Bike Shed 2019
At Ferrous we like to make it to as many events in the automotive calendar as we can (or as many as we can afford to). One of the biggest highlights of this engine-themed calendar for us is Bike Shed. This 10th edition hosted at London's Tobacco Docks, boasted hundreds of builders and their custom, two-wheeled machines.
This time around, over the weekend of the 25th and 26th, we took the opportunity to catch up with a few of the well-known names and faces around the show, learning some more about what makes the event such a Mecca for the petrol-minded. We managed to snag conversations with a rider, an artist, a builder and a photographer to catch all aspects of what the show's about.
Henry recently returned to the UK triumphant, after making himself the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe on a motorcycle. Rolling back into the Bike Shed in Shoreditch on 19th April, Henry was something of an attraction at the show, drawing more attention even than his desert-beaten Ducati.
We tapped Henry for a few thoughts on how Bike Shed helps the custom scene:
"I think it's awesome to see so many people, like you always think of 'oh one percent of the population ride a motorcycle', but then you never see them all in one place, so it actually feels a lot bigger. I don't think I've ever seen this many bikers in one place before, it's just a really great atmosphere of people making new connections and just general good vibes, it can only be a good thing, right?"
Those who followed Henry's trip will also be as glad as we are to hear that he's not done yet:
"I'm plotting a little web-series which will be shot in July. We'll ride 125cc bikes from London to Rotterdam, ride in the Rotterdam dirt race and then ride them back. Still kind of plotting away on that one, so it should be finalised this week really, which is exciting. Other than that, just events and talks and working with some different brands which is exciting, and just seeing what happens really."
The show makes the ideal opportunity to oggle some of the latest in motorcycle creativity and to gauge the health of the custom scene, which from the looks of things is in its prime. With almost 100 builders present, let alone brands, the selection is dizzying.
Having made our initial rounds on the Friday night, we returned on the Saturday, finding ourselves noticing builds and creators that we somehow managed to miss. Presenting the view of an artist, we sat down for a chat with Lola Blackheart. Lola's automotive-themed work has rightly earned her a keen following within the world of custom motorcycles.
We asked her what she made of shows like Bike Shed:
"I think they're fucking amazing to be honest. I think there's so many people who are based outside of London who don't get to go on regular rides and meet up with likeminded people. I have lots of people coming here and saying "god it's amazing to have an event where there's actually people who are into what I'm into." I think it's nice, 'cos you forget that London isn't the world, and so there's a really strong bike scene here. I may spend every weekend at Bike Shed, but a lot of people don't have that. I think it's really important, 'cos it's giving people the opportunity to meet others who care about the same things they care about. Also being able to see the kind of bikes that are built. There's so much talent in the case of the bike builders here but there's not loads of places you can go for that to be exhibited. It's exhibiting these beautiful works of art that are bikes, everything down to the layout and how they curate it is all really well thought-out. So I guess it's another art form."
Lola's work is taking her forward into a huge range of projects from insanely cool home decorating to brand partnerships. Her store is well worth the look.
Meandering through the crowds and machines you're greeted everywhere by the live blues and rock, piped around the docks from the stage outside the Crown Vic bar - which thankfully served cold Budvar the whole weekend, making the heat a little less overbearing.
Our next stop was to speak to Pete Hodson of Side Rock Cycles. Pete specialises in building café racers and was proudly taking questions from interested crowds about the builds he'd brought along.
We pressed Pete on the custom scene:
"I think this scene is just growing and growing and I think the guys from the sports bike scene, that's now virtually taken a nose dive, are getting into this sort of stuff. They're buying different sorts of bikes now. They come to a show like this and see the stuff and think 'ah!', and then they think 'I'd like something like that', and that's how it's grown. Events like this, they'll just grow and grow. Happy days really! For guys like me anyway."
We've crossed paths with Pete a few times on our travels and his builds and his dedication to this world in general speak for themselves.
Taking a minute to grab some food, we found ourselves spoiled for choice as ever. We sat eating and just soaking in the environment, with the underlying sense of excitement in everyone walking past.
After some food and a minute off our feet, we were wandering again. Surrounded by mobile art pieces in their more rugged form, we thought it vital to catch a moment with someone dedicated to capturing it all.
We found ourselves lucky enough to get a chat with Amy Shore. Amy brought with her some machines of her own and was inspiringly keen to talk to us. She lent us her thoughts on what events such as Bike Shed can do for the custom motorcycle scene:
"Oh, I think they do a huge amount for the custom bike world, because they're able to make it cool. You go to any bike show and you're gonna have anoraks looking really closely at the bikes and the details, it doesn't make the next generation enthusiastic about bikes, or at least it didn't for me. I'd go to bike shows with my dad and I'd think: 'these bikers are really quite boring', but then you come here and you meet Dutch and Vikki and everyone from this kind of world and you're like: 'this is really cool, and this whole bike culture is really cool, and I really wanna make my own customised motorbike'. I think it's brought a new enthusiasm to the custom bike world, and really brought a large range of people together."
As our minds are already looking forward to the next event for Ferrous, the Malle Mile, we asked Amy if she was going to be there. Her answer was "no", she's going to be driving a classic Mini from Athens to Bristol ... and now I'm a little envious.
We've attended Bike Shed three times now, twice as Ferrous and technically in a working sense, but enjoy it just as much every year. The show is perhaps the best and most inspiring display of custom motorcycle culture the U.K. has to offer.
Anyone with even the vaguest interest in bikes and the culture that surrounds them will find something to occupy them and we strongly recommend going, it's something of a trek for us from our sleepy Worcestershire H.Q., but that's not likely to stop us anytime soon.
Plus, our stay in the capitol was made even better by getting to crash the night on a very cool boat on the Thames.