Monday, December 29
I kind of see the gnarly old dudes' point of view when they laugh at us discussing whether Bates seats or headlights have the original stickers on them. But I share the Japanese guys' fascination with the way these original little remnants link us to a cooler past and a fascinating history. I'll have to remove, laminate and frame this one when I run the fender. (Joke).
I'm starting to sort through all my shit to try to get it packed, so I'm coming across mags and books I haven't looked at in a while.
The 'Observer's' series of books were essential reading for kids like me – and this was my favourite (dated 1976). But no wonder I never spotted this Electra Glide – it's apparently an 'FLX'!
Hope everyone had a good Christmas! I hate Christmas, as I hate most things, but in the best British tradition made the best of it sitting in a friend's swimming pool in 30 degree heat, supping a few beers. He drank his way around Europe (with one of those gift cases of Euro beers; he didn't know we call Stella 'Wife Beater' in England; in Oz a 'Wife Beater' is a singlet, or vest). I, meanwhile, drank my way around Oz (with my gift case of Aussie beers, all of which tasted the same).
The Panhead has now gone to new owner Julian, and all I have left is a 50-weight map of where the bike has wet-sumped during its four years in my garage.
So what's next? Well, everything from my welder to my workbench to my bunch of old helmets is going on Ebay before the move to the UK, but I'm keeping a few bits whose cells will hopefully meld, divide and create my new project. I'm diggin' SU carbs again, so I'm keeping this nice example for the next bike, and I've been waiting for the right moment to use my clean-as-a-whistle NOS Wassell chrome fender. I'll decide which tank to use once I have a frame and engine.
So it's back to dreaming and sucking up inspiration.
Sunday, December 21
I met photographer Mark Mawson through the advertising work I'm involved with. He's another Brit living in Sydney, and although he usually does commercial photography, he took my picture for a book of portraits he's producing as a side project. He also took a snap of me leaving on the Pan as a memento – thanks Mark!
This was my last ride on 'Pankenstein'. I sold it on Egay ... and it's going to its new owner this week. This was the perfect last journey into the city: beautiful weather, and the bike ran faultlessly.
Saturday, December 20
Wednesday, December 17
Tuesday, December 16
Matt's a really nice guy, and a talented fabricator (amongst other pursuits). Here's a little preview of a neat Pan he's just put together, which we'll have in the mag soon. Plus a reminder of the cool Norton he built a few years back (you may have seen it in DicE magazine – one of my favourite customs from Oz).
Monday, December 15
I'm one of those bores who doesn't tolerate anyone with different musical taste to me. I was packing mags today feeling like a cretin on work experience, and listening to 'Cretin Hop'. If you don't have a copy of 'Rocket to Russia' I can't – as Ralph Fiennes said – pardon you.
Friday, December 12
So here's the second spread from the Ozbike feature on my Panhead (see part 1 below).
I thought I'd try to sell the bike (to finance our trip back to Blighty) and use the mag feature as a selling point, so I put the word out and stuck the bike on eBay.
Now I'm a pretty straight talking bloke, so I'm always amazed at the stuff that comes out of the mouths of the dreamers you attract, like moths to a flame, when you advertise something like this. "I'll buy it off you" said one guy, then found he didn't have the funds when it came to the crunch. "I definitely want it" said another, before trying to negotiate on the already attractive no-reserve price. "You're talking to the new owner!" gushed another bloke, then ignored my emails when he was actually offered the bike.
It seems so simple to me. You want it? Let's see the cash. Job done.
I can see I'll be shipping it back to the UK; not the best move for my finances, but at least I won't have to deal with any more tyre kickers and wannabes.
Thursday, December 11
Tuesday, December 9
Friday, December 5
I'm having another FTW afternoon. And today's soundtrack to my feelings of antipathy and aggression towards 99% of mankind is Anti Nowhere League's classic 'So What?'. I'm old enough to be a better person, so how come I'm still as angry as I was when I was 13? I love it.
Thursday, December 4
Monday, December 1
So my mate Roger moved with his lady to Italy, and now he gets to shoot all the cool Italian choppers for the mag! He said Blaster is a gent ... and I don't have to tell you how cool his Pan is. It's in the latest issue, no.8, and you can read why Ed Roth called him 'our Italian connection'...
Sunday, November 30
I watched 'A Clockwork Orange' again the other night. It's a great film. I didn't realise it was withdrawn in 1972, a year after it was released, due to copycat violence in the UK. And I forgot that Warren Clarke (famous as a TV cop now in the UK) played the 'Dim' Droog!
Saturday, November 29
Of course it isn't an Xmas issue. You'll want a bloody break from Xmas by the time the 25th December comes around (the stores here had baubles and decorations up in fuckin' October), and the new GK gives you just that. Page after page of motorcycles and hot rods that make you (or at least me) a little bit twisted and bitter deep inside because you don't own them yourself.
It's the season for giving. And that's what GK just keeps on doing.
This was taken outside Snob's shop (right near the Ace Cafe) as a kind of 'before' shot (around '99?); the rigid was a very cheap Santee he had lying under layers of dust in the back of the shop and it did the job – for the right money. Snob was secretary of the London HA and had some great stories. He told me they only took so many drugs in the '70s to help them withstand the pain of long journeys on rigids!
By the way, do old ladies look like that around the world, or is it just in England?
