The Motorcycle Portraits is a project by photographer/filmmaker David Goldman, who travels the world making documentaries, and takes time out to interview interesting people in the motorcycle scene, wherever he might be.  The result is a single exemplary photo, a geolocation of his subject, and a transcribed interview.  The audio of his interviews can be found on The Motorcycle Portraits website.

Bobbee Singh at his motorcycle workshop in Delhi, India in 2019, by David Goldman.

“My name is Bobbee Singh. I make motorcycles in India. I have a company called Old Delhi motorcycles, building mostly vintage Royal Enfields. I’m a so-small lad, and I’m a school drop-out, so pretty much all my life till now – I’m 46 years old – I’ve been building bikes. It’s for this particular feeling: when I was an eleven-year-old boy on my birthday, my parents (my father especially) insisted that I go to the toilet!  And I walked in and I put the lights on from the outside and there it was – a faded blue secondhand motorcycle.  It’s for that feeling primarily that I build motorcycles.  I love bringing a little surprise and a little personal and I love telling a story in a motorcycle.  That’s how the disease started in me.

Then I had a neighbor who used to park his motorcycle inside his only room, and put on a big yellow lightbulb and clean it in the night.  And I would just sit around him and put grease on my face and on my fingers and just be part of it.  I think that’s how it pretty much started. I just fell in love with them.

Ever since the beginning when I got on a motorcycle, I have never really been able to look at it as a scientific phenomenon. You know, it’s kind of a magical thing for me till this date, it gives me a mindfuck to see that you sit on something and you kick it, and a sound comes and you do something with your left foot, and you release your right hand. And this thing can take you from here to Himalayas. And it’s your balance that rides it. So it’s unlike any other experience, you know, that’s the spiritual side of it, the spiritual inspiration.

It’s the only time I get to move and think and create and sing and be myself.

All that I am gets complimented by the concept of motorcycles, especially old motorcycles, because I have a mind which lives in the past. I love the old school lines, values, aesthetics, music, style, especially motorcycles. So it’s given me not just… I’m not just a professional, it’s given me a purpose. You know, I wake up for it every day. All that I am able to put into a motorcycle, it’s everything, man –  the style, the movement.  I think I would die if there were no motorcycles in my life. It’s the only time I get to move and think and create and sing and be myself as the ultimate way of rejoicing my life.  Building them is another story, you know, thank God that I can build motorcycles for people. And I build them really well: I get into it, piece by piece, hand carved.

So I get these vintage, old motorcycles from villages in the interiors of India, and they are dug in the ground and the owners never want to sell because they love it. So I somehow get there through a clandestine network of informers that’s very KGB, and we reach there and have to deal with their fucking egos and tell them ‘don’t bury the bike man! Let me have the bike, sell it to me and let me make it.’   And I get such bikes and I completely open them up and restore them, cycle parts and engine and design on them, and make a unique motorcycle.  These bikes get to Stockholm and Paris and you name it – New York, London. And on random days I get these messages of videos of people just standing around these bikes and the owner taking a video from the side and loving it you know, that’s that’s a big reward for me to see. People really enjoying and loving this motorcycle.”

[Editor: The Vintagent crew first met Bobbee in a film submitted to the very first Motorcycle Film Festival in NYC in 2013.  He was the subject of a film about his motorcycle shop in Delhi: ‘Old Delhi Motorcycles’, which you can watch below.]



David Goldman is photographer and filmmaker who has traveled the world on projects documenting human trafficking, maternal health and marginalized people. He also interviews and photographs motorcyclists in this travels for his series The Motorcycle Portraits. You can follow his website here, his IG here, and his FB here. Explore all his stories for The Vintagent here.
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