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Friday
May122017

The Handbuilt Motorcycle Show 2017

I showed up to the Fair Market venue a few hours before opening time, expecting only to pick up my press pass. Upon receiving it, I took the opportunity to walk the floors to capture some images while it was virtually empty save for the dozen or so Handbuilt Show workers milling about prepping for opening alongside some of the bike builders helping to position their bikes this way and that. 

I recall music playing, but I think I was having sensory overload to be honest, as I remember it ever so faintly in the backdrop of my mind as what seemed like hundreds of incredible bikes filled my sights. I began hitting the shutter button incessantly, attempting to capture the artistic vision and individual one-of-a-kind details these bikes all bared. To be in the presence of bikes built by such renowned builders, bikes that I had only seen through a computer screen or a mobile phone– it was humbling to say the least. From Mark Atkinson’s sleek shark like BMW Alpha build, to Maxwell Hazan’s gorgeous 1978 Turbo Ducati 860GT Racer, amongst so many other notable builds, it was hard to not freak out. The incredible thing is that just when you think you’ve already seen everything about a bike and you start to walk away from it, some other mind-bending minute design detail of the bike catches your eye and you’re stuck marveling at it for another 10 minutes. And that’s impressive, being that I have the attention span of a gnat. 

Eventually, I made my way outside the venue to check out American Motor Drome Co’s “Wall of Death” tent. There I found amongst red, white, and blue painted vintage Harleys on the lawn, none other than the Wall of Death showmen themselves, Charlie Ransom and Lightnin’ Jay enjoying some downtime ahead of the show. We chatted for awhile about California, various bike related things and I snapped some pictures of them as they talked. They kindly offered to let me shoot from the center of the motor drome that night, and I could barely contain my excitement as I babbled an incoherent “YES” in response. 

A few hours later that evening, I checked off one of my long time bucket list items as I stepped through the small entryway and onto the star spangled floor of the Wall of Death. Soon after, in the company of Charlie Ransom, Reckless Reda and Hobo Bill, Lightnin’ Jay fired up his 1927 Indian Scout, and within a few loops of the floor, he was quickly spiraling his way up the wooden 15 foot walls. The roar of his engine loudly filled the air as Jay twisted the throttle and was interrupted momentarily only by the occasional backfire and the excited cheers of the crowds above, as he upshifted until he was in 3rd gear. The sights, sounds, and smells from my place at the bottom of that dome could be likened to no other experience in my life. Charlie performed his death defying acrobatic acts of riding side saddle, hands in the air, and snatching dollar tips from the daring hands of the spectators at the top; Hobo Bill deked his bike along the wall in an insane swooping motion and lastly, he and Reckless Reda shared the wall as they raced their bike and go-kart side by side. As soon as the show had started, it ended, along with my rush of adrenaline. This however was only the beginning of the weekend for the Wall of Death crew – they were to perform every hour on the hour 20 more times throughout the weekend. The notable part about the AMDC crew is how genuine and humble they are, and how they always made time to sit and talk with the numerous fans of all ages that swarmed them after each show, regardless of how tired they were from repeated sessions of risking life and limb for the show. 

By end of opening night, I myself was already exhausted from running around and capturing all I could. One day down, two more to go. As I said before, there was always so much more to capture at the Handbuilt Show, such as the excited fans, the many small intricate customizations of these two-wheeled labors of love, or the smiling, familiar faces of the many like-minded moto people I consider myself honored to call friends. It would be an understatement to say that I can’t wait to return to Austin for the next one. Hope to see you there too.

Many thanks to Sasha @CRXXX for the opportunity, the Revival crew for putting on an incredible show, and to all the builders for traveling from all over to share their work.

 

- Words and Photos by Erik Jutras, Guest Contributor for Cafe Racer XXX

Tuesday
Jan172017

MotoBailey Shoe Review

The MotoBailey boot was going to be right up my alley from the very start. I loath having to buy a different shoe for every different occasion; I find it wasteful and I have a hard time finding U.S. made options. MotoBailey makes their boots in the US with imported materials, which I appreciate. The fact that I can wear these boots in the studio, at my storefront, at client meetings, and on my motorcycle means I have one less thing I have to purchase and worry about.


These boots are the ultimate twofer for urban riders. While I am more of a rural rider, living in the hinterlands of Northern California, I am also a professional and a business owner, which means I have to look presentable throughout the day. Having to haul around an extra pair of shoes for meetings with clients is the last thing I want to deal with. What a pleasant experience to have the safest boot in my wardrobe also be the most stylish.

MotoBailey proves you can have it all, and why we don't see this more often I don't know. They line both styles of boots they offer with Kevlar. Hats off to them for thinking dynamically. The price point on these boots is reasonable and because they combine two kinds of foot wear they can potentially save you as much as they cost. Where I ran into some concern was the boot laces and gromits (or lack there of). While I can't say what will happen after a lot of use, because I just got these boots, I can say that some metal grommets would make me feel like the lace-holes won't wear and stretch or break. The shoe laces themselves seem a bit thin and delicate. While Moto Bailey wants to have a swankier-looking boot than the normal motorcycle boot (and they do) I worry that the delicacy of the laces and the gromits might be a problem down the line.

 

My father is a local blacksmith and I was envious of the grommets on his work boots which I think MotoBailey might want to consider.

There's metal eye on the top lace-hole but I strongly feel that each opening should have one. If Moto Bailey wants these to be your go-to, everyday boot they need to be able to withstand some abuse. I look forward to finding out if these stylish boots can stand the test of time and wear.

