I’m writing this from a train grinding its way through the jagged Alps of Arthur’s Pass, one of the most desolate places in New Zealand. It’s the morning of ANZAC Day, the day of remembrance in the Antipodes. Rain is lashing at the windows, and the mountains are suitably sombre shades of grey and green.
It’s a good place for reflection—but a million miles away from the warmth and high-octane energy of Biarritz during the annual Wheels and Waves show. I cannot help but anticipate the colour and cacophony that awaits.
As we all know, the custom scene is changing radically. And in Europe, Wheels and Waves is at the forefront of that change. What was once a low-key gathering of the Southsiders family is now an eye-popping celebration of classic and custom motorcycles—a supercharged assault on the senses, in the most pleasurable way possible.
Under the shadow of the Biarritz Lighthouse, you can mingle with like-minded souls, grab a cold beer and feast your eyes. The ‘Village’ will be home to a phalanx of machines from Europe’s top motorcycle builders, restorers and hitherto secret private collections.
It’s every bit as good as it sounds, and the show is now just seven short weeks away. If you have petrol in your veins, start planning your trip now.
ALL INTERVIEWS BY CYRIL DUNN & ANIK LABREIGNE
#INTERVIEWS – WHEELS
OLA STENEGARD – HEAD OF BMW MOTORRAD DESIGN STUDIO
What is your current position at BMW MOTORRAD ?
I am head of vehicle design at BMW Motorrad. I am on the team of Edgar Heinrich, Head of the BMW Motorrad Design Studio.
From your previous life as a freewheeling biker to head of design in Munich, could you share your career path with us ? I was born in 1970 and grew up on a farm with a good garage, an angle grinder, and a welder. I tried to build up every bicycle, moped, and 125cc bike to look like some sort of chopper, bobber, or café racer. My dad taught me how to weld when I was around 6 or 7 years old, so I could weld all my extended forks onto my bicycles by myself. When I was 15, I entered my first big hot rod show in Stockholm with a self-built Bay Area- style moped. I organized the whole trip myself, which included booking ferries and renting a pickup to transport the bike. I actually ended up winning first prize. Between the ages of 15 and 18 I built a bunch of bikes, mostly café racers. When I was 18 my brother lent me the equivalent of 1,000 euros so I could buy a chopped 650 Triumph. It was a 1970s-style blue candy chop with a coffin tank and a white banana seat. The following winter I cut it all up to build a real extreme Swedish- style chopper. I built the frame, forks, wheels, etc. myself. I even made the bike my final project in engineering high school. I rode it for several years, won 2nd place at the Norrtälje Custom Bike Show, and even got into some magazines, which totally fueled the flame. I built up several Triumphs and Harleys until 1992 when I decided to enter preparatory art school: I always loved drawing. In 1992 I was accepted to the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm. I majored in industrial design. It was cool, but I wanted to do more bikes. In 1996 I transferred as an exchange student to Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. In 1998 I graduated from university in Stockholm with a project sponsored by Aprilia: a future power cruiser based on a Mille motor. I immediately got headhunted and started working on cars for SAAB. In 2001 I got the chance to join Indian Motorcycles in Gilroy, California. In 2003 I sent my portfolio to BMW at just the perfect time since they were looking for a new designer. Working at BMW was a dream come true: my manager, now the overall head of my team, was Edgar Heinrich. Plus I had the coolest team of work buddies ever. Every day since has been such a trip. I partially worked on the R1200S and K1200R Sport until Edgar put me on the HP2 Sport project. This meant that I could finally make my home in sport bikes, which I always loved, but had never had a chance to work on. After that I was put in charge of design for the S1000RR. I couldn’t wait to get to work every morning. I was so lucky to be in the right spot at the right time to do these bikes. It was a designer’s dream coming true. Plus I got to work with so many talented people: engineers, test riders, etc. BMW is so full of passion and talent.
When my team manager Edgar left BMW for Bajaj in 2009, I was promoted to his old position. Dave Robb was, of course, still the main guy in charge. For the last 4 years I have led the team of motorcycle designers (about 10-12 people), now under Edgar Heinrich once again. In my new position I have led my team developing bikes like the Concept 6, G650GS, Concept C, Concept E, F700GS, F800GS, R nineT, Concept Ninety, R1200GS Adventure, etc.
What are your professional playgrounds ? I am living my dream and am very fortunate to lead a team of super-talented designers every day at this playground some might call work.
So you and your team worked on the Ninety project, the new R1200GS, and the R1200RT. How have these three releases been received ? They are all very different motorcycles and hit very different segments of the motorcycle scene. Together with the S1000 R and the R 1200 GS Adventure, they complete our portfolio very nicely. The feedback from the press and customers has been very positive, especially for new bikes like the R nineT and the S1000R. This inspires us and keeps us pushing the limits of motorcycling.
How do you envision the future of bikes ? On one hand, the motorcycle industry is indeed going through some tough times. We at BMW have been fortunate to have the right products in the right place at the right time. Despite tough times, this scene, of which Wheels and Waves is a great advocate, has seen mind-blowing growth. This might not necessarily have to do with new bikes, but it is bringing new people – in fact a whole generation – back to motorcycling. This is great. It is truly motivating and very inspiring.
