Frequent Floor – 2023 Bike Shed London Present

“Shed Row is all the time my favourite a part of the present. You anticipate professional­ builders to construct nice bikes, like Jim Alonze producing one more stunning bike[1] or like Calum of deBolex[2] constructing unbelievable bikes and seeing that dB Sequence within the flesh. However Shed builders are sometimes model new, they’ve simply come into it, or they’re evolving their craft. It is a very distinctive time within the customized scene.” – Dutch van Someren- 2023 Highway to the Present EP01

“I believe the distinction between manufacturing facility and customized bikes will blur much more. All customs are getting extra approachable to common folks, extra ridable and extra full. I believe inventory bike and customized bike types will start to merge.” – Winston Yeh: Tough Crafts, Taiwan. Participant- Shed Speak panel dialogue, Customized Tradition – The place Subsequent?

Photographer Amy Shore’s poster for the 2023 Bike Shed London Present at Tobacco Docks. [Amy Shore]

There are three bikes posed in Amy Shore’s Tobacco Dock promotional poster for the 2023 London Bike Shed Moto Present; they body the Previous, Current and Future theme of the occasion. Within the heart is a 1935 Matchless dash bike that was re-built and customised by Joe Tinley and his father John at their Toolbox Way of life store in London[3], on the left, Slabshot (Slapside plus Slingshot) a customized Suzuki GSX-R1000 K9 Superbike by Marc Bell at his HAXCH Moto in London[4] and on the suitable a futuristic idea build-virtual bike, Slipside by artistic director and UK bike builder Paul Drake AKA Ziggy Moto’s Imaginary Motorbike Firm[5]. Every bike is supposed to provoke a dialog concerning the evolving tradition of bikes that can then be explored by the greater than 300 customized bikes which might be standing patiently contained in the historic setting.

Exterior of the mammoth Tobacco Dock exhibit heart in London. [Michael McCabe]

Bike Shed founders Anthony ‘Dutch’ van Someren and his spouse Vikki have reshaped bike tradition at their London and Los Angeles Bike Shed places. They see bikes and the cultures that encompass them as a fluid entirety that isn’t preoccupied with particular person manufacturers, platforms, motor mechanics or driving types. For them, bikes and driving on them represents a dynamic ecosystem; a neighborhood the place everybody together with riders, wrenchers or simply informal appreciators are welcome.

Shed Row: a curated collection of home-built customs. [Michael McCabe]

Dutch and Vikki began a weblog in 2011, then a Site, then a pop-up occasion in 2013 below two railway arches in London’s Shoreditch neighborhood that featured 55 curated customized bikes for 3000 curious fanatics. With rising success, in 2015 they opened a 12,000 sq. foot club-like vacation spot at 384 Previous Road in the identical Shoreditch neighborhood the place round 2500 folks are actually welcomed each week to expertise nice meals and nice hospitality as an ongoing ‘celebration of the artistic scene round bike customized tradition’.

Attendees of the Bike Shed London present. [Michael McCabe]

After the success of the 2013 pop-up occasion, Dutch and Vikki sensed the keenness for his or her 2014 bike present was outgrowing the primary venue area, so that they moved it down the road to the spectacular and historic 48,000 sq. foot Tobacco Dock constructing, that simply accommodates 10,000 folks at a clip in an open and provoking area. The situation was an ideal match they usually have held the occasion at Tobacco Dock ever since.

The stunning vaulted brick celing within the decrease flooring on the Bike Shed present. [Shane Benson]

As they entered the 2023 present, every attendee was given a large, colour coded fold-out map/listing that illustrated in overwhelming element what they had been about to come across: three days of unprecedented entry to the most important customized bike present in Europe and the very best of the very best of motorbike design, fabrication and tradition; curated meals, curated artwork, Saturday and Sunday panel discussions with titles: Powering the Future, Motorbike Design and The Way forward for Moto-Sport, a barber store, tattooing and most vital, an inspiring sense of neighborhood. The fold-out brochure flooring plan map described the place all the pieces was positioned with particular symbols and icons however the thrilling, huge scale of the Tobacco Dock venue inspired everybody to calm down, take their time, rub shoulders with different like-minded attendees and get misplaced in whole bike bliss. There have been upwards of 48 manufacturers, 49 Professional/Semi-Professional bike builders and greater than 120 shed builders listed. Upstairs and downstairs mixed into a very dreamlike expertise.

