Sideburn 39

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#39 £7

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 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

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 : Sideburn FTR223 with custom letterforms by Radical Co-operative Photo: Paul Bryant

SIDEBURN 40 will be published in Spring 2020. To subscribe go to

@sideburnmag sideburnmag

Photo: Evan Shay

The final issue of 2019 was made with the help, artistry, knowledge and supremely good vibes of the following people: Kolby Carlile; Cory Texter; Donzilla; Sammy Sabedr; Bryan Smith; Rad Co-Op; Mark Kawakami; Damon York; Geoff Cain; Death Spray Custom; the Sideburn Nepal crew; Vir and Harsh at Helmet Diaries; Carl CFM; Tom Bing; Tim Easley; Andrew Neri; Evan Shay; Dave Z at S&S Cycle; Ed Subias; Terry Vance; Nik Ellwood; George Greenfield; Jon at Braking Point; 71Speedster; Gar Wood; Leonid Sorokin; Iron Chain; Jon Brapp Snapps; Cheetah; Lenny Schuurmans; Henny Ray Abrams; all at the DTRA; Brian Bowles; Scott Fuel; Paul Bryant; Dimitri Coste; Takashi Urashima; all our advertisers old and new. Support those who support the scene. Thank you for buying Sideburn.

When you’re out for a spin, make sure you don’t go in too hot and wash out as you might take a tumble. Le Fooligan Derby, Canada

RIDE WITH US The Brat 125 eats up the urban terrain and turns it into your own personal amusement park. Designed in the UK by the team at Herald, it has an attitude to match its unique rugged looks. Available in military green, iron grey or copper.

DON’T BE anti-social #heraldriders



At home with a flat track superfan



Sideburn’s Honda FTR223 project



Royal Enfield Himalayan short trackers


VANDERKOOI XG750R Situation report on Harley’s water pumper



H-D Street Rod after a concrete milkshake






The art of Brian Bowles Milwaukee artist



Moscow SR400 street thug



This On Any Sunday rip-off is a gem of a movie


WEEK-LONG GAP YEAR Sideburn’s first mind-blowing trip to Nepal


BIG RED PIG Travis’s XR650 trophy hunter


PRODUCTION TWIN Cory Texter’s G&G Yamaha MT-07


20 Interview: Kolby Carlile 30 Get Schooled: Race two classes 95 Have Fun!! Japanese flat track 97 Schuurmans’ Backflash 100 Racewear 103 Sideburn merch 104 Death Spray Custom inspiration 106 Trophy Queen

Illustration: Radical Co-operative



Nomad’s Lair Words: Gary Inman Photos: Mark Kawakami

> 6

(left) Black Label skateboards, signed 2014 Ascot reunion poster and number plates. The #2 Jim Rice plate and #20 Gene Romero plate were handpainted by Damon and both are signed. (right) #769 yellow round plate is a 1956 Triumph TR6 preunit dirt bike. Stiv the Boston Terrier has worked at more dealerships than most people


AMON ‘NOMAD’ YORK lives under the radar. ‘The location and the fact I live in this warehouse is top secret. It’s highly illegal to live here.’ I’ve known of Damon for years, stared at photos of his bikes and collections and met him a couple of times at races in the States, but never knew this was ‘home’. The fact it is was not entirely planned. ‘I ended a nine-year stint with a lady and had a ton of stuff to store. A very good friend of mine, ex-pro skater Riky Barnes, introduced me to the landlord and we shoehorned everything in and set up shop.’ While he still works full-time at a bike dealer, Damon explains his side business, Nomad’s Cycle, that he started a few years back. ‘I’ve worked as a professional technician since 1995 and over the years seen the writing on the wall. I knew I needed to make my own name and path for myself in case I needed to open up my own shop, because of the way the motorcycle industry is heading.’ This might look like the dream life, but what does the man who lives it think? ‘The pros are that everything you need and own is under one roof. I get so much done on bikes in the early morning, hours before most are even up. I have tons of space, can make a lot of noise and winters are awesome in the shop. The cons are no kitchen. Girlfriends like the idea at first but then hate it (and me) in the end. There are no windows and summers would really suck without AC.’ Damon allowed us to dig through his collection and home...

(clockwise from top right) Toolbox goes with Damon to every race. ‘More times than not I’m able to help fellas fix bikes before the flag drops; I’m always rooting for a couple of guys and one of my favourites is Jeffrey Carver; I grew up surfing; Buttons from punk shows, races and car shows; Various jerseys depending on what I’m racing’


Sonicweld 250 ‘I’d have to say this Gene Romero Sonicweld Triumph means the most to me because it has so much history attached to it,’ says Damon of the hardtail, brakeless short tracker. ‘I acquired the bike in a trade with Don Miller of Metro Racing [a regular in Sideburn]. I built a 1957 Triumph 500 TT ’60s-styled chopper Don wanted and he had this Sonicweld I wanted. We did a trade out at the 2016 Santa Rosa Mile, 2016. The young pro racers Kyle McGrane and Ryan Varnes brought the bike across country from Don’s place in Pennsylvania. We hung out for the day and became friends. Unfortunately, Kyle and Charlotte Kainz crashed and died the next day in the Pro Singles race. The bike immediately became significant and close to my heart. ‘It was first raced by Jim Odom for Cycle Imports based in northern California. I’ve spoken with J.O. a lot about the bike. When he got the factory Yamaha ride, Gene Romero took over as the pilot of this Triumph. All the bikes on the Cycle Imports team were painted with 1950s Dodgecoloured paint jobs.’


’Taco Pursang Damon has a few obsessions. Lowbrow pioneer Ed Roth is one, flat track in general another and Bultacos without a doubt one more. He owns a couple of regular Astros, in the archetypical paint jobs, but this work in progress is the one he’s currently digging the most. ‘It’s a 1973 125cc Pursang that I bought for $250 at a coffee shop inside the local surf shop in Huntingdon Beach where I work part-time. As soon as I got hold of it I had a vision in my head about building one of the racing Bultacos before the Astros were developed, what are known as the Pursang Astros, and that’s what it is. ‘I grew up around 1970s Funny Cars and loved Bill Carter paint jobs, so I knew exactly who to call for the correct paint job – Travis Hess over at Kolor by Tuki. ‘I shortened a 5 1/2in aluminum rear fender, powder-coated the swingarm and frame and then my good friend Bruce Reynolds at BR Bultaco helped with backcutting gears and rebuilding the power plant. As you can see, it still needs wiring up, a drive chain and plate, then... fire!’


(above) The HarleyDavidson Z leathers set belonged to #67 Mike Eadie who appeared in the 1987 AMA Camel Pro Superbike road race series. The green ABC leather jacket in the back is #60 Billy Hilland’s. Billy rode for Curtis Racing Frames of Richmond, BC. He loved to race Kawasaki Big Horns. (left) The #3 Gene Romero plate Damon hand painted and took to Gene’s celebration of life party and had all the guys sign it

(right) Damon explains ‘The blue and white BSA was pulled outta Dallas, Texas with #17T plates on it. I really like this bike. It’s a BSA 500cc single in a Boss frame. The motor was built by Gerald Jessup. He knows his way around a British motor.’ The 769 refers to Damon’s date of birth, the seventh day of 1969


Champion Twin ‘This is another of my favorite bikes,’ says Damon over the high-compression British twin’s tickover. ‘I acquired it in another trade, this time with Hugh Mackie of Sixth Street Specials over in Manhattan. Hugh got my 1964-’67 Triumph Bonneville and I got Greaser Mike’s old 1970 Champion Triumph 500cc framer.’ We featured Mike and this bike on the old Sideburn blog back in 2010 when it had just been built, but we didn’t know... ‘The Champion frame is actually for a YZ250 engine, but now has a 1970 Triumph 500 shoehorned into it with tons of custom work. It has Ron Wood triple trees, ARD magneto, Megacycle cam... This thing is a firebreather and so much fun to ride. Hugh, Fumi and Greaser Mike nailed it!’ Being surrounded by so much stuff, however much it means to you, can be an overwhleming, oppressive brain fry with the risk that you end up feeling like it owns you, not the other way round. I’m so glad it sounds like Damon’s warehouse life is close to his dream life.

The Triumph was painted and goldleafed by Spritz by Fritz, who restores many of Ed Roth’s show cars. It looks as fresh as it did back in 2010

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Who? What? When? Why? Where?

Kolby Carlile Interview: Gary Inman Illustrations: Tim Easley

You were the 2017 AFT Singles champ and came within a whisker of the AFT Production Twins title in 2019, but what was your first ever flat track race? I’m quite a bit different from the rest of the current American Flat Track racers, because I didn’t start till I was ten, by which time most of the rest had been racing six years and already had three national championships on 50 and 60cc bikes. I was just playing baseball and video games. My first motorcycle race was back in 2009 and I guess I was ten or 11 years old, it was a track called Paradise Speedway, 25 minutes from my house. I raced a Kawasaki KX85 my dad bought from a dealership that was going out of business. They had it on super clearance. I had no idea what flat track was at the time, but Dad had the vision in his head. At my first race I had to learn the clutch, the whole thing. There were just two of us in the race, me and Justin Jones. He’s won Daytona Short Track1, he’s a Twins racer. Justin actually let me win that night, but I didn’t know that for a few years. I remember going to school the next day saying I’d beaten a national champion. Like I say, I had no idea about flat track. I was watching supercross and motocross sometimes, but only seriously after I started racing. It was so hard to watch flat track back then. I had no idea who the top guys


were. Racing motorcycles was fun, but it was just something I got to do on the weekends, it wasn’t what I was planning on doing with my life. My dad didn’t race flat track until after I started. He’d watched it, he’d been to Syracuse, but he didn’t have the money to. He had his own business, so he was trying to build that and when the Kawasaki came up he thought I could try the sport. He had ridden trials in the 1970s and ’80s. He wasn’t a big fan of motocross, so that’s why we didn’t go that route and it worked out pretty good for me. How quickly did you progress? In 2011 I won a national championship on a 125, in DuQuoin, Illinois, but it wasn’t hugely contested. Because Dad wasn’t a racer, we had no idea what we were getting into, so we prepared the best we could. It wasn’t the biggest championship. The one you’d want to win was the 450 Modified and you’d want to go for the Horizon Award2. I thought it was awesome that I won the 125 championship, but it wasn’t going to take me where I needed to go. In 2012 I raced the 450 and went for the Horizon Award. We didn’t win it, but we already had the idea we were going professional as soon as I turned 16 in July. Jeffery Lowery won it. That year was super-competitive: me, Jarod Vanderkooi, Davis Fisher, Lowery and Andrew Luker.

When did you turn pro? I was 16 on 5 July and the race was on 6 July, so I barely squeezed in. It was in Hagerstown, Maryland, in 2013. At that point I was riding Kawasaki 450s. The track was glass smooth, but super slippery and it paid into my favour. There were 39 entries in the singles and I qualified tenth at my first pro race, and I thought, Man, maybe I could do this. I made the main straight out of the heat race3 and finished last, but I was so happy just to make the main. I was fully family funded up until 2017. I went a lot of years with my parents paying for my racing. What has been the most memorable win so far? This is a tough one. They all seem so memorable, but the one that sticks out is my first one, at the Charlotte HalfMile in 2016. It was a three-way battle almost till the last lap when I found a high line and snuck around first and second, Dalton Gauthier and Ryan Wells, so it was a super-tough race. It was awesome to win it. What’s your favourite track? I’ve got a few. I really like Sacramento. The track always seems to be in good condition and we can really race hard. I like the Daytona TT, no matter the configuration, being there in the stadium, I always feel like I go good there on a twin or a 450. I really liked the Minnesota Mile a lot this year,

1 Jones won the GNC2 class (now AFT Singles) on the second night of the Daytona Short Track in March 2015. 2 The Horizon Award, now renamed in Nicky Hayden’s honour, is awarded to the best US amateur racer in FT, MX and road racing by the AMA. 3 For years, before recent format changes, riders could bypass the semis by finishing in the top four in their heat race. Current rules make all riders contest semis.



just for the fact you could hold it wide open, on the limit. There’s been a lot of talk about Minnesota and New Jersey4 and they weren’t perfect, but they’re dirt tracks, y’know? They can’t be perfect. They’re cushion miles. All the premier guys were really mad at the track. It was a lot deeper this year, and the Twins hadn’t been on it for four or five hours, we only got one practice and one qualifying, then four hours of sitting around while they tried fixing the track. [The Production Twins] raced and it was a lot better than I thought it would be, but [the organisers] should have given the Twins do a lap and let them discuss after that. What’s the best bike you’ve ever raced? Lately, the Estenson Racing J&M Yamaha I’ve been riding at the last few races [of the 2019 AMA Production Twins class]. My tuner, Brandon Bergen, he’s had that thing running good. I feel I can ride it as hard as the track will let me. At Minnesota and New Jersey I barely let off the gas at all, ever. To ride a 750 twin wide-open around a mile is a feeling of itself. I made the choice mid-way through the year to change to the J&M chassis; the team had it sitting on the shelf. The other chassis was a bit small for me. And the worst bike? I really haven’t had a terrible bike. The Kawi 450s I was racing weren’t terrible, but I don’t think that engine at that time was as good as the competition. As soon as I changed to another bike I automatically went faster. Who is the greatest flat tracker of all time? I’m a really big fan of Ricky Graham. I think he had a really great style and some of the intensity that the top guys are bringing now. There’s quite a lot of video of him that I’ve watched on YouTube. He hung it out there a bit more.