What are some of your favorite bikes ? Oh, there are so many. It depends on what I’m doing and where I’m riding. I’ve been riding the new R 1200 GS throughout this past winter. It’s such an amazing bike. Rain or snow – it can handle everything. On the track I love the S1000RR. On the other hand, I’m a garage rat and I love building custom bikes. I just ordered an R nineT.
Are you still involved in the Swedish custom bike scene ? Yes, quite a bit actually. I’m still a member of Plebs Choppers and my best friends run Unique Custom Cycles in Stockholm. I also never miss the Norrtälje Custom Bike Show in June. The Swedish custom bike and hot rod scene is huge, very active, and has a long history. Our rules and regulations for building bikes and cars are true heaven. Anything is possible. It is where I grew up.
How did you hear about the Wheels & Waves event and how long have you been participating ? I have known about it from the very start. I have two French designers on my team who have always raved about it, but it was only last year that I finally had a chance to go. It blew me away. The spirit, the people, the art, the riding, and the motorcycles. It was such a unique and amazingly laid- back event.
How did BMW Motorrad become one of the main partners of such a special event ? This is all thanks to Marcel Driessen of BMW Motorrad France. He and his main man Sebastian Lorentz (Lucky Cat Garage) are totally in the scene and initiated the cooperation with Vincent Prat.
Ten years ago, would it have been conceivable for BMW Motorrad to be associated with surf and street culture ? Well, ten years ago no one would have imagined us rolling out an S1000RR either. BMW is full of motorcycle gearheads. And we are constantly pushing the envelope. For some of us who live in the custom scene, it was always our dream to roll out a bike for “our crowd”: the nineT. It was born, bred, and made in this culture.
Last year Roland Sands left a burning impression with the Ninety prototype. Can we expect any similar surprises this year ? Well, without saying too much, some of the nineT Soulfuel custom bikes are sure to show up and cause some buzz.
How do you explain the growing “worldwide” success of this event ? I think it’s the mix. The riding, art, motorcycles, surfing, the location, the mindset, and, of course, the people. There is such a good vibe, no right or wrong. It’s so unique and so inspiring.
Could the Wheels & Waves event be the catalyst for a certain type of lifestyle ? It’s a venue where everyone interested in all of the above can come together and enjoy their passions with no limitations. It’s a wild mix of different fuels and the sum of them makes the flame burn stronger than anything else.
Finally, what three pieces of advice do you have for making Wheels & Waves a success ? Bring an open mind, your best friends, and a motorcycle.
#INTERVIEWS – WHEELS
BUT WHO THE FUCK IS EL SOLITARIO
An interview with David Borras – founder of the Spanish custom garage El Solitario – The Wild !
Hi David, could you please introduce yourself ? A 36 year’s old chaotic entrepreneur with an authority problem, but beyond all a family man.
El Solitario sounds as a tribute to the anarchist school of thought… Where does this name El Solitario come from ? You nailed it! El Solitario is a revolution. We were tired of conventionalisms, corporation bullying and people trying to tell us we have to do. El Solitario is a lonely shout in this world, where non-sustainable systems systematically destroy sustainable ones, where short term profit has the power to overwhelm common sense and where progress is not progress but a constant destruction of an environment we will never be able to replace.
El Solitario : is it just David Borras ? I wish I could be so productive… (joke!) … El Solitario is formed by Valeria (My wife), Mr Wolf, Frank the Metal Wizzard, myself and a few other friends who collaborate fiercely, allured by the power of this fragile dream.
When did you decided with Valéria to go for it? Did you have any skill in mechanics or in the clothing industry ? Not in mechanics!@# I am a professional breaker, not a fixer… :)) I went to law school as a teenager… then when I started working, the money was getting better and better with age but the thrill kept disappearing until one day I found myself surrounded by cool material shit, but depressed. Then I realized it was time for a change. Valeria did have a lot of experience in the fashion industry, as being a designer for the past fifteen years and this is what pushed us to create El Solitario and develop our vision together.
Bike workshop on one side and clothing and accessories design on the other side, how do you manage.. Who is in charge of what.. ? We are really a turmoil of strong thoughts and ideas, so it is not easy to divide rolls, but in a simplistic manner we could say that I am in charge of the motorcycles and all the communication. Valeria takes care of the design, production and marketing of the brand. Frank is the wizard, a man from the forge. An obscure knight whom with I create the metal monsters that come out of our workshop. Mr. Wolf is the motor gas that makes this delicate amalgam not seize and keep rolling forward
Are both activities financially worth it ? The bikes are an economic Tsunami… I would love to be able to make a dime out of bikes as this would mean that I could dedicate myself entirely to this activity, but as I put too much of myself on every build, I end up paying for my customers if they are not ready to bear the cost of something I find necessary, and this happens too often.
Does living in Galicia has an influence on your work and inspirations ? I lived in quite a few countries and many cities before, so I know that where you live, shapes your destiny either you like it or not, so we’ve chosen to embrace our provenance and make the most out of it. Like our native Galicia, what we forge/draw in our workshop & design studio is wild, rugged, thrilling, often beautiful & some times creepy… but always uncompromising
When and how did you connect with the Southsiders ? It was five years ago. The idea of El Solitario had already been in our heads for too long and we were tying knots to make it a reality and not just a recurrent dream. Vincent and I were “virtual friends” and when he invited us to the Southsiders Anniversary in Toulouse, instinct told me that this people were in the right mindset. I always try to follow my heart so we jumped on a bike and rode North to feast with them. Reality exceeded all expectations and we did meet some of the most inspiring & extraordinary people ever, and today I consider them family.
