Showing posts with label motorcycle media. Show all posts
Showing posts with label motorcycle media. Show all posts

Monday, 26 September 2016

Motorcycle Media: short films, documentaries & time travel on a Friday night

Friday night had me home alone in the first time in forever.  After a rough week at work I was wiped and on the verge of a cold, so it was a low impact night.  I went looking for some escapist media and stumbled upon EXIF's Top 6 Best Motorcycle Films.  I'd seen Shinya Kimura in The Greasy Hands Preachers, but I'd never seen the film that set him out as a motorcycle media icon, it's just shy of three minutes of perfection:

Shinya Kimura: Chabott Engineering

Another one I hadn't seen before that does a great job of capturing a northern motorcyclist's winter dilemma is Waiting out the Winter.  It's a short video, but it sets the mood of tinkering while we wait for the snow to recede in the frozen north wonderfully:

Waiting Out The Winter

WAITING OUT WINTER from Andrew David Watson on Vimeo.

Those short films made a great appetizer, but I was looking for something a bit more long form.  If you're ever looking to pass a lazy hour or two in another time and place, Cycles South will take you to the early 1970s.  Like the '70s themselves, Cycles South looses the plot half way through, but discovers itself again before the end.  If you're delicate and can't handle the very non-politically correct sensibilities of the early 1970s, don't watch this, but if you can let it all go and are willing to exist in another time, Cycles South makes for a psychedelic road trip (man).  The whole thing is on Youtube in 15 minute segments, they connected together automatically with a few seconds of delay between, mercifully commercial free.

Google/Youtube lost its mind after I watched the series in order and started shooting motorcycle themed video at me from all directions.  Next up was Fifty Years of Kicks, a twenty minute documentary about two off road motorcyclists well into their seventies.  I wasn't initially hooked, but the quality of filming and the narrative they were building had me after a few minutes.  There is something about watching old guys fight the clock that is heroic.  It makes me want to celebrate any small victories they have before the inevitable happens.

Looking for something on the history of motorcycles I came across The History Channel's documentary on Youtube.  It's a bit wiz-bang flashy and over edited, but you get some Jay Leno, and the jet powered Y2K.  When they went from that to some Dodge Viper powered thing I began to think this was less about motorcycles and more about bored rich people.  I didn't get to the end of this one.

Have you ever wished you had an old, British uncle with an encyclopedic knowledge of motorbikes who would natter on about them indefinitely?  I was afraid Classic British Motorbikes: 100 Years of Motorcycling was going to be an advertisement for a dealership in England, but the big green Triumph Tiger in the opening moments kept me playing it.  This video takes place sometime in the early two thousands (hence my model of Tiger sitting in front of the dealership).  The idea was to invite in classic bikes and celebrate 100 years of motorbiking in Britain.  The camera work is amateur, as is the interviewing, but you'll still pick up a lot of history from the owners and the knowledgeable interviewer.

I watched until he interviewed the owner of the dealership who seemed entirely disinterested in the whole thing and was apparently running the family business because of his dad's love of bikes.  He made a stark contrast to the enthusiasm of every previous interview.  If you're interested in British bikes and especially their history, you'll enjoy this one (with a bit of fast forwarding).

It's amazing what motorcycle media you can dig up on the internet with a bit of luck.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Motorcycle Media: Ride with Norman Reedus

A well made piece of motorcycle documentary!
I've been watching Ride With Norman Reedus on AMC over the past few weeks.  What you have here is an incredibly approachable celebrity who is obviously a giant bike nerd doing all the rides in the continental U.S. that he's never gotten around to doing.

This isn't some Harley-or-nuthin kind of biker exercise either, Norman throws his leg over everything from a Rolands Sands BMW R9T Special to a Zero electric bike, and that's just in the first episode!  By the end of the season you've seen over a dozen machines from half a dozen different manufacturers.  Norman obviously loves his bikes and he isn't particular about the flavour.