 

 

Words and Photos by Trinia Jean, guest writer for Cafe Racer XXX and cofounder of Hinterland Empire

Thursday
Oct272016

Pro Racer Shelina Moreda #93 tests out the Yamaha SCR950

When we got the invite from Yamaha to ride the SCR950, we thought it would be a fun opportunity to have a Pro racer test out one of their machines. We were lucky enough to catch Shelina Moreda (#93) in between races and get her on board for the ride. For those who don't know Shelina, she is a down to earth farm girl from Northern California, and is also very talented on two wheels. She competes at the National level in the US, and has raced in Quatar,  Japan and Europe. She has also completed Suzuka 4 hour endurance races and coaches her own school called "She'z Moto Camps". Thank you for the opportunity Shelina! -Cafe Racer XXX

The Yamaha SCR950 was so fun to ride! We rode all over the back roads of Julian California, and when we were riding on the twisties, you could feel the bike settle into the corners - it flicked through those corners nicely. I was impressed with the tires in the dirt, and how nimble that big bike felt on the trails.

I was most impressed when we took the bikes off road! I’d never ridden a street bike in the dirt before! We blasted down some wide, dusty trails, and at first I was nervous about riding fast down a dirt trail on a street bike. The SCR950 was a bit big and heavy for my small build, but after a few passes for photos ops, I started trusting the tires and pushing it a bit more. It was a blast!

The highlight for me was taking the bikes on a goat-trail of a road that most other street bikes would have been horrible on. There were lines of loose rocks in the middle of the road, potholes so big that they had cones marking them, and this bike just blasted down the road! I only bottomed out once when I jumped it, but mostly the suspension seemed a bit stiff for my build (I understood that wasn’t the case for the guys).

There were only a couple things I feel could be better about the bike. The seat was very hard; it would be nice to have had it already broken in for the long ride. When I rode the bike with a more broken-in seat, it was much better. The bike is a little heavy for me, and I couldn’t touch the ground too well, so that made it a bit harder to maneuver when parking - but once the bike was in motion, it was incredibly fun.

All in all, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I kept forgetting I had a ¾ helmet on and the guys riding behind me said they could see a huge grin in my mirrors. I guess I could say I really liked the bike! It was just a great day of mobbing down some really unexpected roads on a bike that not only looks cool, but is awesome to ride. I’ll ride in that biker gang on that SCR950 again any day! Thanks to Alpinestars for the soft leather jacket! My roadrace boots got me made fun of a bit, so next time I go to ride it I’ll have to polish my scrambler style a little better. -Shelina Moreda #93

 

SCR950 SPECS:

 

Engine

Engine Type: 58-cubic-inch (942cc) air-cooled SOHC 4-stroke V-twin; 4 valves
Bore x Stroke: 85.0mm x 83.0mm
Compression Ratio: 9.0:1
Fuel Delivery: Fuel injection
Ignition : Transistor Controlled Ignition(TCI)
Transmission: 5-speed; multiplate wet clutch
Final Drive : Belt

Chassis

Suspension / Front: Telescopic fork, 4.7-in travel
Suspension / Rear: Dual piggyback shocks, 2.8-in travel
Brakes / Front: Wave-type disc, 298mm
Brakes / Rear: Wave-type disc, 298mm
Tires / Front: 100/90-19
Tires / Rear: 140/80R17

Dimensions

L x W x H: 88.6 in x 35.2 in x 45.9 in
Seat Height: 32.7 in
Wheelbase: 62.0 in
Rake (Caster Angle): 28.4°
Trail: 5.1 in
Ground Clearance: 5.5 in
Fuel Capacity: 3.4 gal
Fuel Economy**: 51 mpg
Wet Weight: 547 lb

 

MSRP*

$8,699 - Charcoal Silver or Rapid Red

 

Friday
Oct212016

Brooklyn Invitational 2016

In a landscape typically dominated by sprawling traffic and screeching taxis, the 2016 Brooklyn Invitational proved to be a perfect welcome to the New York experience. Before I arrived at the stretch of 14th Street where the event was being held, I found myself surrounded by other riders. Ducati Scramblers and Triumph Thruxtons darted through the streets as though they were guiding the way… and they did not disappoint. As I pulled up to the Roots Photo Studio, where this year’s Invitational was hosted, I was greeted by four city blocks of motorcycles. The diversity was stunning; old, weathered Matchless twins and World War Two-era Indians parked next to home-built cafe racers - all framed perfectly by the industrial backdrop of Greenpoint’s shoreline.

Outside, there was a constant show to see. Riders were coming and going by the dozen, leaving death-defying wheelies as parting gifts and an exhaust roar loud enough to ensure the city that never sleeps stayed that way. Inside the studio, there were some of the most impeccable custom-built bikes in the nation. Revival Cycles out of Austin, Texas built an immaculate Velocette cafe racer, complete with bubble fairing that would be equally at home on the track as it would be on display in The Museum of Modern Art. The Roland Sands Indian Scout combined flawless vintage styling with modern technology… and a crimson paint job that begged for speed. One of my favorite builds of the show was the Ducati Monster parsed down by Tyler Lunceford of Moto Pistole. The bike had a pure essence of functionality, with every unnecessary part stripped away to showcase the mechanics of the machine - exhibiting that less truly can be more.

It was bittersweet leaving the show… knowing I’d have to wait a full year before I’d see so many fantastic machines in one place again. Here's to having something to look forward to in 2017!

-Scott Bradley, Guest Contributor for Cafe Racer XXX