Riddle me this: If riding a motorcycle is so much fun, why don't you ever see Harley Davidson owners smiling?

Now, sure, I don't expect them to be grinning to themselves like nut-jobs when they're stopped at a red light, but I can't remember ever seeing a bloke thunder up somewhere public on his Harley, heel down the kick-stand and grin at the watchers.

You ride a bike that's noisier than The Western Front in 1915, you want to be noticed ... so how's about showing some delight, old friend?

I know when I do stuff I enjoy - like drinking Scotch and eating beef jerky in bed, well, I smile to myself - every now and then, just to nail down the memory of what's an incredible indulgence.

Harley riders? They always frown or glower, then amble away from their bike like their armpits are on fire.

Melbourne artist Darby Hudson recently released a wonderful little illustrated book titled Walk in which he describes a person's gait as "their whole body unconsciously attempting to own the earth in the face of impossibility".

"It's why when you see someone with a swagger or a rehearsed dance move, it gives you a sense of sorrow. These are moves for an earth unowned, a life unlived," he writes.

I've thought about those lines so many times over Christmas and New Year's, particularly on Australia Day, as I watched dudes strut around my suburb, layin' claim to the 'hood.

The go-to word in American sports and hip hop for the last few years has been "swagger".

Confident teams have it. Losing teams need to find it. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant and Kanye West personify it. Hell, marketers even want their products to radiate it.

And when you see a bike like this, "swagger" is a pretty appropriate description.

That's why I find the inherited ethos of some Harley riders just a tad duplicitous. So many claim it's about the essence of two wheels, wind in your hair (helmet), power between your legs. But I get the feeling that for many, it's about looking tough - borrowing the swagger imparted by their bike.

I guess you could argue trying to look tough is just as valid a pastime as looking ripped or hip or studious or any the million other images guys try to project.

And I guess if you wanna look tough, you don't smile. Just swagger.

Interestingly though, Kobe, D-Wade and LeBron never seem to stop smiling, which might provide a clue as to the difference between owning swagger and buying it.

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