The Blitz were there too ? Yes they were. Always! Fred & Hugo are also part of this new moto-movement. It is like a gipsy caravan of passionate motorcyclists. They call it concurrence? Noooo… We are overall friends, and do what friends do, take care of each other and share all our knowledge. It is something I had never felt before in my previous work life.
For the first W&W Edition in Biarritz, you came with nine bikes all with diverse inspirations. How did you manage to produce so many with such a short deadline ? At the verge of a nervous breakdown… When we started this business all our closest friends wanted to have the first El Solitario and made their orders. From the naive perspective of a freshman and overflown with gratitude & good vibes I accepted to create them their own creatures… It was an organizational disaster… hahaha… but the bikes made it alright in the end. Anyway, we realized that we preferred to focus on quality and innovation and not on volume. Nowadays we only build two or three per year as this is the only way to avoid shortcuts and get close to excellency.
How have they been welcomed ? Well… They are all so different that reactions are polarized. Our bikes are not intended to seek for beauty, content or practicality, as these are attributes that dominate today’s spectrum and therefore do not interest us. Our machines are also sort of autobiographical exercises. They depict an instant capture of the vital journey in which we are immersed, as we strive to reveal the essence of the motorized two wheeled artifact. In other words; haters burn; but those seeking to explore the boundaries are fascinated.
Two months later, The Impossible Team is driving to the salted lake of Bonneville, USA… How did this adventure start and who was part of it ? It was a shared dream between all of us and Vincent was already making plans to race there, so it was just natural to join him and found the team. It was crazy fun for all the three families involved. we crossed the west coast on various Econoline Vans full of kids, motorcycles and good vibes. The atmosphere was just magic. It was Vincent’s family, Juan Ramon’s family & us. Later on we were joined by many other friends like Kristina Fender, David Durand, Paul D’Orleans, Jared Zaugg & Maxwell Paternoster.
Which values got you close together ? A different way of understanding work or happiness maybe… At one point we all decided to leave our previous life, the comfort zone, in favor of pursuing our dreams. This might sound corny but it is not easy to do and it is very risky and dangerous. If you’ve taken this path yourself, you will see that you can relate with someone, very quickly, when you feel that shiny spark on the back of their eyes. And of course… The joy of riding old motorcycles and riding them hard like when they were new.
For the next W&W, which bikes will you bring along ? Our personal rides and Impostor.
Three words to define the W&W state of mind ? Eclectic, vigorous, fun
You are part of the « Soulfuel Project » organised by BMW Motorrad on the nineT basis. Howcome a such iconic brand approached you. How did you get requested by such an iconic brand ? Ola Stenegard called me last summer and offered us to collaborate with them. If you’ve met Ola before, you probably know that his big hearted enthusiasm, makes it almost impossible not to follow him on any adventure
Did you have a complete carte blanche ? It wouldn’t have worked if we didn’t. All Ola asked for, was to leave the NineT recognizable.
How did you deal with this exercise. You handled out your homework and your answer with The Impostor strenghtens your extreme radicalism. How is it welcomed by BMW Motorrad officials, and more generally..? We didn’t treat it in any extraordinary way, just focused in delivering a 100% 2014 El Solitario Motorcycle. For you to understand better, you must acknowledge that we were coming from Petardo which is the “Deconstruction of a motorcycle” and as I already mentioned before, our vital quest seeking to find the motorcycle’s essence, simply needs to keep going. Impostor is just a necessary consequence, another leap on the search. But what are we talking about here? Simple: Unveiling, isolating & exalting the traits of speed, power, character, fear… Embracing these attributes, we quest to create an impact on the observer and this does not necessary mean to please their eyes with easy indulgent proposals. Obviously reactions have been violent and compulsive in some strands of the motorcycle status quo.
Where did your inspiration come from ? Don’t know… There are so many… all kinds of movies. The silhouette of a vehicle in the wind tunnel puzzled me. Tolkien, Picasso… In the bike world Bosozokus are playing hard in my head now… Also late seventies endurance racers… And early Bimotas… I have a crush on those.
And the name « The Impostor » ? Names for me are essential. It happens that talking with other fellow bike builders, I’ve found out that they name their bikes when finished or on the way to completion. I couldn’t do that. For me it just doesn’t work that way. I approach every project in a novelistic way. This means that to write the story, first I need to design the identity of the character. Only when I’ve found a name and a FACE I can start developing all the traits, conditions and ideas that form this character. Impostor came a natural reaction to those that accused us of having sold our soul to the devil by collaborating with a factory. Once the name was cleared, the artillery followed. Impostor fairing, Impostor exhaust… You need to see the whole picture to understand every single concept.
Your approach is diametrically opposed to Berlin’s Urban Motors very soft proposal and Roland Sands, who seems targeting the after-market, hyper commercial answer. Strategy or cry from the heart ? It is simple, we don’t play in the same game. At first you could have thought we did, as we had to follow the rules ‘cause we didn’t know better, but incessantly our wild side became present and more & more dominant, until it was only restrained by the necessity of our machines to be rideable, and rideable hard. We are not interested in repetition, as the way to success. We are the contrary, as we intend to break the mold on each and every El Solitario. Each bike is naturally a one-off, as to ride a unique bike is the only way we’d have it, particularly in these absurd times when even many of the so called “customs” are also part of the homogenous mass-produced ubiquity.
