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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Majik Mikes Designs - Mike Rabideau 1983 Shovelhead

Photo by: Gabriella Brossman

I met Mike Rabideau in Milwuakee at Hood Bush back in 2013, and he couldn't of been any nicer of a dude. Over the years the likeliness of seeing him at every show I go to is pretty high and he always has a big smile on his face. I pretty sure, I have hung out with Mike at more shows then any other person. Mike's not just an avid show goer, he's actually an extremely talented bike builder as well. His style is different than other's and when you see one of his bikes parked on the street or in a show, you instantly know it's one of his designs. Some of the stories about how much fabrication goes into his builds are absolutely insane but with one look at his bikes you can tell his heart and soul goes into each and every one. I'm glad to call Mike a friend of mine over the years and I am so stoked he is coming out from Milwuakee to show off his latest build at Fuel Cleveland on May 28th. I had the chance to sit down with him the other day and ask him a few questions. This is what came of it, enjoy!

-Mikey Revolt

Photo by: Gabriella Brossman

Mike Rabideau, where do you call home?

I live in Racine,WI… between Milwaukee and Chicago.

Can you tell us a little history about yourself and your shop?

Well…I’m just a regular guy tryin’ to make it through life like the rest of you. I have a job, bills, and bullshit that I have to deal with…. I just build bikes in between. I’ve always been into motorcycles and BMX since a young age. I converted a two car garage into a shop with a couple lifts and all the basic tools needed to do this kind of work. I’ve always been into art, whether it was drawings, paintings or sculptures, I was always making something from nothing. It almost seemed inevitable that someday I would build bikes as functioning art. 

Photo by: Gabriella Brossman

What bike do you plan on bringing to Fuel Cleveland and can you tell us a little about it?

This year I’m bringing a ’83 Shovelhead. I built this bike last year as an Invited Builder for the Hotbike Tour 2015. I used a VL frame, RL frontend, Mag driven, fully polished Shovelhead, Baker Six Speed Trans, Custom Tins and subtle paintjob by Kendall. It’s a complete ground up build with all the stress you can imagine knowing I had to ride this on the tour when it was done.

The love and passion you have for motorcycles seams to really show in your builds and I know you put a ton of hours into each bike. Where does that love and passion come from and what is the longest amount of time you have ever spent building a bike?

Oh man…let’s not talk about the hours! As far as the passion behind the builds, I would just have to say it’s naturally my OCD. I just want it to look good and work right and try and avoid all potential problems from the get go. I’ve built enough bikes to know what works and what doesn’t work, so I just try to carry that into the next. If you do it right the first time… you won’t have to go back and fix or redo something. As far as the longest build time I would say about two years….that was in the earlier years. I’ve found faster ways of doing things since then. 

Photo by: Gabriella Brossman

What you find most challenging when it comes to building? Motors, the design, or fabrication?

I guess I would say the motor work rather than fab or design. I can see the design in my head with what I’m trying to do. The fab work is the fun part because you’re actually making something from just a thought. The motor work is more critical, and involves tools I don’t have…which is even more the challenging part.

Photo by: Brian Rovinski

What has been your all-time favorite bike you have ever built or owned and why?

I would have to say my favorite build was the Trike I built in 2014. I built that knowing it was out of my comfort zone… the challenge and outcome was unreal. I built that as an Invited Builder for the HotBike Tour 2014 and just wanted to do something different than everybody else. Showing up with a third wheel was a little odd, but it paid off. I actually won a trip to the Motor Bike Expo in Verona, Italy after winning the build off that year. I’d have to say that was definitely a fun experience. 

Who or what inspires your style when it comes to designing your bike?

Good question…There’s so many cool builders out there and I love all kinds of bikes but if I had to name some builder that inspire me and designs it would be guys like, Nash Mororcycles, Jesse Rooke, Scott “T Bones” Jones, Masa w/Luck MC, Mad Jap, Dave Polgreen, Chris Graves, Jeff Cochran, Jeff Wright and Paul Wideman. I like clean bikes with finished parts. As much as I like seeing the old survivor crusty old bikes, I’m more into building short clean bikes with clean lines and style, nothing over the top with all the extra gadgets and detailed work that sometimes gives an overkill kind of look. 

Photo by: Gabriella Brossman

You go to a lot of shows, I swear I see you almost at every show I go to. What’s your favorite show out of all them and why?

My favorite show, eh…well, each show has its own vibe and unique way of doing things, so it’s hard to say which one is actually my favorite. Obviously Born Free is one of the show’s to get to, you see some of the best bikes from around the world and it’s in Southern California so what’s not to like. Oily Soul has been a fun time every year. Detroit’s just one of those lawless cities so we all road hard through those streets. Mama Tried is on the top of the list for me though. It’s local for me and I get to see a lot of my friends that come to town. This year’s show topped last year by integrating the races on Friday night. The show is well organized and thought out with a diverse selection of bikes in the show….and its Milwaukee…Home of Harley Davidson!

If you could only own one bike for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

Well…I already have a bike I will own for the rest of my life. It was my uncle Mark’s ’76 Shovelhead. He had a bad crash on it in 2010 which caused him never to ride again. He gave me what was left and I rebuilt it and ride it as my daily rider. He owned the bike for 25 yrs. and for him to give it to me means a lot and I could never see me getting rid of it. Otherwise….give me a Knucklehead and I promise to keep it!

