What magazines have your worked for and what
are you working on now?
Lots of bike magazines all over the world. I've been
freelance for 12 years and edited a couple of magazines before that. The
biggest ones I contribute to are/were Cycle World, Bike, MCN, Aussie MCN. I've
written for Vogue, Arena, Men's Health; a ton of car magazines; I had a column
about bikes for two years in Italian GQ, then moved to Italian Rolling Stone,
who I write for now. I write for some cool independent mags like Cafe Racer in
France (the proper Cafe Racer, not the American one...), Rev in Portugal and
Fast Bike in Germany. It's the Brit mags like Bike and PB that have been good
to me. I only work for mags I like. Then there's Sideburn...
Sideburn is such a cool project, I think you
have a pretty dedicated following. What makes flat trackers so important that
you dedicate and mag to it and the lifestyle surrounding it?
Sideburn is a magazine I make with Ben Part. It's A5,
what I think Americans call digest-size, 100 pages, full colour, very nice
paper and print, but with a fanzine ethos. Ben designs it. He's never designed
a magazine before and breaks a lot of design rules, so the mag looks different
to newsstand bike titles. We call ourselves 'The World's Greatest Go Fast, Turn
I was going to publish a book of a friend's writing,
but he was picked up by a big publisher, so I had this money burning a hole. I
knew magazines, I raced flat track, I read Dice magazine, I was inspired. We
made issue 1 in 2008 and people liked it. So we made another. Now we're up to
issue 11. We make three issues per year. We’re not making much money from it,
but people like it, so we keep going.
What do you think is the next big thing in
It seems what is now called the cafe racer style still
has a lot of life in it. After that? I don't know. The thing about the
internet, it's made scenes seem old before they've even had chance to get
established. It used to take people years to build a bike they were proud of,
I'm talking about normal owners, not people in the business. Now someone puts a
skinny seat and a different tank on a bike and they're lauded as master
builders. A month later their bikes are being called old hat. Scenes will keep
splintering and feeding off other influences for a while – track day Harleys, rat
café racers, period correct CHiPs bikes on knobblies, that kind of thing.
I’d like to see people start building big, tough,
first and second generation superbikes from four cylinders - GPzs, GSX11s,
air-cooled Z1000s, even Zephyrs.
I’ve known you for a quite a while now, what
was it about RSD that brought you to our doorstep back in … what 2006?
2005, I think. I came with Fly the photographer to do
a feature on you for Performance Bikes. I'd read about you when you built a
cool Sportster with clip-ons that was featured in Hot Bike a long, long time
ago, maybe even the late-90s? Then I saw your stuff on the PM website in 2005,
but I can't remember how I came across that, maybe Cycle World. I loved how you
mixed different genres, putting Öhlins on a Harley and gold leaf on a Busa. Of
course, other people had built Harleys with good suspension, but I thought you
did it best and then rode them hard.
And that green goat curry we went for was
You live a life surrounded by bikes and
those that share a similar interest, why is that?
I love motorcycles.
Favorite all time racer?
Scott Russell, Guy Martin, Peter Boast, Dave Arnold (a
mate of mine whose attitude encouraged me to start racing flat track at the age
Favorite all-time street bike?
Stock, off the showroom floor, I think the GSX-R1000K5
takes some beating. I like a lot of GSX-Rs. I like the BMW Megamoto and Bimota
SB2, too. I don’t want a stock bike though.
Tough one... Ricky Graham and Bubba Shobert's Honda
RS750s are something else, but so is Kenny Coolbeth's all-black XR750. I love
my own Wood Rotax as well.
Favorite cold beverage?
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Tea is my number one beverage
What’s your current bike project about? Ti
pipes, stubby tail… looking fun.
Oil-cooled GSX-R1100 bored out to 1216 with CP
pistons, Keihin FCR39 carbs and Racefit Ti pipe in a one-off chro-mo duplex
frame with an aluminum swingarm and an alloy bolt-on sub-frame. I bought the
chassis for about $450, when the previous owner gave up with it and had a new
one made. I had to have all the engine mounts cut off and rewelded. I've fitted
a GSX-R1000K5 front end; Braking wheels and discs; Nitron twin shocks; RCD
rearsets; GS1000 tank with an RCD endurance filler... It's going to look like a
pumped-up 1981 AMA Superbike.
Fairings or Number plates?
On the road, neither, on the track, number plates.
Slicks or nobbies?
Knee sliders or Steel Shoes?
Steel shoe. Just one.
Twin or mono shocks?
Last time you scared yourself?
When I crashed a BMW R1200GS in South Africa last
year. I wasn't concentrating fully on the job in hand. I killed the BM, but
walked away with ripped jeans and a smashed helmet. I was scared after, not
Worst injury obtained on a motorcycle?
Broken tib and fib when I was T-boned by another bike
on the way to the 1996 British GP. Other than that, just scrapes.
Motorcycles are finicky creatures, split
seconds are what separates a crash from a near crash. How would you explain that
I crash on dirt tracks a lot. So often that I even
enjoy it in a perverse way. I don't have a lot of natural feel for a dirt bike,
so every crash takes me totally by surprise. On the road, I've crashed twice in
15 years or, about 120,000 miles on two wheels. One was on ice, the other was
because I was screwing about. There wasn’t another vehicle involved either
time. A split second might be the difference, but there's a British saying 'A
miss is as good as a mile'. You didn't crash, so learn, move on, forget about
it. The split-seconds you’re talking about is when the skill you have, the
experience, the clarity of thought and the foresight to see or sense it
happening before it was too late comes into play.
Get your head up, look where you're going and you've
bought yourself a lot more split-seconds.
Of course, if you're talking about a self-inflicted
crash, on a bend or a corner because you were pushing too, you've just got to
know your limits. But if it all goes wrong, chicks dig scars.