Your previous creations, as The Petardo, seem possessed by the spirit of Gaudi, Dali, Bunuel… With The Impostor, you put more than ever the debate, can art and bike reconcile ? One thing is to reconcile Art with the Motorcycle, another one very different is to please bikers. Motorcycles are ridden, talked and followed daily by all kinds of different human beings, with different pasts, tastes, phobias, likes… Obviously the more radical your proposals, the harder becomes to please everybody.
The Japanese custom culture is far away mind opened, regarding the mass of really delirious créations… Could Europe be too narrow minded ? It is a contradictory dogma. The western world with Europe at the helm, although ultra liberal by heart, is heavily controlled as far as Automotive styling is concerned. We are constrained by technology, efficiency and many other mass driven consumer limitations that dictate what you can do. Japan on the other hand is a rigid, hierarchical society, but they can bear and praise a different take on a car or a motorcycle, therefore enjoying the best custom scene in the world.
You are liberated from stock bikes, creating custom ones, often stepping out the law, the riding clothes are not really secured… Do you ride as you create ? Yes we do. We focus on the craftsmanship & authenticity of our creations and series. We design everything in house and use only small, traditional, family manufacturers in Spain and Portugal to hand make our collections. Concentrating on the small details is crucial in creating something truly satisfying and do we pursue it till exhaustion.
Your offbeat and iconoclastic approach, far away from any consensus, clearly overcomes the framework of mass culture. Are you aware contributing to the enlargement of the doors of bike perception ? We prefer not to take ourselves too seriously. Our desires are simply to stay true to ourselves and to create machines that have so much character, they feel alive, needing to be tamed. Anthropomorphic instruments you must develop visceral relationships with in order not to kill you, and as long as there is one person that admires this ethos we will keep pushing those doors as we just don’t know better.
Rebel, loose canon, artist,… who the fuck are you ? Don’t feel comfortable with categorization. Being “that” someone is just plain boring…
How do you forecast the future of the custom scene ? The super cool factor present nowadays will probably fade away soon, and only those that have worked hard on their startegy and love what they do will survive the purge.
Do you imagine working on an e-bike ? Even though I’ll always love old carbureted combustion, I would eagerly work on an electrical exercise.
What are your ongoing projects ? A crazy fast Katana.
Are the bikes you have worked on, for sale ? Normally we build under commission but every now and then we have one of our bikes for sale.
Finally, could you be the Bonnie Parker & Clyde Barrow of the custom scene ? Give us a few guns and we’ll see.
#INTERVIEWS – WHEELS
FRED JOURDEN – BLITZ MOTORCYCLES
Hi Fred, with Hugo Jézégabel, you launched in 2010 Blitz Motorcycles, your custom garage, meeting immediatly a great success. Where was the spark coming from? Ten years ago, in 2004, I applied to a vocational training certificate at a secondary school for Automobile Vehicles Maintenance (known as CAP « MAVA » in France) with night courses, while I was working at Lycos, as European Marketing Manager for the e-mail branch. This followed my envy for the past two years to take care by myself of my « daily driver », a R50/2 BMW from 1961 (bought just after a R60/5 « Jubilée » BMW, my very first bike after getting my bike licence and that I kept for a year). Knowing this « série 2 » would fatally break down (as everybody was telling me it was foolish driving daily this old’ ma) and as I did not want to experience the pain being ruled by a tricky garage mechanic, I decided to acquire the knowledge from its source: in a secondary training school.
Once my vocational training certificate obtained, in May 2005, and after giving a new birth to my Royal Enfield 350 Bullet during this scholarship, I turned « gearhead », looking for this adrenalin charge that overtook me when my Royal Enfield roared again. Then I had the privilège to meet Becker, a retired dentist, who welcomed me every evening after work and during weekends, so together, we started to convert BMWs (mainly R100/7). « Number 0 » was mine (it then became the Green Hornet) and it was roughly speaking 100% matt black, aluminium mudguards, a R100 RS handlebar and a one and a half place « Gendarme » saddle.
This first serie 7″ seduced a few of our friends and with Becker we got to convert not far from thirty of them (always following the same artistic direction). For free. The idea was to please our buddies and above all to keep on working on projects, making them better. At one point that some of my friends made me one day the reflection it was time for a change of inspiration, as they were spotting too many at the red light.
In between, I met Hugo, exactly at the place that still remains our workshop, who was spending his free time giving a new life to old Primavera’s Vespas. He asked me for this famousR100/7 BMW. Instead of building it, I proposed him to work on it together, if he accepted me in his place for an exchange. After five years of co-rent, during which a true friendship rooted, and after discovering the pleasure working on other bikes (Honda Dax, Yamaha 500 SR, Triumps TR6) than BMWs, we said ourselves it would be stupid to regret one day, not to have tried the crazy expérience to live from this shared passion.
How did you meet with Hugo? Through Hugo’s cousin, with whom I was spending some time, who talked of him, saying me: « You should meet my cousin. He tinkers as you. He’s got a spot in Paris and you could really get along. » I followed his advice a few months later.