What’s the best thing about being a pro racer? The best thing is the racing, the actual time on the track. I’ve been enjoying that lately and enjoying my bike. The racing’s been so much fun. There have been times when I’ve been excited to go to the track and the whole atmosphere, but lately, strapping on my helmet and doing the laps is the most fun.

‘To ride a 750 twin wide-open around a mile is a feeling of itself’

And the worst thing? Definitely the injuries, my own and seeing other people injured. I’ve been trying to rack my brain to find out how we could make it safer. I think the airbag suits will help, but it’s tough. At the end of the day we’re going so fast and if anything happens it’s so hard to miss it. What do you have lined up for 2020? I’m going to be with Estenson, racing the Yamahas again, but I think I will be in the SuperTwins class. We’re going to be spending a lot of time testing parts in the off-season to be closer to the Indians. We’re not far off. We did a test at Williams Grove a few weeks ago and I was only three tenths off the best lap of the number one rider, and I’m not that experienced [on the twins], so that’s good for me. I think 0.3s a lap is attainable. It would be a lot easier to hop on [an Indian], but we’re all going to feel really good when a Yamaha wins on an oval track. Indian spent crazy money building that engine to go fast in circles, where as the Yamaha was built for people to have fun going down the road with, getting it to spin RPMs quick, not go in circles.

4 There were two serious crashes at the last two AFT races of 2019, and lots of grumbling about track prep. The elite AFT Twins racers (not those in Kolby’s Production Twins class) had an emergency meeting and agreed to race the Meadowlands, New Jersey, main event only if it was shortened. The race was cut from 25 to 8 laps.



Japanese import fractory street tracker gets the Sideburn treatment


PTIMISM. BLIND OPTIMISM. That is the only reason I can explain the purchase of another worn-out, single-cylinder Honda. Like Sideburn’s FT5001 and our Mablethorpe beach racer2, this 2000 FTR223 was tired. Tired like a junior doctor at the end of a 72-hour shift in A&E. Tired like Ali 145 seconds into the 12th round in Zaire. Tired like a Honda 19 years into a life without love. Still, I could only see the good in it. Yes, it rattled when it started up, but I’d agreed to buy it by them and the rattle was just a timing chain, right? And who doesn’t have a soft spot for these Words: Gary Inman Photos: Paul Bryant

little factory trackers and the spirit of Ricky Graham and Bubba Shobert they evoke in the overly sentimental flat track fan? I’d stripped the bike to a bare frame, brackets ground off the frame and swingarm, ready for CJ Powder Coatings to lay on a new coat of red, before I unbolted the cam cover and saw a metallic crime scene that caused the blood to drain to my feet. The cam and rockers were so badly worn I couldn’t believe I’d heard the bike start and tick over. The rockers looked like they’d been on a belt grinder, the cam was missing 2mm off one of its lobes.

If the little Honda wasn’t already sulking in three different cardboard boxes I’d have put the cam cover back on and sold it for the first halfsensible offer, but it was too late. A fellow racer and Sideburn reader, Martin from Berlin, got in touch when Sideburn had bought the bike, saying he had brand new Athena and BBR tuning parts for this engine, that he no longer needed. I wasn’t interested at first, but I was now and we did a deal. The rear hub was butchered beyond economic repair. Despite this bike never having been officially imported into the UK I found one

Mad dash to be ready for this issue. Front ’guard not repaired yet and perhaps the headlight surround should be lower

eBay at the right price. It even had a good sprocket. The front disc felt like a crinkle cut crisp. Our Japanese columnist, Cheetah, kindly sent a replacement. We were back on track. The tank went to Paint by Matt in Yorkshire, to have a red, white and blue paint job thought up by Radical Co-operative in LA, that ties in with an 85% Club3 box and this issue’s cover they also conceptualised for us. The powder coating was returned and looked great. I remembered having a ForkCo cast alloy Enduro Face, that was just waiting for the right project. The

LED tail light, number plate bracket and billet alloy indicators were ordered from Motone and just feel so good to work with. I knocked up a few brackets, found a braided hose and ordered a new front sprocket and chain. My son Max and I bolted it together, while Carl at CFM rebuilt the top end. In the end it was mild custom job, but I love the shape of the tank and seat so much I didn’t want to reinvent it. Thanks to the lack of major surgery it bolted back together really easily. In fact, so easily it refilled my optimism bank to overflowing. It’s time for another hare-brained project.


1 Sideburn 6 cover bike arrived, bought unseen (by me) with a ruined starter motor. FT500 starter motors are as rare as griffinskin slippers. I found one. 6000 miles away. 2 Bitsa XL600/SLR650. Bought for £500. Looked like it had been salvaged from a WWII-era ship wreck. We made it a pretty race winner. Then the big end seized. See issues 30, 31, 32 and 36. 3 The 85% club is open to anyone who buys one of our limited edition box sets, individually numbered from 1-85. The number 85 comes from the motto, ‘Giving 85% 100% of the time’.






FTR223 Project 2000 Sweet paint job 35%




Ebay rescue 17%




Child labour 10%

Engine horror 15%









Red powder coat 23%

Grand National 2:2 High Exhaust made for your Indian FTR1200 ®

Made in the USA • • @sscycle


How to race two classes WANT TO RACE more than one class? Current AFT Production Twins champion Cory Texter gives us an insight into the benefits, drawbacks and what it takes to compete in different classes in the same season, often on the same day. Over to Cory... Since the introduction of the full Production Twins championship for the 2018 season, American Flat Track has allowed AFT Singles riders to compete in two classes on the same day. Production Twins is for engines based on those from road bikes, like the Yamaha MT-07 and Kawasaki ER-6, in flat track chassis. These bikes that had become pretty much obsolete since the arrival of the Indian FTR750, but the FTR, with its race-only engine, is excluded from the Production Twins. If you have an AFT Singles licence, you can double up and race in Production Twins. The idea is to give riders the opportunity to get seat time on a twin while also competing on a single. It’s also helped to increase the head count in the Production Twins class. As the new championship grows, more riders are switching back and forth between classes and very different machines on race day. Like these riders, and lots of amateur racers, I have raced two very different bikes on the same day countless times in my career at non-national events, because I like to race motorcycles. But it’s not always easy, and when I see amateurs swapping between radically different bikes, I wonder if they’ve considered everything…


Single-cylinder DTX motorcycles (450cc MX machines mildly modified for flat track) handle differently to a twin. A DTX bike feels twitchy and is comparatively unpredictable. When you slide a DTX bike into a corner and when you pick up the throttle in the apex and move down the straightaway, the rear dances around a lot more than a twin’s. On a twin, the wheels stay in line a bit more and it drives forward when you give it throttle. I think this is one of the reasons you see a lot more guys crash by themselves on a single than a twin. Unlike a twin-cylinder framer, DTX bikes weren’t designed to go fast in a circle, they’re made to hit jumps and rail berms. So when you’re swapping from a single to a twin you must adjust accordingly. You ride both bikes similarly, but the differences in the way each motorcycle reacts is something you need to be prepared for.


The chassis and ergonomics of a DTX bike make it more difficult to distance yourself from the competition on race day. A singlecylinder DTX bike has significantly less horsepower than a twin. In addition, you can race the corners harder on a twin. With the DTX bike, you can only go so hard in the corner before the bike decides to step out or spin off, so riders of different abilities get bunched up. You are often rewarded more for corner speed on a twin than on a DTX bike, which is why you see pack racing on mile tracks that are smooth and predictable.


I competed in the 2018 AFT Singles class and found it to be unexpectedly gnarly. The bikes are so evenly matched, so riders feel they must make harder moves to make progress. I had a couple of rough crashes at the second round in Atlanta

caused by other riders and that took away a lot of my trust in that class. Then, at Sacramento, my foot was run over at 100mph, fracturing my ankle. I tried to come back too soon and kept re-injuring it. Excuses aside, I simply got pushed around in that class, but the experience helped me with my 2019 title. So, choose classes that suit you and your attitude or you’re not going to enjoy it.


Almost every rider at pro level now competes on a DTX bike before a twin, so many younger riders are comfortable with that style of motorcycle. There isn’t really a modern twin class for amateur racers in the US and the bikes are too heavy and fast for a 12-year-old to race. Single-cylinder framers were popular when I was an amateur and in my first couple seasons as a professional, but since 2009 they have been banned from the top level of professional racing. Still, I feel that riding a framer single is the best way to prepare for the transition onto a twin.


A big factor in being successful on both bikes is good cardiovascular fitness and endurance. Interval training lets your body get used to reaching max heart rate, recovering, then going back to max rate again in your second class. And when doubling up classes it’s crucial to focus on nutrition and hydration. AFT Singles and Production Twins race back-to-back so riders need to be able to hop off one bike and jump right on the other and still have the energy to be successful. It’s even harder in summer when it’s 100 degrees and the track is rougher than a ploughed cornfield. It’s important to get the proper amount of calories on race day. A lot of racers don’t eat during an event because of nerves, but you need to fuel your body. Hydration is essential and a lot of people just drink water, but you need to supplement that with some type of electrolyte. I use coconut water because it’s a natural way of giving my body what it needs.


Dalton Gauthier and Chad Cose were the only riders who had good results in both classes on the same day in the 2019 season. They’re both exceptional riders, but I think they would have finished even better if they had focused on one class. Dalton had a great team supporting him and the luxury of not having to worry about much besides twisting the throttle. I think Chad would agree that some days were extremely tough riding two classes, especially at demanding tracks like Lima and Minnesota. I feel I’d have the endurance to ride all three classes, if allowed, but finding the infrastructure to be successful in all three is the most challenging aspect of it all. As a club racer, do you have the support to race more than one class properly?


So, it’s difficult to put your best effort into two classes. Race more than one motorcycle in a day and you’re trying to find time to figure out ways to get faster on both; you’re pulling effort from one class and putting it into two classes. Your direction all depends on your focus – targeted improvement or lots of race laps? The top three in the 2019 Production Twins class this season were riders who put their main focus into that class.

