Sideburn 37

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#37 £7

Roland Sands on the Suzuki GT750 hooligan, Daytona Beach. Read more from p58

Sideburn is published four times a year by Inman Ink Ltd Editor: Gary Inman Deputy editor: Mick Phillips Art editor: Kar Lee Entertainments officer: Dave Skooter Farm Poet/Test rider: Travis Newbold For advertising/commercial enquiries please email: ©2019 Sideburn magazine ISSN 2040-8927 None of this magazine can be reproduced without publisher’s consent Sideburn 37 was made with blind optimism and the priceless help of this team of wonderful collaborators: Paul Bryant; Ross Sharp; Briar Bauman; Jarod Vanderkooi; Hank Scott; Ed Subias; Jeremy Prach; Scott at Fuel Café; Horst Friedrichs; David Death Spray; Ryan Quickfall; all at Indian Motorcycle; all at Husqvarna; Scott Toepfer; Kirk Gee; Roland & Joe at RSD; Adi Gilbert; Caylee Hankins; Leonie Watkins; all the Morocco adventure women; all at Moto Aventures; Dave Bevan; Fede & German at HMG; Sam Christmas; Rory Blofield; Ed Makowski; Lenny Schuurmans; Gary Van Voorhis; all at the DTRA; and our super advertisers. Please support those who support the scene. Thanks for buying Sideburn. The opinions expressed in Sideburn magazine are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the magazine’s publisher or editors.

Cover photo: Wasp Yamaha MT-07, Birmingham, UK, by Paul Bryant This page: Preston Burroughs

SIDEBURN 38 will be published in September 2019. To subscribe go to






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Amateur Brit dreamer creates an AFT Twin



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HORST FRIEDRICHS Portfolio of the subculture portrait master



Pastrana’s Water Buffalo and Super Hooligans at the gates of pro flat track



Argentina catches the dirt track bug

Illustration: Adi Gilbert/99Seconds Studio


SB legend shakes it till the meat comes off the bones


18 Interview: Jarod Vanderkooi 24 Get Schooled: Make your race rule 107 Lenny Schuurmans’ Backflash 108 Racewear: Donzilla Miller 111 Sideburn merchandise 112 Death Spray Custom inspiration 114 Trophy Queen


Words: Ross Sharp Photos: Paul Bryant

Badly stung by thwarted youthful ambition, Ross Sharp finally found something to soothe the pain HEN I WAS nine, a bigger boy stole the lawnmower engine earmarked for my Dexion go-kart project. When I was 16, still at school, my design technology coursework was a motorcycle trailer with brazed joints. Apparently, oxy-acetylene torches shouldn’t be used to light cigarettes. The trailer was never finished. When I was 19, I helped a speedway-champ buddy prepare bikes in between race meetings. Hang in there folks, this is going somewhere. The next decade or so was spent on the wrong side of the fence, mostly watching racing rather than going racing. Then when I was 32, I landed a dream job managing a historic race car team at an engineering company that manufactured radiators and intercoolers. I designed [most successful sidecar racer in Isle of Man TT history] Dave Molyneux’s cooling package for his TT sidecar that year, among other interesting projects, and I had high hopes of realising an overactive imagination. But that job was



short lived, along with my motorsport career as a whole. When I was 36, I sat on a plane next to Gary Inman on the way back from racing at El Rollo, where we discussed my plan to build the ultimate Thunderbike, using Yamaha’s MT-07/XSR700/FZ-07 engine. See, now we’re getting somewhere. GI suggested the usual suspects for such a project, a couple of whom I’d already flirted with. But I had a burning desire to build my bike, rather than be led by what had gone before, albeit under the heavy influence of Ron Wood’s designs. I could have ordered, and nearly did, a frame kit from Southland Fabrication, or begged Jeff Palhegyi to produce another DT07, but the stubborn, stillborn engineer in me needing sating. Later that year, 2016, I won the DTRA’s UK flat track championship’s Rookie class and felt invincible, just before smashing myself up in the first corner of the final race of the season. While convalescing, between blackouts and fainting, I must have reignited the project by making a rash eBay purchase. A written-off MT-07 with metal spaghetti for a front end arrived at my door on a pallet. Despite what the dealer insisted, the frame was as straight as Elton John. In drag. After having it realigned I procrastinated about how to mask the awkwardly shaped frame with some form of rakish, one-piece carbon tank and seat unit. Then the inner voice started to chatter, ‘Just make your own frame, how hard can it be? You have the chassis design and flat track books. It’s just tubes. You can weld.’ Thankfully, sense punched the inner voice in the lips just before I ordered a pipe bender and, instead, I called the guys at Wasp Motorcycles in Salisbury to talk turkey about working together on this red herring racer. Wasp are old-school frame builders with a reputation stretching back to the early 1960s for manufacturing the most beautiful scramblers, crossers and sidecar outfits using traditional gas brazing. In more recent times, custom bikes have put them on the map with a new audience thanks to brazing prodigy John Hand. I loved his Fazer 600 café racer, but, more importantly, he shared my enthusiasm for Yamaha’s perfect 689cc parallel twin. He’d fabricated a traditional cradle frame for the motor and made probably the most bang-on supermoto/street scrambler I’ve seen. And if weld porn is your thing, then John is your Dirk Diggler. But, and a big but at that, Wasp knew little

about flat track racing. In my mind, they built speedway sidecar outfits, which need to slide, so I reckoned we’d figure it out. At this point I must confess that the mission became slightly plagiaristic, aping Ron Wood’s BMW F800, which I’d fallen in love with years earlier. Even with my primitive command of Photoshop, the Yamaha motor’s engine mounts nearly lined up with the Beemer’s. I handed my printout to Wasp’s boss man, Mark, and said, ‘I want that one.’ He, of course, required some measurements as apparently enthusiasm and a photo do not maketh a motorcycle. The DTRA pit lane is as full of guesswork as it is knowledge and finding a truffle among the shale proved to be tricky. Someone had read somewhere that the perfect wheelbase (clockwise from top left) Doesn’t all the for a racer was X while fuel leak out? Gas tank is actually a cover someone had told for the radiator. The composite dummy someone else that the was cut down the middle and widened to swingarm droop should fit over the frame; Shock linkage is based preferably be Y. Which, on the stock MT-07; Cooling system air duct; T45 seamless aerospace steel combined with the black tubing and British brazing. The extra inch and white photos in my was added to the swingarm length during flat track book, meant I development; Coolant temp gauge; Like was slightly in the dark. the frame, Co-Built Howitzers are also And I couldn’t exactly made in England; Ross’s radical vision of what an AFT twin should look like. Fresh! start interrogating experienced frame builders to then give the job to someone else. So I asked Derek Brindley, out in the States helping son Oliver race flat track at the top level, to get his tape measure out in the AFT paddock and send me some dimensions. My render, a handful of angles and measurements, plus images of the Southland and Palhegyi bikes, was pretty much all we had to go at, and for the next few months I spent most Fridays on the motorway from London to Wiltshire to try and help guide the direction of the Wasp framer. Complicating matters was the fact that I didn’t really know what the hell I was talking about. I’d ridden nearly my whole Rookie season with seized and rusted suspension bearings in my Yamaha 450 and my hooligan bike was running full touring settings. I’d managed just fine, proving that either I was lucky or simply have zero feel. So what would a degree here or a millimetre there matter? Wasp ploughed on, using a one-to-one pencil-on-paper drawing to mock up the basic frame outline in mild steel tube before committing to the holy grail – thin-walled T45 joined with the neatest brazing I’ve ever


seen. The finished frame weighs just over 7kgs and the swingarm 6kg. Then the crackpot cooling solution needed incorporating. I wanted to ditch the conventional radiator. AFT Twins riders don’t crash that often. I do. And I didn’t want a bump to end my race day when I was six hours or four countries from home, so I thought I’d cocoon the heat exchanger out of harm’s reach. Plus I wanted to prove I’m an innovative sort of chap who, with some direction as a youth, could have been the next Gordon Murray or John Britten. Many card maquettes were made, with imaginary air flowing this way and that. My time at the engineering company was paying dividends, but innovation was hampered by packaging. In the quest for slenderness, the frame’s architecture wasn’t allowing much real estate for a radiator. I figured that a stock rad was designed to cool an MT in Death Valley, with two doughnut-dunking units on board, without boiling over. A three-minute DTRA heat wasn’t going to melt anything, so I halved the surface area and crossed my fingers. One of the lads I’d worked with at the race shop made the slightly curved rad to my sketch, the final tweaks were administered via WhatsApp. The theory was that air would be ducted from just under the number board, be forced through the horizontal rad and vent through mesh panels on the surface of the dummy fuel tank. The actual fuel tank would be under the seat for centralised mass, and further crashproofness. Initially, I’d wanted a direct-action rear shock but the tank position ruled that out. We elected to run with a linkage and use the original shock mount on the back of the motor. I added further complication to this component, and the rest of the bike, by insisting on adjustability, to compensate for my lack of knowledge. The ride height, and therefore rising rate, can be tweaked thanks to a rose joint on the lower linkage. Coming

soon, there’ll be a threaded main link for quick changes to the rate. An adjustable, rose-jointed subframe was made, too, but superseded by a fixed aluminium version. The swingarm is also adjustable, eccentric inserts in the cylindrical end cups allow for different axle heights in relation to the countershaft sprocket. And the headstock is girthy enough to accept variable-angle bearings. Many months and many miles later, I had the frame in my possession, which brought about the next problem. I’d moved house and no longer had a workshop to finish the Yam in. Viv Cowley from V-Moto came to the rescue. Viv was on the Silk Cut Jaguar Group C team, engineered stuff on the Bloodhound SSC land speed car and spannered for Kenny Roberts’ GP team – I was in safe hands. ‘Can you just make some foot controls and mount the rad? Oh, and tidy the wiring, and change the subframe, and, and…’ I delivered a bare rolling chassis and a box while wearing a very sheepish expression. The fuel tank I’d hastily fabricated was scrapped. Viv’s version with rear filler is much neater, and now has the wiring harness, tiny Antigravity four-cell battery (there’s a bigger slave for starting and running the fan between races) and ECU rubber-mounted to the sides. There’s just enough room for a Power Commander too, but it runs fine on Ramair foam filters with titanium tube intake tracts. The rad is fully enclosed and ducted to ensure none of the airflow is wasted. There’s a 3.75in Spal fan with an override switch, just in case. After spending hours shaping foam and plaster of Paris to no avail, Mike Hill from Survivor Customs saved the day with one of his composite tank covers (he uses ally fuel cells underneath). This was split and spread wider to cover the upper frame tubes and the cut-outs filled with stainless mesh. The seat unit is a temporary one from eBay. It’s wide, uncomfortable and will be replaced soon. Along with the paint scheme. Working with Viv not only got the bike across the finish line but also allowed me to overindulge in racy engineering. The coating on the T45, the Tridair and titanium fasteners and a host of hidden things are F1 spec. And we could have gone further, but

‘I wanted to prove that, with some direction as a youth, I could have been the next Gordon Murray or John Britten’ Photo: Alex Shore


The best thing about the RSW-01 is it was built to race. We hurried to shoot it but it had already been crashed twice during testing. That says more about Ross’s gung-ho style than any bike failings

had to remind each other that this is just a prototype, for a six-round championship, a prototype that had already gone hugely over budget. There’s a load to change and the final bike isn’t quite what I had in mind, but perhaps it’s best to save the ideas for the next one. So, after three years, 5000 van miles, a ton of cash and a lifetime’s supply of patience, what does it ride like? Well. On clay it’s awesome. The power delivery is progressive and buttery. At Greenfield it was laying 50-metre black lines out of the corners. Might not be the fastest technique, but it’s fun. I tried the Indian FTR750 on the same track a few days later and, of course, it was better in every way, but the power delivery wasn’t all that different. If anything, I preferred the Yam’s initial hit. I’d love to let loose on a mile track, but here in the UK it’s doubtful I’ll ever use more than third gear. There’s way too much front-end grip though and with the large yoke offset, pull-back clamps (not tested since removing these) and wide bars it’s like steering a ship. I prefer an understeering, banana-skin front end. Just looking at the finished bike, I reckon the engine is a touch too far back, but it’s too late now. And I need to put a pro on it who knows how to set up suspension. On shale, I hate the front even more. But when the cushion is deep, oh boy! Out near the fence is my new favourite place – high, wide and handsome. The overly long swingarm offers drag-bike serenity while the motor delivers its punch. And the soundtrack is awesome. The crossplane-cranked twin howls through stainless headers and a pair of titanium silencers made by who else but the King of Pipes, Co-Built Geoff. So far, the wacky rad is working a treat, 93 degrees is the highest reading so far, below the stock fan cut-in threshold. It’ll be interesting to see how this changes during the British summer (both days of it). And it’s survived unscathed from both an encounter with the air fence and a 25ft ditch jump. But to be perfectly honest, how it rides hasn’t turned out to be the priority here, strangely. It’s the culmination of unfinished chapters of my life story that have driven the build. OK, so that’s a lot of sentimentality, but somewhere deep down the nine-year-old me is grateful. He might not have wowed the world of F1 with his racing machines, but he’s done enough to get one featured in the best magazine there is.




l 689cc Yamaha CP2; stainless and titanium exhaust by Co-Built; Ramair foam filters on titanium tube intake tracts


l Wasp T45 frame and swingarm; Yamaha R6 5EB forks; Weiss Racing adjustable triple clamps; Öhlins XSR700 road shock with lighter spring from BG Motorsport; Survivor Customs fork guards and tank cover; A16 Road N Race seat unit


l 2.5in Morad rims with Aprilia SVX550 hubs built by Hagon


l Motion Pro quick-action or Venhill (on/ off switch) throttle (depends on how I’m feeling); Renthal bars; Intelilever chain and sprockets; wiring by Richard Prowse Thanks: My buddy James, who’s been a sounding board for the last three years. And to my old friend Mark, my partner in crime at the engineering company, who’d have loved to have seen the radical rad in action. RIP mate.

Who? What? When? Why? Where?