Have you always been riding a bike? I started riding Primavera vespas (I still own two) during three years. And one of my mates convinced me of the revelance tgetting my motorbike licence. I was 28 years old.
Mechanic workshop, garnment & accessories creation, musical collaboration, shootings, fairs, showcases, how do you deal with all these activities with such a success? Sucess, you know… all in all, its quite relative. What minds to Hugo and I, is to only do what we like. This allows us being a hundred percent involved. Obviously sometimes, days are a bit longer than others, and sometimes, while our job is the most home-body one, we spend three weeks in a row on the road. But we see life differently: building up incredible souvenirs, with people we are really close to (the Edwin Europe team, the Southsiders, Arthur de Kersauson and Clement Beauvais, El Solitario, etc…), in places speaking to us, subjugating us (Landes, Vosges, Pyrénées, Scotland,Portugal, Tyrol, etc…).
One of their latest creation : BMW B2
Is the casting clear? Who does what? Yes, the casting is clear. Hugo doesn’t even read his emails (or once a week). So all the digital, it’s me. Higo looks for the bikes we buy for our projects. He can spend hours on classified ads websites. I am almost exclusively in charge of electricity (and the simplification of the electric beams). The artistic direction is always thought by both of us. No décision is taken without being in accordance. And for the mechanic, it’s also the both of us.
A Piece of Chic, BMW, Dewars, Edwin Europe, FBC Clothing… all of your partnerships are very accurate, with results meeting your demanding requirements. How do such collaborations get started? Oftently it comes directly from the partners (BMW, Dewar’s, Edwin) and sometimes with a message left on FaceBook (A Piece of Chic, Cuscadi). Our leitmotivs: we must like the products, they have to be produced with passion, and the people working for those brands must be truly authentic. Roughly, we ask those partners to manufacture for us, products we want without finding them. Finally, it is all made of common sense.
Clément Beauvais & Arthur de Kersauson, participated to building your own Imaging universe, with great quality films, such as Riding September, The Great Escape or Long live the Kings. Once more, a friendship story? Exactly! Arthur gave the pulse for « Riding September », telling us we were gonna go for a weeekend, bringing back images looking like « vacation pics ». That’s what really happened. Excepted that Clement, who took those « vacation pics », has an tremendous talent, amazing!!!
WATCH Long Live The Kings
« Riding September » is nothing else than a vacation buddy film, made by a mate… endowed with an inimitably talent. So once more, it’s a story of friendship and authenticity.
They are working on their awaited documentary « The Greasy preachers hand », you are part of. Could you tell us more? All I can say, is that this 16mm documentary, is the pure expression of this trend we are witnessing and being part of, that Matthew Crawford explains as the impossibility of supplanting the happiness generated by manufacturing, and certainly not by a unique intellectual activity.
You are part of the « Soulfuel Project » launched by BMWMotorrad, on the basis of the recent nineT. Ten years ago, would you have imagined BMW Motorrad would get interested in the custom scene? Never. And not even three years ago. With Hugo, it’s a subject we often talk about.
How do you analyze this strategy? Nowadays, a new scene is coming to light, the European custom bikes one. Far away from the splendor and the blazing of the West Coast of the United States of America, during the beginning of the Millenium. We are talking here of naked bikes on reliable and affordable basis. Driving a new public. Mainly urban. Within 30 and 40 years old. Otfently not having even tryed the motorcycle licence exam. So those guys are going to pass it, exclusively to ride updated « oldies ». Therefore, it is important, not say obvious, that BMW (and all the other brands in fact) are looking a bit closer to what’s happening in the heart of those tiny workshops. The bike’s new expression potentially comes from there, where the engine performance is no more the magic word, but where cruising and lifestyle sticking to it, become the cornerstone.
For all that and it’s our base line, we keep fully indépendant. We are wise enough not to be fooled.
You were given carte blanche ? Fully. As for all of our projects.
How do you dread doing this exercise? With fear: it’s the first (and last) time we work on such an injection engine. Here, we are talking about a true computer on wheels. We are garage mechanics. Not electro-technicians.
Which resources did BMW Motorrad provide for this project? They sent us some spare parts (S1000 RR keyfork, another nineT gastank) and we got in relation with BMW’s technical trainers (Curt, a pièce of gold). For the rest, it’s us (and our network).
Urban Motors, Roland Sands et El Solitario have delivered their homework. So? So we like their answers. And above all, when we met for this project and the « Soul Fuel » shooting, we had all already imagined the transformations we would bring to the bike and we did not move from a step. We did what we said, that day of September. It is the most important: never betray each other.
And you, when will you deliver? Wheels and Waves !