What is your all-time favorite place you have rode to and plan on going back anytime soon?

I’d have to say when I rode across Up State New York through the mountains with my dad. That was a memorable ride I’d like to do again. Another one is the HotBike Tour…that’s a good ride with some good people. Every night was a party and it’s just a rolling show from city to city. 

Photo by: Scott Nelson

What’s one of the craziest memories or stories from a run or trip on your motorcycle?

Damn….I have some good ones, bad ones and sad ones, but one of the most memorable runs had to be the Hood Bush Run a few years back in Milwaukee. We all met at The Valley and rode north to the party spot north of Milwaukee. I know you were at that one Mikey. I have pictures of you taking pictures as we took over 3 lanes of highway. It was a perfect day just smashing down the highway with cars pulling over just to get out of the way. That was a fun one for sure.

Any big plans or new builds you are currently working on?

I don’t have any big plans other than a few shows I want to go to. As far as builds…I’m just working on a swing arm Shovelhead right now. It’s just a short little tight bike that I plan on ripping around next year. I’m not trying to stress myself with these builds anymore, so I’ll work on it at my own pace and just have fun with it again. I already have most of the work done so I know what it’s going to look. I just have to tighten it up and get it welded up. Maybe I’ll just shoot to have it done for Fuel next year?? We’ll see…

Photo by: Scott Nelson

What was 13 year old Mikey like, and if you could go back in time, what words of advice or wisdom would you tell yourself?

Wow…you want to go there? Well…I was pretty much a trouble maker at 13. I won’t get into details, but if I could go back and give myself some advice I would just tell myself that Karma’s a Bitch! Everything I did I feel came back to bite me in the ass later on. With that said….I would have made a lot of different decisions back then, but fuck it…that’s what makes me who I am today.

What are some other things you enjoy doing or hobbies the people may not know about you?

When I’m not traveling for work or in the garage you will probably find me in my basement playing records. I’ve been a DJ for the past 20 years and used to play out at raves in the late 90’s early 2000’s. I never sold my equipment and I still play a few times a month. It goes back to the art thing…mixing records is a form of art itself… I guess you could consider me an “old school” DJ, because I actually still play vinyl and not Cd’s. My chopper friends would call me DJ Majik Mike. That’s where the name Majik Mike came from.

Photo by: Brian Rovinski

Are you a sushi and saki or a burger and beer kinda guy?

I’m a burger and beer kinda guy. Why make things complicated.

Anyone you would like to give a shout out to or thank?

Man…where to start…well I’d have to thank the people and companies that do support me. Building a complete bike from start to finish is a tough task and I’ve always had help along the way. There’s too many to name but I’d have to say thanks to Dan Vice, Terry the Polisher, Chris Graves, Cheater Carl, Kevin Klemick, Herman the German, Adam Nisiewicz, Jeff Holt, Bobby Middleton, Ken Taylor, Dean Jones, my family and the whole Milwaukee crew…and of course you too Mikey. I’ve had many companies back me like Harley Davidson, Lowbrow, Biltwell, HotBike, Baker Transmission, Throwback Motorcycle Parts, Speed Dealer, Efab, Pierce Street Seat Company, Morris Magneto, Bare Knuckle Choppers, MidStates and Kira America that I have to say Thanks to also!

Make sure to come out to Fuel Cleveland on May 28th to see Mike's '83 Shovel and if You want to keep up with Mike and his work give him a follow on Instagram @majikmikesdesigns or his website majikmikesdesigns.blogspot.com

Photo by: Gabriella Brossman

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Biltwell Inc. - Bill Bryant's 1975 Shovelhead

Photo by Luis Aguirre

An ice cream connoisseur named Bill Bryant once told me "Ride motorcycles and have fun, that's all that really matters when it comes to bikes." Bill, co-founder of one of the most well-known companies in the chopper/motorcycle world, Biltwell Inc. is hands down one of the most down to earth and genuine guys you will ever meet. He is an extremely talented designer when it comes to websites and visual media but don't let those "nerd" skills fool you. He also is a pretty talented builder of motorcycles as well and let's not forget to mention he can ride the shit out of almost any bike you put in front of him. I first met bill at the Tail of the Dragon on a small adventure Biltwell had put together a few years ago called "Skyway To The Dangerzone." I've had the pleasure of working with Bill off and on with small projects over the past few years and I still learn new things about him all the time. I sat down with him the other day and asked him the really hard questions about his life, Biltwell, his favorite foods, and his favorite bikes. I can't wait for Bill to come out to Fuel Cleveland on May 28th with his '75 Shovelhead but until then check out this interview, enjoy!

-Mikey Revolt

Photo by Luis Aguirre

What bike do you plan on showing at Fuel Cleveland?

B: I’m brining my 1975 shovelhead. Same bike I’ve had for about five years. Jay Roche @jayroche79 originally built it, I bought it from Walter @kickstartcycles and have changed it up over the years so that the only thing left from the original bike is the front half of the frame, the pipes and the old 74” engine that barely breaks a sweat. It’s not a show bike, it’s a go bike.

What or who originally got you into motorcycles?

B: Back in the mid 90’s I was trying to talk some friends into going in partners on a shitty off road race car idea and my friend Simon said it was stupid and we should just buy dirt bikes instead. I bought a shit ass CR125 that was a blast. Not long after that I got a dual sport and started commuting to work, and it’s been downhill ever since.