Jarod Vanderkooi Interview: Gary Inman Illustrations: Adi Gilbert/99 Seconds Studio

You’re the youngest member of the official Harley-Davidson American Flat Track team, but where did motorcycle racing start for you? My first ever race was on a Honda 50 at Sunset Ramblers in Galion, Ohio. I was five. I remember going down the straightaway and looking at the crowd waving and running into the back of another rider and crashing. I got my interest in motorcycles from my dad, Jerry. I grew up at the races while he, my uncles and most of my cousins raced. My dad raced a Harley-Davidson XR750 and a 600 Rotax when he was really taking it seriously. He mostly raced local Expert, but he raced the nationals and had national number 86 [from 1997 to 2002]. There has always been a family aspect to racing. Dad went racing with mom and me and my siblings. He raced till I was about ten years old, then he gave it up and put a lot of effort into my programme. I’ve heard a lot of stories of me riding my little scooter through the pit area, standing up by the fence watching. The flat track paddock is very family oriented, walking about, talking to different people you get to know and build relationships with. When did you turn pro? My first professional race was in 2014 at the Springfield Mile. It was on the EX650 Kawasaki, with a Jeff Cole C&J frame that my dad and Ben Evans built in our garage. Ben Evans has a motorcycle shop here in Galion, Ohio, about ten minutes from me. He’s done my motors from when I first started racing, and he still works on some of my stuff, away from the


racetrack. Now he works with Jeffrey Carver. The first time riding the bike was that day on our way to my first win in the Pro Twins1 main event. What is your most memorable race? I’d have to say Indy Mile in 2014. I drafted to the line, winning the race with a bunch of my family and friends there in front of a sold-out crowd, on a bike borrowed from Floyd Tapp, from Owensboro, Kentucky. Woody Kyle2 hooked me up with him because I’d had a mechanical the week before and I didn’t have a bike for the race. Floyd drove to Indy and I rode his 2007 Honda CRF450. It was good right off the bat and I still have the bike in my garage. Floyd never took it back. I’ve kinda inherited, I think. On the last lap, there was just me and one other rider. We had been in a four- or five-way battle for most of the race, but me and Kyle Johnson broke away. I left some space, got a good run out of the corner, knowing no one was going to draft by both of us, and luckily enough I got half a wheel on him on the start-finish line.3 It’s easy to describe flat track as just a group of riders blasting into corners at 100mph with only a back brake, but that ignores the amount of strategy going on. Definitely. The whole race you’re testing yourself against the other riders. Can you draft them by the line? Where do you want to be positioned in the last corner? If you had a really fast horse that day maybe you’d want to lead off turn four. All the laps leading up to the last lap help you decide where you need to be. There’s a lot going through your

mind. There’s a lot that can happen. You don’t only worry about yourself, but everyone around you and what they’re thinking; different line choices; how they could interact with each other; how different people’s bikes are working. What’s your favourite track? It would have to be the Springfield TT. I rode amateur nationals there as a kid, and raced the Steve Nace All-Star races there, so I’ve had a lot of time at the track and the dirt is unique. It’s a blast to ride and always makes for great, fast racing. I love the dirt there at night time. They have a machine that digs it up really fine and a mister that pours the water down on it. It’s probably the most tractionable dirt you can think of. The way your bike works on it is incredible. If you asked the paddock, I bet half would say it was their favourite. What’s the best bike you’ve ever raced? I’d have to say my C&J 600 Rotax. I love that motorcycle and it’s always a blast to ride at a local short track. Just flinging it around and playing with my buddies is awesome. And the worst? I’d say the Triumph 990. It was heavy and very ill-handling. I rode it at the half-mile cushion track at Willow Springs, California. I was 16, and it was Bill Gately’s, of the Bonneville Performance team. The dual carb, trying to pull them open, they were real heavy. And the bike was real wide and powerful and did not work very good on the smaller track I was on. I was glad when the weekend was over.

1 Pro Twins has been superseded by AFT Basic Twins. 2 Renowned tuner. 3 AFT’s own website shows the gap between first and second as 0.000s.



Who is the greatest of all time? Ricky Graham. I never saw him ride, but the stories I’ve heard and the videos I’ve watched, he’s the smoothest, it almost looks like Jared Mees riding, and he’s flying. It looks like it came easy to him. He was good on all kinds of tracks. He was quiet, different from the others and that made him stand out. What’s the best thing about being a pro flat tracker? I do what I love and consider it a job. And the worst thing? Injury. Seeing fellow racers hurt. As a teenager, you joined the Harley factory team, traditionally one of the most sought-after rides in pro flat track. How did it come about? Just being in the right spot at the right time. I was young and the team was looking to build a relationship while working the bugs out of a new bike. I didn’t have second thoughts. I consulted with my parents, of course, and a few very close friends, before deciding what was best for my future. I went into [2018, as Sammy Halbert’s teammate] with our heads held high trying our best at every test and every race to figure the bike out and compete up front. It has been a struggle mentally, but we’re trying to grasp it this season. What have been the highs and lows as a factory rider? The highs were signing with the team and having a great support programme with guys hungry to win. Lows are by far the struggles that go along with building and testing a new motorcycle against race motorcycles. There has been a huge migration to the Indian FTR750. Is it better than the competition?


The FTR750 is a great motorcycle, no doubt, and it’s really tough when everyone is riding them, but we’re pushing to stride past that motorcycle to where everyone is wanting an XG750R. What needs to change for your team to be challenging for podiums at every race? We just need that little boost of confidence to build off of. Two top fours4 is a confidence builder, especially doing it the hard way and coming from the back, but it’s like the lion that’s tasted blood, it wants it again. Once we get on the podium I think it’s going to come easier and easier, knowing we should be up there. Vance & Hines are working super hard to get me there. Everyone in flat track has an opinion about the Harley team – is that ever hard to deal with? Yeah, it’s tough, because Harley puts so much effort into this new bike and everyone has to be a warrior behind the keypad. I see that as extra motivation to put it to the front. Some might say Vance & Hines are drag or road racing specialists and don’t understand GNC/AFT flat track. Is that unfair? We’re trying to compete against a race-built motorcycle, the FTR, and we’re giving them a run for their money with a production motorcycle and [working out] how to make it better. With Vance & Hines’ background in drag racing they’re not given enough credit for what they’re doing and the short amount of time they’ve been [in AFT]. Do you think the 2019 HarleyDavidson XG750R Rev X is still a road bike? The top end seems to have changed quite a lot. The bottom end, as far as cases and

transmissions and stuff, that’s still the XG7505. We have our own cranks in there, different flywheels – a little heavier – and we have different heads that are dual overhead cam, not the single overhead cam that comes stock on the XG. That was a big step in the right direction. The frame’s changed, playing with different angles; got a different swingarm this year, that’s helped with some grip issues. The chassis feels pretty solid right now. What would you be doing if you weren’t a pro racer? Sleeping in a classroom somewhere trying to earn a degree. Probably in motorcycle mechanics. When I was younger I wanted to open up my own shop. I like watching the supercross videos, see them rebuilding the bikes. I want to be a race mechanic one day. American Flat Track is transforming the sport, but how have racers like you benefitted? They’re bringing big benefits for riders, putting us on TV so we can market ourselves in a better way. If you had a magic wand, what would you change about AFT? I’d change the format. I’d put us into timed practice sessions, instead of ‘Here’s four laps, here’s four laps.’ It’s so hard, with the track changing. We’re out for four laps, then not out there for another hour and the track’s changed so much. I’d like 15-minute sessions, kinda like road racing; you go out there, come in, make changes, go back out. I’d like something like that if they can do it safely enough. As far as the format in racing, you have one chance to make it. You have that semi and if you have a mechanical, you’re done for the night. I’d like to bring back the last chance qualifier, to make sure the top riders are in the main event. They’re trying to do a hurry-up programme. I liked it when I first started racing, you have four heat races, the top three went to the main; you had two semis, top four went – there was your main event.

4 Vanderkooi started 2019 with two fourths. He came from the back row at the Daytona TT, after using his provisional start (the get out of jail card that riders are allowed to use once per year to make it to the next stage of the night’s programme). A bad start at the Atlanta Short Track meant he had to fight through the pack. Both Harleys were top six in Atlanta. 5 The XG750 engine powers Harley’s Street 750 and Street Rod.

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How to make your race rule MORE AND MORE events now offer flat track races as part of their entertainment, which means racers can be spoilt for choice and some races aren’t getting the amount of entries they hope for. Jeremy Prach of Flat Out Friday was awarded the Promoter of the Year award by the American Motorcyclist Association in 2018. Jeremy’s skill in putting on great events started long before Flat Out Friday, with punk rock, makeshift midnight hockey games and a five-mile-long community block party disguised as a 24-hour bicycle race. The guidelines laid out here are aimed at the growing number of amateur race organisers, but they’re also helpful for racers, to make sure event organisers are treating you right. Over to Jeremy...


Just like making art, you can’t just follow someone else’s formula. At Flat Out Friday we focus on getting more people interested in racing and riding. We’re not the American Flat Track race series – that’s an entirely different thing with professional riders on bikes that are the pinnacle of technology at a cut-throat level. Our focus is to welcome new people in, to experience and have fun racing at their level. This year we’ve added the four-year-old class, racing PW50s; a women’s Hooligan class and the Mad Dog under 200cc class. The Goof ball class is always a crowd favourite. We invite people to not take themselves too seriously. Every year I try to think of ways to broaden our race classes, and with more racers you also have the potential for more – and a wider variety of – people in the stands.


Everyone is going to tell you how you can make something different or make a race more like something else. From the outset, it helps if you come up with your core philosophy, that kernel of what makes what you’re doing unique, and stick to it. I’ve learned enough to be assertive and to hold on to what I want to do with a race. If people try to move you from your core vision, they’re probably not the right people to collaborate with on that project. Someday, this could all end and I want to be satisfied with who I am and what I’ve created.


…which is not necessarily the same thing as taking other people’s advice. It’s a lot of beers around the campfire and listening to legitimate concerns. I ask people, What is it you don’t like about what we’re doing, or about flat track racing? Let me hear it and I’ll see what I can do better. I think that just by listening you’ve validated their concerns and they feel respected. Racing isn’t playing checkers, it can be dangerous. People who are putting their life and livelihoods on the line deserve to speak and to be heard. I’ve heard promoters say

to racers, ‘You don’t like it? Don’t race.’ That’s not my approach – I want to hear those concerns.


When my son got into racing we felt so welcomed by the flat track community. At one race this winter he realised he’d forgotten his helmet and we had three people immediately offer up one of theirs. That’s how it’s always been. Riders understand that in order to race they have to compete against someone and fellow racers want to share the track with you.


You don’t need to know how to race to know how to promote, but it helps. When I was younger, I raced stock cars. However, being a racer doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll automatically be a good promoter, they’re different skill sets. You have to study nuances of both.


I believe the racer and the organiser are together on this journey. Everyone has a job, something to accomplish, and we’re accomplishing it together: the racers, the pit crews, the families, the parents, the crowd – we’re all trying to have an experience and you need to make sure everyone plays their part. I see this as my way to create community. I like to give everyone a job. Everyone who knows me has probably been the manager of something at least once. ‘Hey, you’re ice manager, your job is to make sure the ice is full the entire time.’ That person then has a stake in the experience and they can do something and make sure it’s done well – whatever it is. However people are willing to help, they need to feel valued. It’s my job to create an experience in which everyone has a stake in the ride and the outcome.


During a riders’ meeting somebody asked, ‘What are the consequences of taking people out during the race.’ I answered that the consequences are you’re pitted right next to somebody and if they want to punch you in the face I encourage that to happen. In arena events, you’re so close to the people you’re racing against that you can’t help but develop relationships with them. I encourage people to be accountable for their actions to the community around them. We’re all here in tight, close quarters trying to enjoy our time – don’t be a jerk. And if you are being a jerk, I hope someone points it out to you.


When I started Flat Out Friday, I took out a mortgage on my house for $45,000. But the money was almost secondary, because I believed so much in the idea and what we’re doing. I’ve pretty much trimmed my life down to three things: family, my job, (I’m a teacher) and Flat Out Friday, and not always in that order, depending on the day. This is my absolute everything. People ask, Hey Jeremy, what are you doing Tuesday night? Well, if a race is coming up, I’ll be at home, pacing, and thinking about what I need to get done, how we can improve some little detail...

Words: Ed Makowski in conversation with Jeremy Prach Illustration: Ryan Quickfall


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Heart not head

How a small coffee shop in the Midwest became a shining example of doing things the right way Words: Gary Inman Photos: Ed Subias, Fuel Archive

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UEL WASN’T, STILL isn’t, a ‘biker’ café. It’s a neighbourhood spot. At times it can be full and not one single motorcycle will be parked outside. At first it was where the punks could hang out among their own in a very blue-collar town (Milwaukee’s changed in the last 25 years, like most thriving no cops around, and you could buy and sell drugs and live cities, becoming more cosmopolitan this free life. It was a revelation to me, I had no idea. After and, at least on the surface, more I met Leslie, she moved out of her apartment and we were inclusive or accepting). At first Fuel had living in my van, traveling around the local artists’ work on the walls along country looking for a new place to live. with posters for upcoming or recently Every town or city we went to we would past gigs, at a time when dozens of find the local café where we’d check touring bands zig-zagged the US. out the free weekly newspaper and the ‘We had a whole ’zine and magazine bulletin board and see what apartments rack, we sold cigarettes, punk posters were renting for, what sort of shows everywhere, opened until midnight,’ were happening, what the scene was. explains the co-owner, Scott Johnson. Everywhere we went we liked these A couple of years later, as Scott got cafés, so we thought, We could do this more heavily into bikes, framed photos at home, in Milwaukee, because it’s not of motorcycle racing friends and the really happening there. So we did.’ huge, eye-catching black and white That was 1993, 26 years ago. Scott and image of the 1970s Harley-Davidson Leslie Montemurro opened Fuel Café factory team appeared. But the bike in the Riverwest area of Milwaukee, a décor is not overpowering or contrived. student area of cheaper housing with There are no bad days when Fuel Café’s Scott The Harley team photo could be a shot a rough-and-ready, punk, creative Johnson is part of the recipe. 26 years of of a hockey or softball team of the same feel. If you’re not au fait with the punk supporting the scene and doing great things era and it would evoke a similar vibe. The scene of the time, the references might ties to motorcycling are deep and strong be confusing. This wasn’t Sex Pistols, though, and this Milwaukee café now sponsors a collection King’s Road bondage trousers and sniffing glue, but a more of local amateur flat track racers. This story will explain positive, pro-active, enlightened, left wing, self-sufficient why and how. scene with elements of straight-edge (not that it sounds like Scott ever went down that route). ‘I’D BEEN TO England a couple of times, European Scott continues, ‘When we were scouting around for a mainland, travelling around the States a lot, all postname we were driving to an auction to see if we could buy college,’ explains Scott, talking about his life in the early some equipment, way out in the country at a restaurant ’90s, his early 20s, immediately pre-Fuel Café. ‘I was that had gone out of business. We were running out of gas following Grateful Dead tours. It doesn’t sound very punk, and the fuel light came on in my van as we were talking but there were a bunch of other punkers on tour, there were about what we were going to call our café. Then I saw the logo in my head right off the bat. Leslie and I made stickers before we even opened the place and we were putting them all around town and in Chicago when we’d go down there to see bands play. One day, these two guys rode up from Chicago on café racers. They’d seen the stickers and looked up the address in the phonebook and rode to Milwaukee to check the place out. We weren’t even open yet. It was a Saturday and I was drywalling the bathroom. Even though they saw paper covering the windows and everything, they parked up outside and came in shouting, “What’s up?” ‘One guy had a Kawasaki, the other had a Norton, I think. It was an hour-and-half ride from Chicago, and there wasn’t really any internet then, so they had no idea what they’d find. All they were working on was the black and white oval logo, and the fact we’d put the stickers in and near venues that held punk shows.