When and how did you get connected with the Southsiders? Three ago in Toulouse, the Southsiders were giving their annual party, in an old mansion, tremendously odd. Christophe, a Toulousan mate, owner of a R100/7 BMW and a T120 rigid basis, proposes us to join him. So officially, we are not invited by the organizers. Greeted by a cold welcome: Vincent is on the move (quite normal), but above all, we have this feeling that our presence might not be desired. How to blame him? Our Parisian hipster posing image sticks to us. Nothing to do with their universe made of legitimity and passion. The connexion truly took place the following day. During a journey through the Périgord Vert and the Périgord Noir. During lunchtime (at one of the Southsiders couple’s place), as the meal is getting prepared, Vincent (that I named « The Boss » after that very moment), comes to us. Serene. Calm. Firm. The Boss, what. And very directly asks us: « So guys, tell me what drives your life? Where does your starting passion for custom bikes come from? ». We told him everything. I think he appreciated our change of life and the reasons of this choice. He understood we were not opportunists nuzzling a new trend and trying to stick to it. But true and authentic passionnates. A few days later, he wrote a post on this subject on the Southisders blog. Here it is: http://southsiders-mc.blogspot.fr/2011/06/blitz-and-motorcycles.html
The Southsiders, El Solitario, The Lucky Cat Garage, is it as your fates were closely bound, as a family… What happened? The close ties with the Southsiders and El Solitario really started during this Toulousan weekend and since then grows stronger (we regularly talk on the phone with Vincent or David). And so, for the Wheels & Waves, we meet at least once a year. We try to manage seing each other more, and for the moment we made it. Regarding The Lucky Cat Garage, it ages. We met with Seb through a forum (the FatClub), 7 years ago. We brought him with us for the two first shootings with Edwin. Of course the mayonnaise set (how could it be elseway, when respectively you know Seb and the Edwin Europe’s mad team, starting with ReyGautier?). At on epoint, that when Seb revealed its incredible « Sprint Beemer », Rey was immediatly willing to help him , as far as his ways. Without having Seb asking for anything.
This is the way should be ruled. Only by natural links.Pure utopia. I know. But for the moment, in our tiny eco system, it is the way it works. And we will struggle so that it remains the same.
A few words to describe the Wheels & Waves? The most beautiful custom bike event (not to say motorcycle, simply), that I know. Everything is fine, well thought, well organized. Being the daily micro-venets (hillclimb, ride, and so on…), the exhibitions, the music bands, the selected locations… People do not imagine how much Vincent and the Southsiders think of all of those détails. As I said before, they aim putting beauty into all they do. It’s a constant discipline. And that is what makes the différence with any other event I know. Here, people of good taste are in charge, not giving way neither to random and nor to passivity. They are on the deck from the very first day they think of the event, never giving up. No grumbling. This is why, this event is so important and so unique.
Do you play any role in the organization? On a personnal note, I provide the Southsiders with all the logistic support I can. I put them in touch, who with Edwin, who with Sol Beer, etc…
You will reveal your answer to the « Soulfuel project », but will you be bringing other bikes specially prepared? No, not specially prepared. We will come with our personal bikes, and some our close friends.
Your survival kit for the W&W ? Sun cream! Hoping, for sun. Otherwise, it will be as usual, a journey as light as possible.
The systemic customization phenomena boosted in Europe five years ago. Is the custom scene becoming mainstream? It is gonna take some time before it turns « mainstream ». And if it does, why not. If everyone rides a « custom » bike, as long as each has its own visul specificity, it does not bother me. But clearly, with Hugo we are not taking that path. We refuse to raise our rate of production, inevitably creating bottlenecks. We refuse to hire. Our balance, our happiness, is being the two of us in our workshop. Not more. Not less. The fossil fuels rarefaction is soon going to ring the bell of traditional motors. Do you imagine working on electric engines?
No, not really.
Could your resume your partnership? The Blitz will always keep in Fred & Hugo? To start with, Blitz it’s two carburated bike’s (so oldies) passionnâtes, sharing the same vision of how to lead their lifepath. Our key words: authenticity and passion.
So yes, Blitz Motorcycles, it’s Hugo and Fred.
#INTERVIEWS – WHEELS
JUAN RAMON ORTEGA – GOOD FOR MOTORCYCLES
He is family to Wheels and Waves as well. Juan Ramon Ortega ! His niche passion has now become a global trend. He runs the great blog GOOD FOR motorcycles and classic cars from Spain, where he lives. We were stocked to catch up with him for a little chat when times were quiet. Learn more about this great great man before you get to shake his hand at the event !
Could you please introduce yourself? I fell in love with classic bikes, even before I even was legally allowed to drive them. As a pre-teen I worked a thousand jobs to finance my motorbike licence and my first bike.
A Vespa 125S, which was way older than I was.
I quickly upgraded to an Ural with sidecar, which was dreadful to drive through Madrid traffic and streets, although that made having a sidecar even more unique. Since I was living right in the centre of Madrid and had no garage, I decided to change my sidecar bike for a BMW. However I was not going to settle for any BMW, I wanted /5. I intended to ride it for my daily use, but also for road trips, I wanted a bike with classic aesthetics and driving experience, which was also reliable. This is where my personal war with the conservatives and purists began…. « All you will ever do to a BMW, is to ruin it… » they said. With time and devotion for this specific model I have slowly built my own humble collection, I have three 75/5 so far. Each one is different in it´s own right and has a tremendous emotional value for me. The years have proved me right and my niche passion has now become a global trend.
Besides your blog « goodformotorcycles », what is your involvement in the Spanish bike custom scene? In Spain we have a tremendous online scene, sadly that is not reflected on our streets. Our customization laws are extremely harsh and constricting (ITV) and make it nearly impossible to have a personalized, unique custom bike. Our Classic motorbikes world is poorly organized, there´s plenty of off road, trial, but not many classic or vintage events. Even though, there´s a great relationship between all the National Custom Bike Drivers. We get together on all the fairs, shows and circuit races.