Winston Yeh on the Shed Speak panel dialogue: Customs & Tradition – Previous/Current/Future [Michael McCabe]

The introductory Bike Shed 2023 present assertion described what attendees would expertise:

“This yr we are going to have a good time the theme of Previous, Current and Future. Motorbike tradition has all the time seemed to the previous for model, inspiration and legend, whereas creating model new human tales within the current and having fun with a peek into the long run with innovation and evolution of efficiency, engineering and design. In 2023 our present will have a good time this thread that weaves the Previous, Current and Future collectively, taking a look at how historical past has formed the current, and the place motorcycling will go subsequent.”

Pure illumination from glass skylites helped the area really feel ethereal, even with a big crowed. [Michael McCabe]

The present crammed out the expansive flooring of the Tobacco Dock venue: Upstairs is open to the sky with meals and picnic tables down the center, with glass-enclosed rooms alongside, that includes model themes  and professional bike builds. Downstairs it’s dramatic and nearly cavernous, with moody lighting and low vaulted ceilings over collections of curated Shed Builds. Every bike upstairs and down, whether or not model, professional/semi-pro or Shed Constructed had a big, readable plaque with the bike’s identify, entry class, builder and construct date. This individualized data strengthened the occasion’s function to not solely entertain but in addition educate throughout all of the variables. There was no trace of a hierarchy of accomplishment on the present. Dutch and his crew had been exploring the method of remarkable, curated bike customized tradition in an inclusive effort, past hyper-competitive judgement.

‘Ol 52’, a 1952 Triumph Thundebird personalized by John Benbow. [Michael McCabe]

For these craving industrial model recognition, Royal Enfield, Norton, Yamaha, BMW and others offered slick, full-scale settings that featured spectacular collections of bikes and equipment. As a London based mostly occasion it made sense to see a number of extra Norton, BSA and Triumph than central Euro and Asian builds downstairs within the Shed Constructed part however your complete present balanced the worldwide bikes equitably; even a handful of UK customized Harley Davidsons and Indians sat within the Shed Constructed decrease flooring: A Fastec-Racing of Suffolk present bike with spectacular paint and blacked-out engine stood close to ‘The Ol’ 38’, a 1995 Softail construct by Carter Harris at Angle Cycles that was close to two builds by David Sensible: Fats Tracker a 2022 Sportster S and Iron Head a 1989 Sportster. Each builds featured smooth, pink, customized shaped seat tails.

‘Fats Tracker’, constructed from a 2022 Harley-Davidson Sportster S by David Sensible. [Michael McCabe]

Builders Josh Kemp and Lin and Vic Jeffords characterised the private vibe within the downstairs Shed Constructed part: Josh stood subsequent to his Honda customized construct within the moody gentle, “Yeah I figured there wouldn’t be a lot area for a little bit CB200,” he mentioned. “However right here I’m with my construct!” Josh is a 38-year outdated London venture supervisor with wrenching in his blood, whose Dad restores and customizes Nineteen Thirties Ford five-window coupe sizzling rods for a pastime.

Josh Kemp together with his 1976 Honda CB200 Outriders Moto ‘Surf Sprinter’. [Michael McCabe]

“I wasn’t actually on the lookout for a motorcycle after I noticed the 1976 Honda CB200 on eBay,” Josh mentioned. ‘I used to be simply doing a little bit of a go searching to see what was on the market and it got here up for a great value, regardless of having a seized engine and never been operating for a while. The factor that stood out for me was the flat bottomed tank. There’s an aesthetic rule which I’ve for making bikes, that there must be a line from entrance to again, because it’s what actually helps the attention to move alongside the bike and tie all of it collectively. I truly obtained fairly a number of folks saying that it seemed actually tidy and couldn’t put their finger on why on the present!

Cranium tank paint on the ‘Surf Sprinter’ 1976 Honda CB200 constructed by Josh Kemp. [Michael McCabe]

“I additionally needed to attempt engaged on a smaller bike, one thing lighter and extra enjoyable that you may think about –  strapping a surfboard to the facet of and going ripping alongside the seaside on the lookout for the proper surf (considered one of my desires is to do that someplace within the Pacific..). One of many wider issues I’ve needed to do with the bikes I create is to assist anybody who’s exterior wanting in have entry and really feel supported- therefore my model identify “Outriders Moto”. Plus, smaller bikes are a lot enjoyable and rather a lot simpler should you stay in a metropolis (like London). The cranium is the Outriders emblem, I needed one thing that was basic, recognizable and screamed rock n roll, motorbikes and that sense of insurgent freedom!”