‘We were running out of gas and the fuel light came on in my van as we were talking about what we were going to call our café’

Dave Kilkenny

‘I met Dave at Fuel, probably in 1993,’ Scott says. ‘He was in a bunch of bands, I think he was in a band, or at least in the whole scene, with Jeremy Prach. Jeremy was in a million bands. Dave and I were in a band together, that’s how we all got to know each other. We’d practise in Dave’s basement. There was a whole punk rock scene in Riverwest, and they would come into Fuel and hang out all the time, smoke cigarettes and drink coffee. They were, like, 16 years old. ‘Dave’s on the short side, but he’s one of those guys who can get on anything and pop a wheelie. He reminds me of Guy Martin. If Dave had had more time to develop or started earlier he could have been that calibre, he has so much natural talent. He’s easy-going, always smiling, smoking a cigarette. He’s like Guy Martin meets Joey Dunlop. ‘He has a Sportster hooligan,

prepared by Milwaukee Harley, but he races pretty much anything he can get his hands on. He’s got a great personality, so there are lots of people willing to give him bikes to ride. He’s 40… ish, a carpenter, contractor. Out of the riders we sponsor he’s the one I’ve known the longest, we always just went everywhere together and raced together.’ Dave says, ‘Fuel has always been a huge part of racing for me, they’ve always been there for me. I think, as a team, we try to be helpful to newer racers with parts, set-up or changing a tyre at the track. My goal is to get more people stoked on motorcycles and I hope that translates to people visiting Fuel Café. Truthfully, I just do it for the free coffee.’ Top: Ice racing in Milwaukee harbour. Left: Dave’s clean hooligan. Right: Waiting to christen new leathers at his home race, Flat Out Friday


Downtown DTX or the sound of the suburbs? Loyal doesn’t care

‘AHRMA was so expensive and they didn’t like us young guys. We always dyed our hair and they weren’t into it, so they’d make life a pain in the ass’ ‘I was 26 when we opened. I’d always had bikes, though at the time I didn’t have one, but after seeing these two, I thought, I need to get a bike again. They were basic café racers, clip-ons and seat humps, but uncommon back then. I was thinking, These are cool, the guys are great. I was pumped and just started hanging out with these guys nonstop. We’re still friends to this day.’ Perhaps the best example of what kind of people run Fuel, is that Scott and Leslie split, romantically, two or so years after opening the café, but remain friends and (very successful) business partners to this day. Back to bikes… ‘I started racing in 1995,’ recalls Scott. ‘I bought a Ducati single, but it was so much trouble that I switched to a Honda 350 twin because it was more reliable. I would race AHRMA [American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association] events in the Midwest. The two guys who came on their café racers had more friends that became my friends and we all got into racing. I guess we were all Fuel riders, but I think I was the only one with it on my leathers, because we were all so poor at the time, wearing secondhand leathers, but we all had Fuel stickers on our bikes.’ Scott continued competing: sidecar road racers, desert racing in Baja, eventually ice racing and flat track… He also kept opening bars and restaurants with Leslie and their other partners. Fuel Café started hosting its own custom bike show, Rockerbox, in the street in front of the café. Over the ten years it ran it grew into a monstrous street party, too unwieldy for Scott, who called it a day on that event in 2013. Smaller bike events remain, like the annual Frozen Snot Ride at the tail end of their harsh Midwestern winter. ‘I feel like Dave Kilkenny was the first of us to go flat track racing. He was road racing too, and we were all riding street bikes and partying together, but he was the first to branch out in to flat track, around 2000, 2001. AHRMA was so expensive and they didn’t like us young guys. We always dyed our hair and they weren’t into it, so they’d make life a pain in the ass whenever they could, overly scrutinising our bikes in tech, but letting their buddies’ bikes walk right on by without stopping. So we thought, We’ll just go race

dirt track. The entry fees are so cheap, you don’t need a license, you don’t need to do track days.’ At the time, Scott’s friends were all ‘metric’, meaning they rode and raced Japanese and European machinery, even though he lived in Harley’s hometown. Then along came Warren Heir Jr and things changed forever. ‘Meeting Warren and a couple of his friends in 2010 got me into Harleys. I can’t remember what I was riding, maybe a BMW café racer, but he was “What?.. wait… What is this?” He was riding a hardtail chopper and I was like, “No, wait, what is this? How can you even ride this?” We were peppering each other with questions. At that time I was getting more interested choppers and he was asking about dirt bikes and flat track racing and had all those million questions you have when you first get started. Warren and his buddies were pumped on all kinds of bikes, they didn’t even want to talk about choppers. I thought, Wow, you guys are great! Their excitement for non-Harley stuff got me excited about Harley stuff. And they always brought the good times. They didn’t care what you rode as long as you were a good fun person. So I thought, I’m going to hang out with these guys. They were super-interested in all kinds of racing – road racing, ice racing, enduros, flat track, but they wanted to take what they knew about Harleys into racing, so they started racing flatheads and stuff like that, which was novel to me.’ Becoming closer friends with Warren led to the pair, and their collaborators, organising the Mama Tried motorcycle show in 2014, then to expanding the weekend to include the

Loyal Prach

‘Loyal is Jeremy’s son,’ explains Scott, ‘I’ve known him a long time. He’s a great kid, got a great style, a lot of drive. He makes these great videos. He’s at the younger end and he competes in the Open/Am classes on a 450 DTX bike, which is something I used to do, but don’t dip my toes in those waters any more. ‘He’s quiet, and intense, like Jeremy, but they’re very different. Jeremy isn’t a motorcycle racer, he loves to organise events, that’s his thing, where Loyal lives to race.’


Captions from Scott Johnson of Fuel Café. 1. Sidecar racing jackets from my and Tim Schnieder’s team; 2. Me (middle) with my brother Todd and Chris Spargo at an endurance race, Brainerd, 2001. We blew a piston and cylinder and fitted new ones at the side of the track. We couldn’t bring it back to the pits or we’d have been disqualified. It worked and we finished the race! 3. Late ’90s in Mosport, Canada. AJ Dusek’s ’73 Ducati 750 Sport. He’s one of the guys who rode up from Chicago and got me into racing. He raced the piss out of it and crashed it hard more than a few times. Still has it! Awesome dude with amazing, fab skills and imagination. And we’re still great friends




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8. Early Fuel customer, 1994. I can’t remember his name, but he was a rad dude; 9. Ice racing at Lake Koshkonong, 2004. The bar owner who promoted the race had two rules: A) Ice fenders were required, B) If you were found boozing while competing, were breathalysed and blew under twice the legal limit you could still race


4. My brother Todd, Brainerd, 1998 or so. RD350 in a TZ chassis. He’s a Yamaha two-troke fanatic and still racing! 5. Mark Burns (Suzuki) and Dave Kilkenny (Puch), Mid Ohio, late ’90s. I think that was the year that we partied all night with Gary Nixon. He had a small fishing tackle box full of drugs: weed, hash and pills of all stripes. Even in his 60s he was wild as hell; 6. That’s Dave K. He was really good at supermoto. He went to the first televised US race, in Denver I think. On his first practice he came up on this jump and way overdid it. He jumped 80 or 100ft and landed it, but he landed so hard he broke both his ankles, mashed the engine cases and broke the frame. But he landed it, didn’t crash! 7. Me racing my Honda XR650R at a three-hour ice endurance in Wisconsin. 2005, maybe. Look at the back wheel. Bumpy track!




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10. Tim and me racing our Kawi 900 rig at Road America in 1998. We got second! 11. Greg Klassen’s Bultaco at our Rockerbox show in 2004/2005. We had to bring all of our own bikes to display in those early days to set the tone, but also so it looked like a few people were showing up!


Terry ‘TV Dinners’ Vestal leads the pack. He does this a lot

Terry Vestal

‘Who the hell is Terry Vestal?’ Scott repeats. ‘Ha ha! TV Dinner. He’s such a great guy. He’s super fast, he’s always been fast and the older he gets the faster he goes. It’s amazing to me to see this guy who just won’t quit.’ Terry oozes gratitude when he says, ‘To have sponsorship as one of the ol’ men of American flat track, at age 54, from Scott and his team, is one of the highlights of my 50 years of racing. It allows me to continue pursuing my lifelong passion. I have known Scott for many years and hope to make him proud during this hooligan wave

that is sweeping the country. We will be sporting new Fuel Cafe leathers and bike paint at the 2019 Summer X Games qualifier in California.’ TV’s enthusiasm isn’t diminished despite a bone-breaking crash at the Super Hooligans in Daytona. He fractured a bunch of ribs, then drove himself the 1200 miles home. ‘His skill is always there,’ Scott adds. ‘His attitude is always there, he’s always smiling, having a good time, ready to crack that beer when the races are over, always has a cigarette, always ready to lend a hand, talk to kids. He was one of the first people we met when we started racing flat track.’

JJ Flairty

JJ is a machinist who modifies his own bikes. He also uses a snowmobile thumb throttle, not a twistgrip

‘I met Scott at a chopper show in New Jersey,’ JJ says, explaining how his personal tie-up with Fuel started. ‘Then he and Warren invited me to show my 1949 Harley Panhead at the Mama Tried show. That same weekend, I went to watch the first Flat Out Friday. I saw the hooligan class and realised I wanted in! Growing up, I was more into the local motocross and BMX scenes but wanted to try flat track. I’ve always loved the bikes and the style that went along with it: custom leathers and hand-built bikes were way cooler than most things happening in motocross.’ JJ picked up a clapped out 1992 Sportster for $1250 and had it ready for the following year’s Flat Out Friday and came out of the blocks flying. ‘Soon after that, there was talk of the hooligan race to happen at the X Games and I got an invite! Scott got hold of me to see if I would be interested in riding for Fuel. Knowing a bit of the history of the café, the riders they had sponsored and the involvement in the local motorcycle scene here in Wisconsin, I was stoked! I went on to win the hooligan final at X Games that year in my second dirt track race ever, proudly wearing Fuel on my chest with my teammate Dave standing on the podium beside me in a close second place. That was an amazing weekend. I wouldn’t be where I am today or have accomplished as much without their support.’


Flat Out Friday indoor flat track races. ‘I’d been friends with Jeremy Prach for years [see Get Schooled, P24], we’d been in punk bands together,’ it all comes back to punk… ‘Jeremy had wanted to put on a flat track race, even when I was putting on Rockerbox, but I never knew how we could tie it together. Then when we first did Mama Tried, he wanted to put on an indoor race, because it’s in February. He planned to truck in all the dirt to the auditorium, but the dollars didn’t add up. He was skittish that he was going to lose everything putting on this one race. Then, after the success of the first Mama Tried, we thought, Why not?’ And that circuitous route leads us to the original idea of this story, the Fuel Café racing team. ‘We help the riders with entries and gas money to go to the races that are a long drive,’ Scott explains. ‘It’s not easy to talk my business partners into sponsoring, because they’re not motorcycle people and we don’t have a lot of money, but it’s part of what Fuel stands for. I know the people who are fans of the Fuel brand get it. It’s so hard when you start racing to get support, and I wanted to be more of a help, now I’m an older guy who doesn’t race any more. When I was young I used to see old guys who’d let young racers ride their bikes and I thought it was strange, but now I’m older I totally get it. Like most things.’ It makes some kind of sense for Fuel, that these days has two locations in Milwaukee, to have riders racing now Scott is also indelibly linked to Mama Tried and Flat Out Friday. And it is Scott who decides which riders Fuel sponsors. ‘If it was a guy like me, someone who was only on the podium once in a while when I was racing, I wouldn’t choose myself. The riders need personality, skill and style. When JJ [Flairty] first started racing flat track, he asked what he needed. I told him leathers. The first thing he found was a white Bates suit on eBay. You could tell the dude had style coming out of his ears. I want to have people I enjoy being around and who other people enjoy being around and who represent the brand well. ‘The sponsorship is not about getting our riders into the pro ranks, I think that’s a whole other ball game of financial commitment. We don’t talk about it a ton. Loyal [Prach] could, maybe, move into the Pro Singles, but I’m not sure he will or if he even wants to. I think JJ and Dave like racing on the weekends in the hooligans. I would like to sponsor a pro rider, someone like Jeffrey Carver, and have thought about it, but we don’t have the money.’ Scott works hard to convince his partners to continue sponsoring amateur racers, but when asked what Fuel gets out of it he replies, ‘I’ve been thinking about it a lot. Perhaps I need to put some parameters on it, so it’s not just handing over a cheque, saying, Go have fun. That’s what it is, and that’s what it should be, and it’s not like we ask them to do a certain amount of social media posts or have events at Fuel. The sponsorship has to be from the heart, if there are any gains for the business after that then that’s great, but it can’t start like that. It’s got to be something you want to do.’ Fuel Café do things right.