Words: Cory Texter Illustration: Ryan Quickfall



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Words: Gary Inman Photos: S&S (statics), George DuChaine (action)


Peaky BlinderS n pass s for fl e

a r t at

> 33

HEN A TRIO of Sideburn collaborators came together in a Venn diagram of short track symbiosis the result immediately got the magazine’s stamp of approval. AFT National #10 and Moto Anatomy founder Johnny Lewis organised the indoor flat track race at the AIM Expo motorcycle show in September this year, where S&S arrived with five converted Royal Enfield road bikes and the same number of hotshot riders ready to race the singles on the concrete short track. Blame my lack of vision, but I’d never have thought of the Indian-built 400cc adventure bike as the basis for an entry-level dirt track race bike, but it made perfect sense when I saw the photos. Wisconsin-based S&S are performance partners for Royal Enfield. They developed Enfield’s record-breaking salt-flat racer1 and designed and manufactured a performance exhaust for the North American market. S&S’s Dave Zemla takes up the story... ‘S&S are heavily involved in American flat track and support the Indian factory team as well as a number of other high-level programmes, so there’s a fair amount of tracker-centric enthusiasm within the company. Much of the focus with Royal Enfield has been on the new twins, but we saw an opportunity to work with their team on the Himalayan platform as well.’ Despite being one of the biggest motorcycle companies in the world, much of Royal Enfield’s design and direction is steered by a handful of incredibly down-to-earth bike nuts that I’ve known for over a decade. This small core was instrumental in setting up the company’s UK design and technology centre in the English Midlands, with key staff defecting from Triumph to join Enfield. The UK team are the people who, out of office hours, design and create the custom concepts that appear at the Bike Shed Show, Wheels and Waves and other big European events. ‘With the Himalayan, S&S began with a rendering supplied by the design team out of the UK,’ Zemla explains. ‘From there we scanned the stock bike and did much of the work in CAD. Once stripped to its essence, it was clear the Himalayan had great bones.’ Zemla says there’s a strong but simple chassis, solid motor and easily tuneable suspension. So how much of the original bike remained? ‘A surprising amount,’ he


says. ‘We cut a few tabs off the frame to allow the exhaust to route internally, but left the complete subframe under the tail. Suspension is currently stock and other than intake and exhaust we haven’t touched the engine.’ The stainless exhaust system was designed and routed inside the frame to keep the bike narrow; 19in rims were laced to the stock hubs and the obligatory tracker bars fitted. It’s the tail section – instantly recognisable as a tracker seat unit, but not a lazy interpretation of a classic – that elevates the design. It’s a mix of 21st century MX and 1970s flat track. ‘It had to flow from the tank and side panels, wrap around the subframe and exhaust and stay narrow,’ says Zemla. ‘And of course, it

1 In 2018, 18-year-old Cayla Rivas broke class records at Bonneville on a modified, unfaired GT650 twin with a top speed of over 150mph.

(opposite page) Royal Enfield’s designers managed to make the bodywork look fresh, but unmistakably flat track, not easy. The carbon seat butts up to the tank and sits over the original side panels (this page, clockwise from top left) Vortex bars hover over the standard Himalayan tank; 19in wheels use stock hubs; Speed Ranch is S&S Cycles’ in-house Wisconsin-based racing club; Frame and bottom end all as they left the factory. ‘Great bones,’ according to S&S; Top end has had some mild tuning and that gorgrgeous tucked-in S&S pipe


had to be carbonfibre. We made a number of iterations before everyone was satisfied with the look and construction of the tail, then the S&S R&D crew created a rapid prototype model and, from that, a mould that allowed them to build a half-dozen tails.’ One of the racers who competed in the five-strong fleet at the AIM Expo’s Sideways Saturday is former AMA Horizon award winner and multi amateur championshipwinning Ohio native, Hunter Edwards. ‘Normally, I race one of my Honda CRF450Rs and because the Himalayan has less horsepower [just 25bhp], it wasn’t as fast as what I normally race, but it definitely handled just as well. Being the stock frame and suspension I was very surprised at how well the bike handled. I could point it in any direction and it would go where I wanted it. I’m 5ft 10in and the bike fit me great. They did a great job on the tail section, and the Vortex flat track bars made the bike comfortable and tied it all together. It’s so nimble.’ Edwards soon got used to the former road bike’s user-friendliness. ‘The electric start is a luxury I never had growing up. The only change I would make would be dirt track footpegs. With the bike handling so well you could lay it over far enough that the footpeg would drag. It’s a very neat bike with some cool features; the more I looked at it the more I liked it.’ Although S&S are probably best known for engine tuning parts, carbs and exhausts, the company say they’ve done very little to the engine so far. ‘Our intent with these machines is short track racing – indoor stuff is first and second gear – as well as a training machine, and we’ve found [some] intake and exhaust [work] was more than enough to make the power we needed for both.’ S&S already make an extensive hooligan chassis and tuning kit for the Indian FTR1200, suitable for road or hooligan racing. It’s big-budget stuff and made, don’t forget, by the

Between writing the article and going to print S&S sent final details of the kit. It includes: exhaust, tail section, footrest relocation, bars, levers, battery box, rims and spokes (to lace to stock hubs), number plate mounts, air filter and more for $3300. Items can be ordered individually

same firm that runs the three-time AFT championship-winning Indian FTR750 race programme, and Zemla says a kit is coming for Himalayans. ‘We will absolutely create a flat track kit for this machine. First, the bikes will be used at the Speed Ranch, a local flat track riding club formed by S&S employees, but the longer-term agenda is to create a lowcost spec [one-make] series across the globe.’ The last word goes to Hunter Edwards, the young racer brought up in the cut-throat national amateur and pro 450 classes. ‘The power delivery was smooth, and I feel like the bike could be geared for any short track. At first I thought that the track at Sideways Saturday was small, but once I went out for practice it was a blast. I wanted to spin more laps even after the night was over.’



XG750R Status Report


One engine. Three very different bikes





> 39


XG750R Status Report

Words & photos: Ed Subias


ACK IN MAY of 2016 HarleyDavidson sent a press release announcing the arrival of their new flat track racing weapon, the XG750R. Dubbed the ‘next generation’ by H-D brass, the bike would be powered by a fuel-injected, liquid-cooled V-twin Revolution X engine based heavily on the one used in their road-legal Street 750 model. The race-modified version of this motor would be held in a racing frame, both designed and developed by Vance & Hines Motorsports. Up until that point, Vance & Hines were more known for their very successful and near legendary drag racing endeavours. Sure, they knew racing and competition bikes, but what did they know about an entirely different beast called flat track racing? I would soon find out. Actually, I’d already done so the previous month by chance. Even though the XG750’s official race debut was in late May of 2016 at the Springfield Mile, the bike was actually raced at the Lone Star HalfMile, at a makeshift track at The Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, in early April of that year. I just so happened to be at the race. As I walked the paddock pre-practice I noticed the H-D pits had a canopy that was curtained off entirely. I had heard rumours of a new machine and wondered if that’s what was being hidden. When it came time for practice I heard the mechanical rumblings of something unexpected yet familiar. The curtains were pulled back and, to my delight and amazement, young pro Davis Fisher came


charging out on the XG750R. Obviously it sounded different from its predecessor, the XR750, as it had a more modern and refined tone. My ears also detected something slightly familiar because I had spent a lot of time on a Street 750 for magazine testing. The bike was a very stealthy all black, devoid of any graphics. In fact, when I asked the Harley PR people on hand about the bike they wouldn’t comment, as if it didn’t exist. I rushed to the fence at turn four and scrutinised Davis and the bike as they reeled off some laps. Immediately, the machine looked to work pretty decently on the track and although it did look a bit down on power compared to some of the frontrunners, it wasn’t too bad. Davis ended up riding the wheels off the XG that day and missed out making the main by just one position. Not a bad way to unofficially debut an entirely new race bike. Vance & Hines had appeared to have done their homework and looked on target to have the XG750R very competitive very soon. But it didn’t happen. That first season saw Fisher on the new XG partnering Brad Baker in the official Harley team with Baker exclusively racing the old XR7501. Fast-forward to the end of 2019 and nearly four full seasons of American Flat Track racing and the XG750R has yet to win an elite-class race 2 while the Indian FTR750 that was debuted in late 2016 has dominated the AFT circuit. Granted, the FTR has an engine that was designed solely for flat track racing while the XG is using a tweaked productionbased twin. So here’s the obvious question: is a road bike engine a disadvantage? It must be noted that bikes using production-based engines from Yamaha and Kawasaki have won a handful races from 2016 to 2019 [see pie chart] so clearly production engines can

(clockwise from above) Full factory pits sets the template for AFT’s future; Carbon skin covers a fuel cell; Mr Terry Vance; If good looks won championships it would have a couple by now; Ventilated disc and inches of wheelbase adjustment; T–he newer DOHC engine architecture is clearly visible. This is a hightech hog

‘The latter half of the 2019 AFT season saw the XG750R more competitive than it has ever been’


be winners. Many people have additional questions about the XG750R and the Vance & Hines team that has been contracted by Harley-Davidson since 2017 to run its factory flat track racing programme, so Sideburn caught up with Terry Vance of Vance & Hines to put some of them to him. On the subject of the XG finally coming into its own, Vance was straightforward and honest about the trials and tribulations with the bike. He acknowledged that it’s been a hard process, a real learning curve and a struggle for them to get the bike to work well on every track they encounter and have traction all the time. Lack of power isn’t the issue, it’s the delivery of the power in combination with chassis set-up. The Vance & Hines team has spent tons of time with the development of the engine and its power distribution. It’s apparent they have applied the lessons successfully because the latter half of the 2019 AFT season saw the XG750R more competitive than it has ever been. It was in regular contention for podium finishes, even if it ultimately missed out. ‘I’m really happy that we’re starting to see the light and things are starting to come together. It’s looking really promising,’ Vance claimed. An astute observer may have noticed that at some of the 2019 AFT rounds the Production Twins XG, that is restricted to fewer engine mods, was faster than the SuperTwins XG. I pressed Vance about this as the production twin is supposed to be a lesser bike, at least in engine terms.

1 Baker finished the 2016 season in sixth with one win. Jared Mees was also racing an XR750 and missed winning the title by 5pts. 2 Dalton Gauthier scored the XG750R’s first national win in the Production class at the Sacramento Mile on 10 August 2019. He then won the next Production Twins race, at the Springfield Mile.


Vance & Hines

‘For one thing, Dalton [Gauthier] was riding one of the [production twins] and [James] Rispoli was riding the other,’ says Vance. ‘So those are two excellent riders. Not taking anything away from our SuperTwins guys.’ He went on to explain how the earlier generation of engine, with the road-bike configuration of a single overhead cam (SOHC), that Gauthier and Rispoli were on, seemed to put the power down better than the later double overhead cam (DOHC) version that Vance & Hines developed to try to close in on the FTR750, and ridden by Sammy Halbert and Jarod Vanderkooi. Vance elaborated that the SOHC bike worked better in the middle of the turns and this is where the production bikes held the advantage over the elite twins. Also that since the production twin made considerably less power than the DOHC twins it was able to get better drive on loose tracks and not spin the rear wheel as much. ‘It’s about throttle control. It’s about understanding the bike and the riding. All those things have to be understood, not just from the crew and the team, but from the riders as well.’ Terry Vance mentioned that the 2019 XG chassis is completely different from the 2017 version and that it was made at the Vance & Hines race facility, where they make as many of the components for the race bike as they can. He’s confident that the chassis evolution has resulted in something that is pretty close to being where they want it to be. Bike testing is a vital part of professional racing and I wondered just how much testing the Vance & Hines crew does to develop the XG. ‘We’ve tested a ton of times this year. I don’t even know – I couldn’t even count – how

Playing Catch-up

In the 56-race era of the Indian FTR750, 2017-2019, only seven races have been won by non-Indians. 2017: Carver, HD XR750, Lone Star H-M; Bauman, Kawasaki, Buffalo Chip TT and Lima H-M; Wiles, Kawasaki, Peoria TT 2018: Wiles, Kawasaki, Peoria TT 2019: Beach, Yamaha, Arizona TT and Buffalo Chip TT



HarleyDavidson Yamaha

(opposite) Jarod Vanderkooi finished 2019 sixth in the AFT standings with four fourth place finishes, but no elusive podium. He was just 6pts behind Robinson who won two races that season. Captain Chaos was consistent


many times we tested. We’re trying to be as diligent as we can and make sure that we do testing the right way.’ The vast amount of variables in flat track over, say, road racing – specifically when it comes to track surface and traction – mean that great rider feedback and good engineering support are needed to get the most from testing. That is the challenge they’re trying to meet. Appearance wise, the XG engine has undergone quite a few changes and now more closely resembles a purpose-built race engine with a road-bike bottom end, compared with the road-going Street 750 engine it was derived from. When questioned about the displacement 3 of the XG750Rs that finished the 2019 season, Vance was tight-lipped, but admitted, ‘We try a number of combinations. So, obviously we’ve got motors in varying displacement sizes. We’re just trying to figure out what the best combination is for us, for all the racetracks.’ At the time of writing it couldn’t be confirmed if Vance & Hines were contracted to run the factory Harley-Davidson flat track team for 2020 as it has done for the previous three years, and Vance was unable to comment. He had nothing but warm things to say about H-D, though. ‘From Vance & Hines’ perspective, regardless of what happens going forward, Harley has been the best partner in the whole world on this thing. I mean, they’ve been very patient and very understanding about the challenges that we’re up against. We love working with them. We hope we can represent them forever. It’s a relationship that’s really important to me personally. I mean, I’ve dealt with just about every major manufacturer in the world and I can’t tell you how nice it is to work with Harley guys.’ In the three full seasons the XG750R has raced it fielded three full-time riders in 2017 and two-rider teams in both 2018 and 20194 . There were 56 races in those seasons and the official Harley AFT Twins team recorded just four podium finishes. So, is the Vance & Hines XG750R programme on its way to building a race-winning bike that will go on to make history? Will the winless development process be a forgotten blip years down the road? Or is this whole thing a drawn-out flop? The only way to find out is to tune in to the 2020 AFT season, which opens 14 March with the Daytona TT.

