Friday, February 27
It's a hard lesson, but you can't buy 'cool' or a 'lifestyle'.
I loved everything about Sydney shop Deus Ex Machina when they opened; it was like an art gallery that featured bikes. But then their teeshirts started appearing on the backs of the kind of 'media' people who probably have their own Gaggia coffee makers, and bikes like this started appearing in their ads.
Who's buying these machines? The only local guys I know building 'bobbers' (yeah, Deus think it's a bobber!) are doing it for a fifth of the cost. My ripoff antennae are twitching again.
There was an interesting photo on the Born Loser Blog showing English HA with homemade patches sometime in the late 60s. It prompted me to dig out this book, which is the story of how the UK HA's first president got their first charter from California. It's a great read.
Tuesday, February 24
Tuesday, February 17
Haven't updated the website yet, but the new mag is available any day. Great issue: a particularly poignant column by Irish Rich, our first Japanese marque chopper (XS 650), a '69 Sporty, '47 Knuck bobber, '37 Indian Chief, NY streetfightin' Trump chopper, Italian flathead (Corner's old bike), a TriBSA caff racer, a neat GMC pickup, Model A Roadster, SwissMike's Bonneville... this stuff still gets me going!
And best of all, cover bike is Go of Bratstyle's personal ride: a 1540cc 'GT' S&S Knuck. Cor blimey. (Thanks Mochi, you rule!).
And ... our last issue from Australia!
Sunday, February 15
Long ago in a land far away, I created a rockabilly band called 'Born Bad' that cut a few records, played some gigs in London (there were usually more of us in the band than in the audience) and had a good time. Then I left ('it's going nowhere, man') to join another band, and 'Born Bad' changed names before becoming Morrissey's backing band. My friend Alain who I formed the band with ended up Morrisey's co-writer for over a decade, and bought a house in Camden Town (cash) after their first US tour.
But the important thing to remember is that I'm not BITTER.
Saturday, February 14
Had a goodbye beer today with Wasko and Von Daz in the Carlisle pub in Newtown, then rode with Daz (him on his Bonneville) to his workshop, where I got a preview of his insane supercharged 650 Triumph street-tracker and a go on his vintage Jawa Speedway bike down the road.
Direct drive, no brakes, insane acceleration, no ability to turn right ... I've never had a biking experience like it. I can only imagine what it's like in the dirt...
Friday, February 13
This may not mean anything to you if you're not from the UK, but there was a cheesy chain of poster shops that were big in the 80s called Athena, and one of their best selling images was like this one. Except the model wasn't fat and the baby wasn't laughing. Anyway, this tickled my missus and it's her take on the 'man from Athena'. My poor lad, he'll never live it down.
One of the frustrating things about doing the magazine is how many photos I have to leave out because of space. Often I wish I could run 12 or 14 pages on one bike. Maybe I should.
Anyway, I thought this would be a good place to air some interesting images from GK shoots that we didn't use. These photos of Bill Mize's stunning Knuck were snapped by Blayne Barrs.
Thursday, February 12
"It was a 1937 UL Chopper that I had for a little while back in the '80s... I used to build bikes and sell 'em quite a bit back then. Actually I think I still have that sissy bar and peanut tank in the attic. I also have a couple of those extended Harley springers like the one on that UL up on a shelf. Luckily I only sold one Knucklehead back then. Something told me to hold on to those motors. But countless ULs, 45s, trikes and Panheads went through my shop, even a few Shovelheads." Jeff Baer
Tuesday, February 10
This happened before, when we moved from the UK to Australia 8 years ago. I had to sell a Triumph Trident, and basically ended up giving it away because we ran out of time.
This KTM LC4 Duke II has served me well. I don't think I've owned a more fun bike. It's on Ebay, 45 watchers, no bids ... usual story.
Sunday, February 8
Roth's 'Choppers' was first ... then I remember 'Continental Restyling' in the '90s (they went on to create 'Rolls & Pleats') and then DicE and the rest of us. Full size magazines seem to be so wasteful of their space in comparison.
Saturday, February 7
Friday, February 6
Do you remember the Iron Horse magazine article (April '97) on Harley dealers B&D in New Jersey, by David Snow? When H-D started forcing their dealerships to turn themselves into boutiques, long-established shops like B&D often couldn't afford the transformation. They were left out in the cold by the MotorCo.
This great B&D ad from 1948 was sent to me by Jeff Baer. ("They were the accessory kings", he says).
If anyone's interested, I'll risk copyright infringement again and post the excellent Snow article here.
I've chatted with and interviewed hundreds of chopper heroes in pursuit of the website and magazine now (admittedly by phone, as I live so fuckin' far from anyone and anything), from Max S to Chopper D, Bill M to Trent S. And one of the absolute coolest is Mark Drews: humble, helpful and an all-round super nice and fascinating guy. And check out his bikes: he just 'gets it'.
I drew this little fella when the GK website first started in '99-2000, and he's now appeared on our stickers and on the Japanese Psycle Shop website! Irish Rich now has the original drawing: I love the fact it may be nestled next to some amazing originals by Roth or Williams somewhere in his stash.