He likes his customs, but you'll also find him riding
everything from state of the art Ducatis to 1950s
BMWs, often in the same episode.
Another nice touch is that this isn't a boy's own/Charlie & Ewan masculine and manly bike trip.  Norman goes out of his way to find motorcycle subcultures when he's riding, and that often includes female riding groups and partners.  You don't notice what a change this is from the usual testosterone charged motorcycle media until you see it done this differently.

The production values are excellent.  With aerial establishing shots and a wide variety of atmospheric images used throughout the ride, it doesn't feel like you're following a map so much as actually being where the ride is (much like you would on a bike).  Norman himself has directed film and published a book of photography, and he's frequently stopping to take photos of his own or bragging on the nice little SLR he's using.  A camera geek after my own heart!

In stark contrast to the hard man he plays in Walking Dead, Norman has an easy going Californian vibe that makes him both approachable and a joy to watch.  When a woman at Deal's Gap says he looks like Darryl from Walking Dead he shoots right back, "yep, that's me!" with a big smile on his face.

This show is going to get a lot of people interested in trying out motorcycling.  I hope to goodness AMC is already planning for another season (though calling five episodes a season is a bit much).  This show can't cost that much to produce and it has a ready and expanding audience.  Ducati and Triumph should both get a nod for obviously ponying up new bikes for use in this, but it was money well spent.  The others should be lining up to provide bikes for the next round.  A surprise riding partner or two (Valentino Rossi?) would be most excellent.  Having Vale show Norman around Tavullia would be epic.

In case it isn't clear, I'd highly recommend this if you enjoy travel documentaries.  If you're into motorcycles at all you'll love it.  Norman in Europe?  Norman in Japan?  With so many motorcycle subcultures to explore, this could easily become a world wide phenomenon.

Monday, 10 August 2015

2015 IndyGP Videos & Photos

I'm sorting through the photos and videos from the Indianapolis MotoGP trip... here's what I've got so far:

Prior to take-off

At the Michigan International Speedway

Lunch stop in North Manchester

The back straight at Indy - what a ride!

Bike parking on the back straight

Indy golf course in the infield

Friday practice session for the 2015 Indy GP

Yamaha R1 guts

Dancing through the esses

Danny Kent doing the business (qualified first!)

The Doctor at work

The Maestro Marc Marquez doing what he does

There were many more bikes when we returned!

They compete for motorcycle insurance here?
We must not be in Ontario!

Motorcycles on Meridian

Thousands upon thousands of bikes - if it's been built it's here!

Michigan International Speedway
You can sign in and have a look around inside! 

Indy Again

Google auto-made video of the track day

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Motorcycle Mojo: Tim's Birthday Edition

My great aunt and Granddad across the page from a Triumph,
I think they'd approve!

It's been a good month for publishing.  Glenn at Motorcycle Mojo ran two pieces I'd submitted.

In the Remember When section I'd sent in the family photos I'd discovered while back home in Norfolk, England in 2013.

It was a real joy to see Grand-dad and a great Aunt I'd never met in pages that I knew were being seen across Canada.

Our Vancouver Island adventure got many pages!
I was then astonished to see that Glenn had also run the article I handed in last year on our ride on Vancouver Island.  Seeing my byline right behind Lawrence Hacking's was a real rush!

There is no greater satisfaction for an English major than seeing your writing published.  I've managed it academically, but this was my first go at motorcycle media and it was no less satisfying.

The Motorcycle Mojo piece reads well (and I'm a tough critic with myself).  After seeing myself in print I think I might be addicted.  I'm so glad I brought the camera and aimed to write this up from the beginning, it's like reliving the trip over again, and my son Max is over the moon!

I've already pitched another piece to Glenn.

If you've thought of writing out a motorbike experience but didn't, give it a go!  Glenn is a considerate editor and the joy of seeing your words publicized is powerful!