3 The 2019 AFT Rulebook: ‘American Flat Track approved AFT Twins engines: Engines used in AFT twins that are derived from production street motorcycles may not exceed 900cc. Bore and stroke may be modified to meet this maximum displacement limit.’ 4 Robinson, Coolbeth and Johnson in 2016. Halbert and Vanderkooi in 2018 and 2019. Robinson has rejoined the team after splitting from Kennedy Racing at the end of 2019.

Harley-Davidson Street Rod

Mean Street

Stock-frame Street Rod gets the tracker treatment Words: Gary Inman Photos: Paul Bryant


WANTED TO see what could be done without chopping the frame,’ explains Nik Ellwood. He’s talking about Harley’s Street Rod, Milwaukee’s latest attempt to attract entry level buyers into the fold, available since 2017. It’s a development of the liquid-cooled Street 750 and you’re excused for not knowing the donor bike intimately. So here goes: Compared to the Street, the Street Rod has more power and torque – a claimed 70bhp and 65Nm (48lb.ft). It has more ground clearance, a higher seat and slightly shorter wheelbase. There are upside-down forks, twin front discs and a 17in rear wheel – the regular Street’s is 15in. And the Street Rod is 5kg heavier. But, in established markets, none of the versions of the Street have caught the public’s imagination. New riders are still leaving Harley showrooms on Sportsters. Maybe the Streets haven’t even caught their dealers’ imaginations, but that’s another story. Harley reckon that in emerging markets the Street Rod has lived up to sales expectations, but from my point of view it’s hardly ripped up trees and it’s a bit surprising, because we’ve featured Streets going back to 2014 with The Speed Merchant’s 500 in SB19 and their Seminal 750 on the cover of SB22. Suicide Machine Co have built a few stunning framers with 750 water-pumping motors1, See See’s road-legal hooligan – which won the first ever SuperHooligan race back in Vegas, 2015, is a


weapon and Noise Cycles’ Street, now residing in the UK, is one of my favourite hooligans ever built. And yet, Nik still wanted to prove what could be done. Why? Because Nik works in Harley’s marketing department and could see both the potential of the bike and the benefits to his employers of lighting a fire under its ass. Nik commissioned IDP Moto of Silverstone, UK, to trackerise 2 the Street Rod’s somewhat doughy profile. Hubs were commissioned to lace to 19in rims, which makes it sit taller. The front currently has a single disc, but a hub adapter to take twin discs is coming soon. Öhlins rear shocks, 34.5cm between centres, raise it further, also steepening the fork rake. The stock steel tank has had its flanks axed to slim it without having to deal with the faff of fitting the fuel pump into a new tank. The Street Rod chassis hasn’t fully shaken its cruiser DNA, so when an off-the-shelf seat unit was tried on the seat rails it sat too low. Nick didn’t want to chop the frame, remember, so IDP made a seat unit that would sit higher, and which has extended edges that reach down to the stock sidepanels. The unit also incorporates rear number boards. The undertray is an official Harley skate deck with a skateboard truck acting as the licence plate holder. The Rizoma indicators also operate as taillights. When I fire the bike up, the custom exhaust flutters my flares. The bike sounds great, a hot

1 Suicide Machine Co’s 750s are in SB28; See See’s XG750 hooligan in SB24; Noise Cycles’ Hooligan in SB29. 2 Yeah, it’s a word. What about it?

Street Rod rolling on 19s, gulping cold morning air and pulverising preconceptions

> 47

rod beat with a mean acid-reflux burp on the overrun. The S&S teardrop air cleaner pushes my right knee out slightly, and I’m surprised to be told these are stock footpeg positions, because they feel really high. The stock forks have Öhlins internals and the ride is more taut than most would expect from most Harleys. After just a few minutes I’m daydreaming about buying a used Street Rod for Sideburn’s next project bike. Before I left for the ride, Nik had said he’d always liked the smaller-engined Harleys, ‘because of the revs and they’re more nimble and agile’. Perhaps the ‘smaller-engined’ comment stuck in my mind, perhaps it was the prevailing fog of underwhelm that, maybe unfairly, obscures Harley’s liquid-cooled twins, because when I try a race start down a deserted road my eyebrows climb into the lining of my lid. With its mods it should be making 75bhp, at the crank, and that’s a useful amount on UK backroads. This Street Rod shows a lot of the model’s potential. As I lazily swing through bends covered in cold, autumnal tarmac, the expensive suspension pampers me and I start daydreaming again. XG750 motor, chromoly frame, high-level twin pipes, something like…

‘After just a few minutes I’m daydreaming about buying a used Street Rod for Sideburn’s next project bike’

Xcels at Greenfield Greenfield George introduces a gorgeous Milwaukee visitor to the UK’ finest dirt

Words: George Pickering Photos: Braking Point Images

> 49


OULD I BE interested in testing Harley-Davidson UK’s XG750R on the Greenfield Dirt Track, the clay short track I made1, and compare it to other bikes I’ve ridden there? The sentence had hardly made it fully into my ears before I blurted out ‘Yes!’ I’d ridden this particular XG750R earlier in the year when asked to do a few demo laps, with fellow UK racer Peter Boast on an XR750, at DirtQuake in Eastbourne. It’s a very trick piece of kit, but not quite what it seems at first. The chassis was raced by Brandon Robinson in American Flat Track’s Twins class, but the engine, fuel system and electronics are all from the Street Rod 750 road bike, so it’s a hybrid. Although the motor is standard, this chassis and all the geometry is the real deal. We don’t have many modern flat-track-spec racing twins in the UK at the minute, so the closest bikes for comparison are the hooligan machines and our Thunderbikes, and I’ve ridden plenty on my track. To the untrained eye, it would be easy to compare this bike to the Indian Motorcycles FTR 1200H – the S&S-prepared hooligan that we often have at the track – but that isn’t a fair comparison. This is much more than just a heavily modified road bike. The first thing I noticed when I got a hold of the XG in the shed was how light it feels, the way it’s weighted is great, with a low centre of gravity. It seems like you’re moving a 450cc DTX bike about. In comparison, whenever I go to get a hooligan bike out of the shed, it nearly takes a team of us to manoeuvre it about. Standard road bike frames leave the hooligans top heavy and with very little steering lock. I could see straight away that this XG750R wasn’t like the normal big bikes I was used to. Sitting on the Harley for the first time, I noticed how the seat unit is tipped up a little, as opposed to being dead flat like most of the custom flat track bikes we have in the UK. This slope helped force me to sit forward in the seat and stick my weight in the right place. Because of the size and position of the fuel tank on these big twins, it’s very easy to find yourself sat too far back and unable get the bike to turn correctly. The bike became available after the weather had taken a turn for the worse and I’d had it a while before I got the chance to ride it. In the meantime, I decided it was too nice for


1 See our full feature on George Pickering and his track in SB38.

‘The two-tone tank and seat unit made many visitors think I had two Harleys’ the garage and would look much better in the house, so the Harley took pride of place in my warm living room and I had plenty of time to admire it. The two-tone tank and seat unit made many visitors think I had two Harleys. I turned it around a couple of times to enjoy the view from the other side and mates would often think that the bike had been swapped for another one. The Performance Machine wheels, adjustable triple clamps, Showa factory suspension, trick carbonfibre fork guards, Motion Pro Rev 2 throttle housing with different cam inserts, Vance & Hines engine casing and the beautiful Vance & Hines exhaust system make this bike very special. The stance, sat on its rear paddock stand, always made my mouth water. It’s so beautiful that a couple of my mates joked they’d sell their house and live in a shipping container just to be able to park one next to the sofa – in their new container house. Once I finally got half a chance to ride the 750, the track was still fairly wet, but I was keen to have a go. It wasn’t a very fair test because it was probably the wettest I’d ridden Greenfield. Still, I was very surprised the bike found so much grip coming out the turns. The track was almost like a ploughed field in the end but there was never a sketchy moment, the suspension dealt with the bumps and the rear always seemed to find grip. About ten days later the sun came out for a short while and I got another chance. The track was actually a lot like it had been back in the summer when I rode the Indian FTR750 here. Not many people outside the USA have had the chance to ride both of these bikes, so thanks to both manufacturers for the chance. Straight away it didn’t feel like a hooligan bike, which is what I’m more used to trying round here. It handled a lot more like one of our single-cylinder 600cc Thunderbike framers and I found myself running the same line as I would on my DTX bike. Greenfield’s 1/5-mile track is probably too small to truly


test this beast, but the way it handled didn’t make it feel that way. The power wasn’t on the same level as that of the FTR750, that’s expected given the stock motor, but the handling on this track was always on a par. I raced a KTM Duke 640 in the Thunderbike class for the odd meeting a couple of seasons ago, and I often used to take it round our little minibike oval for training, so I thought I’d try out the Harley around there to really test the handling. The track is so small I was only running in first gear, so the total opposite of what the bike was designed to do. The standard engine was probably a positive, because the track was quite dry, so a smooth power delivery was more suited to the dirt condition and track size. I probably ran about 50 laps and it was

B-Rob’s race plates and an AFT tech inspection sticker are still fitted, but the race motor has been swapped for a road bike 750 twin making it feel almost obtainable for a regular racer. We’re scheming...

so much fun. I could scrub the front end on corner entry to slow the bike down, pick the power up nice and early to get it to turn and I had the confidence to get my foot up on the peg knowing the bike wasn’t about to run out of steering lock and bite me. The fact it’s got a standard motor doesn’t matter for the size of tracks we tend to race in the UK and Europe. The XG750R would be a great addition to either the Dirt Track Riders Association’s Thunderbike class or their new Twins class that is launching for the 2020 season and will hopefully encourage more race twins like this one to be built. Hopefully, Harley-Davidson will have a rider in the new class, because that’s where this bike belongs. Failing that, they’re more than welcome to store it in my living room.







As c r we ea s h t iv o Wo e t wc rd sa a l a se nd ks ar tw sn h i s or k: ot wo Br , p rk ia n un , t Bo wl k a he es nd A m big er cr ica n as he s




rozen snot. It’s not usually seen as a good thing. Yep, you can snap it off your moustache or jacket sleeve, which is easier than mopping up gloop, but when depicted in posters for Fuel Cafe’s near legendary March gathering, the Frozen Snot Ride, it’s a very good thing. These distinctive mucus musings are the work of Brian Bowles, a 42-year-old son of Milwaukee and creator of the David Aldana art in this issue for our look at the film The Thrill Is On. A graduate of communication design from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, where he now teaches, he’s worked as a designer, art director and creative director and considers himself a creative. Over to Brian...

I met Scott from Fuel in the late ’90s while I was working at a different coffee shop in the area. He would always stop by and buy coffee and we would chat about bikes. I always thought it was weird that this guy owns a coffee shop, but buys coffee from a different coffee shop. Once I got to know Scott, I understood. He values the good of the community and supporting any local business trying to make a go of it, even those some would consider his competition. Through knowing Scott, I ended up working on posters and some other design work here and there. I really enjoy working on the posters. I get complete creative freedom and feel I can really come up with something I like without having to consider what would be acceptable to a client.