Photo by Geoff Kowalchuk

What is your favorite part of the build and the ride?

B: My favorite time of the build is when something actually works and I’m satisfied with it the first time. It’s a pretty rare occasion because I either end up nitpicking it afterwards or redoing something several times until I’m stoked with it. The ride? I love the small roadside problem and fix. It doesn’t have to be me, in fact I haven’t come home in a truck in quite some time (jinx!) but I love diagnosing something on the side of the road and fixing it on the spot with whatever we’ve got. Generally it’s someone else which makes it more fun, haha.

What do you find the most challenging for you when you are building a bike?

B: The organization and planning is probably the most challenging. I can make shit. I have decent ideas. I just don’t always get it in the right order and that slows me down and pisses me off. I truly enjoy working on and building bikes but I’m very humbled by the amount of talent at shows like Fuel, Born Free, etc and I don’t feel like I’m anywhere near that level, but I’m stoked to have my bike on display anyway.

Photo by Geoff Kowalchuk

Who are some of your favorite people you work with when in need of some help on a project?

B: Man, I need people all the time. Otto has a good eye for style. McGoo can true a wheel like a ninja and has a great problem-solving mind. Rico gives me faith in humanity because he’s such a good hugger and has seen it all before. He can make anything mechanical work and has patience with me when others would probably dot my eye. Bob and Chris at Temecula Motorcycle Service because they are always there to answer my stupid questions and help sort something out. Walter for his undying love and tech support via texts. Painters like Matt Ross and Pete “Hot Dog” Finlan who are not only talented as hell but actually do what they promise in the time they estimated. Mike D. for leaning on me to actually spend money on stuff rather than just keep trying to “make it work”. The Haifley Bros. in Phoenix for being so ridiculously talented and humble at the same time. My buddy Joe for helping me on fab stuff but never rubbing in the fact that he’s certified by NASA to weld underwater spaceships or whatever. Duane Ballard for always answering a million stupid questions on my recent CB750 project, and of course for making kick ass seats and anything else you can imagine. @H8ter can lift real heavy stuff and is a pretty good whistler. I’m grateful for the friends I have and enjoy working together with them on stuff; theirs or mine.

Photo by Luis Aguirre

What is your all time favorite bike you have owned in your life?

B: It has to be my ’92 FXR. I got it in ’08 and it’s been through a few different transformations. I’ve been all over on this bike and it’s my one ‘keeper”. I’ve been lucky enough to have a chance to ride all kinds of bikes, old and new, and while there are some I’d still like to own, my FXR UPR is the one I can confidently say will get passed on to my kids.

What are some hobbies or things you enjoy to do that most wouldn’t know about you?

B: I’m a family man first and foremost and have been married to my awesome wife for 25 years this August. I’ve always put family first and while I’ve been called a workaholic, I have always carved out quality time with Carrie and my kids. I’ve done my best to lead by example and teach my kids to be thoughtful, honest and courageous about life. Now my son works for us as Biltwell’s one-man video production team and my daughter is kicking ass in her freshman year of college and I couldn’t be more proud of them both.

Photo by Geoff Kowalchuk

What’s your favorite event or events you get to go to or look forward to every year?

B: I love looking at bikes in shows and seeing old friends at events but my favorite thing is staying up late the night before a multi-day trip, packing and repacking my gear to go ride and camp with people that I consider true friends. About day three I start getting in the groove and that’s the sweet spot.

Where did the initial dream behind Biltwell come from?

B: Back when we started, it was full TV personality vibe in the motorcycle industry and companies were charging ridiculous prices for stupid looking parts and fame seemed more important than customers. We wanted to come up with stuff that a regular dude could afford and would be proud of. McGoo and I ran a little design agency that did work in the action sports industry and our personal goal was to be able to work for ourselves and not the MBA marketing director types that we’d grown weary of. We finally achieved that a couple years ago and we’re enjoying the autonomy.

Photo by Geoff Kowalchuk

What’s your favorite part or accessory at Biltwell?

B: Man, I just love our Gringo helmet. It’s comfortable and light, but made with modern materials and I think it looks appropriate on just about any rider or bike. I’ve got thousands of mile in mine and love it. The fact that we bucked the trend of ugly, over-styled, contemporary helmets and brought out something stylish and drop dead simple is rewarding. Designing the paint and graphics on these is one of the most fun parts of my job. We just finished launching the 2016 line and we already have the 2017 stuff worked out.

What big projects do you have in the works right now that you can share?

B: We are working on an all-new helmet that’ll be called the Lane Splitter. It’s more contemporary than anything we’ve done in the past, something more suitable for riders of modern bikes and will be certified for use in Europe which is a first for us.

Photo by Geoff Kowalchuk

Give us one of your favorite memories on the road with your bike?

B: Coming home from a trip to Atomic Trent’s GZ event in Albuquerque (2008 I think) on a strutted Sporty, my battery shit the bed. We’d been on the road for a week or so and were only like 150 miles from home, but in the absolute middle of the desert. I told my buddies I’d just call AAA and get a lift to the next town and sort it out, so they split. I called and then made camp on the side of the road with my poncho to stay out of the sun. I took a little nap and woke up to a gnarly rain and wind storm that just raised hell. For about an hour I just snuggled up in my poncho, held my backpack so it wouldn’t blow away and just sat it out. I was kind surprised by the number of bikes that jammed right by and not a single one stopped. Not that they could have done anything, but still seemed lame. I always stop for any bike on the side of the road, and this just cemented that habit. AAA guy showed up a couple hours later and man was I stoked. I always bring a poncho, you never know when you are gonna need that thing!

