On a warm evening in October 2021, Enzo Crispin mounted his cobalt motorcycle and set off into the night. Hundreds of others joined his caravan, the rumbles of their engines filling the air of Fort-de-France, the capital of the French Caribbean island territory of Martinique. The riders popped up on one wheel, stood up on their bikes, brushed their hands along the ground — all while zooming along at top speed.
Completely exhilarating. Potentially illegal, at least on public streets. This is “cabrage,” which roughly translates from French as a rodeo on wheels.
Rides like the one Enzo organized that fall are known in French as barodes. They are banned in Martinique; participating in one can be punishable by a year in prison and a 15,000 euro fine. But that hasn’t stopped locals from developing a vibrant culture around the motorcycles, scooters and other vehicles they use to navigate the island, which has limited public transportation.
Most of the cabrage riders are men in their late teens to 20s. They congregate on Sundays in the parking lot of the Stade Pierre-Aliker, a stadium in Fort-de-France, to learn new tricks and skills. “I don’t think about anything,” said Enzo, 22. “It’s a feeling of freedom. It’s a moment when you only think of yourself, no one else.” (All interviews have been translated from French.)
The sport comes with not just legal risks, but physical ones, too. In November 2022, Mathieu dislocated his shoulder after colliding with another biker in the street.