As a kid, I was never really supported in the art I did or in the classes I took. My most memorable art experience was from high school when I took a class in printmaking. I made Nine Inch Nails shirts for my friends and realised how much I loved the printmaking process. The two big influencers that got me into design in the first place were Vaughan Oliver and David Carson. Seeing Raygun magazine [on which Carson was art director for three years from the magazine’s 1992 inception] was eye opening for me. There was a cover with Oasis and one with Andy Warhol that stand out. That Oasis cover I tried to mimic over and over while I was in school. He also designed an article where he used dingbats as the typeface, which blew my mind.

(previous page) Skateboard design for Harley-Davidson at the 2018 X Games in Minneapolis (these pages, above) Poster designs for the Frozen Snot Ride, an annual ride in Milwaukee when the temps are typically effin’ cold. While there have been a few warmer ones, there have been rides where the temperature was in the teens [14F = minus 10C] (left) Fuel CafÊ coffee sleeve art


Vaughan Oliver and 23 Envelope [the 1980s British design agency founded by Oliver and photographer Nigel Grierson] was another early influencer with all of the work he did for record label 4AD, including album covers for the Pixies and Dead Can Dance. Things that inspire me… Hatch Show Print; crap I find at rummage sales; mid-century modern anything; Hamilton Wood Type; old motorcycle movies; vintage T-shirt designs (I have a pretty good collection of My Freedamn! books by Rin Tanaka); signs and ephemera while on motorcycle trips (northern Wisconsin is a treasure trove of old signs, supper clubs and secondhand shops); out-ofthe-way art museums (two favourites are The Kohler Arts Center and MCA in Chicago); fashion; Stephen Sprouse; Jim Phillips; skate

‘For the Aldana piece I did for Sideburn, I started with ink and paper, then went digital, then back to ink and paper, then back to digital’

culture (I loved skateboarding when I was younger, but was terrible at it); punk culture (the Misfits Fiend was OG Andre the Giant). My wife, Melissa Courtney, is also a creative and she lets me know when something I’ve been working on is working or crap. I use anything to help create what I need. For the Aldana piece [The Thrill Is On movie appreciation] I did for this issue of Sideburn, I started with ink and paper, then went digital, then back to ink and paper, then back to digital. I love things that not just look handdone, but are actually hand-done. I once did a back-to-school campaign for a retail chain here in the States and did all the typography by hand. After I presented it to the marketing department they wanted me to make it into a font so it would be easier. I pushed to keep

Brian explains, ‘The M2MTT started as a back roads ride from Fuel in Milwaukee to a coffee shop in Minneapolis (over 340 miles away). It turned into a true café race and went underground. I get a message from ‘Rutger Hauer’ with the date and then create the poster. Nobody has ever identified themselves to me.’

everything unique and hand-done and it worked. Seeing my hand-painted words on national TV was awesome. I bought my first motorbike when I was 14. It was a non-running Kawasaki KE100 and I’ve been hooked ever since. I currently have five bikes in the garage. The newest addition is a DRZ400 for the off-road trails of Northern Wisconsin. The one I have ridden the most is the BMW R1150GSA. It has about 120K miles on it and is still going strong. The other three are all vintage: 1976 BMW R90/6; 1966 Ducati single I’ve owned for almost 20 years; a 1966 Triumph T100 project I bought from the estate of a late friend of mine. When I was a senior in college, I had to create a thesis project. It was 2001 and at that time there was a serious lack of anything


motorcycle related being well designed and cool. The coolest motorcycle-related brand was probably Teknic, which still sucked. I decided to create a motorcycle culture brand for my thesis project and make it focused on creating cool shit. I created some shirts and posters and concentrated the idea around vintage bikes. I called it 1012 Motowerx. I was working at an ad agency at that time and the owner loved my thesis and said we should make it real and he would back it financially. We ended up opening a space just down from Fuel [in Milwaukee] and Dan became the mechanic. Unfortunately, I ended up in a bad accident on a Kawasaki H1 and was in the hospital for almost a month. I wasn’t really even myself until months later. By that time summer was almost over and things weren’t

(from left) Rockerbox poster which is an event started by Fuel that later morphed into Vintage Motofest; Fuel Cafe coffee bag sticker; posters for Vintage Motofest and Rockerbox; wall at the new Fuel Café on 5th in Milwaukee

going well with the shop. We closed it after about a year. It was fun and I learned a lot. It wasn’t long after 1012 closed when I realized there wasn’t a way for the moto community to talk to one another. I started MilVinMoto after speaking with Tina LeFauve, who had recently started Chicago Vintage Motorcyclists (ChiVinMoto) for a similar reason. It was primarily an email group, but the focus was about meeting and doing things. We were young and wanted something for us. We wanted something for the people who were motorcycle enthusiasts and rode the bikes they owned, built and modified bikes from scraps in their garage and didn’t care about what brand you were on. Being in Milwaukee, the centre of the Harley universe, it was sometimes hard to find those

who were into motorcycles in general and not just Harleys. Early on, people saw the importance of it and VinMoto groups were in many cities. Then Facebook happened and the need diminished. MilVinMoto is still around and kept alive by those who know what it is about. Right now, I’ve just finished menus for Fuel on 5th in Milwaukee and am pretty happy with them. I also have a couple of T-shirt designs to finish. It’s cool going to an event and seeing people wearing my shirts. There was a time when I’d done shirts for MilVinMoto, Fuel and the BMW and Ducati dealerships within a short period. At some of the events after that, it seemed like half the people were wearing a shirt I’d designed.

Brian Bowles: ‘My teaching gig provides needed benefits, a steady paycheck, and time and headspace to work on the projects I want to work on’

BRAPP Genre-defying Moscow street thug

Words: Gary Inman Photos: Leonid Sorokin


THINK IF you’re a real fan of what you do, nothing will get in the way of what you love.’ Aleksei ‘Alex’ Babenko is replying to my question about being a street tracker fan and custom builder in the Russian capital. ‘Moscow is a very big and modern city with a population of 20 million people. Everything grows and develops really fast, including the moto culture. There are more moto enthusiasts every year, which means more motorcycles in different styles. As more people get interested in the subject and start to understand and see different shades of different cultures, they can tell the difference between the styles and they become interested in the history. Still, I’d say this bike really gets a lot of attention in the streets of Moscow. It really stands out.’ The 35-year-old has run Iron Chain, a small custombike garage in downtown Moscow, for the past ten years. ‘Since I was a teenager I’ve been really into skateboarding. My friends and I have an independent

skateboarding brand named Сoalition, that turned 20 this year. Skating used to take all of my free time, and I got introduced to DIY punk culture through it. I’ve always loved the idea of creating something with my own hands and being different from everybody else. When I got into motorcycles, it was like skateboarding and punk culture connected in my mind with a free spirit, independence and a unique personality.’ Iron Chain’s 1989 Yamaha SR400, built for a customer, is a mix of street tracker, vintage motocross and Japanese street style. ‘The style was based on the aesthetics of flat track and ’70s motocross. I wanted to get as close as possible to that era, but it also had to be comfortable to be used in this city. I modified the frame, tank, fenders, seat and a lot of other details. Also, this one has Bratstyle’s Tracker bar and a bigger Keihin carburettor. The bike came out really light, manoeuvrable and pretty fast, so it completely met my expectations and those of my friend, who I built it for.’

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Alex is not motivated by money as long as he can keep his head above water working with what he loves The white seat is inspired by Bates desert racing seats from the 1960s, with the base and shape made by Alex and covered by a friend. Alex painted the tank and tattoo artist Herman IX painted the death metal flamejob. The forks are extended 2in (52mm) with screwin slugs, to give it that VMX stance. Fender, headlight and other brackets are steel, made by Alex, and coated with a ‘special chemical composition made for weapons’. It seems something like Parkerizing, used by Harley, and others, in 1940s. We first met Alex in Japan at the 2018 Yokohama Mooneyes Hot Rod and Custom Show. ‘I’m a big fan of the Japanese custom scene and the Yokohama Show is the most important event to me – a crazy amount of inspiration, emotions and amazing people from all over the world. I’ve been to HRCS seven times and participated in the show with my own bike in 2015, a 1973 Harley-Davidson Ironhead, and it won an award from Mooneyes. ‘I’ve also been to some shows in California and New York, and three years ago I participated in Wheels & Waves in Biarritz, France. I took part in a short-distance race with my H-D Sportster against Go Takamine, Mr Bratstyle, and his Yamaha SCR950. I lost, but I’m stoked I had that opportunity, because Go is a big inspiration. ‘I try to travel a lot and visit as many local custom shows all over the world as I can. I’d like to go England one day to see the birthplace of punk, skinhead culture and beautiful elegant motorcycles.’ Like so many in our world, Alex is not motivated by money as long as he can keep his head above water working with what he loves. ‘It’s hard to call something you like so much a ‘job’,’ he explains, ‘but actually, building quality motorcycles is a lot of work, so if we’re looking at it from this point of view, then yes, it’s my job. I get paid and this is what I do for a living, but it’s a lot more to me than just a job. It’s my main hobby and I’m a big fan of what I do.’

Tiny tank and huge front drum make for cartoonish proportions we love. Headlight is from a 1960s Soviet car, a Volga 21


‘Wes! Wes! Me bike’s been nicked!’ High jinx can take on a more literal meaning in this London street

Wide bars, big grin, twisting the throttle past one of ‘Stalin’s Skyscrapers’


Thrill Is On

A hopeful, bandwagon-jumping dirt track film lost for over 30 years until making its way onto DVD and YouTube. Dave Skooter Farm loves it Artwork: Brian Bowles

HEN I think about movies that focus on motorcycle racing, by default the primo spot always goes to On Any Sunday. Shot by surfing lensman Bruce Brown in 1970, it has become the quintessential motorcycle movie. The film showcased multiple bikesport disciplines, dedicating a weighty chunk of reel time to flat track racing. It was a commercial hit when released in 1971 and introduced untold numbers to the joys of two wheels. Inspired by the success of Brown’s film, and undeniably chasing the whiff of dollars and cents, a couple of film students decided to make their own copycat film, The Thrill Is On. For almost half a century their film has remained largely unknown and on first impression could easily be discounted as an opportunist, cheap cash-in. Lance and Ralph (their surnames lost in the mists of time) were fresh out of LA film school when they approached Ascot super-rookie Dave Aldana to star in their fledgling production, following him on his 1971 campaign, taking on the role Mert Lawwill had fulfilled in On Any Sunday. Aldana had already featured in On Any Sunday, as the crazy first-year pro from Santa Ana, hanging out of his van as it drove along. On Any Sunday was produced on an estimated budget of $315,000 ($2 million in today’s money). This was largely due to the willingness of associate producer Steve McQueen to push the project out of the margins and into the mainstream. Motorcyclists had been given a bad reputation by, in part, a spate of Hollywoodcaricatured outlaw biker movies during the latter part of the ’60s and McQueen wanted to redress the balance in favour of the majority of the motorcycle fraternity. Lance and Ralph were just two young surfer guys who pinned their hopes on catching the wave of a new movie trend. They were driven by enthusiasm but possessed very little capital and had no interested parties to help bankroll the project. Still, they miraculously scraped enough money together to shoot and cut the footage but, unfortunately, the funds dried up shortly after that. Rumour has it that the film was screened at the time in a couple of low-key theatres on the West Coast but got negative reviews due to its unavoidable amateurism. With no feasible way of marketing or distributing the film, the project was aborted and the 16mm film cans were boxed and sat on a shelf for over 32 years. Praise be that the celluloid did not deteriorate while in storage and in 2003, with some encouragement from Dave Aldana and a cash injection from Dave’s old high-school buddy, Dan Daniels, the project was



(this page, clockwise from top left) Brit bikes were still shaking things up in ’71; Wrecks were scary; Californian Frank Gillespie; The champ, Romero; WFO on a XS; Aldana’s stunning BSA; No gloves; Super flag stance; #2 Jim Rice battling #32 Bart Markel and #43 Robert Bulmer; Brelsford tapes a helmet shield to his number board for roost protection (would now contravene no aerodynamics rule); Gene chasing Jim; AMA rules forced mechanics to wear white;