Photo by Geoff Kowalchuk

What is one of the craziest moments you have ever experienced on a motorcycle?

B: During the Biltwell 500 (2010) me and a half dozen friends were ripping down the beach in Baja on dirt bikes, we had just dropped in from the desert cliffs down onto the beach and we were all jamming flat-out, side by side and all of a sudden a small airplane, like a Cessna, flew over, maybe 50 feet above us and we just jammed harder. When we got to the other side of the beach and stopped, everyone was saying the exact same thing: “Holy shit, how about that plane?!” It was a perfect moment–we all felt like we were extras in On Any Sunday and it was totally by accident and awesome.

Photo By Geoff Kowalchuk

If you could jump on your bike right now and go anywhere where would it be and why?

B: First: Alcan Highway. I really want to ride to Alaska, especially on a chopper since it seems so inappropriate. Second: HWY 312 in China. I’d like to experience that country while it is still in transition. The idea of riding oil-leaking, fire-spewing vintage American choppers into villages where people have never experienced such power and freedom is thrilling to me.

Photo By Geoff Kowalchuk

What's your history with the BAJA?

B: I worked in a VW shop in Gardena, CA as a teenager, before I even had a driver's license. Next door was a small race shop run by a couple telecom guys. Ron Brant was one of the racers, and he let me do bullshit jobs like scrub skid plates and clean CV joints until I turned 16. At that point, I had my license, so I had value. All of a sudden, I could drive a chase truck and help him pre-run courses like the Baja 1000 and Mint 400. My buddy Matt Frick (@camp4lo) and I helped pit and chase for Brant through the 80’s and 90’s and even raced our own class 11 car with another friend Jim Pierce, and later Matt’s class 13 car. Ron taught us the ins and outs of Baja–some good, some questionable, and we fell in love with the freedom and self reliance required to navigate the peninsula. It’s been part of my life ever since. Ron now lives in Mulege, about 750 miles south of the border. We stop and spend some time with him every time we get down that way. Frick loves driving a chase truck and trailer on the EDR, helping chopper dorks when they run out of talent or mechanical ability along the way, and of course he drinks for free the whole time. We’ll be pitting for Ron again in this year’s NORRA Mexican 1000.

All time favorite food and have you had it in the last 5 days?

B: C’mon, Mikey! You know ice cream is our deal. I love to booze it up, but we don’t drink and ride, so while some like to hop from bar to bar, our crew likes to hop from ice cream joint to ice cream joint. My not-so-secret deal is when I’ve got to run errands in the afternoon at work, I swing through McDonalds and grab a cone. Best $1.08 ever. I usually send a text pic to Otto and @H8ter just so they know I got one and they didn’t. Last five days? Probably done it twice…

Anyone you would like to give a shout out to or thank?

B: We’ve got 19 full-time employees at Biltwell HQ in Temecula, counting McGoo and I. As they say, Team Work makes the Dream Work. Without these guy’s and girl’s dedication and hard work, none of this would be possible. I enjoy going to work with them every day and don’t take an ounce of it for granted.

Make sure to come see Bill's gnarly shovel on May 28th at Fuel Cleveland. To follow more of Bill and his "Ride Motorcycles, Have Fun" lifestyle swing on over to Biltwellinc.com or give them a follow on IG @Biltwell.

Check out a few more of Bill's bikes he's had over the years and built!

Bill helped his son Flynn build this amazing sportster! Photo by Sheldon Ivestor
Photo by Sheldon Ivestor

Monday, March 21, 2016

Ryan Loughridge

I first met Ryan Loughridge this past year at the El Diablo Run. We instantly hit it off and I could tell right away he was an extremely funny, chill and kind-hearted dude. I knew of Ryan and his work from the social media worlds but I didn't put two and two together until after our Mexican adventures. I really enjoy meeting people and getting to know them for who they are and not associating one's handle or whatever social outlets accompany their names. Discovering their talents and achievements after the fact but realizing I actually knew about those talents and person all along is a refreshing feeling. His photography is a reflection of his personality, genuine and true. With real life situations and feelings seen differently by his eye, he draws you into his pictures effortlessly. I'm extremely stoked to say Ryan is coming all the way from California to showcase some of his work at Fuel Cleveland on May 28th. I sent him a handful of questions and this is what came of it, enjoy!

-Mikey Revolt

Ryan Loughridge, where do you lay your head to rest at night?

R: I live in Costa Mesa, CA but am originally from Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I’ve been in California for nearly 10 years, but I’ll always be a Coloradan.

When did you first pick up a camera and why?

R: My dad was always into photography. He was an adventurer. He took photos of his motocross buddies, mountaineering, skiing and family adventures. I think I was probably nine when he gave me my first camera. It was a little black point and shoot. I remember taking a trip with him to Yellowstone when I was around 15. My Dad had a couple of early digital SLRs with him. He said I could shoot with one for the trip. I don’t remember seeing the images from that trip but I loved how the viewfinder was a new scope for creatively looking at the world. Later on, in high school, I took a couple photo classes where I learned the basics of shooting manually and developing film. I wanted to be able to know how to take quality photos of my friends while we were out skating and snowboarding.