Warren’s handshift ‘mutt’ is a pre-’40 two-bolt frame, ’39 WL bottom end, WR top end. Yum

Warren Heir Jr

Scott and Warren launched Mama Tried together, travel the US (and beyond) and race together. ‘We run the same stuff,’ says Scott, ‘hand-shift Flatheads on the cushion tracks. He’s building a new Flathead, hand-shift road racer and he still likes doing the AHRMA thing. He’s another one with natural skill. He’s just such a huge dude I don’t know how fast he’d be if he was smaller. I can’t beat him on anything. The first time we went dirt biking he bought this $400 piece of shit YZ250 and right out of the gate he was at the front of the pack with the fast guys, tearing ass. He’s fearless and has the skill to back it up.’

BRAVE Can the street version of Indian’s flat tracker rule the road like the FTR750 dominates the dirt? Words: Gary Inman Photos: Indian Motorcycle

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K, IT’S THAT kind of party, is it? The sweepers offer much better visibility and I’m banking through them with 130mph on the clock. At last, the Indian FTR 1200 truly feels in its element. I know I am. I bow my back and hunker down over the tank – which is actually a cover for the airbox, the gas is stored under the seat in a small, 13-litre reservoir. I could ride like this till the last drop of unleaded. The suspension, that felt too firm on bumpy hairpins, now feels ideal. The tyres that squirmed when asked to deal with an onslaught of lowdown torque out of blind, second-gear curves are no longer a worry. Why am I writing about this test ride in such an ass-backwards way? Because my first impressions were so different. If the test ride had lasted for the first half-hour of the day I would have a very different opinion. Spool back to 20 minutes into the international press launch of the FTR 1200. It’s already clear to me that Indian have built a muscle bike with a mean streak, not a flabby cruiser in gym pants. I’m in the first group of journalists to test the production bike and hauling the mail up a second- and third-gear, aggressively winding road into the Santa Monica

‘A muscle bike with a mean streak, not a flabby cruiser in gym pants’

Mountains with Malibu behind me. My nerves are jangling already. Press launches like these follow the same format. A group of four to six riders snake behind a leader employed by the motorcycle company. There is usually a tail-end rider to ensure no one loses the pack and that riders can go at their own pace, no matter how fast the lead rider is going. When there’s a junction, the riders regroup. These launches are normally conducted at a quick lick, often much of the day spent at naughty speeds, lots of overtaking. This is work, not a tourist ride. I don’t know what briefing today’s lead rider was given, but he’s setting a hell of a pace right out of the blocks. He has spent a couple of days riding the road while running the brand new bikes in. I’m still getting acclimatised while trying to keep in touch and I’m not riding smoothly through the countless, unfamiliar, blind bends. I’m struggling with the mix of on-off throttle jerk and engine braking and I’m

(top row, L-R) S and Race Replica have easy-read touchscreen dash; fuel filler is low on the ‘tank’ because petrol is stored under the seat; ‘Base’ FTR shares the Scout’s clock (middle row, L-R) S is available in a pair of tasty two-tone colour choices, costing £12,999 (US $15,499); LED front and rear lights; Black forks and no headlight surround help spot the entry level 1200 (bottom row, L-R) Quality abounds, but the pipe is begging to be removed; Editor on the range-topping Race Replica with its unique paint and Akrapovic end cans


getting rear wheel slides from the 18in Dunlop DT3-R. Milwaukee doesn’t have anything in the same Right now, on this kind of unforgiving road, I’d like ballpark. Harley’s high-spec machines don’t have this the bike to hold my hand, but this thing slaps my geometry or stance. Still, I hesitate before calling the face and makes a grab for me like it wants to gnaw FTR 1200 a street tracker, actually it’s a super-naked my fingers off. If I’d been given the bike to ride on my in the same bracket as the Ducati Monster 1200 S own, it’s unlikely I would have ever or even Triumph’s Speed Triple. discovered this about its character, Nothing about it feels traditionally SPECIFICATION because I wouldn’t have pushed this Indian FTR 1200 (1200 S) ‘American’. Take that comment hard on this particular road. On the however you like. Price from £11,899 ($13, 499) Pacific Coast Highway and through The family resemblance to the (as tested £14,099/$16,999) the late commuter traffic the 1200 FTR750 race bike is skin deep. Engine 8-valve, DOHC, 60° V-twin Bore x stroke 102 x 73.6mm is well behaved and beautifully And only just. The ‘tank’ design, Capacity 1203cc balanced. From the traffic lights short tail and riding position echo Power 123bhp @ 8250rpm (claimed) it launches like a drag bike, front the Wrecking Crew’s bike, that’s Torque 118Nm @ 5900rpm (claimed) wheel going light in second. Still, it’s Transmission six-speed, chain about it. The frame is nothing like Frame aluminium trellis good to know it’s got this side to it. the one Indian use in flat track Front suspension 43mm telescopic fork, I’m riding the higher-spec S because, they explain, where flex adj. preload, compression (base model model, in Sport mode, and the is something to engineer into dirt non-adjustable) torque is instant. The FTR 1200 Rear suspension monoshock, adj. preload, track race chassis, it’s a hindrance rebound (base model non-adjustable) has a brand new engine, virtually on the road. Early in development Brakes 2 x 320mm front discs, 4-piston nothing shared with the big Scout. they ditched the idea of an FTR750calipers/265mm rear disc, 2-piston Indian explain how they’ve reduced caliper style duplex frame in favour of weight from the crank and pistons, an alloy trellis and swingarm Wheels/tyres cast alloy, Dunlop DT3-R 120/70 19 front; 150/70 18 rear compared to the Scout motor. The pivot plates. The alloy, monoshock Rake/trail 26.3°/130mm FTR has dual throttle bodies, not swingarm is bolted through the Wheelbase 1524mm a single into a branched manifold. back of the engine casings. Build Wet weight 225kg (claimed) Indian use the word ‘snappy’ quality and detailing are as good Seat height 840mm Fuel capacity 13 litres a lot. They say it as a positive as you’d expect for a machine that Top speed 140mph (est) when I wouldn’t always say that starts at £11,899 ($13,499 in the characteristic is a wholly good US) and is £14,099 ($16,999) if thing. I agree, it is snappy and you want the Race Replica with the taut and that feeling is being exacerbated by the fact Akrapovic pipe, like the one in the photos. I’m pushing so I don’t lose the lead group. Dunlop The ride continues and the pace doesn’t slow. I’m out developed the tyres exclusively for this bike and of Sport mode, using the S model’s touchscreen dash they differ in construction, compound and, subtly, to select Standard from the three options – Sport, in pattern to flat track tyres. They do wonders for Standard, Rain. I like the Standard mode better on the the styling but feel out of their depth when asked to really tight stuff. Indian says the ECU is self-learning scratch through mountain hairpins. I’m not sure how and the throttle feel will mould to its rider in time. I they’d feel on a wet road. I’m not the only journalist wonder why. Just get it feeling close to perfect from to feel like this, there’s a factory-favoured superbike the factory, please. road racer here saying the same things. The regular FTR 1200 has a round clock and no Indian are sending a message with this bike and switchable riding modes, and less adjustment on the the marketing that surrounds it. It’s firmly sprung forks or shock, too. If I were buying one, I’d go for the and initial throttle feel can be aggressive if ridden entry-level bike and use any money left over to buy an hard. Indian claim over 120 horsepower and fit S&S high-level pipe. twin radial Brembos and 320mm discs as standard. Rolling along the busy PCH at the end of the 100-mile test route, the FTR is back to behaving impeccably, but it has already shown its mean side. With this patriot missile, Indian are no longer only competing in familiar market segments, because the FTR 1200 has no direct competition from domestic manufacturers. They’re in a whole new league and, with the S at least, they’ve ramped up the attitude with the intention of being taken seriously and to distance themselves from other companies’ failed attempts to cash in on racetrack domination. The FTR 1200 link to the dirt track is a little tenuous, but that doesn’t really matter, because it’s good enough to stand on its own two feet.

‘With this patriot missile, Indian are no longer only competing with American bikes. They’re in a whole new league and with the 1200 S have ramped up the attitude’

Horst Friedrichs

From oily greasers to perfect creases, subcultures in music, sport, fashion and more captured by the German photographer Interview: Mick Philips

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(previous page) Phil and Steph, London, 2001

(left and opposite) Dimitri Coste, Dirt Quake V, Norfolk, 2014


AVING THE TECHNICAL skill to take someone’s photo is one thing, but setting them at ease, gaining their trust and drawing out revealing, atmospheric portraits takes something else. ‘It is a mix of bumping into the people and research to find the participants. Research, communication and finding a participant is 99 per cent of the work. It’s important to shoot your subject over and over and over, then compile the images and tell a story.’ So says Horst Friedrichs of the craft that has seen him widely celebrated for his documentary depictions of cultures and people, from the deserts of Venezuela to London’s North Circular, from charcoal burners to leather obsessives. ‘When I photograph people, I realise how lucky I am to be given trust by them.’ The results are rich, engaging and often intimate images. But as broad as his subject matter is, it’s always Horst’s capturing of subcultures that really catches our eye; the rockers, mods, teddy boys, cycling fashionistas and dirt track stylists. Horst was born in Frankfurt am Main, in then West Germany, in 1966. He grew up on an estate on the outskirts of the city and his first photos were of his mates, taken with a Nikon FE. After leaving school, he worked as an assistant in a photographic studio for a couple of years and then studied photography at the Munich Academy of Photodesign. After

(opposite, below) Rockers, London, 2001. ‘I heard the sound of motorcycles, turned around and started taking pictures of a group of rockers who’d just arrived’

graduating, he quickly started freelancing for such blue-chip clients as Rolling Stone and The New York Times, prestigious commissions that the vast majority of photographers would give their shutter fingers for, and jobs that took him all over the world. These days he’s based in London and has found a good balance that allows him the time to work on the projects he loves. ‘I do more and more books for corporate clients, but always work on my own book projects and exhibitions. I’ve learned to mix the two and let work assignments pay for personal projects.’ His books include Or Glory – 21st Century Rockers and I’m One – 21st Century Mods and are packed with strong, engaging characters. ‘My books are not just like a fashion magazine, with picture after picture. Each participant is unique and a personality. That is particularly important in a world of conformists and mass-produced goods. It is important cultural work while at the same time producing memorable and artistic portraits, persuading the participants to reveal their private rituals in dress and style. It’s an adventure.’ Being engaged in the subcultures he documents, rather than being holed-up in a studio, has led to the chance encounters with people who have sparked some of Horst’s most striking and memorable work. He recalls, ‘In 2000, when I’d finished taking the picture of the mod couple with a scooter at King’s Cross, I heard the sound of motorcycles, turned around and started taking pictures of a group of rockers who’d just arrived. The image of the rockers leaning against the brick wall became my most iconic image and also the starting point of the journey to photograph the mods and rockers, the most influential British youth subcultures in fashion and music.’

‘Persuading participants to reveal their private rituals in dress and style. It’s an adventure’


Horst’s kit

Cameras and lenses: At the moment I use prime lenses with fixed focal length: 50mm, 55mm macro, 85mm, 135mm. I have two Canon EOS 5D Mark IV digital SLR bodies and carbonfibre Gitzo tripod with Linhof Monoball. Flash and continuous light: Most of the time I prefer natural light, but for some situations I use a Canon 600 Speedlite flashgun and an Elinchrom ELB 400 with Octabox. For some gigs I use a Hedler Profilux, a professional LED continuous-light unit. HF

(clockwise from top) Stuart, Watford, 2010; Wayne wearing his hand-painted Triumph Tiger jacket, 2011; Ben in a London launderette, 2014; Donington Historic Festival, 2013; Chrome scooter, bank holiday, Margate, 2004


So often, the subjects of Horst’s photographs are steeped in a nostalgia for subcultures that first saw light half a century ago. Even the more mature teds, rockers and mods he shoots were probably too young to have been involved in the movements’ first flush, so what’s going on here? ‘Over the years, as times, tastes and attitudes have changed, there has been a strong nostalgia for things that are older, including a fondness for the rocker culture of 1950s and ’60s UK. This has prompted a modern revival of rocker style all over the globe. Manufacturers produce new ‘old’ bikes and vintage clothes. Classics have been brought back, incorporating newer technology but capturing the spirit and look of those earlier times. Lewis Leathers is Britain’s oldest motorcycle clothing company and still making classic motorcycle jackets and boots.’ New technology that captures the original spirit could be said of Horst’s adoption of digital photography, despite having been raised on film.