(this page, from top) Bay Area rider John Ogleby. The SK on his leather stands for Sonny Kenyon’s shop; Factory BSA; Jim Odom in a battered Bell; Aldana cooking; 1971 colourpalette crowd getting into the groove; BSA team-mates David Aldana and Jim Rice; Rookie year Kenny Roberts with a caption added to the restored digital copy of the film

dusted off and revisited. A new version of the film was cut together, the original footage colourised, digitized and then bookended with newly filmed interviews and a montage of photos from Aldana’s own archive. It was finally released on home video and DVD in 2004. The major difference between the two films is that The Thrill Is On is purely focused on flat track racing, most likely down to budgetary constraints. I think this works in its favour. As much as I love the scenes of the other forms of motorcycle sport in On Any Sunday, I find myself clamouring for the next installment of flat track action. I have an unyielding flat track addiction and without the distraction of road racing, hill climbs or desert racing, The Thrill Is On mainlines an unadulterated injection of vintage flat track nirvana. Considering the scarce funds available, these guys managed to get to a decent number of AMA Grand National races during the summer of 1971. The film is mostly centred around national #3 plate holder Aldana, but almost accidentally captures veteran racer ‘Bad’ Bart Markel’s 28th and final win at Columbus, Ohio. Other legendary tracks captured for posterity – some still operating, others long gone – are Louisville Downs, Kentucky; York, Pennsylvania; Troy, Ohio; Terre Haute, Indiana and the San Jose Mile, at which Mark Brelsford was amazed by the close proximity of the houses on the outside of the turns. ‘I’m sliding by and I can see houses!’ he says. ‘And people in their backyards having barbecues!’ Alongside the AMA-sanctioned circuits we also see some county fair tracks, including the ludicrously dusty Princeton Frankfurt in Indiana. It’s hard to comprehend the virtually non-existent awareness of health and safety in days gone by. Oblivious, unprotected spectators stand three-deep with their noses against the fence in what would be the direct line of fire in the event of a racing incident. There is a saying, ‘You are most alive when you are closest to death’ and I can’t help but think that in 1971 the sentiment could be applied to the spectators in the crowd as much as the racers on the track. The film oozes historic, cultural merit. It’s a fascinating overview of the 1971 AMA race scene and features some very well-filmed, outstandingly raw racetrack footage, depicting almost all the top racers


(top to bottom, from far left) Young KR playing mind games; The greatest flagger of them all, Bouncing Bob Malley; Bad Bart Markel proving how much he wanted it; #43 Robert Bulmer; Sombrero, yeah, but how low is that guard rail?; Gary Nixon, injured but race ready

for that season, many of them familiar to later generations of fans: Gene Romero; Jim Rice; Dave Aldana; Dick Mann; Don Castro; Mert Lawwill; Mark Brelsford; Gary Nixon… Despite its inherent amateurism, The Thrill Is On is chock full of nostalgic eye candy with candid views of the pits and lingering shots of majestic race bikes with Triumphs and BSAs in the forefront. Adding gravitas is a voice-over from beloved race commentator Roxy Rockwood, who reportedly watched a single showing then narrated the entire film in one take. I soak this kind of stuff up like a sponge and here are some of my key moments worthy of mention, with times from the version on YouTube: 3:09 A split-second clip of ‘yellow plate’ rookie Kenny Roberts #80Y, reaching out, full-drift and mid-corner to tap another rider holding the inside line. 3:22 A fleeting glimpse of Bart Markel with a crudely rigged-up bungee cord running from his steel shoe to his knee. I presume this was to allow him to continue to race, even though he was carrying a serious injury that stopped him holding his foot up under his own steam. Markel was no spring chicken; he’d dominated throughout the ’60s but was coming to the end of his career in 1971. He must have really wanted to go racing and been able to tolerate a severe level of pain. 4:42 Style points to the guy on the infield corner, wearing a sombrero. 5:00 Gary Nixon #10 in the pits brandishing a walking stick, then, in the very next shot, he’s feet-up roosting WFO through the corner. 16:24 John Hateley #43 ‘Rookie of the year 1971’ and

still on the scene today. 44:25 ‘Bouncing Bob’, the finish-line flag guy, throwing some circus shapes in his patriotic romper suit. 44:46 Bonus tacked-on footage of bargain basement Knievel-esque daredevil ‘Super-Joe’ Einhorn, jumping over cars. The Thrill Is On serves as a time capsule, transporting the viewer back 48 years to an era of race bikes with open pipes that sounded like glorious, heavy thunder and pro-ranked riders choosing not to wear gloves. The racers seemed to have huge personalities, most of them giants among men. The amateurism, which dogged its original release, has, with the passage of time, actually granted the film a naïve, grassroots quality. The colourisation process applied to the original 16mm celluloid makes for built-in vibrant viewing, so there is no need to reach for the rose-tinted spectacles. Any fans of the flat track element of On Any Sunday – and who isn’t one? – should hunt this film down. The quality may not always stack up against its big-budget counterpart, but the content is distinctly golden.

My Week-Long Gap Year Riding in Nepal can pack 12 months of experiences into seven intense days, as our man Jason discovered Words: Jason Cursley Photos: Andrew Neri, Vir Nakai, Harsh Man Rai

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’VE READ ENOUGH adventure travel books to know that the real fun starts when there are problems and breakdowns. Remember Ted Simon’s Jupiter’s Travels? His bike conks out in India and within minutes he’s at a wedding. Well I’m keeping that in mind while I’m at the side of the road with a flat tyre. On my car. I’d been wafting along in modern airconditioned comfort when the dash pinged news of a puncture. Bollocks. Not had a puncture in decades – why then? I’d only just set off from home headed to London Gatwick Airport. The trip hadn’t even properly begun yet. Staying positive, I pulled into a service station to assess. Massive nail. Arse. I decided to go in for a pee while trying to come up with a plan that didn’t involve changing the tyre, because I knew for sure the wheel would have been done up to a million newton-metres by the ape at the tyre centre. I have to confess, I have a phobia. And perhaps you will now, too. I hate touching toilet door handles. Shaky-shaky dick piss. Ugh. I have a couple of modes to combat this: A) using a paper towel (for the door’s knob, not mine); B) waiting for someone else to open the door and follow right behind them – although this method can be somewhat dangerous and generally only used with someone I think I could beat in a fight. On this occasion I tried a third and not thoroughly tested option and went with trying to open the door with my foot. This would have been perfectly fine, if I hadn’t got it stuck at the same time someone decided to push the door open with my foot still jammed behind the handle. Both startled, and unsure of the social etiquette, we untangled and departed disgraced, in silence. Ted – Indian wedding; Jason – toilet handle. Hmm. A little later, he was stood right behind me in the queue for the checkout. I bet he was expecting me to do a high kick to pay contactless. The unexpected diversion took my mind off my alternative puncture repair plan and I had no choice but to roll up my sleeves and change the tyre. My twoand-a-half-hour journey took five. That’s 25 miles per hour average. Progress? The rest of the journey to Kathmandu went smoothly, except for the bit where I collapsed in the plane toilet with my trousers down. No idea how long I’d been there with my face on the toilet pan. I feel sick just thinking about it. It’s a million times worse than touching the door. In preparation for the trip, I’d googled ‘What to wear in the Himalayas’. Images returned of people in what looked like a 20-tog duvet and goggles, carrying ski poles. That might fend off the cold, but fend off the cool too. Not for me. At the other end of the spectrum is traditional Nepali dress, which for men seems to be

(clockwise from top left) Kathmandu in quiet mode. If it were a busy day there would be twice as many vehicles in this photo. You risk respiratory illness just looking at this photo; The Sideburn group flew in from UK, USA, Germany and South Africa; These antique diesel belchers fill the roads; One of the smoother climbs; Prayer wheels; Authorised Service Point; AFT racer Jeffrey Carver joined us for the trip and spent more time meeting the locals than anyone on the tour; Wiring Nepal style


‘Epic views do their best to capture my attention, but I have to give full focus to keeping the bike on the road’ trousers and a frock. And a waistcoat and a hat. And a jacket. That’s more like it, throw the whole wardrobe at it. Some friends had offered advice too. Not that any of them have been to Nepal or anywhere not called Spain. ‘Remember it’s a Buddhist country,’ said one, but is unsure what I should do with that information. ‘Don’t drink the water,’ another says. ‘When sharing a room, turn the shower on while having a poo, they’ll never know.’ Cheers. Kathmandu. Overwhelmed and overloaded, I struggle to adapt to the battle of riding a Royal Enfield through the busy streets and hilly routes out of the capital city. Nothing could have prepared me for this, not even Google. It’s a choc-a-bloc chaos-fest. Even the chap who nearly skewered me with the 20-foot-long angle iron he’s carrying on his bicycle through the whole motorised tornado is making better progress than me. We head out of Kathmandu on the Manang Highway. ‘Highway’ in this case being a badly made, badly maintained mountain road, the squiggly type with the longest straight being no more than 60 metres. Still, I start to get into the groove and begin to enjoy myself. I even get into a bit of a race with a local on a moped. He’s pretty quick, but I have a mighty 400cc of Royal Enfield at my disposal. He still wins, which means I came fourth, since he has two of his immediate family on board. Pah. On the uphill sections, I’m overtaking. It’s exciting. I’m trying to overtake a 4x4 ambulance that has its lights and sirens on. That’s not something I’d do at home, but rules are different here, since there aren’t any. I spot an overtake, but hesitate for a nanosecond and the moment is gone. For me anyway. The tipper truck behind me still thinks it’s viable and chugs slowly up the steep slope. I cringe. He makes it. As does the Bahindra’s Travels bus that followed round the hairpin on the wrong side of the road. This place is crazy. Then I overtake Bahindra, but only because the already overcrowded 20-seater bus has pulled over to collect another dozen people. The second day brings a totally different scene and riding experience. We’re in the Himalayas proper now. Still on the main highway to Manang, but calling it a highway must contravene some kind of trade description. It’s more like a dirt road, until a few metres later when it’s a rubble road, until it switches into boulders with a river crossing. Epic views do


(clockwise from top left) Braga High Street. This is the width of the road, sorry, highway, for the majority of the trip. And this is about as busy as it got once we’d escaped Kathmandu; Wilky telling dirty stories. The walkers in the corner are trying to ignore us; Chris from Docklands Riders, who is more used to extreme enduros, was impressed with the abuse the 400cc Enfield could cope with; Take time to stop and stare; Not sure where this kid’s street style came from, he was way out in the sticks; 3700m (12,000ft) above sea level and just two miles from Khangsar at the very end of the road. After that it was for foot traffic only; The author covered in a layer of road grime; Water crossing fun, wet socks not so much; Community transport

their best to capture my attention, but I have to give full focus to keeping the bike on the road and me on the bike, so I make regular stops to take pictures. I realise my progress is slow when a little old lady, walking along the same route, keeps catching me up. This wouldn’t be so bad, but every time it happens she asks for cash, as though we’ve never met. Sideburn promotes these trips, to Nepal, India and Morocco, stating that we’ll be a group of like-minded riders. And we are, except that everyone else in our group is riding standing up. Unsure of the benefits, I give it a go. There’s a wet, slippery, bouldery, uphill section ahead and, as I stand up, I roll on the throttle. Death grip means I can’t throttle off and I charge up the hill at what feels like twice the speed I’m comfortable with, accompanied by the clatter of my weakly sprung centrestand hitting every rock. I make it to the top and pull over to calm down. I’m told that I appear to be getting the hang of it… by the same little old lady, as I hand over cash again. This will be our first night staying in the Himalayas. It’s pretty cold, which is why I’m slightly perturbed that the room I’m sharing doesn’t have any heat source whatsoever. Everyone’s boots are wet from the water crossings. I’m chilly and in bed with my full motorcycle kit on. My ‘roomie’ and I giggle ourselves to sleep at the absurdity of our situation. The next morning the sun starts to creep across the valley. Scenes not seen the previous day appear. What looks like cloud is in fact a massive snowcovered mountain. Spectacular. Who put that there overnight? The moment the sun reaches us, we all try to place our wet gear in the perfect spot in an attempt to either warm up the damp boots or, more optimistically, dry them out. While we’re waiting, I do my ablutions in what has become known as the Franz Klammer position, which, as it turns out, is pretty efficient, if a little noisy. I then brush my teeth with Sprite. Sounds wrong but feels great. I’ve never really appreciated putting on dry shoes and socks before. Kind of taken it for granted, but the sheer joy of pulling on almost dry boots is a delight. Within ten minutes of setting off, there’s an axle-deep water crossing. I’ve invested heavily, emotionally at least, in dry boots and there is no way these puppies are getting wet this early in the day. No way. So, like a handle-phobic mentalist exiting a public toilet, I decide to ride through slowly with legs kicked up high. Risky, given my lowly skills. I gulp, I wobble, but nail it part-way through, and shoot out of the other side dry. Next through is Sideburn’s editor. I don’t see him, but I get the sense that he’s just taken on a bootful of water as ‘BASSSTAD’ echoes around the valley. I feel his pain. By the fourth day we’ve reached Braga, which is about as far into the Nepalese Himalayas as the road can take us. I’m not one to brag, but when in Rome… We’re here for two nights, with a kind of rest day. I say


‘My Himalayan seems to have developed asthma, due to the high altitude’

‘kind of’ because rest day means an easier day on the bikes. My arse has had enough of the bike though so I, along with a few others, decide to go off-piste. Why not climb on foot the 800 metres to Ice Lake? I mean, 800 metres, that’s not very far, is it? We’ll be there and back in no time at all. I pop two locally baked cinnamon swirls, each the size of a yak’s hoof, in my rucksack – simply because that is the only food I can find – pull on my almost-dry motorcycle boots and declare myself ready to go. It turns out to be a bit of a climb and our merry band of hapless walkers are woefully ill-prepared for what lies ahead. We set off three hours later than the proper walkers, the ones with the sticks and waterproof gear. Pro flat track racer Jeffery Carver is with us. He’s a nice guy. Caring.

