Motorcyclists have unfortunately been given a bad reputation in recent years due to the unsavoury actions of a few groups and individuals. However, the truth is that the majority of bikers, clad in patch-covered leather vests and sitting atop a rumbling Harley-Davidson, are simply enthusiasts of motorcycle culture and want to share their passion with like-minded people.
One of the many groups promoting this spirit is the PanHellenic Motorcycle Association (PHMA), founded and based in Canada, but with interest already spreading throughout other countries. They are registered as a non-profit corporation and aim to promote friendship and unity, not only amongst riders of Greek heritage, but also in the wider community through partnerships with Hellenic organisations and philanthropic groups.
Australian-born Nick Andricopoulos is one of PHMA's founders and its national president, and speaks highly of the individuals in his organisation. "The association has been formed by a body of dedicated, passionate founders which is reflected by the select members that are currently wearing the PanHellenic insignia," he explains.
"The quality of our members and those interested in becoming future members are, in simple terms, reinforcing this solid foundation that is making this Hellenic association within Canada presently one of the most desired and sought-out groups."
In hoping to change the public's perception of motorcyclists, all PHMA members must adhere to a strict code of conduct and are strongly encouraged to adhere to safe riding techniques, lest they face expulsion for putting fellow road users or the public at risk.
Furthermore, whilst it is typically - and unfortunately - the behaviour of criminal motorcyclist gangs that tends to draw the media's attention, they are substantially outnumbered by associations and clubs who are making positive contributions to their respective communities.
PHMA is one of those associations, and despite being founded barely a year ago, Mr Andricopoulos has disclosed that it is currently in internal discussions to select an affiliated charity for which it can raise donations. "One charity is geared to assist with housing; another is about children; another is about fighting terrible diseases," he says. "We will do everything we can as Hellenes in promoting our values in the spirit of philotimo and philanthropy as we as a culture are well known for."
Even at this early stage of their existence, they already have one high-profile honorary member in the form of Alexandros Ioannidis, Greece's Consul General in Toronto. PHMA's chapters organise regular group rides within their region, promote Greek networking events, and even arrange bike blessings with the Greek Orthodox Church - a seemingly unusual custom to most, but not uncommon amongst motorcycle aficionados.
Mr Andricopoulos explains that this practice is similar to the Hellenic tradition of blessing one's own home each year - "the Greek Orthodox religion is part of all of us" - and for riders, is done at the beginning of the riding season. "We motorcyclists share the road with many, and there is no safety feature if something were to unfortunately happen to us.
"Therefore we look upon this as a means to have a safe riding season as our journeys are based on the pleasure of riding and safe travels, just as we wish our family and home prosperity and good fortune after it has been blessed."
The association's motto, as seen on the striking back patch worn by PHMA members, derives from the Latin ex ungue leonem - 'from the claw (we may judge of) the lion' - and if their kind deeds and positive attitudes are anything to go by, the roar of a motorcycle could very well herald a new force for good in the global Greek community.