Cape Town based Wes Reyneke is Senior Editor for the leading custom motorcycle website, Bike EXIF. This means he gets to do a lot of international travel, as far afield as Indonesia and Japan, various countries across Europe, and the USA. He takes us through some of his experiences, shot with his trusty Fujifilm X-T10 and 35mm f2.
Tokyo, Japan, 2018
This is Donnie – and I only know that because it says so on his shirt. I met Donnie outside the Pacifico Yokohama convention centre, where I was attending the annual Yokohama Hot Rod Custom Show, Japan’s biggest custom motorcycle and hot rod event.
The HRCS has a strong Americana vibe to it, and Donnie fits right in with his imitable Californian rockabilly style, so naturally I asked him if I could take a portrait. He agreed, and immediately his demeanour changed to one of professionalism, as if he was being paid to do this. As if he’d been having his photo taken his whole life.
I spent exactly 47 hours in Japan on my trip to attend the HRCS – an hour less than I spent traveling to and from Tokyo. I was there as a media guest with BMW Motorrad (they unveiled a custom motorcycle at the show), and they made sure we crammed in some sightseeing.
We spent an afternoon walking around Tokyo’s bustling Shibuya fashion district, which was precisely as crowded and mind-blowing as I thought it would be. But what I didn’t expect was all the gems we’d find just off the beaten track. Pictured here, the winter sun beating down on a chopper, parked outside a vintage menswear store that we popped into.
The HRCS is effectively a one-day show, with only half of the day before set aside for exhibitors to get their vehicles in. So, as you’d expect it’s chaos, but thanks to the Japanese people’s utmost regard for manners, it’s organised chaos. Here, the owner of an impractically slammed vehicle asks a security guard where he needs to go.
Milwaukee, USA, 2019
I’ve travelled to Milwaukee twice: both times in February, in the dead of winter, and both times to build a custom bike as part of Harley-Davidson’s ‘Brewtown Throwdown’ build-off. This time around, our build team had to transform a brand-new stock Harley-Davidson Street Bob in minimal time, so we dubbed our project ‘Quick n Easy.’ We had a traditional hand-lettering guy come in at the last minute to add that slogan to the fuel tank, the old-fashioned way, and then rolled it out into the snowy parking lot for photos.
Part of each Milwaukee trip has included the Mama Tried custom motorcycle show, and Flat Out Friday, an indoor flat track racing series. Racers battle it out on a hard surface oval that’s covered with Dr Pepper syrup, to make it tacky.
The smell of burning sugar and rubber, and the thundering sound of the bikes gunning through lap after lap, is something to behold. This right here is Flat Out Friday’s very stylish flagman, hydrating between heats.
Lake Como, Italy, 2019
Last year, I headed to Italy to attend the Concorso d’Eleganza. It’s a two-day classic automobile and motorcycle show, that takes place at two villas on the banks of Lake Como (Villa d’Este and Villa Erba). It’s a prestigious show with a dress code: smart during the day, formal at night.
Traffic in town is crazy, so each day we would walk ten minutes to the docks, and catch a lake shuttle to the venue. Dressed up, sitting on a wood-clad boat and watching the many villas that line the lake drift by, is by far the best commute I’ve ever experienced.
There are far more cars than motorcycles at the Concorso d’Eleganza, but I’m far more interesting in the latter than I am the former. This scene was a special treat: a pair of exceptionally well-dressed gentlemen in an immaculate vintage BMW, giving the nod of approval to a rider aboard a noisy Moto Muller two-stroke scrambler.
Part of the Concorso d’Eleganza’s proceedings are the car and bike parades, where vehicles are driven around the main grounds to be put on display for the crowd. It’s proof that these aren’t museum pieces, and can actually be ridden. This 1953 BMW R68 was one of the show-stoppers at this edition of the Concorso, bagging the coveted people’s choice award for motorcycles.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2019
BMW Motorrad’s ‘Pure & Crafted’ show is an event that mixes motorcycles, music, and food and drink, but with a ‘craft’ feel. Think older bikes and indie rock, rather than superbikes and pop music. Last year’s show was held in Amsterdam, and although it was a sponsored event, it wasn’t limited to just BMW motorcycles. Berlin-based Herzbube Motorcycles had made the trip over, bringing with some vintage American metal: this 1928 Indian 101 Scout.
Amelie Mooseder and her ‘Spitfire’ BMW are a fixture on the European custom motorcycle scene. The bike is a 2017-model BMW R 1200 R, wrapped in a hand-formed fuselage by Swiss custom maestros, VTR Customs. Amelie races the bike in the quirky ‘Sultans of Sprint’ 1/8th mile sprint race series, but it does more than just go fast – it literally spits fire.
Once it’s warmed up, there’s a switch that turns the exhaust system into a flame thrower. Before wheeling her BMW out to put on a show for the crowd, Amelia explained that she has to check the wind direction first, otherwise the flames could singe her hair.