How dynamic is it? The custom world has grown exponentially on the last few years. There are plenty of new custom bike mechanics springing out, but we are meeting all of them organically as they come. Magazines like Sideburn, Moto Heroes, Iron and Air, etc make it easier to understand where things are going, both on a national and an international scale. Blogs and social networks have also become an extremely useful way to get and share information.
Are you close to some Spanish or any other workshops ? Which ones and why ? As I mentioned before, on this day and age of the social interconnected world, the big European events, or the international custom fairs, it´s quite easy to meet and stay in touch with any builder or mechanic.
In Spain I have close contact with the guys from Cafe Racer Obsession, CRD Cream Motorcycles, Bonneville Madrid, con La Corona and Kiddo Motos in Barcelona, Devil Inside Cycles & Pau Speed Shop in Leon and El Solitario in Galicia. We have also met the people of Mulafest. There are a few more but we keep in touch by e-mail or Facebook.
And who the fuck is El Solitario ? El Solitario, aka David Borras & family, are good friends. We met a few years ago. After hundreds of kilometres of bike rides with the Southsiders in France, quite a few parties and some rum, we became very close. He is the gasoline, which needs the spark of the international custom world. The way he is and talks together with his charisma make all his stories sound amazing. He is able to make everyone sign up instantly to any future Project he might have to make sure they won´t miss it. In a very short period of time he onet time nextes sound amazing,e sign up for any future project ic.led everyone to connect, de utilizarlo en el hidden stage pa´s gone from being a madman in Rias Baixas crafting custom bikes, to be perceived as a true innovator, giving custom a new angle, shaping upcoming trends and having all the custom shows & brands after him… He has been promoting his brand in so many places this Winter, than this year’s shirt should read: “Where the fuck is El Solitario?”
What is your current daily bike? I ride my BMW r75/5 Scrambler 72 to work everyday. I work for DRAFTFCB, an advertising agency, which means I have to move around the city all day long. When I want a little change to break the routine, I stare at my garage trying to decide if I should take the 75/5 Stock (the bike I used on the Boneville salt flats to run with the Impossible Team) or the new project for W&W.
You were part of the Impossible Team, driving to Bonneville and its famous salted lake in 2012. Tell us more about the team, its members, the journey, its organization.. The Impossible Team was a dream that came true. The story of a group of friends who wanted to race against their machines. The experience of traveling for two weeks through the USA, with family and friends on the van, carrying bikes, was really amazing. Vincent Prat had already been there and he had plenty of contacts. We decided to ship the bikes from France on crates, then we flew to LA to pick them up, crossed the Mojave desert, the “Death Valley”, sleeping in the vans, camping or stopping at motels… we had the photographer Kristina Fender and Maxwell Paternoster as part of our logistic crew. We spent our time enjoying life and riding with people from the custom world, like Shinya Kimura and Lowbrow Customs. We drove from one village to another, visiting the touristic attractions along the way: Simpson´s Helmet Factory, Iron and Resin shop, Deus ex Machina… and so forth.
It was out of this world!
How did such an idea come to you? I was chatting with Vincent Prat and David Borras, we said to ourselves, could we really do something impossible? Followed by the question, are we chickens? No we are not, nothing is impossible… and that was it. Months of preparation, buck loads of passion and a team determined to make things work. We formed a family!!!
It seems that you are part of the W&W for ever ! How did you get to participate? When the Southsiders team crossed Spain on their way to Portugal, we road with them. One of the ideas we had, was to create a movement that would enable us to meet at a larger scale, a space where our passion for bikes and surf would become the one and only thing, eclipsing everything else. We´ve gone from a small get together of buddies, to one of the most important events not just of surf and bikes, but also of style and cool.
Do you play an active role? I help the organization as well as I can. It’s not just about gathering loads of bikes in Biarritz, there is a lot of work behind the scenes to make sure that all the activities work, from the art and photography exhibitions, to the shops and brands which attend, all the way to the guests and the surf escapades. There are also screenings, live music, and cars and bikes exhibitions… Pleeeeeeenty of work for the tea.
Three words to qualifty the W&W spirit? Original, friendly, cool.
How do you explain the increasing success of this event? Once again, I have to give it to the digital ether, blogs, social networks and magazines. There are no borders anymore, information is free and up for grabs, everything that happens has an online repercussion, we live in the age of the overload of information. The quality of the event, as the efforts the organization puts into it are impeccable, so much so, people notice it, love it, share it and talk about it. W&W is the place you always wanted to be, and now you actually go there.
Do you think Spain will be well represented this year? I think so, there´s been a good few Spanish bikes from the start. The economic crisis is not doing any favours to the custom world, but on the other hand a new breed of bike owners is awakening in Spain, a new breed of classic/custom cooler owners, which challenge convention is rising. Their spirit and their views are a lot closer to our vision than ever before.
Ride, hill climb, surf contest, exhibitions, concerts… how are you going to organize your W&W14? I want to take part in everything…. But what I’m looking forward the most is reuniting with old friends.
Last year the main part of the ride was on the Spanish roads, and this year it also might be, as the hill climb… Is riding in France and in Spain comparable? Yes. The roads and landscape are different but the bikes are the same. The motor-head spirit and the eagerness to ride are the same. Just like the classic tricks, oil, leather…
Would you say there is more tolerance for bikers in Spain? I don’t think so, we see ourselves outrunning the police in Spain just as often as anywhere else. I think that concepts like tolerance, landscape and law enforcement officers are so different from country to country that when I find myself in France, I feel free. Everything is very different and very cool, a smooth ride altogether… If you ask a Frenchman who rides in Spain, he would probably tell you the same… The grass is greener and such.
