by David Rose

Who doesn’t recall Marlon Brando as the menacing motorcyclist in the 1953 film The Wild One? For years, packs of motorcyclists were stereotyped as troublemakers. But thanks to an Australian motorcyclist named Mark Hawwa, that all changed when he founded The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride.
Hawwa truly enjoyed the time he spent as a teenager riding the backroads down under on his Honda VTR250. As time passed though, he yearned for a group of bikers to ride with, so he organized some friends to form The Sydney Café Racers, the sole purpose being to bring motorcyclists together for fun and great rides. The formula worked so well that he expanded the concept and arranged an international ride on the same day each year in order to share the joy of riding while supporting a charity.

In 2011, Hawwa saw a photograph from the television series “Mad Men” featuring the show’s main character Don Draper astride a classic motorcycle, dressed in an impeccable suit. That image was Hawwa’s inspiration for organizing a worldwide biker’s holiday where all riders would dress in their finest attire, clean-shaven or trimmed beards. In 2012, the first Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride was launched with donations going to prostate cancer and men’s mental health initiatives. The initial ride was in Australia with 3,000 riders from 58 cities, but the event soon went global: in 2021 it attracted 56,000 riders from 913 cities. Since its beginning, hundreds of thousands of smartly dressed gentlefolk around the world have raised $35 million for men’s mental health initiatives and prostate cancer.

As a longtime motorcyclist and a rider in three of these events, I can say that the experience is unlike any motorcycle ride I’ve ever taken. In addition to the familiar sound of your bike shifting through the gears and the exhilaration of the open road, the knowledge that you’re providing funds for guys in need is beyond gratifying. I’m always amazed at the reception we receive as we pass groups of spectators cheering us on. It’s also great to meet other riders who share feelings about the event. The best part, however, is riding your motorcycle dressed in a suit: it might sound nuts, but this added element of respect and purpose is truly inspiring, as is the festive closing celebration with fabulous food and music.

It’s been ten years that the ride has been running and, in that time, it’s captured the imagination of not just the riders but also the thousands of people around the world who’ve watched in amazement as hundreds of fashionable riders zoom by on their classic motorcycles. To memorialize the countless stories that are part of this spectacle, there’s now a book celebrating the event.

The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride – A Decade of Dapper is available now, filled with magnificent photos taken by celebrated photographers of well-dressed bikers from around the world. The compilation of their individual stories as they share their motivations and aspirations makes for great reading. Men’s clothing retailers looking for some sartorial inspiration as they expand their gift departments should consider carrying this wonderful book.

For wholesale inquiries, contact Monica Baggio at 213-274-5387, or purchase single copies at Quarto.

Published January 17, 2023 by Motorbooks ∙ Flexi-bind, 232 pages, 200 color & b/w photos ∙ $40 US, $53 CAN ∙ ISBN: 9780760379738