‘A revival of rocker style across the globe’ ‘Recently, I went through my photo archive and looked at all my old contact sheets taken with my Leica M6. A photo is written with light and there is nothing close to the magic of when you pull a photographic print after the last chemical bath and switch the light on to see it. In my view, most digital images have a lack of magic, but I use digital and know how to work the RAW file into a unique photo.’ It’s interesting that so many of Horst’s most powerful images are shot – or at least rendered – in black and white. But why does black and white work so well when we have colour vision in a polychromatic world? ‘I think black and white is an emotional story, and emotions come through much stronger in black and white.’ Passion and emotion are what it’s all about; the forces that drive people to follow lifestyles away from the norm, to focus on what tugs at their hearts, to do what they want to do. And Horst Friedrichs will be there to document it with style. @horstfriedrichs

(clockwise from opposite) OCD cycles at the Tweed Run, London, 2017; Buckingham Palace scooter run, London, 2006; Sarah at Victory Motorcycles, London, 2010; Chris with a 1954 Austin Healey, Surrey, 2015; Elinor rides Pashley at the Tweed Run, London, 2012

leading the America’s most famous motorcyclist, Travis Pastrana, raced this 750cc Buffalo at a high-profile AFT round. Preston Burroughs was there and witnessed a shift in the balance of power Words & photos: Preston Burroughs


’VE BEEN TO enough American Flat Track races at the Daytona International Speedway to know my way around the place pretty well, but I’ve never felt comfortable there. It’s NASCAR’s premiere venue. A billionaire’s four-wheel thunder palace that just got a $400m makeover to increase spectator capacity to 110,000. The last Daytona 500 purse was $19m. My feeling is they don’t give two shits about two wheels. When you have that kind of money, what’s to give a shit about? Probably getting more money. Maybe it’s just in my head, but for some reason every time I’m there I feel like I’m wearing dirty work boots inside a place with a giant NO BOOTS sign above the entrance. I don’t want to be comfortable there, though. Comfort is the cousin of dead fish and if you go with the flow long enough you’ll eventually run down the river of bounced cheques. I’m not sure if AFT feels comfortable at the Daytona International Speedway, but if they do, they shouldn’t. NASCAR is so big that to be considered their redheaded stepchild would be a massive achievement for flat track. I don’t think they’ve reached it yet, but for the sake of a metaphor imagine that AFT is the redheaded stepchild of NASCAR, that would make the hooligans the red-headed stepchild’s annoying friend who wasn’t allowed to come but still showed up to the family vacation. And brought his dog that doesn’t listen, barks at everyone and is always somewhere it shouldn’t be. If you’re still following this, I’m that dog. And that explains why they laughed at me when I


From showbike to go bike in four days so the most famous rider in the US could race

two-stroke hooligan Water believes he might have

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asked for a hard-card credential and instead wrapped guidelines (750cc+ street legal). The TZ750, good luck a pit pass firmly around my wrist, making sure the finding one; the Kawasaki H2, or Widow Maker as it’s sticky side and my arm hair became best friends. ‘This known by cult followers; or the Suzuki GT750, the gets you inside the pits ONLY.’ I was there to shoot Water Buffalo [or Kettle, in the UK]. Unlike the TZ and video and Daytona is notorious for setting the press H2, which were marketed as being dangerously fast, boxes so far away from the action you’d be lucky to get the GT750 was known for being more of a cruiser, and any shots with an all-access vest, let alone a pit pass. because it managed to stay under the radar all these Is there any way I can get a vest? ‘No vest unless it’s years the resale value stayed pretty low and RSD approved by blah Bill blah.’ were able to snag one cheap enough to make sense as a I ended up partying all night before the race, and hooligan bike. in order to squeeze two hours of sleep I had to leave Roland’s crew built the GT with intentions of letting the hotel pretty late and blew off the ‘mandatory {MX stunt goon] Ronnie Mac race it, but when Ronnie media meeting’, which put me in a weird spot, because got hurt, Dunlop ended up taking it on an event tour that’s where I was supposed to find Bill blank blah, or across the country. It had been gone for two weeks whatever his name was, and plead my case for a media when Roland accidentally talked Travis into racing vest. I wasn’t worried about it. it at Daytona. Roland mentioned the hooligan races I decided to wander around and shoot in as many offand asked Travis if he wanted to race while out there. limit areas as possible before the crowds got there, to Travis half jokingly said he only raced two-stroke show face around security and try to befriend as many Suzukis and Roland pitched him on the GT750, a as I could while they were still in a good mood. If I two-stroke, three-cylinder, water-cooled onion cooker. couldn’t get a media vest maybe Travis was like, Hell yeah! they’d remember me and not This phone call was one week kick me out so fast during the before the bikes had to leave night show. for Daytona and the bike was In a twist of irony, after I on the other side of the country managed to snag a media vest in the Dunlop truck, together it didn’t get me any further and assembled but for display than my pit pass. ‘Hey! Get only, not ready to race or even behind that line.’ That line 50 running. Cameron Brewer, feet away from the air fence? RSD’s project manager, had to What about that line five feet call in a favour from a trucker from the air fence? ‘Nope, get buddy and the story goes that way back there. I’m not telling the Dunlop truck pulled over you again.’ Where does this somewhere in the middle of the vest get me then? ‘Gets you night on some dark, dusty road, King Hooligan Roland Sands makes masterplanning look inside there.’ Well then why unloaded the water buffalo out easy-going, 24/7 fun. It isn’t, his skills are myriad don’t any of those people have of the rig and onto the flatbed vests? ‘If I tell you one more time of a random truck with two I’m kicking you out and taking your vest!’ Take the other cars already on the back. The truck hauled ass damn vest. It doesn’t get me anywhere anyway. back to California where the boys at RSD had four days Everything was pretty mellow until Travis Pastrana to get that sucker running and race ready. They were got there, the most famous motorcyclist in America working on it until the minute they left. As soon as today. He’s coming off of one of the biggest stunts of our Cameron finished tuning the carbs, he loaded the bike generation, jumping the fountains at Caesar’s Palace, into the trailer, the pipes still hot, put the truck in gear and it’s impossible to find someone in the motorcycle and didn’t stop until they got to Daytona. industry who doesn’t love him. It’s easy to see why. Travis has a fused right ankle and limited movement He talks to anyone who will engage with him as if so the brake pedal had to be modified for him to use they’ve been best friends for years. I watched him sign it. Then he went out, rode the wheels off and qualified autographs for at least two and a half hours. Never sixth, which is pretty solid considering the bike didn’t stopped smiling. Class act through and through. He’s run correctly until about two minutes before practice, good for any sport he’s involved with and the fact that and he was ahead of former GNC champ, and the he loves hooligan racing speaks volumes for where the round’s eventual winner, Joe Kopp on the Triumph he sport is headed. has spent two seasons dialling-in. It was fun to watch Two-strokes are loved by everyone except for Al Gore. Pastrana’s style on a hooligan bike, because he’s so It was only a matter of time before Roland Sands built loose, legs hanging off and holding the bike wide open, a two-smoker hooligan bike. Only shitty part was how completely sideways, like an old cowboy movie when expensive and rare 750cc-plus two-strokes are. There the guy is breaking a horse, wild west shit. There was are really only three bikes that fall under the hooligan no shame that Pastrana’s night ended in the semis.


(above) Fat expansion chambers caused Pastrana problems, but he was in the mix on a bike he’d never ridden before. Photo: Justin George

That water buffalo has a mean sound to it and when it bounces off the banked walls of the speedway it’s hard to hear anything else. It was a shame AFT didn’t let the hooligans ride the TT track – would have been cool to see the GT open up on the bank turn, click a few gears and watch the smoke drag across the stadium. The crowd would have loved it. The hooligans would have loved it. Can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t have loved it except the AFT. Can’t think of anyone opposed to the idea of the hooligans riding the main track other than the AFT, for reasons we still haven’t been able to figure out. Possibly they’re afraid they would steal the show. Gotta keep control at all costs. I guess if they ever did want to get rid of the hooligans they could just randomly drug test them. The AFT is run by a group of really great people, but there are cruise ships full of great people that have no business in action sports. They’ve adopted this NASCAR framework and ‘if it works for NASCAR…’ But flat track isn’t NASCAR, it has a uniqueness that should be celebrated. It’s not polished and clean, but raw and gritty. Roland understands this. If the AFT is trying to be NASCAR then the superhooligans are headed towards the world of outlaw sprint cars. Fewer rules, wilder drivers with big personalities willing to risk it all and fight in the pits. I don’t know many people who would choose NASCAR over a good old-fashioned outlaw race at the fairgrounds. This hooligan circus was based on showing up, having fun and then racing. Maybe drinking before, during and definitely after the races. It was about fun and bragging rights. Shit got competitive but the roots remained the same... until it got popular. There were always pros involved, but they stayed with the hooligan mindset. Fun first. Then the pro-mindset came in. This is different to simply a pro racing, it’s a pro mindset. Same as Carmichael did to motocross. Training to win at all costs. I won’t name any names, but if I was going to it would rhyme with Randy from Reno. The Carmichael of hooligan racing. He rides every day, trains, and, from where I’m sitting, has single-handedly taken most of the fun out of hooligan racing. Now some of my favourite hooligans, guys I partied with before the races, aren’t partying until AFTER the races. They’re in the gym trying to figure out a competitive edge. Can you imagine Frankie Garcia in the gym? Horrible. What can you do? Hooligan racing was built on few rules. Hard to say someone can’t train their ass off and spend a shit ton of money on bikes in order to win two championships. It’s hard to say anything after eating as many mushrooms as I have today. Who’s to say? ‘When the whole world is running towards a cliff, he who is running in the opposite direction appears to have lost his mind.’ Roland is usually ahead of the game, so if you see him running somewhere it’s probably a good idea to chase him. He hit this hooligan shit hard and hasn’t stopped. He plans to take the series to as many people as he can across the country.

‘WOULDN’T BE SURPRISED IF THE HOOLIGANS START CASTING A SHADOW...’ The bigger the crowd he can get the hooligans in front of the better. The crowds aren’t always in the best places to build a track though. 25,000 people at a concert on the beach? Let’s cover the sand in plastic, put wood down, haul in dirt and build a track in under one day. Maybe not ideal racing conditions, but if it wasn’t for his out-of-the-box thinking the hooligans would never have raced in front of that many people, just before an Offspring concert, at the Moto Beach Classic, Huntington Beach, one of the most famous beaches in America. Some riders complain about the tracks here and there, or about this or that, but perhaps they don’t see the bigger picture. Roland is painting a massive hooligan mural. If everything goes to plan, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of the AFT guys jumping ship to race the hooligan series. It’s rumoured Joe Kopp makes more money racing the hooligan series than he did racing the grand nationals, and with the list of big-name sponsors jumping on board I wouldn’t be surprised if the hooligans start casting shadows over the AFT. And that’s when the shit really will hit the fan.

(left) Daytona Beach has a blanket 10mph speed limit, so ignore how illegal riding a racebike on it looks, just imagine how illegal it sounds (below) Hooligan rules call for stock main frame and 750cc minimum. Were GT750s actually 738cc? If you get to watch, or race against, Travis Pastrana does anyone care?


When the head of the race series can, and will, do this the possibilites are almost endless

We love FTR750s and hand-shift Harley WRs, but cutting loose on a modified commuter bike is the pure spirit of Sideburn

NEW FRONTIERS Amateur flat track has already swept Europe, now it’s reaching South America Words: Gary Inman Photos: Pablo Franco


OOTBALL, SOCCER IF you prefer, is the most popular sport in the world because all you need is a ball. No special equipment required and, at its simplest, virtually no rules. Find a brick wall and you can even play it on your own. Because of this, there’s barely a corner of the world that hasn’t embraced football to one degree or another. Motorcycle racing isn’t like that. But within the world of twowheeled competition you can’t get much simpler than flat track. A patch of dirt and a bike, be it a commuter 125, scooter or near-death field bike. It doesn’t need to be able to survive landing jumps. It doesn’t need to be fast. It doesn’t even need working brakes, really. It must simply be able to move and turn. There you go, you’re ready for your first taste of flat track. It is this simplicity, I reckon, that is energising the grassroots all over the world, including places like Argentina.

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‘As bike builders, and big fans of Sideburn, being unable to build a true dirt track bike was one of the toughest things for us to deal with,’ explains Federico Lozada of Herencia Custom Motors (HCM), in Buenos Aires. ‘Watching amateur dirt track races in Europe and USA made it even more difficult for us… Or better, we don’t know.’ Herencia (‘heritage’ in Spanish) are quite a big deal in Argentina, with over 40 custom builds to their name, many of them street trackers and scramblers, and a big clothing range. But they still had a dirt track race itch to scratch and eventually they convinced the Argentinian importer of the Indian small-capacity motorcycles, Hero1 to get on board. The result is what HCM have nicknamed the FT230, and that’s what we have here. Both bikes started life as a Hero Hunk 200 (yes, really), a contemporary looking ‘plastic’ bike, the type that’s hard to avoid in India. HCM increased the cylinder capacity to 230, fitted Öhlins rear suspension, road ADV tyres to the 18in wheels and the rest of the traditional flat track cues to create their ideal of a small-capacity race bike with a master plan in mind. ‘We are looking forward to sharing our passion with these bikes, firstly in Argentina, and then we want to spread the word all over Latin America using the idea


of Fun Track,’ says Federico. ‘We are not looking to organise races. There are too many federations here and it’s hard to deal with them, so we will start with fun practice days and when it grows maybe we can start to plan race meetings.’ Argentina’s flat track pioneers can rent a proper dirt track 65 miles (100km) from their headquarters in the Argentine capital. The oval is currently used for a sport called carreras en ovalo de tierra, which looks a lot like flat track, but is raced on small, specialist, two-strokes and four-strokes that look similar to Cheetah’s 150 from Sideburn 36, but with skinny road-race tyres. With some infrastructure already in place, it doesn’t seem too much of a leap to get a flat track series going. Herencia have already made links with Jonas and Santi of Dirt Rookies in Spain to share support and experience in a common language, even though the Dirt Rookies themselves have only been operating for a couple of years. ‘We will provide a teacher that will help explain how to ride flat track,’ says Federico. Neighbouring Colombia has already been in touch with HCM for them to help start the sport there. And it’s going to happen, because all you need is a patch of dirt and two motorcycles to have a flat track race. @herenciacustommotors

1. Founded in 1984, Hero Motocorp, formerly Hero Honda, are the largest manufacturer of two-wheelers in the world. How big? They sold 2,104,949 two-wheelers in the second quarter of 2018 in India alone. That’s 2.1 million bikes in three months. Big.