Vancouver Island?!?!?  How can you not want to read that?!?

Sunday, 1 March 2015

There Are These People Called 'Hipsters'

Hipsters with their coiffed hair and well tended beards (even the women)
ride their Scramblers to interesting places
I've been reading the somewhat baffled traditional motorcycle media's reviews of the new Ducati Scrambler. With few exceptions these articles are being written by Baby Boomers who find the idea of "hipsters' to be very mock-worthy. That Ducati is aiming the Scrambler at a younger audience really seems to get up the nose of Boomers, who are used to everything being about them.

Being a Generation Xer I'm skeptical of any kind of social organization and assume nothing is ever about me, but I also find that I have more culturally in common with other people of my generation than I do with any other social distinction (race, class, education, religion, politics, citizenship...). When living in Japan the GenXers we met had so many shared experiences with us that we just fell in together; the times in which you find yourself define you. If you're looking for a review of social organization by birth cohort (generation), then this piece by The Social Librarian will catch you up. See if it doesn't do a decent job of describing your people.

I'm not sure why people can't treat generational differences in the same way they treat cultural differences. You'd be a big jerk if you decided to travel around the world and spent all your time talking about how every other culture is stupid compared to yours, yet people don't seem to hesitate when doing that about other generations. That Baby Boomers, themselves once torn apart in the media because of their newness, are now having a go at hipsters shows just how bad their memories are getting as they age.

At 3:16 you get a good look at how the media
inflamed this situation rather than reporting it
accurately. You'd think Boomers would remember...

As a bald forty something who can't grow a nice beard, I still find that I enjoy hipster bike media even though I could never pull off the look...

If Hipsters make beautiful films and love riding,
then I think I'm a fan...

According to the urban dictionary, hipsters "value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter." What's not to like about that?  Unless you're a cranky, old, conservative, Boomer motorcyclist who thinks that the pinnacle of motorcycle evolution is a Harley Fat Boy, you'd have to think it delightful.

Beards, hair product & old bikes...
Hipsters are one of the primary movers of the café racer resurgence. They enjoy looking back before the neo-liberal globalization that Boomers have brought us, I can get into that too.

Given a choice between hanging out with a bunch of Harley Boomers at a Tim Hortons or a group of Hipsters at an artisanal beer bar/gastro-pub, I know where I'd head.

I'm left thinking maybe motorcycle magazines need to diversify their writers instead of hiring all the guys they went to high school with in 1970. Maybe then anyone other than a Boomer might get a fair shake in print. In the meantime, go Ducati, go!  A successful Scrambler means all those traditional, conservative motorcycle magazines will have to update their staff (maybe even hire someone born after 1965!), or face irrelevance.

The world moves on. Enjoy hipsters while they're here, soon enough they'll grow up and sell out like everyone else has (some first-class GenX skepticism there, eh?).

The desperate attempt to pry motorcycles from the well manicured hands of the hipster is ongoing...

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Voracious Reader: Canadian Motorcycle Magazines

With riding coming to an end in the Great White North I'm looking more closely at motorcycle media to sustain me through the long, dark cold.  Some magazines have already made the cut and are a sure thing when it comes to subscribing.  

The first one I found was Cycle Canada: a local, opinionated and well written magazine that has no interest in editorial-beige.  They tend toward the no-holds barred British writing approach.  I subscribe to both BIKE and Performance Bike for that approach (though PB has enough grammar problems that I sometimes find it difficult to take seriously).

Cycle Canada is a joy to read, it's just hard to get a hold of.  I tried to renew my subscription in the summer and the publishing company couldn't get their website to work, which happens.  I tried again weeks later and it still wasn't working.  Being told to phone it in doesn't cut it in 2014 (I don't like giving credit card info over the phone).  You have to wonder what's going to happen to a media company that can't make basic internet functionality work in the 21st Century.