Are you a Canon or Nikon guy and why?

R: All of my digital gear is currently Canon. My first SLR was a Nikon and I still have it to this day. It’s a Nikon N90; an excellent camera. I just find Canon to be a great all around system, especially because I shoot video too. Having the video function is critical and Canons seem to be better than Nikon in that respect, for now. I’m not a hater, though. I also have a Leica M6 and a Hasselblad XPan; I’ll never get rid of those. It’s like bikes: it doesn’t matter what you shoot, just that you’re shooting.

I notice you actually do videos as well as photos, what’s harder for you videos or photos?

R: I wouldn’t say either one is really harder, but I think I love photography more. My background in video is mostly documentary style story telling. It is such a laborious task; making sure you have all these key shots and bits of information to tell the story. Sometimes you don’t know if you really have it all until you’re back in the editing bay. Then, there has to be so much attention to the edit, sound, cuts. There’s no listening to music while you edit video, it requires full attention from a number of senses. With photography it’s definitely a little more laid back on the editing end, but sometimes the shoots can be just as involved as video or more so. It’s all good though; I just love creating and documenting with cameras.

What is your favorite place you have ever shot at and why?

R: My favorite place I have shot? Man, that’s a really tough question. I’ve been fortunate enough to have photography and video take me all over the world. There are a lot of beautiful places and amazing cultures out there. As far as shooting with bikes, Independence Pass in Colorado is probably the most amazing place I’ve ever shot or ridden through. I did an overnight camping trip there with my good friend John Magee a couple summers back. It was a part of Colorado I had never seen before and it was incredible to ride.

Share with us one of the craziest things you have ever seen while on a trip or shooting?

R: The first thing that comes to mind was Adam Ihrig’s little incident on the last EDR. I’m sure everyone has his or her own version of what happened or have probably heard the story already but it was gnarly. I had just met Adam the first morning of the ride. We had made plans to do some riding together. My buddy’s bike started acting up at the border so we stopped to do some quick maintenance before crossing into Mexico. When we got going again it was Adam and the Weirdos we crossed with. Flash forward to the Circle of Death and I see Adam roll up to the track with his luchador mask on his rigid sporty. Next thing I know he is slamming into the dirt right in front of me on the track, then I see his head get bounced off the ground by the bike that was right behind him. I thought he was dead. Then he stood up and said, “Where’s my tooth.” They took him to the local hospital. As if that wasn’t crazy enough, he was back 30 minutes later to compete in the Cocktagon. I love that dude; he is invincible. Apparently the guy who ran over his head found Adam’s tooth imbedded in his foot peg.

Who or what inspires you and your work?

R: Other photographers like you Mikey! In all seriousness though, I love seeing what other photographers are doing. Whether it’s their locations, their lighting techniques or the subjects they are shooting, I benchmark them and that pushes me to create.

When did you get into motorcycles? Do you have any other family members that love bikes as much as you? 

R: My dad grew up racing dirt bikes in the 60’s and 70’s. He would just rip around on them as a kid. Unfortunately, he had some friends get hurt and killed on bikes, which put a sour taste in his mouth and caused him to quit racing. However, listening to stories about him going to races and shooting pictures of him and his friends made me want to experience bikes myself. My first bike was a 1980 Yamaha GT 80 that my stepdad bought cheap from a family friend. I learned how to ride, and crash, that thing pretty good until my stepdad took away the keys. When I first moved out to California I figured the best way to see my new home was on two wheels. Since then I’ve owned a grip of different bikes, but about four years ago I found the little Yamaha in my mom’s chicken coop. I loaded it into my truck and brought it with me back to California. It’s going to be my daughter’s bike when she is big enough to ride it.

If you could have one bike in the world, what would it be?

R: A pan or knuckle in a wishbone frame; a straightforward classic chopper, would be a dream bike.

When did you start mixing motorcycles with photography?

R: It was a few years back. I had spent a couple years working a good gig in the skate world doing video production, but I was over it. I decided to join the freelance ranks again but every time I looked at my cameras I got this sinking feeling. They just looked like the tools I had to use for work. I was getting no joy from shooting, totally uninspired, which is a bad place to be when it’s your career. I had just bought a different bike and was riding it a ton. I was so stoked every time I rode it. It made me realize that I needed to be shooting subject matter that got me stoked. I knew shooting bikes would be a good way to re-kindle my passion for photography.

What’s the most dangerous thing you have ever done? Was it on purpose?

R: I used to be pretty deep into the snowboarding game. I got caught in a couple avalanches and had some really bad slams, resulting in multiple concussions and torn tendons. So, I guess it was on purpose, but it’s not like I was trying to slam or get caught in avalanches.

Name a place you have never been to and must see before you die?

R: I’d love to go to Australia and New Zealand. I’ve heard nothing but good things about both of those places and they look amazing. I also heard you can have a Harley shipped there, ride it around the country and then sell it at the end of the trip to pay for the whole deal. But that was a while ago so maybe that’s not true anymore.

If you could go back and time and tell your 15-year-old self some advice, what would it be?