Do you already know which bike you will be riding? I am preparing a 75/5 Hot Rod for this year. And a 1966 Volkswagen Kombi will be my van to go to the W&W.
Do you surf? Yes, less than I would like to, but when I can I go to Asturias & Portugal to feed the wave cravings, I ride 9 feet boards. I’m a little rusty.
What would be your main advice to make your Wheels & Waves a success? GET INTO IT !!!
What about your survival kit for the 2014 W&W? Don’t ever forget the bike tools, and don´t ever ever forget the Rum bottles… filled with “Ron Barceló” of course.
#INTERVIEWS – BRAND
This year, Motul joins the Wheels and Waves event.
Interview with Felipe Jacome, France Sales Manager at Motul.
Founded at the end of the 19th Century in the US and distributed in France since 1932, MOTUL is one of the oldest automobile and motorcycle lubricant brand in the world (if not the oldest?). What is the secret of such longevity and how did MOTUL distinguished themselves?
MOTUL is an over 160-years-old international company. Our secret is that we managed to adapt to the various technological changes of the automobile and motorcycle industry, while trying to keep the values that make up our know-how: Expertise, High Technology, Authenticity and Engagement. That is why we offer oils that are suitable for a very wide range of vehicles from before 1950 until nowadays.’
While MOTUL sponsors many motorsports races pilots, automobile trophies and other sportive events, deciding to be a partner of a custom motorcycles / retro /surf / ride event such as ‘Wheels & Waves’’ this year shows a new direction. Can you tell us more on this new position?
We support a great deal of teams or sportive events. This implication allows us to access internationally famous races that form the perfect test bench to develop new products. Then we are present on various spheres that show the extent of our know-how (automobile, motorcycle, historical vehicles, or yachting for instance.)
Wheels and Waves is a good opportunity to address the fans. We support with pleasure projects combining aestheticism and technology.
What are the products or oils dedicated to custom and classic motorcycle uses?
You have to know that products for classic and custom motorcycles are not always the same. First of all the choice of the oil is made according to the engine and its year of production. A vintage engine on a classic motorcycle will not have the same needs as this same motorcycle customised with a new engine.
For the classic motorcycles, you will have to go for our range of oils for historical vehicles. For instance the SAE 30 and SAE 50 are perfectly adapted to engines built between 1900 and 1950 because they are compatible with paper, felt and fabric seals.
We also have lubricants matching the first multigrade mineral oils that respond perfectly to the standards of the time for the vehicles from the 50’s.’ To get a clearer picture, we offer an online recommendation tool that allows everyone to find the proper oil they need. We also offer a wide range of cleaning products for two-wheels vehicles.
What will your implication be on the Wheels and Waves festival? New products? Presence of pilots / personalities endorsing the brand?
For this first participation we propose many activities on the festival, either in the Village with a cosmetic / care for bikes stand, or in the Gallery with a photographs, paintings, or collector objects exhibition that are part of MOTUL’s heritage. Of course this list is far from being exhaustive and we have many surprises in store.
#EVENTS – WAVES
We called the local surf crew the Switched Kick Out Surf Syndicate (SKOSS) to take care of the organisation of an additional event during the festival – a surf contest !
We knew from their own event called Surf Punk Invitational that they would be the perfect guys to produce something mad, with a good spirit. Forget about the format of a classical surf comp, the « THIRSTY FINS » contest will be nothing but that. Inspired by the famous Leucadia Surf and Beer contest which took place in San Diego in 1967, the contest will be more of a summer’s day party at the beach than anything else. Family-friendly and opened to anyone, the comp is designed for fun in the sun.
Subscriptions are free and will be opened on the W&W website from May the 15th. Spots are limited so make sure not to miss it.
Thirsty Fins Surf Contest
Thursday 12th & Friday 13th of June
« La petite chambre d’amour », Anglet
#EVENTS – ART RIDE
As part of the collective art exhibition that we will be launching at the Garage FOCH, on Thursday evening the 12th, there is the « HYDRONAUTICA » project, coming all the way from the UK.
Revolver Surf Shop of Newquay Cornwall brings you a unique selection of surfcraft for the 2014 Wheels & Waves, representing the planing hull in it’s many & varied forms and evolutions.From proto sliders to carbon fibre tech. The exhibit will focus on hand crafted ‘outsider’ shapes- the simple clean functionality of finless European and Japanese prone boards that predate and out perform any handplane or boogie board, contemporary takes on the ideas of Greenough, MP & Bob Simmons and someserious experimentation with flex. These are no run of the mill production line surfboards, but rather an eclectic array of custom shapes designed to take the rider to new experiences and new speeds.
Featuring the work of England’s John Isaac, and Stevie Gee, Japan’s Nobby (his full name is better!), Dave Parmenter from the USA as well as Australia’s Mick Mackie & Andrew Kidman, it’s a truly international and diverse collection demonstrating just how interesting and fun surfing can be. As a bonus, several boards will be available to demo and there will be a fine collection of literature and film for the viewers to peruse….
Exhibition Art Ride
Opening Thursday 12th of June
Garage Foch, Biarritz