So caring, in fact, he collects any rubbish he spots along the way and puts it in my bag. He’s loading me up like I’m some sort of Buck-a-Roo game. I had no idea I was holidaying with a Womble. We push on for fourand-a-half hours and meet purple-faced climbers on their way back down. Most haven’t made it all the way up to Ice Lake. That’s four-and-a-half sodding hours of almost vertical climbing in thin air. Ice Lake, as it turns out, should actually be called Lake, since it’s entirely devoid of ice. However, the views are epic. We’re up at the snow line and can see for miles. Nothing grows above this line, nothing except our sense of achievement. We are the only people up here. We’re worn out and freezing, but happy that we’ve been stupid enough to see it through. My

cinnamon swirl is stale, but to me is delicious and well-earned. We can’t stay long as it’ll be dark in a few hours. Blistered, cold, aching, but totally satisfied, we begin our descent, agreeing that we’re never going to do something as stupid as trekking ever again. The next day we’re back on the bikes to start the three-day return to Kathmandu. The road is the same, but somehow the views are different, and so varied I wouldn’t have known that we are now retracing our tracks. By this time we’re all very low on fuel, because of supply problems when we passed the last petrol station. My Himalayan seems to have developed asthma, due to the high altitude, and has been coughing and spluttering on reserve for the last two days. Vir, our man-bison of a leader, buys some black-market fuel. It’s not actually black, more like stinky brown sludge. The precious liquid is metered out sparingly. It’s all very exciting. Like a proper adventure. To help conserve this precious commodity further, a few of us decide to freewheel downhill, and before long it’s a freewheel race. Not much longer at all and it’s a game of trying to stop without locking the front brake and getting squished by the crazed minivan driver heading straight towards us. We take a break in a valley with a fast-flowing river and a small beach. How about we all force Jeffery Carver to do some go-fast-turn-lefts for us? He does, and he really is rather good at it. Perhaps I should give it a go, I am a flat track racer after all. Hmmmm... Roll onto the sand. Gas it. Face plant. Whoops.


(clockwise from top left) The route follows a river valley, sometimes at water level, but more often much higher; ‘Why aren’t you looking at the view?’ Seen it; Funky hotels some nights, basic homestays the next; Nepal spoilt us with natural beauty

As we get closer to Kathmandu, the daily mileage increases as the roads become paved and traffic is still minimal. We’re back to civilization, but still very much out in the countryside. For several blissful hours we chug along at an easy pace, enjoying the vista and ease of the ride. It’s a bit of a sorbet cleanser after the tough roads in the mountains and before the crazy traffic of Kathmandu that awaits us on Sunday. The busiest day of the week. We set of on Sunday morning. I had thought that the traffic coming out of Kathmandu last Monday morning was busy. And it was, but nothing compared with today. It’s so busy that at any point I could get off of the bike and it wouldn’t fall over. We’re hemmed in. At one

point I’m so close to the tuk-tuk next to me I consider pulling on a condom. Thankfully, it’s soon done and we arrive back at the hotel, filthy with dust and diesel fumes, tired, hungry and happy to have made it. High fives and beers all round. We did it. Over the past week we’ve not just ridden together, but laughed, eaten, drunk, experienced sights, smells and thoroughly enjoyed our time on top of the world at 25 smiles per hour. This was the gap year that I never had, squeezed into just one week. Perfect. n To find out about future Sideburn trips, email

Kit. Man. Do.

Trusted: The editor’s Nepalese mountainriding motowear





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Words & Photo: Gary Inman

1 Saint Unbreakable Jeans

Made with ‘the world’s strongest fabric’ Dyneema, which, Saint say, is stronger than steel. No armour, but they offer abrasion resistance. They’re a lot more comfortable than metal trousers. These are straight fit and have a bit of stretch to them. They are expensive, £300 ($350) region, but I can’t fault them from the experience of this trip. If they last the rest of my life, then they’re value for money, I guess.

2 Hebtroco Moto Boots

First on the take list. Made in Britain, heavy construction, Commando soles, comfortable from day one. Wore them for nine hours a day all week. Tough as old boots.

3 Holy Freedom tubular

Stopped me getting sunburnt, covered in dust or inhaling too many diesel particulates from the ancient Nepalese trucks and buses.

4 DSC T-shirt

Take black T-shirts so you can wear them for three days... This one is from regular Sideburn columnist Death Spray Custom.

5 Sideburn x Biltwell Moto 2.0 goggles

Affordable, trusted by Jeffrey Carver and the Rusty Butcher.

6 Dainese back protector

A design classic. I’ve worn it for so long I feel a bit naked without it on the road.

7 Holy Freedom Bullit gloves

So soft, so comfortable, so eyecatching. I love them. They come with CE approval and in various colours.

8 Kriega R25

Three guys from Kriega came on the trip, all with newly designed packs, and loved this bag, one of their originals. Dom, one of the British company’s founders, inspected the label and confirmed it is 17 years old. I’ve carried this bag all over the world, and used to commute in it daily. It’s as strong as the day they made it.

9 Ray-Bans

The only sunglasses I want.

10 Icon 1000 Beltway jacket

Worn regularly since 2013, this hybrid jacket – heavy fabric with leather reinforcing, is a favourite. It’s no longer in production, but its longevity is a

great advert for the brand. It comes with D30 armour in the elbows and a St Christopher in the wallet pocket.

11 Lifestraw bottle

I could have scooped stagnant water out of a puddle or peed in the bottle and drunk it. I could have filtered tap water through it. Instead, I just poured the readily available bottle water into it. But I could have.

12 Davida Jet

On the last night we had a conversation about why I’d worn an open-face (me and one other rider did). I like being able to chat. I like that it immediately makes you seem more human when a group of ten bikes arrives in a village, when most are in tinted goggles and MX lids. Sure, there’s a risk to wearing an open-face that I considered, but I came home as handsome as ever. This leather-lined Davida was painted by Ornamental Conifer for a trip I did from NY to San Fran back to NY in 2012. It’s far flashier than most things I wear, but it means a lot to me.


Who You Calling A Big Red Pig? Words: Travis Newbold Photos: Jon Wallace/Brapp Snapps

LMOST ALL OF my life I have had very little interest in much aside from racing motorbikes. In other words: I’m a hopeless nutter. My writings are limited in subject. All I know is what I know, and all I know is not to know anything other than what I know. About 15 years ago, when I was racing cross-country off-road in Baja Mexico, I spent a lot of time on a liquid-cooled Honda XR650R. Three things about the bike struck my fancy: 1) Its ability to eat up desert flat-out at 100mph; 2) Its durability/lack of need for maintenance; 3) How its girth could crash through trees, Mexican booby traps and pucker bushes like a well-greased wrecking ball. When I started flat track racing, I really enjoyed the aspect of piecing together my own bikes. I’m sure a lot of you know creating a DTX tracker from a dirt bike can be a rather uncomplicated and rewarding transformation. I have wanted to build a Honda XR650R tracker for a long time now. I’ve only seen one pictured in the UK and another built by Richard Pollock. When I asked him about it at Del Mar some years ago, he told me he loved that bike and wished he still had it. I have owned several XR650Rs, but always wanted to preserve my unmolested bottom bitch and had to sell the potential

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‘The old XL250 tank is just like me: ugly on the outside, but only emits pure, clean, stinky gas’

‘Abby Normal’ Frankenstein donor. Then I had a customer lose his Big Red Pig (XR650R) in a flash flood out in the Canyon Lands and opt out of the potential repair bill. So I took possession and douched out the sand and mud from the engine’s innermost places. I polished all the gears, ported the head with my custom valve-seat craft. I chucked in a high-comp, domed piston with a complementing custom-grind cam. All of this was carried out over a long period of time as money would allow. Two weeks before the Lands End Hill Climb [that’s Colorado, not Cornwall], I started in on the chassis. I fitted my old SV650 road-race front end and laced up some fat Sun rims I had stashed and an R1 master cylinder from a bike that somebody died on when a livestock trailer pulled out in front of them – the things I hoard are dear. I resprung and revalved the shock, but nothing was done to the bike that could not be undone in case it was a flop and needed to go back to stock. I did weld (made an awful attempt to weld) a chunk of aluminium handlebar to the frame for a tank mount and another for the seat mount. I finished it off with some zoomy stock-car-style pipes that I welded up from chunks of an old VW Bug’s steering column tube. It’s loud enough to awaken the spirit of Soichiro Honda. The old XL250 tank is just like me: ugly on the outside, but only emits pure, clean, stinky gas. The seat is too high, but

Crowd stills its beating heart as Travis and his pig point for the podium

with more time the subframe can be chopped or a new one built. So, it was still basically a stock XR650R with a sportsbike front, lowered shock, and 19in rollers. My first test ride was two days before the hill climb. I was amazed and terrified by the bike’s handling. It would only perform if the back end was stepped out. If timidly ridden at all, it would just go straight, but if ridden like a Spanish minimoto GP tyke on a pure white-sugar buzz soaked in Red Bull with a bunch of ants in his pants, it turns very nice and precise. Too bad the steering lock is about as broad as the broken lawn sprinkler that my van thinks is a precise apex corner marker at the end of my driveway. With what I had, days before the hill climb, I knew my effort was better spent in honing my ability to ride the bike rather than perfecting its geometry. So, I smoked a rather well-rolled left-hand cigarette and took the bike for another cruise – a very warp-drive cruise on my favourite sandy, twisty, cliff-climbing backroad, learning how to get jelly with the beast. One thing is for sure; the bike puts a big shit-eating grin on my face – left-handed cigarette or not. After the first couple of practice runs on race weekend, I ditched the front dirt-track tyre for a knobbie and added a link to the

Victory wheelie on the little piglet, then on to the next race, 15 hours away

Ham-fisted winner Travis’s XR650

Flood damaged donor 23% Highside glitch 10%

Last minute police advice 15%

Trophy haul 35%

Intoxicated test ride 17%

drive chain to move the rear wheel back in an attempt to stabilise the slash-and-burn-style turning. This resulted in me highsiding while going backwards exiting a corner. I had enough hang time to think more about my acute tight-assed steering locks. Chain link came back out. Allin-all, the bike was fast if I could hang onto her the way a backwoods cousin porker rides an eight-second rodeo bull after calling his cousin his sister. Shit. I only had to Evel Knievel out of one ditch with a rock-lipped kicker and even after the three-huck tank-slapper highside the bike was still straight, with the assist of a special fencepost handlebar-straightener tool. On the final qualifying run I got up and into pole position. Lands End Hill Climb always brings good competition. My old buddy, Lord Mick, was fighting and them Brady Brothers were in it to win it. The younger one lined up in staging with his bike pointed backwards in front of me and just stared dead at me. Right, young buck. Like I have never felt the inner Bob Hannah/ Dirty Harry pre-race psych-out routine before. I put in a winning run, four seconds off my record set on my Pikes Peak Special 450. A strong time for a road not favouring any record breaking. After racing the last six Lands End Hill Climbs on different bikes, I was finally stoked on one, and with some tweaks it should bring glory. In fact, before the pain of the champagne eyeball shower received on the Lands End podium had subsided, I was hauling the virgin trophy mule 15 hours through the night via truck stop, beef jerky, trail mix and what was left in my podium victory bottle, because I had a plan. Right before noon the next morning and only 20 minutes from my final destination – the sacred Stockton, Kansas, Half-Mile two-night race – I was pulled over for speeding. ‘Yes officer, I am on a mission in fact, a madman motorcycle mission from the moto gods!’ After I explained how sign-up closed in 30 minutes at the Rooks County Fair, the officer mumbled something about trying to at least drive safe. Roger that. I got into the 99% humidity and livestock-fly-swarming fairgrounds with just enough time to spoon the flat track tyres back on using my face sweat for lube like a filthy pirate hooker. And you know what? That bike hugged and hooked on the Stockton dirt better and faster than any bike I’d ever had there. More trophies! Hell, I really love trophies!

