the Gilboa area (35 miles away) started an ABATE chapter. At the time, we were spending every last nickel on the helmet law repeal. This chapter sent us all their membership dues, which at the time, was $5 per year per member. This chapter lasted about six months, ran out of money, ran out of leadership, and ran out of hope.
A short time later, some members living
It didn’t take us long to realize that you can’t have a negative outlook if you expect to have any positive results... NOR CAN NEGATIVE PEOPLE ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING POSITIVE, except maybe an accident.
And on it went, chapter after chapter
forming, reaching out and influencing
area bikers and politicians. A chapter
needs good leadership and volunteer help
from its members to be successful, as
well as keeping its members informed or
educated through regular meetings and
newsletters. Chapters that have failed
on one or more of these points have
folded: ABATE of
When ABATE of
The biggest problem that ABATE of New York has was overcome when we developed a statewide newsletter, thus informing all the members of what other chapters were up to in other parts of the state. This has increased competition between the chapters to outdo one another on different projects.
As with any story, there are stories within - as with George Vigars, the first State Coordinator (1974 - 1977), who took the initiative to do something while others just talked about it; Jim Andrus, the second State Coordinator (1977 - 1977), who had access to DOT records and gave us proof that many of the news stories were lies; Dave Bakic, the third State Coordinator (1977 - 1978), who took the job in name only; Dick Tallcot, the fourth State Coordinator (1978 - 1980), who drew up a Constitution and set of bylaws for ABATE of New York and had them ratified by the chapters November 18, 1978, established a monthly statewide newsletter as of February 1979 (had run a monthly Syracuse Chapter newsletter since April 1977 before that), and got ABATE of New York incorporated (which was finally made effective by the attorney we hired July 1980); Phelps Moore Jr., the fifth State Coordinator, who continues the work holding the organization together; the volunteers made everything possible, for without the volunteer helpers, the officers in ABATE may not have accomplished anything. In fact, there may not have even been an ABATE.
ABATE of New York, Inc., has had many years experience to iron out its problems and to move ahead. If we have learned anything, it’s that you can’t do it alone. A lot of people doing a lot of work is always much better than a few people doing a lot of work. How did we accomplish all of this? We formed chapters, independent chapters without any strings attached. We made them their own bosses whether they liked it or not. The chapters had power over their own destination and the responsibility that goes along with it. If a local chapter goes down the tubes, they have no one to blame but themselves. They can’t come running back to the State Office nor anyone else; they are what they are. It’s up to the local members to vote in or out of office, members they feel are best qualified; although qualifications have little to do with spirit and hard work, which is what they will need if they want satisfaction and success down the road with ABATE.
One last note: The first thing they teach you in the Marine Corps boot camp is - THERE’S NO SUCH WORD AS CAN’T!