Classics Bronx Club
By Adam Wisnieski
They meet on weekends during the warm months at a strip of parkland they don’t know the name of. The park has more pavement than grass. The corner of East Tremont Avenue and Southern Boulevard. The bullseye of the Bronx.
About 25 members of the Classics Bronx Club, a group of more than 100 mostly Puerto Rican men who mostly live in the Bronx, stand around their bikes and talk about their other bikes. There’s a 1950 Schwinn Black Phantom, a three-speed Schwinn Corvette, a Schwinn Panther II.
The clouds are clearing and it’s one of those hot-in-the-sun, cold-in-the-shade sort of October Saturdays perfect for riding around and drinking a tall boy out of a paper bag. A guy on a crotch rocket—the motorcycles often seen and always heard around the Bronx—blasts down Southern Boulevard with that nasty deafening roar.
“See? We don’t do none of that,” says the Classics’ leader Carlos Ramos, who everyone calls Tony.
They do make a lot of noise, though. Their vintage Schwinns have been modified to hoot and honk and sometimes even blast merengue or Barry White out of a carefully fashioned boombox. But it’s a joyful noise.
“We like to make noise and let people know we are coming,” says member Isaac Sanchez, who everyone calls Goya. “But everything with respect.”
Some of these guys look like tough Puerto Ricans from the Bronx because they are tough Puerto Ricans from the Bronx. But they are all kids on the inside who love to ride bikes. The club is not childish. It’s not silly or trivial. But it is a way for grown men to relive the boys clubs of their youth: the He-Man Women Haters, Get-Rid-Of-Slimy-girlS clubs. It keeps alive that feeling of freedom that every kid gets when he or she gets their first bike.
“You remember your first bike, right?” says one of the club’s sergeants, 50-year-old Dalkiris Gil, who goes by Benny.
With age, some channel that freedom into speeding motorcycles and fast cars, but nothing replaces that first vehicle of freedom. That first bike takes you places. With just a little effort, that bike can take you fast and flying to wherever the hell you want to go. These men never abandoned that feeling and if they did, they returned to relive it years later in the Classics Bronx Club.
Founded in 1994 by Tony, the Classics Bronx Club is one of the many groups of Puerto Ricans in America who get together to ride vintage bicycles. The club started to get serious in 1999 when they got black leather vests with a logo on the back.
Together, the Classics ride to the Bronx Riviera, AKA Orchard Beach, or across the whole city for 25 miles or so to Coney Island. They ride the Bronx’s annual 40-mile Tour de Bronx. They ride in parades,