HAVE FUN !! race gave its first cry in Japan!! Horizontal 150/160cc エン ジンを搭載した17inchのMini Flat Track Racerのみの HAVE FUN !! classの第一回が日本 のKAWAGOE Offroad villageで産声 を上げた。 レギュレーションはとても自 由、150/160ccなどの横型エンジンを 積んでいればOK !! フレームから作ろうがDAX/ MONKEY/BENLY/CABなどのフレー ムを使ってもOK !! ただし、 ここからが一番重要 !! 誰にも負けないカッコいいレーサーを作 ってレースすること!! レースなので速く走るってことは最低 条件ね。 念願の第一回目は9台エントリー、見た 目のすべて異なるレーサーで楽しいレー スが出来た。 レースのルールも通常とは少し変更し た。 予選/Final 01 / Final 02 の3レース でファイナル1&2でのポイント制 そしてファイナル2は通常のグリッド制 ではなくリバースグリッド !! ファイナル1で速かった人達が後ろから スタートするシステム。 前レースで速かった人達は守るだけで はダメでガンガン抜いて行かないとい けなく 逆に遅かった人達はファイナル2で抜か れずに守り切れば誰にでも優勝の可能 性があるレースルール。 おかげでレースは大荒れ、前レースでト ップだったバカムスコことKOUSUKE がスタート直後、 前車と絡みリタイヤ、3位だった CHEETAHも前車を抜けずに5位、最後 まで分からないレースになった。

PARTY!!で開催予定 !!


Jan 2020にはハブファンレース3rdを やりたいと思っています。 ショップでもプライベーターでも参戦者 大募集!! 一緒にカッコいいレースしま しょう。

#66 流石の貫録を見せつけ実の息子と大人 げないバトルをくりひろげ観客を楽し ませた。 今年は新たに6台ほどのハブファン レ ーサーが参戦予定、 白熱すること間違 いなし!! 次回のハブファンレースは 2nd 3rd Dec にKAWAGOE ORVで行われる


Words: Toshiyuki ‘Cheetah’ Osawa Photos: Kentauro Yamada


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


Words & illustration: @tattoo.lenny

When James closed his eyes he still didn’t see a damn thing. It felt like his senses were mixing up. The deafening sound of the wind was screaming in his ears and he couldn’t feel his butt any more. Was it because of the insane trembling of this deathtrap on struts? Or maybe his body was slowly

melting together with this crazy Ironhead... The next moment, James’s pretty face slowly started to disappear in the cold wind while he was dodging demons at high speed. Test driving this bike an hour after eating mushrooms proved to be a bad idea after all.


Production Twin Cory Texter’s G&G Racing MT-07 won the 2018 AFT Production title ELEVEN ROUNDS, THREE wins and this bike grasped a hard-fought championship in a field of other Yamaha and Kawasaki twins and Vance & Hines’ Harley XG750Rs. Texter battled to the last race and says the strong motor was a plus, but the rigid chassis fought him on certain tracks, ‘On limestone or gravel cushion tracks that get rough, the bike didn’t like to be sideways while bouncing over holes and that made it unpredictable on loose racetracks.’ Here what makes a Production Twin...


Custom-built adjustable by Race Tech


Photos: Scott Hunter/ American Flat Track

Cory had one main and one spare bike and they’d seen some action. Previously Armstrong had them for a season; Wood for a couple of races; Rush for a season and a half; Cose for a race and JD Beach for a few nationals (where he scored podiums)

Frame Bodywork

Racetec tank; Grand Prix Glass seat unit; Goon Glass fork guards; Saddlemen seat. Graphics are all custom vinyl

Southland Racing, based on a C&J jig. ‘The frame seems to work best on clay tracks when the wheels like to stay in line,’ says Cory. He was the only pro on a Yamaha to still be using this chassis design at the end of 2018. Other riders had switched to J&M


Vortex bars, Pro Taper clutch lever, Motion Pro throttle; ODI grips. These photos were taken at Daytona, just before the team started their victorious season, so a front brake is fitted for the day’s TT

Front end

Pros and amateurs alike rely on the Yamaha R6 RWU fork legs. These have been tuned by Race Tech. Triple clamps are from GPS. Cory says, ‘We might change offset 1mm on the triple clamps occasionally and a few clicks on the shock, but my set-up is pretty consistent.’


Bored by Millennium Technologies, Yamaha race head, Yamaha race piston, G&G Racing heavy clutch basket, Graves exhaust, AIM datalogger, Redline filter. Assembled by G&G Racing


Designed by Will Ott, with AFT’s spec Dunlop DT3 tyres and Brembo brakes

Turn over to see Cory’s American Flat Track race kit



Trusted: Two days after sewing up the 2019 AFT Production Twins championship at the Meadowlands Mile, Cory Texter shared details of his race kit with us

1 Alpinestars Tech-Air suit

This is my armour for battle. It gives me so much confidence knowing I’m wearing the best in the business when racing at 140mph. The design is based on Nicky Hayden’s TCR leathers from the late ’90s, because I’m a throwback guy. Thankfully, I led most of the main event so they aren’t too dirty. I’ll wash them with Murphy’s Oil Soap sometime this week when I run out of beer in my fridge. Write that down. Murphy’s Oil Soap. It’s made for cleaning wood, but it’s a game changer.

Photos: Cory Texter (kit), Scott Hunter/AFT (podium)

2 Bell Race Star

This carbon-fibre lid is one of my favourites from Bell. I pulled one tear-off the entire main event at Meadowlands, so there are 14 more still attached to the shield.

3 Alpinestars boots

I wear an Alpinestars Youth Tech 7 left boot with a West Coast hot shoe. My right boot is a Supertech R. The reason for different types is because I like having a strong feel for my rear brake pedal, which is offered by wearing the thinner-soled, road race Supertech R. I wear a taller left boot because I race with some aggressive dudes and don’t want to get my ankle sawn off in the first corner.

4 AFT #1 plate

I’ve been attending professional flat track events since I was two weeks old. It’s been a lifelong dream to own one of these and, at 32 years old, we finally made it happen.

5 Alpinestars championship winning jersey

I saw Briar get one of these the week before and I was jealous. I think mine is cooler though.

6 G&G Racing team shirt

Designed by Access Media Lab. Captain America shit. I have to look professional while I’m signing autographs as ‘Shayna’s brother’.

7 Stay The Course Yeti mug

Coffee, water and electrolytes. My sponsor gets me a new Yeti mug every year and I use them for the essentials. Coffee is a game changer for me, my legal way of taking a steroid.

8 Landshark Lager

My favourite beer and an essential after an incredibly long season. Only one bottle is pictured, but I had a few more, of course.

9 AFT credential

They wouldn’t let me enter the race track without this sucker. Plus, it keeps all the mice away.

10 Liquid I.V. electrolyte drink mix

Essential. I either use these or drink coconut water. I train very hard during the week and a simple lack of hydration on race day can crush weeks of hard work in a matter of minutes.

11 Alpinestars Megawatt gloves Only the best.

Name Cory Texter Age 32 Job Motorcycle racer Hometown Willow Street, Pennsylvania, USA Bikes 2007 Harley-Davidson XR750 2007 C&J Honda 450 framer 2013 Honda CRF100 2015 Big A Kawasaki Ninja 700 framer 2019 Yamaha YZ450F 2019 Yamaha YZ250F

12 Kicker Tabor Bluetooth headphones

I love these bad boys. I don’t listen to music often at the track, but I like to have them just in case. Typically, I listen to Blink 182 or ’90s country on race day. Something to relax me and take my mind off the job at hand. I also pretend to have them turned on when I qualify poorly and my rider coach, Chris Carr, is coming over to give me an earful.

13 Bell championship winning gold helmet

This is the special helmet, designed by Tagger, that Bell gave me on the podium after taking my first professional title.

14 Strider Pro

I have a two-year-old son, Cruise. Keeping him happy and smiling is crucial on race day. This is one of the first things that gets loaded in the van before we leave to go racing.

6 5 7 8

1 4

9 10








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San Jose T-shirt Artwork by Ryan Roadkill

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DEEP IN THE THE VAULTS Delving into the the deepest recesses of artist Death Spray Custom’s inspiration folder and pulling out some gems. This issue, Numberwang

Numero Uno Everyone has a number. Or two. I hold the number zero in the DTRA championships, which reflects my skill not as a rider but as an annoying way to be different in a structure of conformity. It’s also embarrassing to see my name listed above the reigning champion or number one plate from the previous year. I’m also attracted to number 41, which I was given for desert racing in the ’90s. I did use lucky number 8 for the DTRA, but suffered a distal radius fracture to my left wrist at King’s Lynn and carry medical-grade stainless steel permanently. God bless the NHS.

Combine low-level numerology (like connecting luck with a number) typography, branding, motorsports and myself and you get a section of my hard drive dedicated to numbers. These photos are from the Goodwood Revival and perfectly capture the wild west of an era of motorsport where advertising was illegal and championships had no brand guidelines. Your number might be here, and its attraction to you will be as strong as a brand, just without the baggage of marketing or message. Just a pure, round number.

7, 34, 46, 93. The power of numbers means that even in this awful comic sans font, those little numerals conjure vivid images, emotions and memories of people past and present. 69 may also conjure emotions.



From: Bryan Smith To: Date: 16 October 2019 Subject: Very friendly trophy girl SB Hi Bryan. Do you recognise this photo? We reckon it’s 2003, but what was the race? You seem to be holding a trophy with a perspex cut-out of the state of New Hampshire, so it could be the Laconia Half-Mile at Rochester, do you think? BS Yes that’s the Fusa series from 2003, the premier class was production-based 450 moto bikes. I raced for the first legal Honda support team, owned by Roy Plattel from Texas. That was the start of the season at the Rochester Half-Mile, an awesome cushion half-mile. SB That looks like it could be Nicky Hayden next to you, would that be right? BS That’s Nick Cummings #69. His dad, Tom Cummings, ran the TCR flat track team that Nicky Hayden raced for his first couple pro seasons, that’s why there’s a resemblance in number style.

SB The trophy girl looks very friendly – or is that your girlfriend? BS It does look like the trophy girl was quite friendly! She was not a gf. lol. SB This was right at the start of your pro career, right? What do you remember about that time in your life? BS I went on to win the championship that season in the class, beating some of the best that entered the class that year: Terry Poovey, Willie McCoy, Jared Mees, Rich King, Mike Hacker etc... It was a great accomplishment for me at the time, being a young gun of the sport. The championship bonus was $20k! I thought I was rich. lol.



Rochester Half-Mile 2003 Superglued ears 15%

Future Grand National Champion 30%


Made from girlfriend material 15%

Overfamiliar trophy girl 40%


Photo: Henny Ray Abrams


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