R: You’re a little punk. Start playing music and wrenching on stuff now. It’s harder to learn new things the older you get. Don’t waste your time with too many bunk girlfriends. You’ll find a good girl later, her name is Cris and she is all you’ll ever need.

What is your favorite kinda of Mexican food, burrito, chimichanga, quesadilla, other?

R: Man! Gimme a smothered chile relleno with rice and beans; wash it down with a margarita and I’m a happy, happy man.

Anyone you would like to give a shout out to or thank?

R: First and foremost, my wife, who supports me to the moon and back. My parents deserve big thanks for instilling a sense of adventure in me at a young age. My friends who allow me to follow them around and shove a camera in their faces and at their scoots. Anyone who has ever let me shoot their bike. Lisa Ballard at Chop Cult. All the other photographers in and out of the motorcycle game who keep me on my toes and who inspire me. Mikey and everyone with Fuel for thinking I’m worthy enough to share the stage with all the other talented artists, builders and photographers.

Make sure to check out Ryan's amazing photography in person at Fuel Cleveland on May 28, 2016 and to find more of his work on his IG: @_loughridge_, FB: Ryan Loughridge Media, or his website: ryanloughridge.com

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Jason Ochoa - 1955 Panhead "Purple Haze"

Photo by: Matthew Aims

Texas is home of the Cowboys, amazing BBQ, bitchen choppers, the slogan "Everything's bigger in Texas." and the one and only Jason Ochoa. Building bikes for only a few years now, Jason has been making waves with his latest build a 1955 Panhead named Purple Haze which was featured on the cover of Cycle Source for the month of March 2016. Jason is coming all the way up from Texas to showcase this build at Fuel Cleveland on May 28th and I couldn't be more excited to see this bike again. The first time I caught a glimpse of this beauty I was at Born Free this past year, super clean and tons of cool little details.  I had a chance to sit down and chat with Jason for a little bit. I asked him a few questions about himself and learned a little more about this impeccable Panhead build. Here's what came of that interview, enjoy!

-Mikey Revolt

Jason Ochoa, where do you call home? 

J: I was born and raised in Yorktown, Texas a small rural town in South Texas, but I currently call Fort Worth, Texas home now.

Give us a some history about yourself and your shop/work. 

J: I have been into motorcycles as long as I can remember, growing up on a ranch there wasn’t much to do besides hunting, camping, exploring and riding dirt bikes. Once I got my first motorcycle at age 6, I have been infatuated with motorcycles from that point on. In the early years I was really into the things Jesse James and Billy Lane where doing, so I scraped up some cash and bought one of the Custom Chrome chopper in a box kits. I sold that bike and decided to find another project, so with limited tools and no fabrication skills, I decided to build a bike at Three Two Choppers shop on their builders program. I learned a lot from JC and Jimmy Coen and we built one bad ass little Ironhead, which was featured in The Horse in 2013. I then bought several Shovel projects and did some minor modifications and flipped them while trying to expand my knowledge in fabricating and welding. At that point I just kept pushing myself to learn from friends and trial and error. My go to bike, a 1968 Shovel was the bike I really tore into and learned a lot of just how good I was a fab work, which wasn’t that great, lol. I always wanted a Panhead, so I was lucky enough to acquire a great deal on a 1955 Panhead and decided to throw my name in the hat for the Show Class Peoples Champ 3 last year and to my surprise, I was selected as one of the top 25. At that point I decided to dedicate all of my time and very little skills I had into producing the best bike to my ability. I had some good friends that helped and taught me along the way, but my longtime friend Clinton Wallace was a huge inspiration and motivator on this ground up build. Whatever I couldn’t do myself, he taught me and assisted as the build progressed. I currently build out of my two car garage, which has been converted into my shop, Four Speed Mayhem. I am investing on a lot of quality equipment, so I have no choice but learn the craft.

What got you into motorcycles? 

J: Definitely my grandfather. Growing up, my grandparents had a picture of my him riding a Harley in WWII and that picture always motivated me to want a Harley. I had always looked up to him and he bought me my first motorcycle and taught me how to ride at the age of 6.

What do you find to be the most challenging thing for you when building a bike? 

J: I have a great vision and desire, but I still have so much to learn when it comes to fabrication and welding. I fuck shit up all of the time, but with the desire to be better, I keep pushing myself. I bought a TIG welder during the Pan build and taught myself the best I could as that build progressed. I am still by no means a great welder, but I continue to challenge myself to become better each day. My step father is a machinist, so I learned how to machine at an early age, but lathes are expensive and I had limited access to one, so that was another challenge.

Photo by: Matthew Aims
What has been an all time favorite bike or project you have ever worked on?

J: My 1955 Panhead build because it was my first ground up build. I had the vision of that bike in my head for years and to finally see it come together was a proud moment for me. Also, my dad brought back this reel to reel from his time in Vietnam and I used to play the shit out that thing. He always had Jimi Hendrix playing on that old thing, so Purple Haze was a tribute to my dad and all the shit he went through during the war, so that made this build even more special for me.

Who or what inspires you? 

J: My wife Marci has always been such a great supporter of the things I do and she always pushes me to do my best. I had a lot of “FUCK THIS” moments during the Panhead build, but she always kept my spirits high and made me believe in myself.