HCM increased the cylinder capacity to 230, fitted Öhlins rear suspension, ADV tyres and the rest of the traditional flat track cues

(opposite) Herencia Custom Motors team: German Karp, Lucas Foresti, Federico Lozada (above) Lucas demonstrating a bit of Spanish body language (left) If Hero don’t create an FT230 replica as a factory flat tracker they’re missing a trick. HCM have transformed these Hunks into some special


Hero’s singlecylinder commuter never looked so good. If you plan to build a flat track community, start with inexpensive donors

I coveted adventure, something more than U-turning cab drivers and A40 lane splitting. I longed to get out of town and into the wilds. So when Sideburn’s four-day, offroad Moroccan tour with ten other women was punted, I scoured the back of the sofa for cash, donated a couple of organs and dug out my passport‌ Words: Leonie Watkins Photos: Caylee Hankins

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Day one 198km

Soon after, I was back on the bike, winding up tight, Ten pristine KTM 450s sat lined up in the dusty contours followed by mile after mile of rocky sunshine, waiting for the riders to make their arteries, through small towns and villages lit by a selection. Tuned, primed and ready to take us from glorious sunset. Xaluca Hotel at Dades Gorge was a Ouarzazate across mountain passes and plains, gratifying sight, opulent and extravagant. We were over sand dunes and back again. Each equipped welcomed by local musicians, a tray of tea and the with its own navigation system. And torque. So. option to book in for a massage. I mouthed a pitiful, Much. Torque. inaudible ‘thank you’. We gathered in the hotel’s At the safety briefing, this was billed as the pool and hot tub, soothing our aching limbs. Several most technically difficult day of the tour. Eep! An excellent dirt moustaches were on display, the thick internal twinge. Yep, a definite chest pain. With a dust coating our lips and noses. An absolute cracker of mouth drier than the Sahara herself I squeezed a Monday. my Camelbak for water (check) and located my big girl balls: decidedly shrivelled, but present. We got Day two 267km under way. To ensure we reached the desert bivouac before Within a few hundred metres we’d left the Christmas, Johnny split the group into two. The scorching asphalt behind and faster, more capable riders would headed onto an expanse of rocky tackle the advanced trails. No stones to begin our off-road reward for guessing which route I’d experience, full of anticipation and be taking. We barrelled through the first-day vigour. The dust cyclones bustling souk village of Ikniouen of the quicker riders rose up in the while, off-road, they ragged up distance. Next, a short run down and over the tricky and striking a fairly straightforward trail into Jbel Saghro mountains to Al Nif. the first transition of dry riverbed Reunited, the squad set off again, we’d encounter. And there would be this time through arid, solitary many… Amid the pretty almond and territory to Remlia. olive trees, a scrolling alley led us to A memorable open plain another dirt track, which we scaled introduced us to fesh-fesh – the to its peak. villainous fine desert dust that Snack and support truck driven by Su from Lunch was a picnic, looking down looks like sand or solid ground but MotoAventures. Reassurance, 4WD style on a series of sharp turns to a behaves like soft mud. It does its riverbed – a very damp one this time best to destabilise your front end – close to an old Kasbah. A gaggle of local children and it’s essential to anticipate it and adjust. appeared, joining those already waiting patiently The track gave way to small dunes and a chance to to be handed whichever fruits and cheeses we were surf the sand. Thick channels of it, granting lively willing to part with. Privately, we were already exploration, tactically loose-legged, rolling the beginning to understand the reality of the gruelling waves. Sticking to the Garmin’s purple line took some kilometres that would be required of us each day. compromise. A few of us deviated, wildly. Winding Through Toundoute village, next up was the dry our bikes beneath us, searching for gaps between riverbed, AKA, The River of Death, that the guide, the camel grass, eyes up, scanning the desert for our Johnny, had warned us about. Just 4km to cover but fellow riders, we recalibrated the GPS. the most troublesome and punishing ground I would All accounted for, engines refuelled from bottles and trace all week, strewn with boulders. I questioned with the sun now low in the sky, we pressed on with the accuracy of Johnny’s GPS. This wretched renewed urgency. Next came an encounter with a rubble route of purgatory felt closer to 15km. The cracked and far-reaching lakebed and we raced each key was just enough throttle to avoid sinking into other to the basin’s north boundary through more the stony gutter and to skim across the surface. deeply rutted sand, to the bosom of the bivouac at Then suddenly... Ouch! If you’re going to catapult Ouzina Rimal, close to the Algerian border. We’d made headfirst into an inconveniently arranged stack of it. A bright, sandy coloured building rose above the boulders then flail about in agony, do it lying in the curious horseshoe-shaped construction, which would arms of a really hot mate. Dienks, you saved me. I be our sleeping quarters. More delicious mint tea thought I’d died and gone to heaven, though it was was brought in fancy silver teapots with decorative in fact a craggy futon somewhere in west Morocco. glasses. Sweet Judas Priest! It tasted divine. A shot of water to the neck and, with stars circling my head, I was loaded onto the PIG, the support Day three 207km Toyota, and taken the few hundred metres to the Overnight, a storm picked up around camp – rendezvous point. perfect for our only night in traditional Bedouin

(clockwise from left) Day one. The group kits up and prepares for the off from Hotel Le Fint; Leader Johnny gives the safety briefing; Gentle trail to Al Nif


(clockwise from left) The posse on a dry lake bed at Ouzina Rimal, a cracked expanse with the night’s bivouac on its northern fringes; Pick a line between the camel grass and don’t fall off the steep side of a dune; Nadene, aka Dienks, and the 1000-yard stare; A serious contender for Tagine of the Week. Don’t dwell on the fingernails...


‘London X-rays 11 days later would confirm three cracked ribs’

accommodation. The staff battened down rebellious canvas walls and told us everything would be fine. After hours of this sandy tempest we woke to clear skies. In spite of limited sleep, we couldn’t wait for a chance to ride the dunes, the sight of which – handsomely grand in the early morning sun – garnered whoops of joy from the riders rising from their mattresses. So inviting. To sit atop a red, wind-blown ridge looking out over the landscape was one of the most thrilling sights of the tour. It’s better than you might possibly imagine. Dune riding is drifting on a bike. Bum shunted right to the back of the seat, staying in second, open throttle, skirting to the dune’s peak, kicking down to first and cruising to its base. It was like being five again, playing on a BMX in the claggy-

soil fields near home. The mix of pure excitement and uncertainty, yet knowing that a gentle tumble onto sand was the very worst you’d suffer, meant I forgot we weren’t scheduled to play on the dunes all day and we were barely ready when it came time to get going on the next leg of the journey. About 30km later, on our way back to Remlia through 40km of intransigent and particularly soft sand, ambition got the better of me. I gambled and lost. Hitting a sandy ambush at 90kph, my wrist slipped below the throttle, launching rider and bike into the air. Wipe out. The thrills of the last 30 or so hours had generated a false confidence. Bike wedged in the sand, I landed on top and felt the dull thud of the handlebars against my ribcage. OUCH! For the next 15 minutes, I rolled about on the floor like a Premier League footballer trying to get the ref’s attention, only I wasn’t faking. It was agony. London X-rays 11 days later confirmed three cracked ribs. I swapped the bike for the truck… again. Hands glued to shirt, eyeballs melting into the back of my head, we bumped and lolled over the uneven earth and rocks, passing the most remarkable of

sights: more than 300 camels being herded by runners on scooters. Ahead, our gang was parked up under an acacia tree. I watched the dust devils pick up and swirl about as we continued north across a vast elevation of high land and onto Al Nif to refuel, before the colourful town of Tazzarine for late lunch and a leg stretch. The big girls went off road again and I slumped over the bike – eager to ride. Continuing with the others, we followed the truck to the hotel at Omar as a milky, dusky, romantic sun disappeared beyond purple mountains. These arresting, unplanned moments were as poignant as the intended ones. That night, dosed up on painkillers, I relived the journey. All the good and bad bits. Arms vibrating in bed.

Day four 240km

Beginning northwards over the Jbel Saghro Mountains, or ‘Monument Valley’, the bikes hiked the unrelenting camber to a plateau with one of the most spectacular views of the tour. As Caylee helped dress me that morning, the look in her eyes said, ‘For the love of your insurance waiver and my sanity, don’t ride today.’ But she knew better than to engage me in an argument.


(clockwise from above) Natasha styles it; Leah Tokelove – Empress of the Sand; Mint tea = a happy rider; Winding trails in the Jbel Saghro mountains; Your ‘Crash Queen’ author; Final departure from Hotel ait Omar. (opposite) The gang! (from left) Lucia A, Leah, Mariuxi, Stephanie, Su, Lucia S, Claudia, Natasha, Caylee and Nadene

20 minutes later I was lying face down in the muck wondering where the bike had gone. Lucia’s bike. She’d needed a break from riding so I’d climbed, very gingerly, but happily, out of the truck to ride her 450. But now I couldn’t see it. Mind you, I couldn’t very well lift my head to check. I floundered like a trout out of water and flapped upright to see Slovakia’s big guns wrestling the KTM out of a rocky field. Thank goodness for the no-nonsense eastern European attitude of Lucia A. ‘You’re paying for that,’ she said. [Bend a bike and you risk losing some or all of your pre-ride deposit.] En route to the lunch stop, we picked our way through steep hairpins, past sandstone and turquoise hardstone washed out by the weather. Lush and colourful flowers wallpapering the mountains gave way moments later to an expanse of hills, clotted in red clay. We danced 40km across the surface of Mars. At Skoura, a beautiful kasbah provided us with the most delicious tagine. So tasty in fact, it was in line for Tagine of the Week. After lunch, thanks to a military blockade, the top riders netted a fatiguing 40km detour – in the dark. That final evening in Ouarzazate I crashed out (onto a soft mattress, this time) ripped to the tits on diazepam and codeine, with more bruises decorating thighs and arms than a peach dropped down the stairs (mauve counts as a tan though, right?). I counted my blunders and the fact I owed Johnny a fair few euros for a new subframe. What a finale. Riding in groups ain’t my thing. Riding in groups of people I don’t know certainly wasn’t my thing. But (and ladies, I’m talking to you now) if you have an inclination for a tour of this type and have been looking in the opposite direction for fear of being too slow, too inexperienced, or of holding up a group of guys, don’t suppress the appetite any longer. These tours are well organised – every eventuality

is catered for. Riders are well looked after, with individuals assessed by the team. Yes, it would have been better to return home minus injuries and not indebted for repairs. I rode too quickly and my penance was dinged ribs, knees and bank balance. I spent hours wondering if I had struggled because of road riding, the technical differences and relearning how to handle an enduro bike. Group consensus was, this was the most difficult riding ever undertaken – and that wasn’t just the less composed faction. The days are packed and long. You will come off (a small strike or bike drop is a given: get over it). You will be emotionally stirred, and at times frustrated, in equal measure. A tour of this type will improve your riding dramatically. You will get to experience a variety of extraordinary panoramas. You will leave with a host of new and exotic mates. You will get to sample some delicious fare, although please consume fesh-fesh in moderation, it’s quite dry and is awfully bad for your teeth. Do get as much practice as you can, it really will up your confidence and prepare you for some of the more challenging sections. Despite bruises, fractures, scraped lids and dented egos, the quality of riding and the thrill of the landscape overrode it all. The sunrises, sunsets, sense of freedom and achievement coalesce to exceed every expectation. It is, without doubt, an adventure that offers more than just a taste of special. Thanks: Su and Johnny at MotoAventures. To Hussain for fixing our bikes each evening and for gently breaking the news I might need to auction off my liver to cover the KTM’s repair costs. To Chris Salt at Docklands for doing his best to get me ready. And to the nine ladies for being fantastically ace. n If you’re interested in Sideburn’s regular or women-only Morocco trips, email us at

BULLSEYE Husqvarna’s big Black Arrow hits the target Words: Gary Inman Photos: Husqvarna

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HIS IS THE bike I’ve been waiting for all my life. I know. I’m supposed to be objective. Professional. This thing though... It made me realise how good single-cylinder road bikes can be, and, for the last 20 years, I have really wanted a single-cylinder bike, while studiously not buying one. I like the simplicity, but I couldn’t get over the compromised mile-covering ability. I live in smalltown England. There are four or five sets of traffic lights in the whole burgh. I can’t play in the traffic, because there are next to no commuter cut and thrust kicks to be had. My road bikes need to be able to cover 200 miles a day without breaking sweat or vibrating my eyeballs loose. A Yamaha SR500 isn’t going to cut it. How do I know? I bought a first-generation KTM Duke back in the late ’90s. I didn’t keep it long. Coming from a Suzuki GSX-R1100 streetfighter, I felt I had the throttle pinned everywhere. Maybe because I had the throttle pinned everywhere. It turned me off riding singles on the road for a very long time. I bought another GSX-R. Then, in 2017 or so, I fell for the KTM-owned Husqvarna’s sci-fi styling. It is anti-retro, but still simple, single and naked. The 400s came first and were neat and appealing, but, well, less than 400cc, so I wasn’t interested. Then the 701s arrived and my senses tingled. Let’s take a step back. ‘Pilen’ is Swedish for arrow, so there are Vit’ and Svart’, that is white and

Hello, I love you, won’t you tell me your name? Sorry, can you spell that? The editor’s heart is set aflutter by a tall, dark single

black arrows. Vit’ has clip-ons, Svart’ has scramblerstyle bars. There are other distinctions, but those are the main differentiators. So, back in 2018 I arranged a test ride of the Vitpilen 701 and covered a few hundred miles. It was a gamechanger. Here was a single that would cruise at an indicated 100mph and not feel like it was seconds from eating its own valves. The engine, chromoly frame and CNC-machined swingarm are taken directly from the KTM 690 Duke. I guess the Duke would cruise at 100mph too, but I never found out, because the underlying emotional scars inflicted by my own Duke, it’s great-grandfather, hadn’t healed and I didn’t guess that things could have improved so much. Plus KTM’s styling and me, we don’t get along. I hadn’t been given the opportunity to ride one, and hadn’t sought it either. That’s why I have a Kawasaki ZRX1100 in the garage, a big, dumb, inline four that breezes 230-mile round trips to central London and back. Triples and fours have been my go to, despite their weight and comparative complexity. The 701 though, it had elephantine corner-exit stomp. Of course it did, it’s a 75bhp single with 72Nm (53lb.ft) of torque. 75 horsepower! The kind of power that Supermono road racers would have given their thumbs for 15 years ago, now it comes with 6000-mile service intervals and a 24-month warranty. And the engine was smooth, so smooth, thanks to a clever dual balancing system, partly in the head, to counteract the vibes from the big crank. At 100mph there were no more vibes coming through the bars than from a multi-cylinder machine. KTM introduced this latest LC4 engine for the 2017 model year, but Husqvarna boast their version delivers 2bhp more, making it the most powerful roadgoing single ever.


