What The Snake looked like in 1983

Dailies, Galleries -


These photos, snapped by Tom Wing between 1980 and 1983, reveal a time on Mulholland Highway before digital retouching, R1s and the Internet. You know what? The lines and styles of these riders actually look faster than the extreme lean angles (achieved at the expense of everything else) sought out by today’s riders.

Update: as Pat points out in comments, that’s an ’86 GSX-R750, so the photo was probably taken that year or later.

via RNickeyMouse on Flickr

  • FZR 1000 Got Smashed By A Car Alex

    *click*>”save as”

    Def. going into my motoporn file

  • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D

    Badass, I want a print of #1!

    Its also weird that, thanks to hipstamatic, etc. al., the vintage film doesn’t look vintage or old at all.

    • http://www.postpixel.com.au mugget

      Haha – I was thinking the kinda same thing. “Vintage? *pah* Be honest now, what iPhone app was used to edit these?”

  • Van Doan


  • pplassm

    Can’t be ’83. That’s a GSX-R.

    • pplassm

      The Flickr site says 83-86.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      The GSX-R750 was 1984, no? Feasible that one was circulating the snake in 1983 then. The flickr page says ’83.

      • Pat

        First GSX-R was ’85 in Europe and Canada. The pictures shows an ’86 Limited Edition. Very Very Cool.

        • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

          You know an awful lot about Gixxers. Hats off sir.

      • pplassm

        Yeah, but the pic says ’86.

  • Kevin

    Look at that smog. Fact: the air is a lot cleaner in So Cal now than it was back then. Riders who can’t wait to tear out their emissions controls should thank those of us who don’t.

    • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D

      Catalytic converts are magical devises.

    • donniedarko

      Could be just coastal haze… I grew up few miles from that part of Mully and not uncommon especially if its muggy and late summer.

  • Edward

    Love the car getting smoked in #4. Is that a mini cooper?

    • The other Joe

      They’re going opposite directions. The car is going downhill, bikes coming uphill

  • http://www.muthalovin.com the_doctor

    Those guys look so fast!

  • http://www.tripleclamp.net Sasha Pave

    Back in the days where jeans were considered proper sport bike riding gear. Pre helmet-law as well.

    Love the Mamola Arai!

  • Raubert Van Harris

    Pretty sure that your last sentence was referring to this guy ;) http://hellforleathermagazine.com/2011/12/the-snake-the-diavel-and-the-squid/

    But seriously, I think the ridiculous lean angles today have more to do with improvements in tires and suspension that anything else. A lot of those older bikes used bias ply tires and falling rate suspension designs (not exactly confidence inspiring). I doubt many riders in the 80s were hitting the 45+ mph apex speeds to we see in that corner today

    • Sean Smith

      No way I was just posing for the camera, needlessly grinding the peg into the ground just to get a fun shot! ;)

      • Raubert Van Harris

        Haha well it definitely made for a good pic! Is there a reason you like to keep two fingers on the front brake midcorner?

        • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

          Trail braking.

  • TuffGong

    Hanging off at 45mph is laughable…watch a GS rip through a turn without crossing yellow or hanging off,,,how can it be???Posing isn’t fast and crossing over to straighten a turn isn’t skill ,just stupid…but squids will be squids…

    • Coreyvwc

      Watch a motorcycle race, tell us how many people you see “ripping through turns” while sitting completely upright like a GS rider…

      • BMW11GS

        One of the fastest guys on the snake rides a GS. Look up “Mayor of Muholland.” Also Corey, bud, the snake is more like a cart track than race course…horses for courses they say.

        • Coreyvwc

          I am aware that it’s much much smaller than a racetrack, but physics and proper technique are two constants that do not change on behalf of “course size”.

          • Sean Smith

            You’re both wrong. The quick way up the snake is basically to ride like an 80′s superbike racer. Hang off, but don’t drop your head or elbow as much as a MotoGP racer. The important things are to have a lot of lean angle, which helps get the bike turned in slow tight corners, and also to have very good control and clear sight lines while your doing that. You’ll also get more awesome corner exit wheelies riding this way.

      • TuffGong

        Tracks are 45 ft wide and you use most of it.Right of the yellow line is generally 12-14 ft…which is the space you are allotted. There is virtually no connection between the two,which is why pure sportsbikes rule the track and are some of the least effective models on the tight mountain roads with quick rise and fall transitions and the like….where wide bars and high ground clearance are proven extremely effective by all the SuperMotards and the aforementioned GS’s “ripping” through the turns so effectively….

        • BMW11GS

          Sean, tuff essentially put model names on the 80′s riding style you described. I still don’t think we are wrong. hehe.

  • tom wing

    Pix are from 1983 to 1986….the caption has the dates wrong…see header on rnickeymouse’s flickr site.
    In those days, full leathers were rare on the street. Some riders wore homemade knee sliders taped on their jeans.
    Plenty of fast riders, not many knee draggers.

  • http://www.speedymoto.com SpeedyMoto

    That 86 GSXR-750 rider is sporting a sweet “Wes Cooley” Arai Helmet too!

  • Jeremy

    Why is there no pictures?