Also, my buddy Clinton Wallace is the one who inspires me the most within motorcycles. His attention to detail and self-taught knowledge is very inspiring, not to mention he does all of his work on a secluded horse ranch outside of Houston, Texas. He is one of the most humble and down to earth guys you could ever meet. Just make sure he takes his meds…lol

Photo by: Matthew Aims

Congrats on the Cycle Source Cover story in this past March issue, how did that feel? Is this your first cover? What was your favorite part about the shoot with Matt Aims?

J: That was an amazing feeling and it is still hard to believe that I am actually on the cover of such a great magazine. I was in disbelief when Chris Callen sent me a text with the layout and said, I think we found our cover for March. It still makes me smile thinking about it. Matt Aims and I became great friends during our venture as the Top 25 for People’s Champ. I was really awed by his photography skills, so we became great friends because of our common endeavors. I knew I wanted Matt to shoot the bike, so I flew him down to Texas and he shot both my Shovelhead and Panhead. Of course, we snuck in a lot of partying and riding while he visited Texas.

Photo by: Matthew Aims

What’s your favorite motorcycle event of the year for you, why, and are you going? 

J: Giddy Up has to be my favorite event because I get to see so many of my friends at one time. Matt Jackson and Joey Cano are also huge inspirations for me, so being able to attend their event is something I really look forward to every year.

I'll see you there!

What other passions or hobbies do you have that most people may not know about yourself other than motorcycles?

J: In the early years I played guitar in metal bands and did a few tours with my band back in the late 90’s. I still play when I get a chance, however the audience is much smaller now. It usually consists of my two children, lol.

I have trained BJJ and MMA for over 8 years under ex UFC fighter Travis Lutter here in Fort Worth. I am currently working on my brown belt, but lately, I spend more time in my garage these days working on some commissioned builds.

Photo by: Matthew Aims
Is there a type of motor you prefer more then others?

J: I have always loved the look and elegance of the Ol’ mighty Panhead motor. Who wouldn’t love a Knucklehead, but I still think the Panhead motor will always be my choice.

What’s a favorite memory or story from one of your motorcycle adventures?

J: The first trip me and my buddies took to California attending Born Free 6. That trip is what triggered my motivation to build a bike that I felt would be worthy of taking it back there the following year. I was honored when Grant saw my Panhead at Born Free 7 and invited me into the VIP section. It was a dream seeing my bike amongst so many builders I look up to.

Photo by: Matthew Aims
What do you love most about motorcycles? 

J: The way you can jump on a bike after a shitty day and feel at one with the outside elements. Just feeling that fresh air and wind in your face gives you a sense of serenity.

Whats your all time favorite city you have ever been to and why? 

J: Los Angeles because growing up seeing my bmx, skateboarding and motocross heroes being from California always inspired me to want visit there one day.

If you could only own one bike in the world what would it be and why? 

J: I would like to own an all original 1948 Panhead. Why, because it’s a Panhead, duh!

Chocolate or Vanilla cake… or are you an ice-cream cake kinda guy? 

J: Cake, did you say CAKE!!!!

Anyone you would like to give a shout out to or thank? 

J: I would like to thank my wife Marci for her ongoing support over the years, Lisa Ballard for being such a great friend and introducing me to so many awesome people in the industry and last but not least, all you guys at Fuel Cleveland for giving me the opportunity to be part of such a stellar event.

You can check out more about Jason by following him on IG: MOTOPSYCHO73 , FB: Four Speed Mayhem or his Website: www.fourspeedmayhem.bigcartel.com

Monday, March 14, 2016

Americana Speed Shop - Ian Smith's 70's Survivor Digger

I have only been to the state of Alabama a handful of times in my life but it's safe to say I have some pretty amazing friends that come from that state. One of those friends is Ian Smith, owner of Americana Speed Shop. He is a leather goods master, motorcycle enthusiast, the life of the party, and truly an amazing human to always be around. I always look forward to seeing his face at different motorcycle events throughout the country and I am extremely stoked he is going to bring his 1970's survivor digger to Fuel Cleveland on May 28th. I sat down with Ian the other day and asked him a handful of questions so you could get to know and fall in love with him a little better. I added some of his sweet leather work and bikes he's owned over the years in the mix here too, enjoy.

- Mikey Revolt

Ian Smith, where do you call home?

I: Birmingham, Alabama.

Tell us a little about yourself and your shop.

I: Shop is a loose term. My career is in the beverage industry but I have a passion for motorcycles. The goal is to one day have a retail shop here in Birmingham, but for now I’m content with working from home. I began doing leatherwork almost 5 years ago out of necessity. Some friends and I were heading on a trip to “The Big Mountain Run” and I needed to be able to pack some gear. After looking at what saddlebags were available to buy, I decided to try and make my own. I took a beginners class at my local Tandy store and made the saddlebag. I was hooked after that project and since then I have been learning all I can about leatherwork. I mostly make wallets, belts, knife sheaths and the occasional saddlebag. I am actually working on a bag now for a friend. About 3 years ago, my best friend Ross Lenoir and I partnered up. Ross is an excellent machinist and makes some really cool parts—that are sold through Lowbrow Customs! We both do it for fun, but ultimately I would love to make Americana Speed Shop my full-time gig!

What do you specialize in at Americana Speed Shop?

I: I specialize in handmade leather goods (wallets, belts, knife sheaths, saddlebags, etc.) and Boss Ross is a ninja-machinist. He makes our foot pegs, “Wedge Pegs” that are sold via Lowbrow Customs and specializes in one-off parts for a variety of bikes.