(clockwise from top left) 701 with official accessories: tank bag, Akrapovic silencer, footrests, mirrors. Take our advice, stick with the stock mirrors; That is a slightly spongy pillion perch, not hard plastic; Bronze covers are a Husky family trait, frame is chromoly; Husqvarna supplied these details shots – our test bike wasn’t lockwired; WP forks feel great; Tall seat means this single isn’t cramped; Accessory (expensive) Akrapovic silencer doesn’t sound much different to stock

(clockwise from top left) LED light and Husky’s riff on the street tracker front number board; Love it/hate it tank is better in the flesh; Lean angle shows the exhaust cat usually hidden by belly plates; Modern asymmetry turns me on; Rear end is crying out for a fender eliminator; Single front disc is all it needs; Simple five-spoke alloys are 18in front, 17in rear. Special edition 710 Style comes with spoked wheels; A splash of anodising to break up the black


‘75bhp in the right package is real-world fast and don’t let your tiny penis tell you differently’


Neither my licence nor I need 150bhp, not on 21stcentury UK roads, with their speed cameras and dashcam busybodies. Think ahead, ride like you mean it and 75bhp in the right package is real-world fast and don’t let your tiny penis tell you differently. There was only one downside, the engine was mechanically noisy. I spoke to my mechanic mate, Carl at CFM. He had owned a 690 Duke. He said the engine noise bothered him too. It was noisy enough to make my excuses and leave my money in the bank. A few months later and I’m in Portugal for the world WP suspension only has a claimed 160kg to deal with, launch of the Svartpilen 701. And it’s like the bike but although a light bike could feel skittish or harsh, has been modified just for me. The differences from this doesn’t. Later we ride through the cobbled streets the Vit’ are exactly what I’d have requested. I prefer of a small town and the suspension setup makes the scrambler bars, and love the streetfighter ergonomics. surface feel like freshly-laid tarmac. The Svartpilen Plus black bikes are ‘it’, and this one couldn’t be a lot has 150mm of suspension travel front and rear, 15mm more black. The asymmetrical, almost abstract, rightmore than the Vitpilen. side number board is a nod to flat track, as are the fork Every interaction with the bike is as sweet as guards and headlight surround that has slight echoes Krispy Kreme leftovers. The gearbox has an internal of a front number plate. And this engine seems quieter quickshifter that allows throttle-on, clutchless than the Vitpilen I rode last year. Perhaps I’m feeling upshifts and smooth, clutchless downshifts. The sixless sensitive. speed gearbox is faultless, the hydraulic slipper clutch We’re given a 140km (100 or so mile) route out of is light. The single front Brembo never feels like it central Lisbon. The group I’m in is exclusively British needs the help of a twin brother. journalists. The lead rider is Justin Maxwell, the Into the afternoon the pace is even hotter. The project’s manager. He quietly asks the UK PR rep Svartpilen has an 18in front, 17 rear, where the Vit’ if there are any influencers in our group. ‘No, they has 17in front and rear. The Svart’s Pirelli MT60RS can all ride,’ she replies. We work our way out of tyres don’t give quite the same grip as the best the city, hop on an urban motorway and regular road tyres, and when the pace is Price £8899 ($11,350) Maxwell immediately pins it. We’re a black Engine 693cc, l/c, 4v, this fast that fact is at the back of my mind. mamba doing 110mph in the outside lane Someone gives me the idea of dragging single Rake/trail 25˚/119mm through the end of rush hour. Then we’re the back brake through corners, Brad Wheelbase 1438mm lanesplitting a snarled-up coast road. The Baker-style, and it settles the bike even Wet weight 158.5kg traffic clears and the throttle is wound more, or at least gives me a smidgeon more (without fuel) on again through sweepers to the most confidence. I couldn’t have comfortably Seat Height 835mm Tank size 12 litres westerly point of mainland Europe. Those ridden any quicker on unfamiliar roads who can are wheelying out of every corner. Power 75bhp @ 8500rpm and the two road racing road testers at the Torque 72Nm @ 6750rpm At the first coffee stop, super-experienced front of the pack gapped me, proving the Top Speed 125mph (est) road testers and racers are putting the 701 bike has more to give. I’ll say it again, the in their top five most fun bikes ever. Svartpilen 701 is real-world fast. Fast when We head through a forest on a conditions are not perfect, fast in traffic. decomposing single-track road. The WP suspension, It gets all its explosive acceleration out of the way by a formerly Dutch company now also under the KTM 100mph, so I don’t feel I’m wasting great reserves of umbrella, is remarkably compliant. I’m already horsepower that I’d be unwilling, or unable, to use. making a mental note to sell my Kawasaki. The 701’s Modern superbikes don’t fit into my modern world. Styling is so subjective that it’s almost pointless to discuss it, but the fit and finishes of the bodywork Husqvarna were interesting. The moulded pillion seat, which Svartpilen 701 Wind in forms the little Porsche Carrera-esque ducktail, Frenzy of your face details pleases me. The LED lights are Buck Rogers chic. I 15% 23% Fillings still don’t think KTMs are the best at surviving winters, in teeth and it’s something only time will tell, but perhaps 10% that comes with this price point, because it’s slightly more expensive than the KTM 790 Duke twin (in the Real-world Asymmetrical UK at least). speed tail unit So often in life the dream does not match up to the 17% 35% reality. The Svartpilen 701 is an exception. I think it’s the best single-cylinder road bike ever built.

smiles 12%









High brow

Inspired by Hawkeye Hillbilly and a mortician from Waukegan, Rory Blofield decided to lose his hill climb virginity on a 64-year-old daily rider Words: Rory Blofield Photos: Sam Christmas

> 91

A racing novice, Rory forgot the need for numbers, so his girlfriend, Sarah Lee, painted 22 on the back of his jacket with a paint pen. Rory made a cardboard number plate for the front of the bike and the marshals instructed him to gaffer tape his boot laces and frowned at his holey jeans, lack of front brake and mudguard, among other things


FTER SOME minor prep to my 1955 Triumph Thunderbird 650, the Thundersodder, I was ready to attempt the Red Marley Hill Climb. This bike has been my daily rider, commuting in London and riding to shows and events, for the past seven years. It is a trooper and seems capable of coping with anything I ask it to face. Red Marley, in the west of England, is Britain’s most famous motorcycle hill climb. I’ve been a spectator there for years and have considered racing for a while. The only other time I’d raced, and that was a few years ago, also on Thundersodder, was at Dirt Quake. This year, for Red Marley, I stuck some knobblies on it, removed the headlight and declared it ready to race.

When we arrived on the morning of the race, we got the bike out the van and set up camp for the day. The hill lurked ominously in the background. Steeper than I had remembered. After some encouraging words and mental preparation, it was time for the first practice run. I made it up. What a relief. I had one other practice run that morning, then it was time for my first race. Picking straws for positions on the gate, I pulled second from the right, the best side to be on. There are four bikes in each race. The first two progress to the next round. I was in the over-350cc class and, somehow, I made it up in first place. It not only suprisd me, but also the guy on the Matchless who said, with a smile, ‘I wasn’t expecting that from that heap.’

(left) Photos, even ones by great photographers like Sam Christmas, have a habit of ‘flattening’ Red Marley’s gradient, but it's steep (below left) Some years it’s a swamp, this year dust was a problem. With classic British self-deprecation, the jump the third rider has just launched off is called ‘The Pimple’. The fast guys on BSA singles can launch six feet into the air off it. If the pimple was in America it would be called something dramatic like Satan’s Hell Jump (below right) Red Marley is for classics only. If they’re also customs, that’s fine. No one else had T bars


(clockwise from left) With each run, as his confidence and experience rose, Rory got quicker. He was catching some air off The Pimple and bottoming out on landing. Thundersodder lost all its fork oil, probably on the first jump, but apart from that the bike ran strong and stayed in one piece; decommissioned ambulances as race haulers and binoculars to research the best racing line; high-flying old iron at Red Marley is one of the best sights in classic racing; extreme body english shows how The Pimple mixed with the gradient causes bar banging of a different type


Red Marley 2019 Air time on the daily rider 30%

No gear, all the idea 15%

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Rory reflects, ‘It was an amazing day and I had a real blast, thanks to the support of some good mates, my dad, sister, and Sarah Lee. They encouraged me all day and made it a really memorable one. There were a lot of spectators shouting for me and appreciating my bike. It felt good to sit in the sun with a beer once all the racing was done with everyone in good spirits. And I was still buzzing days after.’

15 15 15

40 40 40

30 30 30

Supportive friends and family 15%

Keeping it pinned 40%

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Shake i t

The wonderful world of Dave Skooter Farm

Words: Dave Bevan

ones the B

M e a t e h C t o m es Off l l iT

Photos: Dave Bevan, Skooter Farm Archive

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EADING TO ENGLAND’S north west to meet up with Dave Skooter Farm, I had vague and comfortable notions of how the interview and subsequent article would pan out; a free-flowing, wideranging, elliptical jaunt, effortlessly arcing through all the fascinating cultural flashpoints that make up Dave’s days, nights and life... The bands he plays in; bikes he’s built, raced and crashed; film productions he’s involved with; skateparks he’s designed and constructed; his stint as a sponsored BMX racer; the madcap events his over-active imagination and busy hands have helped birth... Instead, we spent five hours slipping and sliding around his ol’ man’s garden in the freezing Wigan rain, struggling to gaffer tape Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian golden ratios onto big enough bits of board, while I dangled precariously in gale-force winds from ridiculous homemade gangplanks suspended between flimsy garage roofs and unstable stepladders. As some sort of introduction to Dave’s world, it was just about perfect. There’s a lot to talk about, so it makes some sort of sense to start at the beginning. Not Dave’s, but Sideburn’s, which he inadvertently and quite accidentally helped instigate. Editor Gary divulged that, ‘In the very early days of UK flat track, I went to a practice day at King’s Lynn to take some photos for a magazine I was freelancing for. One bike stood out. It had a Gearhead [cult punk rock and hot rod ’zine] sticker on the XR750 tailpiece. A Diana Dors-esque woman in 1950s sunglasses was sat next to it, I asked who the bike belonged to and she pointed to “him”. “Him” was Dave, who wandered over wearing a Link Wray T-shirt. I couldn’t believe the best bike in the paddock had a Gearhead sticker and belonged to someone wearing a Link Wray shirt. ‘We got talking. I asked Dave what he’d raced before. Nothing. What he rode on the road. Nothing. I realised if this kook could race flat track, I probably could, so I bought a bike and we quickly became best friends. This is all pre-Sideburn...’


‘Recreate da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man with gaffer tape and overalls? In the garden? In the rain? Yeah, OK.’ Dave Skooter Farm is an archetypal doer

Dave picks up the story. ‘My tie to flat track racing goes back much further, right back to 1974, when my dad took me to a Motor Cycle News film night to see On Any Sunday, which of course, as a ten-year-old, just floored me... That and Evel Knievel on his Harley XR750 really poured fuel all over the fire. We had Motor Cycle News delivered every week and back then it featured US AMA flat track racing. I kept a scrapbook and cut out all the pictures. ‘I’d learned to ride a bicycle, without stabilisers, aged three. It was probably a disappointment to my parents when I refused to progress to a big boy’s bike. I preferred to stick with smaller kid’s bikes and figured out the physics involved in throwing the bike around, emulating Evel Knievel and On Any Sunday’s star rider Mert Lawwill. ‘I learned to ride a motorbike at the age of eight, riding various trials and motocross bikes. Then, aged 12, I found skateboarding and, a few years later, BMX. I never grew out of them.’ Not only has he not grown out of them, he hasn’t been left behind either. Last summer, Dave hosted a free pool jam in his own backyard for younger generations of BMXers, many of whom had never ridden a real pool. ‘Come the mid-’90s, an old BMX friend of mine, John Lee, had got into motorcycle hill climbing and had a Rotax 600 flat-track-looking bike, because he loved that aesthetic. This was back when no one had a flat track bike in the UK, but we dug it. We went to Daytona to watch the flat track racing, and when we came back we said, Right, we’re gonna build our own track and build our own trackers and have it! I got really excited


(clockwise from above) DTRA Buxton. Out wide, slowest line, best pictures; DIY full suspension 20-inch. Pre-BMX, Amber-Vision specs, 1978; Stiff-Neck’s backyard ramp, 1984; very early UK BMX race at the Belle Vue show, 1980; Chorley superchute, 1981; ‘Energy in an empty tank world.’ Jailcell Recipes at the Swinging Sporran, 1988. (opposite, from top) Skooter Farm siblings on Dad’s roadregistered Montesa, 1973; Unused pool shot from SB15 feature; Original Dirt Quake Pig-Dog, Suzuki GS750

and built a little Honda Benly CM200 tracker. I was the only one daft enough to see it through! We never built the track either, so here I was, with this little XR750looking thing – a folly really, that couldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding – and nowhere to race it.’ Which is classic Skooter Farm through and through. Dave’s energy and enthusiasm for weirdness and whimsy are well known. It was once said, ‘Don’t ever mention an outrageous idea in passing to Dave Arnold, because he’ll only bloody go and do it.’ ‘John heard about a local grasstrack race at Rivington Barnstormers club,’ Dave continues, ‘so we went and I entered the 200 Benly, against all these smoking hot 500cc Jawas with knobbly tyres. I thought the bike wouldn’t even pass scrutineering, but the bloke said if I was daft enough to ride it, he was daft enough to pass it. So I did this race and I didn’t finish a single heat. I got lapped twice in every race! I realised I was wasting my time, but I had a blast and had the bug bad, so when a Rotax framer came up for sale, I jumped on it. ‘Back then, pre-Sideburn and the DTRA and all that, the UK flat track scene was just a handful of people, tops, which is also around when me and John, again, had another really bright idea, which was Skooter Farm. This was not a results-based organisation, more a small bunch of like-minded thinkers. Enthusiastic amateurism. The name Skooter Farm is an amalgam of skooter, a term for a stripped-down chopper, and farm, that suggests agriculture, something that can be grown... or built in a barn. ‘We imported a bunch of stuff from the States: Bates footpegs, Flanders handlebars, XR petrol tanks and tail units... none of this stuff was available in the UK. We turned up at the first race and everyone looked at us like... [raises eyebrows and laughs], because almost no one had those sorts of bikes. Everyone was on motocross/enduro-based bikes, which this stuff wouldn’t fit anyway! We were buying the bars for £58 and trying to sell them for £65! It was a total nonstarter, but we just wanted to do our own thing, and it gave us the excuse to run a little team.’ Fuelled by punk rock, skateboarding and BMX since he was a sprog of the ’70s, this independent streak and need for self-sufficiency is unmistakable. ‘The band Crass has been so influential to me since I first heard


