Matt Hind for Old Town

Anyone who’s ever picked up a copy of Men’s File magazine (if you haven’t your missing out!) or looked at any heritage or vintage style photography will have heard of Matt Hind. a tonal master, his work holds an incredible sense of atmosphere and texture. His photographs evoke a real sense of cinematic style without seeming dated or purely retrospective. The result of this careful balancing act is something that manages to feel genuinely fresh while not feeling contrived, a rare trick indeed.

Anyone who’s seen this blog before will know how I feel about Old Town Clothing, but to recap I love them. Theres a lot of workwear inspired stuff out there these days but few match the clean elegance of Old Town. The design and quality of their products is somehow reminiscent of Shaker furniture; utilitarian, simple and beautifully made.

So what do you get when you put the two together?…this:

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Badass, simply badass.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that contemporary motorcycle culture was, if not exclusively, largely a masculine, even testosterone fuelled affair. Most of the media about it seems to be about manly men making things and going out into the wild, adventuring  like later day working class heros. There’s nothing wrong with this of course, it’s an intoxicating mix. Especially in todays increasingly virtual society, it’s hardly surprising to see a desire for something tangible and life affirming. The only trouble is that women are all to often under represented or portrayed as pinups or pillions.

This is of course, total bullshit:

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Some cool videos to get you though the day. Some old some new.

Ok so I haven’t posted in a while so by way of apology, while doing no real work myself here’s some awesome stuff other people have made.

A short film about Stan Dibben,  winner of the World Sidecar Championship in 1953

Experiments in Speed.

Here’s what happens when you have salt fever, no engine no salt flats, but a whole lot of talent passion and skill

It’s Better in the Wind. Chances are you’ve seen this already but the best videos stand re-watching right?

A short film showcasing the work of motorcycle photographer Merry Michau. A brilliant photographer with an enviable job!

Ride into the Himalayas: A journey into the mountains on a Royal Enfield? Yes please

A San Fancisco Story: An iconic city, Fantastic roads, beautiful people and motorcycles… What’s Not to like  

Over several months Simon Chisten woke while the rest of San Francisco slept. He climbed into the hills around the city and took his camera with him. The result is the  hauntingly beautiful film Adrift.
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Old motorcycle photographs #2 Harley Davidson

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I found this photo in a small tin box at a local market. On the back is written W.S Nixon (possibly Hixon) 1953.  I have to admit I don’t know much about Harley’s, anyone know what model this is?

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Old motorcycle photographs #1

There is something about a motorcycle that just makes you want to pose with it.

The motorcycle is a cultural touch point, They represent a sense of danger, a subversive and hedonistic mix of freedom, rebellion, adventure, not found elsewhere in modern society. they are often outside mainstream culture, when you set out on one you opt out of the the day job the house the car, keeping up with neighbours. You leave the whole lot at the door, even if it’s just for an hour. Perhaps  it’s something to do with this otherness,  that makes people want to pose with them, Or perhaps its just that they’r damn cool and if you stand next to one some of that cool might just rub of on you. Whatever the reason, if you have a bike, be it a Honda 90 or a Vincent Black Shadow, then there is the automatically compulsion to be photographed with it.  It would be natural to assume that this is a somewhat recent phenomenon, it’s reasuring then, to note that this is not the case.

So here  beginning  a series of old motorcycle photographs is my grandfather Paul:

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In the 1930’s he was stationed out in India which is where this photo was taken. He would have been in his early 20’s at the time. Some people have suggested the bike to be a Levis Popular. There are alot of similarities except the the drive chain/ belt is on the other side on most examples I’ve seen. Any ideas?

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The Spirit of Munro

It seems to be the year for re-imaginings of classics with the ‘New’ Brough superior a few months ago and now ‘The Spirit of Munro’. There’s been quite a bit of buzz over the past few weeks about this a custom built bike powered by the all new Indian Thunderstroke 111 engine. Both its name and aesthetics draw inspiration from Burt Munro’s legendary record breaking ‘Munro Special’ better known to many as “The Worlds Fastest Indian”

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The result really is rather pretty. It is an skillfully hand crafted one of machine that is a testament to Jeb Scolman’s  (of Jeb Scolman of Jeb’s Metal and Speed in Long Beach CA) skill. The bike has yet to be put to the test to see just what it can really do, hopefully this it will get a chance to stretch it’s legs and prove worthy of it’s name before to long!

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Perhaps this is because I’m British and we tend to be a mite cynical but I have to admit to having mixed feelings about the whole thing. It is refreshing to see a big name manufacturer do something different to promote themselves. ‘The Spirit of Munro’ stylishly combines up to date technology with a distinctly classic flavour but while it’s nice to see the a newly reborn Indian paying homage to perhaps their most famous advocate, it all just feels a bit to staged.

The trouble in a way is the name; ‘The Spirit of Munro’ suggests something of Burt’s ethos. However beyond the Munro Special-esq streamliner, it’s difficult to see how much, if any, real Munro sprit there is in the thing. When compared to Burt’s constructions it looks a little to clean and polished.

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Burt took a stock bike and over decades removed everything that wasn’t (and quite a bit that was) needed, made pistons from old ford axles, cylinders from sewage pipes and cut and shrunk his fins by hand. He did all this in the same tinny shed in which he slept. Burt then, the patron saint of men and women in sheds everywhere. The true spirit of Burt Munro is surely one of the homemade budget tinkerer.

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While ‘The Spirit of Munro’ is beautiful (I mean look at it its stunning!), with all it’s mod cons like a speedo, electronic ignition and full size tank this new machine is all a bit to shinny, to designed to embody this ethos. It’s something quite different and for me at least it lacks an awful lot of what makes the Munro-Special, well, special.

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None of the photos here are mine, I do not own copy right on any of them.

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A Look at Life: Motorcycling

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