What’s more challenging, leather work or motor work?

I: Leatherwork is something that I will do for the rest of my life. It is a craft that will always challenge. Working on bikes is fun for me, but I definitely know when to take my bikes to others. I am NOT a “builder”. I prefer “motorcycle enthusiast”. I try and ride every day and having a solid runner is always a top priority.

Who or what are some of your inspirations?

I: I draw inspiration from a variety of places. Paul Cox is definitely someone I look up to. He is a true Renaissance Man…his leather work, knives, bikes. He can do it all and I was excited to meet him a few months back. He took the time to give me some tips and I will always remember and appreciate that. Sometimes you meet people that you look up to, admire, whatever, and they are a big letdown. Egos are a funny thing.

What bike are you planning on bringing to Fuel Cleveland and what's the story behind it?

I: I’m going to bring my Shovelhead digger. I was actually working on this project with a different frame, front end, etc. and ran across this bike on Instagram. It is a survivor from the late-70’s that has Smith Bros and Fetrow fender struts, spring struts and their girder front end. Rickey Lewis, of Rick’s Cycle Parts, had finished my shovel motor build and it is killer. The engraving, done by Shane B., really was icing on the cake. So with the motor done, I was ready to see it going down the road. A deal was made for the digger and Rickey and I dropped my drivetrain in. I put a 5-in-a-4 trans in to help it cruise on longer trips. The plan is to have a new exhaust system done in time for the show.

What or who got you into motorcycles?

I: I was working for an Energy Drink brand in 2005 and we sponsored a National Motocross Series. I met some guys at the races that turned me onto custom bikes. I think they showed me some Roland Sands bikes and one had a copy of “Choppertown: The Sinners” and I was hooked after seeing the bikes featured in that documentary. I’ve been obsessed ever since.

Tell us about one of the craziest moments you have ever had while riding a motorcycle.

I: This past May, on the El Diablo Run, there was a group of us jamming back from the Hot Springs outside of Puertecitos. Our buddy, Sweet Lou, had a flat and for some reason the rest of us decided we needed to ride 100+ mph to be the first back to camp to alert the chase truck. I blew a corner coming back into San Felipe and launched off the road—about a 5 foot drop into some soft sand. I saved it but sat there for a minute and couldn’t help but think “why are we all racing back to camp just to get someone to go pick up Lou?!?”

Favorite trip you have ever taken on a bike and why?

I: Hands down the El Diablo Run. I love Mexico and have always enjoyed vacationing there. Riding your bike with friends in another country is really fun. I have met so many of my friends from that run. Friends that I know I will be in touch with for the rest of my life. Pretty special event.

Where is one place you would want to jump on your bike and just go if you could right now?

I: I’m always looking for a reason to head to western North Carolina, around “The Tail of the Dragon”. The Dragon is fun, but there are roads in the region that are WAY better for riding.

What is your dream machine or do already own it?

I: I’ve owned a variety of bikes. The goal is to stop selling and only buy from now on but life tends to get in the way. I traded an FXLR last year to get this digger. I will be back on a FXR at some point. Actually, I saw the new 2016 Dyna Low Rider S that was released today and I hope to be able to get one. I’ve never had a brand new bike and I think that is the one I want.

What is your favorite thing about riding motorcycles?

I: The friendships I have made through motorcycles is what makes it special. I’ve also learned that just because you are into motorcycles, it doesn’t necessarily mean you HAVE to be friends. This hobby has brought some great people into my life but it has also brought some problems. I’ve learned that when you get a feeling about someone, trust that feeling. Your first intuition is probably right.

Remember that time you scared a unicorn with your sportster on the Skyway to the Danger Zone run? …. That was awesome!!!

I: That was fun but stressful! Holding my rear head in my hand on Friday afternoon was not good. Turned out to be points that were arching, causing all sorts of backfires. I know people were bummed to ride behind me but I was determined not to miss that ride! Such a fun weekend!

How much do you love Cleveland Whiskey? You are always the life of the party, does it come natural or does the party just find you?

I: I’m off brown liquor…for now! Ha! Such a rookie mistake and my club brothers remind me about that weekend pretty regularly. Don’t know about being the life of the party, I just try to be myself and cut loose when I can. I have found that people generally find it refreshing when you are just yourself, not some stick-in-the-mud that is trying to portray an “Insta-Image”.

What’s next for you, any big plans or bikes you are working on?

I: I think I am going to take the rest of 2016 to dial in the digger and my Sportster tracker. I am excited to take some trips with my girlfriend, Ashley, to Texas and now we are really excited to come to Cleveland! Planning a low-key summer then it’s time for The Catalina Wine Mixer 4 in September!

Anyone you would like to thank or give a shout out to?

My girlfriend, Ashley, for being such a positive influence in my life, my Inbred club brothers: Boss Ross, Kustom Jeff, Loaf, Jason, Big Al and Whit, and to Rickey Lewis for his friendship and always lending a hand to keep our old bikes going down the road.

Make sure to check out Ian's digger at the show and to follow more of his bikes and leather work follow him on IG:  @americana_speed_shop and @thecatalinawinemixer_4, FB: Americanaspeedshopor his website: www.americanaspeedshop.bigcartel.com