"I guess engraving is to Mexicans what skulls are to white dudes," laughed Caeser McGuire. Funny on the surface, there's more than a little truth in that humorous observation. Lowrider culture ups the ante when it comes to engraving cars, trucks, and of course, bikes. When we came across these two baggers owned by Caeser and friend Marcos Mendieta, we saw a hybridization of two cultures you usually see side-by-side here in Southern Cali, but rarely on the same machine-classic lowrider engraving with the bells and whistles of modern baggers. Or as I like to call it, lowrider meets big wheel.
Marcos and Caeser both have long histories with the lowrider culture, Marcos building them, Caeser owning them. That's how they became friends. When they took the leap into buying their late-model Harley tourers (Marcos an '06 Road King, Caeser a '10 Street Glide), that part of who they are came along for the ride, leaving a very distinct mark on both bikes and creating a cultural crossover that's really cool to behold. Here's what they had to say about the experience.
BAGGERS: You come from street bikes and lowrider cars and trucks. What was the biggest adjustment you made going from street bikes to cruisers?
MM: Basically just getting the cruiser. I used to do crazy things on street bikes but they go too fast. Harley-Davidsons are a totally different ballpark. You're not zooming between cars, pissing people off like you do on a street bike. It's about enjoyment. There's also only so much you can do with street bikes, customization-wise. Baggers are unlimited.
BAGGERS: Tell us about the riding scene in the Inland Empire. How is it different than custom styles in LA or San Diego?
MM: You see more customs in the LA area but here in San Bernardino, it's more of a Head turner. You also get a lot more of the lowriding style with spokes and white walls. We changed that all up with big wheels and loud sound.
BAGGERS: How'd you get into riding and working on street bikes?
MM: I owned one. Little by little friends brought me their bikes. I used to do trucks but that market went south so the bikes keep me afloat. I've done stuff to cars and trucks in general, anything. I've been in the auto/truck scene lifting and lowering, air bagging and accessorizing cars and trucks. When I bought my first Harley my whole game plan changed. Due to my past, I couldn't just ride a stock bike so that journey started with me customizing my own. Now I do a steady amount of Harleys for my customers too.
BAGGERS: What type of riding do you do? Solo trips mostly or group rides?
MM: I try to ride as much as I can. We're not a club but we go to big events on weekends to hang out. It's pretty cool too because wherever we go, our whole group has our own rolling custom bike show. Everyone trips out on them. [Laughs]
BAGGERS: What sort of places do you hit on a ride?
MM: It's hard for us to all get together but we do Laughlin every Year. For local stuff, whoever's free we just gear up and go.
BAGGERS: Why a bagger and not something else?
MM: The bike looks bigger when you have a bagger. Softail's nice but too small for me. I love the bags and stereo.
BAGGERS: What are your plans for your next bike?
MM: I want to do a Road Glide. I just finished another bike for a buddy.
BAGGERS: What inspired this one?
MM: Back in 2009, I bought and built a 2007 Fat Boy Lo that had all the bells and whistles. It was definitely a Head turner. After two Years of owning that bike it was reported stolen and taken away from me. I've never been able to get it back-it was a good deal gone bad. That was devastating for me and my family because all of the money and time that went into it was gone with nothing to show for it. Back then it seemed like I'd never replace that loss until a friend stepped in and basically bought this Road King for me. I was determined to make this bike even better than the last one. With the support of friends and family I was able to create this, as they say, sick bagger.
BAGGERS: Were there any difficulties going into the project?
MM: I'm a rider. I hate to see gorgeous bikes on trailers being towed to some destination. That defeats the purpose of building a motorcycle to me. Still, I had my doubts about how this bike was gonna handle with the 30-inch Front wheel. After riding it I was amazed at how smoothly it handles, though. I'm truly happy with the outcome and wouldn't change it for another size. The biggest lesson I took from the whole experience is that you can do anything you set your mind to. Life is full of obstacles; you just have to learn to ride them out. On two wheels if possible. [Laughs] Gilbert, Danny, and Caeser made sure I stayed busy and I really want to thank them for that.