Lin and Vic Jefford of Future Cycles with their chopper construct. [Michael McCabe]

Close by, Lin and Vic stood subsequent to their Sixties model chopper; raked girder entrance finish, free-style customized bars, dropped inflexible body and a hot-rod engine rebuild. The bike’s Sportster tank was customized painted with a collage of traditionally impressed pictures and lettering from the NorCal San Fran/East Bay Sixties counterculture. They personal a store, Future Cycles that’s positioned a pair hours north of London in York. Vic defined the theme of his construct; “I constructed this bike to speak about historical past. Quite a lot of younger folks I discuss with didn’t expertise the Sixties when younger folks of my technology had been asking quite a lot of questions. The types of my construct confer with the outdated chopper days, when a chopper bike was a deep assertion about private freedom. Younger folks in the course of the Sixties rode on choppers to say one thing about who they had been. I need this bike to assist younger folks at the moment to know that bikes have all the time had an influence.”

Are you going to San Francisco? The groovy Sixties NorCal vibe on the Jeffords’ chopper, ‘Kosmik Journey’. [Michael McCabe]

The tone on the 2023 London Bike Shed present was overwhelmingly open and optimistic. Judging from the smile on everybody’s face; Dutch, Vikki, their crew, the 1000’s of attendees, the invited bike builders and types all labored collectively to make one other profitable and memorable occasion. The continued story of how bikes proceed to vary folks’s lives will proceed to unfold at future reveals. Dutch and Vikki are actually planning a formidable three-day occasion at their Los Angeles location for 2024.

From the precise shed: Clifford Howard’s customized constructed from a 1956 600cc J.A.P. Rotavator engine. [Michael McCabe]

[1] Jim Alonze of Alonze Customized Fabrication focuses on one-off fabrications of gentle metal, aluminum or stainless-steel. Over 50 years mixed expertise in sheet engineering and automobile physique constructing. Positioned on the Coastal Highway, Scarborough, UK.

[2] Calum Pryce-Tidd of deBolex Engineering in South London dB 25 Sequence. 25 Ducati Monster1200, 147 horsepower restricted version collection bikes with 100 new customized parts added to every bike.

[3] Joe describes the re-build- “It is a 1938 Matchless that we now have re-built. The engine within the bike was constructed by Matchless however equipped to Brough Superior. We needed to construct a motorcycle that we thought Matchless ought to have all the time constructed. Matchless by no means used this engine itself. This bike has been ten years within the making as a result of nothing is off the shelf. It’s all hand-made and it takes a very long time to gather these items. We made this bike as if Matchless had used the Brough engine in a Brooklands dash design.” (From: Highway to the Present- 2023 EP03.)

[4] Marc describes his build- “Beneath I’ve obtained 1000 K9- For final yr’s present I had a Slapside ’88 1100 and I needed to take the essence of that bike and make it right into a modern-day sports activities bike that has all of the efficiency and functionality. To place them together- attempt to mix the 2 and see if it’s doable to take a contemporary GSX-R and make it look good just like the outdated ones from the ‘80s did.” (From: Highway to the Present- 2023 EP04.)

[5] “Final yr I had 4 bikes within the present, and there have been 4 bikes within the present this yr. However the future bike was in augmented actuality. The construct existed in two versions- There’s the photorealistic model after which there’s the augmented actuality model. It’s a motorcycle from the long run with an undetermined drive practice that’s ergonomically adaptable. A tangible imaginative and prescient of the long run”. (From Highway to the Present- 2023 EP05.)

A 1981 Harris Magnum GSX1100EEX by Mike Stewart. [Michael McCabe]
A candy 1956 Matchless G85CS scrambler by Toolbox Way of life. [Michael McCabe]
Attendees on the Bike Shed Tobacco Dock occasion. [Michael McCabe]
Bauhaus 2023 BMW R18 by Pier Metropolis Cycles. [Michael McCabe]
A pleasant spot to sit back whereas absorbing all of the power within the venue. [Michael McCabe]
Herald Brat 125RX by Herald Motor Co. [Michael McCabe]
1968 BSA 441 by Ziggy Moto. [Michael McCabe]
2003 Ducati 999 Sami Uno by Michael Benink. [Michael McCabe]


Michael McCabe is a New York Metropolis tattoo artist and cultural anthropologist. He’s the writer of New York Metropolis Horsepower, Kustom Japan, New York Metropolis Tattoo, Japanese Tattooing Now, Tattoos of Indochina, and Tattooing New York Metropolis. For New York Metropolis Horsepower, Mr. McCabe spent two years discovering and documenting underground customized bike and automobile garages within the Metropolis, as speedy gentrification put their tradition below great strain. He interviewed and photographed New York Metropolis customizers about their private histories and artistic sensibilities.