(clockwise from above) The Mona Lennon by Dave’s friend, the late Chris Sievey ‘for someone who does care’; In the Skooter Farm loft. Dave had a big clearout not that long ago. Yes, really; Sievey creation Frank Sidebottom as role model; The kitchen’s a proper horror show. Dave and his wife Louise hoard with style

them at 14. Their slogan “There is no authority but yourself” really struck such a chord. ‘I’ve never been competitive and never raced motorcycles to be competitive. Personally, I see racing as more akin to an art form. I started racing flat track when I was 40, so, you know, the horse had already bolted! People say, Oh I’d love to race, but I’d be rubbish. So what? Be rubbish! Rubbish is great. ‘I think it’s a skateboarder’s perspective and a punk rock thing. I discovered both in the same summer, 1976, and it totally changed my life. Neither thing is in any way, shape or form dick-slingy or competitive. Skateboarding is not a sport, whether it’s in the Olympics or not. It’s just not. I view it as athletic art, and to me, motorcycle racing is no different. It’s weird, scary and fun. It makes you feel alive. It instantly takes me right back to being nine years old, riding my Raleigh Chopper around, doing skids and jumps and wheelies... Total freedom. ‘When I was 17, I was sponsored by Robinson BMX racing products. I went to America to represent the UK and just did terribly! I came back and I decided, That’s it, I don’t wanna do this anymore, I just wanna do big jumps and have fun.’ Which cuts right to the beating heart of Dave and everything he does: fun without pretence, a love of amateurism, not being afraid of being uncompetitive, not having anything to prove, and being prepared to have a go at something that you love, simply for the love of it. ‘The first skateboard ramp I built was around 1977; a quarter-pipe on my mum’s drive, which was pretty sketchy and ramshackle, but it worked... kinda. It’s that thing: I dunno how to do it, but I’m going to have a go. Then we built another, and another. I ended up doing a joinery apprenticeship when I left school, which wasn’t what I was particularly interested in. I wanted to work in films, in special effects, but my mum and dad were like, Don’t be stupid! That’s not a real job. So the joinery was better than getting an earful off them. I learned some

actual skills, which when combined with something you’re passionate about, be it skateboarding or whatever, ignites something powerful inside you. I ended up building skate parks all over the place for about ten years [including the concrete bowl in Dave’s garden, which co-starred on the cover of Sideburn 15]. If you can do something that you’d do for free, and get paid for it, then that’s a bonus. You’re getting away with it,’ Dave says with a grin. ‘I’m 55 next month and I’m still getting away with it.’ Thanks to this preoccupation with having fun, and his capacity for lateral/sideways thinking, it makes perfect sense that Dave’s involvement with Sideburn goes right back to before the beginning of the magazine. He’s been mixed up in several aspects of the mag, including the Dirt Quake events, which from humble, wonderfully ad hoc beginnings have grown into internationally known events that put flat track on a different trajectory. ‘From the beginning, we made a conscious decision to make Dirt Quake as fun and inclusive as possible, and to take the macho bullshit out of it, because that stuff makes my toes curl. Our manifesto was to demystify what motorcycle racing actually is and make it as accessible as possible. That’s what we wanted to do and I think we succeeded. A bunch of those folks who came and wet their whistle at Dirt Quake have gone on to be more and more involved in flat track racing, which has grown the scene amazingly. Authentic experience. Potentially life-changing fun. ‘We didn’t reinvent the wheel. Originality is not the be all and end all, I don’t think. Originality just for the sake of it won’t always be a good thing. Authenticity and integrity are more important. It’s like Billy Childish and the ‘Stuckism’ thing [Dave’s a huge Billy Childish fan]. Find something you love and get stuck into it and stuck in it. Shake it till the meat comes off the bones.’ Cold and wet from the improvised photo shoot, it’s getting late in the day and real life is gnawing at our heels, and we haven’t mentioned any of the bands Dave’s played in for the best part of his life (Jailcell Recipes, The Stags, The ShookUps, Davros and the Deep-Space Deviants); or his obsessive toy and record collecting; or his longterm involvement with Mancunian outsider comic-weirdo Frank Sidebottom and the new documentary Being Frank; or his dramatic re-entry into the world of competitive flat track racing recently; nor a million and one other fascinating facets of what it is to be Dave Skooter Farm. Suddenly, Sideburn’s seemingly fanciful request to depict Dave as the ideal of the quintessential everyman begins to make a bit more sense.


A glimpse into the lives of Lennard Schuurmans’ tattoo flash characters

Dave & Dave Jr

Words & illustration: @tattoo.lenny

There was not enough time to get us home before dark so we decided to hide under the biggest rock we could find. The next morning, I remembered how nervous I was during the race. ‘You know what, Junior... My bike sounded like it could explode any minute.

All the time I heard new, alien sounds and that made me nervous as hell. Should I sell it before it explodes all over my ball sack?’ ‘Don’t worry Pops, everything will be fine!’ ‘Yeah, you’re probably right... This way, Junior! Let’s turn left this time!’



Trusted: Don ‘Donzilla’ Miller has been involved with classic bikes and flat track for decades. Competitor, promoter, sponsor and founder of Metro Racing, here’s the kit he loves the most 1 Advance Design leathers

At 6ft 7in and 250lbs, I am not your Average Joe, so I needed custom-made leathers. I used someone that was close enough that they could measure for a good fit. Advance Design was in Hagerstown, MD, at the time, a husband and wife team that worked from home. I’ve had these since 1999, great fit and quality. My company’s logo is plastered all over everything. So is WKR, Woody Kyle Racing, who is a great supporter. The best part of the leathers is the heart on my butt with my wife’s name, Peg. Yes, the rumours are true, I have the same thing in the same place tattooed on my butt.

5 Gary Nixon T-shirt

Like Barry Sheene used to, I always have a Nixon tee on under my leathers. Pretty much you will usually see me in a Nixon top when I’m at any motorcycle race, too. He lived for racing and it’s a good thing to keep his name alive.

6 Alpinestars boots

2 Bultaco gear bag

Being a vintage company, we try to offer period-correct items to go along with our swag, so we made a deal to distribute the Alpinestars Super Victory in America. For ten years we were the only place to get them in the States and stopped because they don’t import them any more. I like them because of their looks and light weight.

3 Arai Corsair IV helmet

By George, attached with a flamed strap from Ol’ Skool Alloy. Under each boot is a roll of duct tape to hold the shoe strap down. It has to be either white or flamed duct tape.

It’s full of all the essentials I may need on race day: Alpinestars thin socks; knee and elbow pads; chest protector; back protector; spare shields; spare gloves; tear-offs; extra shoe strap; wet naps [wipes]; small first aid kit – aspirin, ibuprofen, bug spray, Tums...

Photos: Don Miller; Shogo Nakao (action)

our Legends series. The jersey looks like his leathers, which we have in our collection. The black nylon riding pants are a discontinued Metro item.

About 25 years ago I was asked by Gary Nixon to be his ‘Helmet Guy’. That, along with being his T-shirt Guy, was an honour. I painted a lot of them over the years. About a year or so into it, Gary saw me win a vintage race and said, ‘Boy this helmet would look a lot better with my design on it.’ I played it cool, but inside I was flipping out! I haven’t raced without one since. I added the stars to pay homage to another hero, Evel Knievel.

4 Metro jersey and pants

I wear these for the warmer short tracks. Our company, Metro Racing, still supplies the Gary Nixon line in

7 Hot Shoe

8 Chequered flag bandana

Our dog, Beezer, used to wear it. He went to every race with us. If I put anything motorcycle related in the van, he would lay next to it so I didn’t forget him. Peg made sure he had a bandana on at the races and this one was from the last race he went to. It stays in my gear bag. My Vizslas are there too. Their name tags are hooked where the lock goes on the toolbox.

9 Sprockets

One can never have enough gearing!

Name Don Miller Age 56 Job Vintage logo motorcycle T-shirt king Hometown Brackney, PA Bikes 1969 Yamaha DT1 250, Sonic Weld frame 1979 Bultaco Astro 250

10 Pent-roof toolbox

Filled with all the goodies. Knock-off wrench, safety wire, surefire plane and ballpeen hammer are probably the most used tools in the box.

11 Black bin

This is full of chemicals, tubes, spares and such. It’s on a frame I made from an old shopping cart. It has a removable handle, my tool box goes on top. I can stack a bunch of other stuff on it (boots, leathers, helmet) to make loading in and out easier when no vehicles are allowed in the pits.

12 Carburation

The three plastic boxes on the floor are the Holy Grail of racing two-strokes. They contain every Mikuni main jet, pilot jet, spray bars – one up and one down – for my bikes. Needles, gaskets, floats, lighted magnifying glass... all in there too. I’m always happy to help out another rider, but my rule for the Mikuni parts, chain links and gearing is: You can have or borrow any of them, but you must give me one of yours to take them. I don’t care what size it is, just a fair trade. My friend, Pascal, came to a practice day and was in and out of that box two dozen times. He had one to trade every time. He said afterwards, ‘You saved me a lot of time and money. I got my bike jetted to perfection without having to buy two dozen jets that I’ll never use again.’

13 Bultaco Astro 250

My favourite race bike. It has been featured in Sideburn magazine a couple of times, including a blueprint feature in SB14.







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Some of the other stuff in my office: The pocketed board from the back door of Ken Maley’s hot shoe van; handmade primary cover for Don Castro’s Trackmaster; Gary Fisher Yamaha helmets; helmet from Kenny Roberts’ school, Spain; race boots from Jared Mees, Kenny Coolbeth, Roger Hayden, Wayne Rainey, Gary Nixon, Chris Carr; the orange phone is from Nixon’s office; the red boots are Bubba Shobert’s.

St Mert Protects

Available in art print; triptych print and T-shirt. Artwork by Stay Outside Studio Order limited-edition T-shirts, sweatshirts, patches, badges, magazines, subscriptions, art prints, socks and more

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A glimpse into Death Spray Custom’s inspiration file

This column is about a folder on my laptop where I store all the found images and interesting stuff from the web. Some of it is to do with my work, some of it isn’t. This issue’s theme is something that has fascinated me for years, and that’s the image of something on fire. It’s the tiny snapshot of a tale that’s missing an incredible amount of backstory of how this image came to be. Above is a picture of tyre smoking YouTube sensation Ken Block’s Group A Ford Escort Cosworth. I designed this car’s livery, and this was its second outing.

When this picture reached me, I was more excited about the image than sad about the vehicle (and my work being destroyed). I know exactly the backstory that led to this, and it can be traced to a point much earlier in the day. A small mechanical failure had a domino effect that led to larger, vehicle handling issues and thus the picture you see. Every picture here has a similar hidden backstory that will remain a mystery to most. This memorialised split second offers more questions than answers, which is the essence of art.

Stephan Mertens’ 888 hitting the wall at Phillip Island. I watched this race live at the time. While the impact of hitting the wall caused the fire, the backstory is there to be filled by the viewer.



From: Hank Scott To: Date: 5 March 2019 Subject: Syracuse ’74

HS No. If it did, I was not aware of it. But then again, I was a rookie Expert and everything was big and exciting to me. I was pumped just to be there in the big time. SB You’re honoured with the presence of an especially cute-looking trophy girl. Do you remember her at all?

SB Hello Hank. We have a great photo of you on the top of the podium at the Syracuse Mile, September 1974, with Doug Sehl (and Rex Beauchamp out of shot). This was the first win in your rookie year as a pro, correct?

HS I don’t remember her other than the picture. She was someone Don, the promoter, approached and asked her to be the trophy girl, since she was so cute and caught his eye is my best guess.

HS Correct. I carried 20R all through my first three years riding pro.

SB Syracuse closed in 2016 and has now been developed as an expo centre. What do you think of that?

SB You were on a Pate’s XR750, and it obviously went well. Did it take much setting up for Syracuse?

HS I think it’s a loss to the racing community as well as the avid racing fan. It was a good track and the racing lines promoted good racing. It’s a shame a piece of history is gone.

HS The bike did belong to Pate’s HarleyDavidson of Chattanooga, TN. I had a bad fall in July in Kenton, Ohio, and was in the hospital for a while, after that I went and stayed with a future builder friend of mine, Carl Patrick from Enon, Ohio. While there we rebuilt the bike, made some different exhaust downpipes instead of the sweeping up the left side you normally see on an XR750. Carl Patrick and Edgar Furr, AKA Furgie, rebuilt the engine and made some changes while I stayed with Carl. The end result was a national-winning bike. 15

SB What other memories does this photograph bring back? HS Geez, my first national win, that was big. I’d won the regional there the week before, giving me a ton of confidence going back that week for the national. I won the national convincingly. Once I caught Rex I began to 15 pull away, winning by a large margin. My first 35 win, I’ll never forget that. I called my brother after the race, Gary was home healing up from a broken collarbone I think, not sure on that, but when I told him I’d won, he couldn’t believe it. True, I won that day, and showed everyone Hank Scott is for real, and someone they would all have to face week in and week out on the track from then on. 17 10


SB How did you like that track? 23

HS I liked the fairgrounds at Syracuse. The track suited my riding style very comfortably. I liked the narrow, blue groove, it took finesse to go fast on it and keep both wheels tracking in the right direction. It was not a40sideways 30 sliding style of track. To go fast there, you need to almost road race it, with a gentle slide getting into the corners. Once there, you quickly started tracking the bike. 30 SB Syracuse, at the New York State Fairgrounds, was billed as the only mile race in the East and for that 1974 event it drew a crowd of 10,000. Do you think it had a particular atmosphere?



Syracuse 1974 15

15 30

Imminent cork-popping 15%

Toothpaste advert 30% Mysterious beauty 28%


Crowd reflection 27%



Photo: Gary Van Voorhis