The Evolution of Steelwings…

…began in the later months of 1992, in a car radio shop cum Harley Davidson dealership: namely Niall’s Car Radio in downtown Johannesburg city. In the early nineties, there were only a few Harley riders in South Africa, and all of those at that stage were really staunch.. you could count them on your hands and feet. The original Mothers of Invention who hatched the idea were namely Niall Bernic, Hilton Nerwich, Kenny Abrahams, Richard Gordon and Mike Barbaglia.

Niall started bringing in new and very good second hand bikes. Around that time, in the late eighties and early nineties, Harley Davidson had this reawakening and there was a shortage of bikes across the world. How Niall did it, like everything else he does; only he knows. All of a sudden Niall brought light into the hearts of many “braves”, who yearned for a bike and to be part of the action. In 1991, the first shipments came in, and as they arrived, they were already sold, and more were on the way, All of a sudden there was a “crew” of riders looking for a home and the “Mothers” started Steel Wings Harley Davidson Motorcycle Club with an overdraft of R1500.

The club was really open for membership in late 1992. Colours were designed and members started joining. By December 1992, there were about 2 dozen members and the first badges were issued at the end of 1991. In the early nineties, the club would meet in a parking lot on Corlett Drive. By 1994 there were approximately 170 members in the club, catering to all sorts of bikes… new, old, standard and customised; but all Harleys, and all ridden by proud owners.

The club organised Sunday rides, Saturday lunches, Thursday evenings, charity runs, weekends away and a camaraderie existed between bikers within and without the club. As a member from the beginning, I can only remember great times had by all who joined whichever event, and many friendships were formed. At ties there would be upward of 80 to 100 bikes for a weekend ride to the Drakensberg or Eastern Transvaal. We used to hire a band to play on the main night, or a liquor manufacturer to give free booze or prizes for various bullshit. As time went on many members sold their bikes for other bikes, got married, joined other clubs or just dropped out. Steel Wings over the years has never had less than 50 to 60 members and the group are as staunch as ever.

The club has grown from strength to strength with a core of members who might not be present at each and every function, but are always there to lend a hand and to contribute to the love of biking, whether smelling the shit in the air, the fresh cut grass, the exhaust fumes of the “rice burners”, the feel of the wind in our faces, just having a jol or just being in love with the leather, chrome and metal of our “better halves”.

P. Edel (Captain Beefheart)