The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride is an event where riders give themselves a pass from wearing protective jackets and riding boots so they can get together, share their love of motorcycles and style, and — in good taste — raise money for prostate cancer research. Men and women match their bow ties to their helmets, mount their motorcycles and meet up to ride together in hundreds of cities worldwide — including New York.
The DGR was the brain child of Sydney motorcycle lover Mike Hawwa after he saw a photo of Mad Men‘s Don Draper atop a vintage Matchless motorcycle. The original 2012 ride drew together around 2,500 riders from 64 cities as a way to unite motorcycle enthusiasts. Seeing the potential impact the ride could have, in 2013 DGR ride took on a philanthropic bent; bringing together 11,000 riders, it raised over $275,000 to fight prostate cancer and raise awareness. The next year those numbers rose to 20,000 riders and $1.5 million. 2015’s ride grew considerably: 37,000 riders registered in 400 cities worldwide and raised just shy of $2.3 million. New York City’s ride alone raised almost $80,000 between 340 riders.
If you can work past the spectacle of blazers replacing proper jackets and dress shoes replacing boots, you’ll see and hear a genuine affection for bikes that goes beyond them being a fashion accessory. Guys talk about the work completed and ongoing on their custom bikes, and others affectionately point out models on display that they once owned.
Once the ride starts and the deafening sound of over 300 motorcycles fills South Street Seaport, it’s impossible not to smirk. The ride snakes through Lower Manhattan up to Lincoln Center (Church Street is momentarily blocked off to allow the ride to come through unhindered) and passersby snap photos. It is, for one morning, the best of Manhattan’s sidewalk style, all on the move — loud, unashamed and dapper as hell.