Hip­sters hi­jack the Har­ley-D ... They took tat­toos, cof­fee and beards. Now they’re af­ter cool mo­tor­bikes

Sunday Herald - - NEWS - BY KARIN GOOD­WIN

FIRST there were the tat­toos, vintage work­wear, the full beard and the flat white. But now hip­sters have found a new love af­fair and this time it’s about speed as well as style.

While mo­tor­bikes have in­creas­ingly be­come the pre­serve of mid­dle-aged, mid­dle-class men try­ing to re­dis­cover their youth around the next bend in the road, in­dus­try ex­perts claim a new gen­er­a­tion of hip­sters are rev­o­lu­tion­is­ing the scene, favour­ing pared-back classic and retro bikes in­spired by 1950s and 1960s icons like James Dean and Steve McQueen. Sales of mo­tor­bikes have in­creased across the UK, with a par­tic­u­lar rise in vintage de­signs and cus­tom-built bikes, which aim to al­low bik­ers to show off their in­di­vid­u­al­ity.

Hip­ster favourites in­clude “bob­bers” – where ex­cess body­work is stripped back, the front fender re­moved and the rear fender “bobbed” to re­duce the weight – and cafe rac­ers, an­other stripped­back bike with low mounted han­dle­bars and re­bel­lious ori­gins in rock’n’roll. Mod­ern ver­sions are now made by iconic brands in­clud­ing Har­ley-David­son, Tri­umph and Yamaha. Light­weight scram­blers based on the orig­i­nal Du­cati de­sign are also in de­mand.

This week­end the Scot­tish Mo­tor­cy­cle Show at Ed­in­burgh’s Royal High­land Cen­tre is de­vot­ing a whole hall to a col­lec­tion of over 700 classic bikes which, ac­cord­ing to event di­rec­tor Tom Sid­dall, is now one of the largest show col­lec­tions in north­ern Europe.

“The in­ter­est in classic and vintage bikes has grown mas­sively,” said Sid­dall. “There is also a real trend for mod­ern man­u­fac­tur­ers to cre­ate new bikes in a retro fash­ion. The look is a strong nod to the style icons of the 1950s and 1960s. That style is car­ried through to the cloth­ing and even the mo­tor­cy­cle safety gear.”

Glas­gow’s House of Cus­tom, which spe­cialises in cre­at­ing cus- tom-built Har­ley-David­son bikes us­ing spare parts to fash­ion unique cre­ations, is also at the show this week­end

Stu­art Baillie, co-owner of the 13-year-old busi­ness, agrees mo­tor­bikes are now at­tract­ing the hip­ster gen­er­a­tion. “It’s sim­i­lar to the way that tat­toos took off, you know, that hip­ster thing,” he said. Pop­u­lar bikes in­clude a sporty Hot Rod se­ries, as well as bob­bers and cafe rac­ers.

“It’s all gone very old-school,” he added. “The peo­ple into bikes are very di­verse – we’re see­ing peo­ple born in the 1970s. A lot of younger folk are get­ting into the bob­ber scene – there’s a cool vibe to it; you take one bike and cre­ate seven or eight dif­fer­ent styles. Ev­ery­body can be unique.”

The trend for “new wave” cus­tom bikes, built with a hip­ster aes­thetic in mind, has been grow­ing steadily in Lon­don in re­cent years. Or­gan­i­sa­tions like the Bike Shed in Shored­itch – still the city’s hip­ster hub – “cu­rates” three an­nual shows of cus­tomised bikes, and of­fers a cafe, barber and ex­hi­bi­tion space at its 12,0002ft head­quar­ters. Web­sites such as Bike EXIF also of­fer on­line “how to” guides on build­ing cafe rac­ers, scram­blers and bob­bers.

Gary In­man, ed­i­tor of Side­burn mag­a­zine, which he set up in 2008 with the aim of telling the sto­ries of “the he­roes and the ze­ros of the mo­tor­bike world” rather than glitzy bike launches, said “a new ur­ban crowd” was get­ting into bik­ing.

“It’s changed the kind of bikes that are be­ing bought,” he said. “The sport­bike mar­ket has been re­placed by a bur­geon­ing retro and naked bike boom, for bikes like the Tri­umph Bon­neville and Du­cati Scram­bler, plus a de­sire to mod­ify old bikes and clas­sics.”

Blair Wil­loughby, sales man­ager at Du­cati Glas­gow, said: “Peo­ple are just scream­ing out for bikes with that retro feel. It ap­peals to the hip­ster gen­er­a­tion. Mo­tor­cy­cling went through a re­cent pe­riod where it was un­cool, but that’s chang­ing quite dra­mat­i­cally.”

The in­ter­est in classic and vintage bikes has grown mas­sively. There’s also a real trend for mod­ern man­u­fac­tur­ers to cre­ate new bikes in a retro fash­ion. The look is a strong nod to the style icons of the 1950s and 1960s, and that car­ries through to the cloth­ing too

Eter­nal style icons like Steve McQueen are prov­ing se­duc­tive to the new hip­ster bike-lov­ing gen­er­a­tion

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