I ended up going through Roger's Magazine subscription service in July in an attempt to get my mits on CC, it's the end of October and I haven't seen a magazine yet.  Cycle Canada?  Great magazine, but pretty hard to get your hands on.

The other Canadian magazine I've got a lock on is Motorcyle Mojo.  I think of it as the Canadian version of Rider Magazine (the only US magazine I'm subscribed to).  Excellent layouts and photography (which feel like an afterthought in CC), original travel pieces and knowledgeable editorials.  The writing isn't as edgy as CC, but Motorcycle Mojo knows what it's talking about and presents it well.  They also know how to run a website and communicate really well with their subscribers.

Two on the cusp are Inside Motorcycles and Canadian Biker Magazine.  I got both as a present, but I'm not sure if I'll keep them going.  IM did an article this month on the Polaris Slingshot.  Apart from sounding like an advertisement, it also kept calling the three wheeler "unique".  One of the first cars I ever rode in in England in the early 1970s was my grandmother's three wheeler.  I suspect Morgan would dispute the gee-wiz uniqueness of the Slingshot as well.  You can't be expected to know everything, but if you're going to write on a vehicle, doing a little research would prevent you from calling the rehash of an idea that's been around since the birth of motor vehicles, "a whole new class of vehicle."  Lazy writing like that is what'll stop me renewing that subscription.

At the same time Canadian Biker Magazine had an editorial by Robert Smith that not only demonstrated a deep and nuanced understanding of the history of three wheelers, but also accurately and incisively deconstructed why this type of vehicle can never let you experience flying in two dimensions like a motorcycle does.  This kind of knowledgeable and opinionated writing is what would keep me re-upping that subscription.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Motorcycle Social Media

The online motorcycle community is a beautiful thing.  I've been following a number of people on Google+ who are into the two wheel craft, as well as Tumblr and Pinterest, and the more established social media platforms.  I'm a visual thinker, and being able to find images of bikes on these platforms really feeds my motorcycle aesthetic.  If you're into motorcycle design and aesthetics, these are good places to find ideas:

Pinterest:  a online graphic pin-up tool designed to share images.  Nice because it focuses on the visual, also nice because it is predominantly female, so you get a different vibe out of it when it comes to motorbikes (less pin-up, more motorcycle as art).

Tumblr: a bit more rough and tumble but offers an immersive graphics format and a staggeringly wide range of images including some very specific sub cultures of biking.  If you're into cafe racers, Tumblr doesn't disappoint.

Want something really specific, like motorcycle anime?  Ok!  Tumblr is also heavy on the animated GIF, so you get a lot of motion in your visual soup.

Google+: is more of an open social media platform, but in it you can find all sorts of motorcycle communities.  Motorcycles and technology, yep, there's a community for that.  Like Royal Enfields?  So do these people.  Want a motorcycle group with a worldwide focus?  Right here.  There you can hear Australians rail against their stupid government advertising.

Facebook:  Of course, you can find lots of motorcycle related material on Facebook too, I like it specifically for following motorcycle celebrities:

Think Nick Sanders is cool?  You can follow him across Asia live on Facebook (he's doing it right now).  

Are you a fan of Austin Vince?  He's well connected on Facebook where you can keep up with his latest work.

Think Guy Martin is the man?  His racing management team keeps you up with what he's doing on big blue.

You can find all sorts of local companies on there too.  If I'm going to get advertised to on Facebook I'd rather it be by local companies that I'm actually likely to shop at.

Facebook is also a good place to find motorcycle media updates.  Why We Ride is a lovely film, but they didn't stop there.  The Facebook site is a great place to find the latest in riding inspiration.

It might sound odd, but traditional media
still plays a big role in connecting me to online media.  Bike Magazine connected me to Greasy Hands Preachers and Rider connected me to my favorite motorcycle author.  Between traditional and new media, we're living in a motorcycle media renaissance, I hope you're partaking.  It feeds all interests from the most general to the most mind-bogglingly specific.