Found this polaroid the other day, taken around '96, showing the FXWG (note the giveaway kicker pedal) before it got chopped. I rode it for quite a while blacked out like this, and liked the look. Dunno what the 'biker' pose was all about. I think I was being ironic.
Thursday, November 27
Tuesday, November 25
...what ya gonna do when they come for you?
Yeah, we've all got our cop stories, but when a cop car pulled up and we got aggressively hassled as we stood on a service station forecourt yesterday, I couldn't quite believe it. Apparently the sight of a Harley chopper, a few tattoos and a couple of beards got the service station staff nervous enough to call the cops. And I haven't heard the last of it apparently...
Wow, this is a conservative country, with the freedoms of its individuals being eroded ever so slightly every day. Maybe the move back to England isn't such a bad idea after all.
Wow ... more crazy cool stuff from Jeff Baer. He says "Check out the bike a friend of mine found recently. It had been sitting for decades. It uses the transmission as an oil tank and a pressurized Whizzer fuel tank. That’s a pressure gauge mounted where the speedo would be. The fork is Harley Hummer. Too much cool stuff on this one! Panhead bottom end, frame and transmission."
Saturday, November 22
So in 1991 I met this hot, long-legged girl at work; hey, she liked motorcycles, and wasn't phased at all by going EVERYwhere on the back of my bike (I didn't do public transport then, and don't now). She even suffered the p-pad on this XLS Sportster to France and back! And then she even got her own bike licence!
And in 2008, we're still together, though we don't have to do the shopping on a H-D any more, and she isn't as tolerant of me spending all my time in the garage...
Tuesday, November 18
My Panhead is in the new issue of Ozbike magazine, one of the big 'custom' mags here in Australia. I think they did a pretty good job with the layout (but didn't use some of the cool riding shots my mate Wasko took). The bike is such a contrast to all the high-dollar billet barges on the other pages, it would be interesting to know what the average reader makes of it. Even though I publish my own mag, I'd be lying if I said I don't still get a little thrill at seeing my bike in print elsewhere.
Thursday, November 13
Got another message from Jeff Baer the other day (check out his flathead racer below). We've been featuring a few bikes from his enviable collection in the mag, and Jeff just keeps revealing more and more amazingly cool stuff! His house looks like a museum. So anyway, Jeff knew that I liked hillclimbers, so sent me these shots with a very cool story to go with them:
"Guy, I noticed on MySpace you mention that you like Hill Climbers. Attached is a picture of one of my Hill Climbers. It won several National championships. In 1939 by A.W. French and two in 1952 by Larry Franz.
I actually met Larry Franz Sr. by accident before he died. I was at an antique motorcycle meet in Ohio a few years after I bought the hillclimber (at the same meet). I saw an old guy with couple of hillclimbers on display and started a conversation with him. I told him I had a hillclimber and knew nothing about it. I began describing the bike to him and he finished the description and told me that it was the bike he won two national championships on in one day in 1952. He also told me some history on the bike and told me what issue of the Harley Enthusiast Mag it was in (which I did not write down and tequila erased most of the info from my memory that weekend). I did manage to get his address written down though. Later that year I found the magazine (September 1952) and had an enlargement done of his article and mailed it to him with a thank you note. I asked him about the history of the bike. I did not get any response.
A couple of years later his son Larry Jr. called me. He found my address in his father's stuff and told me he passed away and thanked me for the poster I sent him.
Fast forward to 1996. I was moving and while cleaning out an old desk I came upon an unopened large envelope. I opened it up and it was unfuckin'real! It turns out that a month after I sent Larry Sr. the poster and thank you note (years ago), he had mailed me a letter including the history of the bike from 1939 to the 1960's and enclosed pictures and everything! My ex wife must have gotten the mail that day and stuffed it in the drawer by mistake! Holy shit, this was the coolest fuckin' thing. Unfortunately I found it after he had died.
Fast forward again, a couple of more years go by and I run into his son Larry Jr, at the same swap meet in Ohio. He has a bunch of his dad's stuff including another hillclimb bike his leathers, helmet, boots, spares, jerseys, etc. I bought it all of course!! Larry Jr died last year and his father's Excelsior hillclimber sold at a swap meet in Pennsylvania. I walked up just as the deal was done. (It went for considerably more then I paid for all the stuff I ended up with).
So that's the story, over a period of years this bike and it's history came to me as if it was meant to be...just lucky I guess.
I attached a drunken picture of me the day I bought the bike. I don't remember how I got the bike up or how I got it back down...I'm sure it wasn't pretty. Jeff."
Monday, November 10
Hey, we're really heading off at a tangent from 'greasy' stuff, but I was just thinking about my namesake Guy Fawkes. When I was a kid, I hated the monotonous playground taunting because of my name on 5 November, but now I'm proud to share the name of the man who almost blew up Parliament! (Here's to you Guido, five days late.)
As part of an occasional self-indulgent series looking at my own singles collection that gathers dust under my portrait in the attic, this is one of the UK Subs' finest moments. 'Live in a car' and 'B1C' are tunes I honed my guitar playing skills (?) to, and I always preferred them to the 'A' side, 'CID'. This record still sounds angry, like me.
'The Bikeriders' is one of those books I'm a bit obsessed with. I've always loved documentary photographers (and war photographers like Tim Page and Don McCullin, but they should get a separate post) and I've always loved custom bikes, so Danny Lyon's book is doubly interesting to me. I've got the original '60s first edition, as well as the two Twin Palms editions. The second of these has the colour plates: worth getting.