Portraits of American Bikers: Inside Looking Out

Portraits of American Bikers: Inside Looking Out is the second in a series of three books consisting of photographs from the Flash Collection. This collection is made up of hundreds of photographs taken by Jim "Flash 1%er" Miteff during his time as a member of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club, Detroit Chapter from 1965 to 1969. The photographs have been in storage for over 40 years and have only recently been digitized and assembled into books by Miteff's daughter, Beverly Roberts.

These photographs hold a special meaning to Roberts, not only because they were taken by her Father, but also because they represent an important part of her childhood.  You see, when Miteff joined the the Outlaws in 1965, Roberts was 6 years old.  For those four years, those "Outlaws" were her extended family.  Weekend long parties and Club members constantly in and out of the Miteff's home made for an exciting place to grow up.

Roberts was not phased by this dramatic change in lifestyle as she had grown up around motorcycles and admits she was a bit of a tomboy.  She enjoyed helping her Father work on motorcycles and also helped him with his photography.  Robert's mother was also a motorcycle rider and rode her own (a BMW), something that was not very common in those days, especially for Outlaw women.  She also wore Club colors which was the norm, instead of the "Property Of" patches you see today.

Beverly Roberts with her Mother on her Father's Panhead

When asked about some of her favorite memories from those years, Roberts related the following story:  "remember one night in particular. It was a school night and I was in my room getting ready for bed when I saw a huge spider on the wall. I screamed for help. I was terrified of spiders as a kid. Within seconds there were half a dozen of the of toughest bikers on the planet at my rescue! That spider didn't stand a chance. They were fighting their way through the door to get that bug. Huddled in the corner watching from a safe distance I was horrified at what I saw happen next. Two of the guys were fighting over the spider and the bigger guy finally won. With a gleam in his eye he picked that spider off the wall and popped it into his mouth. He ate it! I'll never forget that, never. That's just how they were. A little on the crazy side but I knew what they shared together was special. The relationship they had was the benchmark I used to measure all relationships by for the rest of my life."

Just as quickly as the Outlaws came into her life, they were gone.  As violence between rival Clubs began to escalate, the Miteff's home became a target.  One night a bullet was fired into the house and lodged itself in the wall right over Robert's infant sister.  With his family's safety in jeopardy as well as mounting business responsibilities, Miteff chose to leave the Outlaws.  Robert's would not reconnect with them again until 2007 when she started on the first book.

For Portraits of American Bikers: Inside Looking Out, Roberts went back to the Flash Collection and chose over 60 photographs, none of which were used in the first book.  She also added some current photographs of the Club members her Father had photographed.  The format is the same as the first book with each large format black and white picture given it's own page. The book is currently available in print format from Amazon and Barnes & Nobles.  Digital copies are available for both the Nook and Kindle. Check out Flash Productions' website for current information on upcoming books as well as for purchasing prints, postcards and posters of some of the signature photos from the Flash Collection.

I've included a dozen photographs which capture the custom motorcycle scene as it was in the late 1960's.  The captions are from the book.

If you missed the first article, you can check it out here:  Portraits of American Bikers: Life in the 1960s

Flash 1%er - Circa 1966

Wild Bill 1%er

Lester (club hang-around)

Detroit, MI - circa 1966

National Run to Bong Recreational Area near Kenosha, WI

Jake of the Vagabonds MC - New Baltimore, MI

At Kaiser's Wedding

Kaiser's Wedding - 1968

Typical street bikes of the time