David Goldman

The Motorcycle Portraits: Megs Braap

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.

The following Motorcycle Portraits session is with Megan Griffiths, better known on Instagram as @megs_braap, a dedicated dirt bike and trials rider.

Megan Griffiths by David Goldman.

"My name is Megan Griffiths, also known as @mags_braap. I got into dirt biking when I was 17 years old.  Ever since I was a kid, I wanted something with a motor, something that could take me places, and eventually, I had enough money to get one. I was choosing between a quad and a dirt bike, so I walked into a Yamaha dealership, and saw a beautiful TTR 125. And thank God, I chose that over the quad.

"Regardless of your size, or your gender, or whatever it may be, you can do anything anyone else can on a bike. I mean, people tend to shy away from riding certain bikes or riding difficult terrain because 'oh, I'm a woman,' or because 'I'm small and I can't touch the ground.' All it takes is more work. It's just more work putting in the time, and you can do anything.

David Goldman (DG): How old were you when you bought your first bike?

Megan Griffiths (Megs): 16 or 17? I can't remember.

DG: And where you grew up, is it common that 16 year olds are buying these kinds of vehicles?

Megs: I think most people start when they're younger, and their parents get them into it.

DG:  When you bought your bike did the salesperson think twice about you being a woman?

Megs: They didn't seem to think anything of it. I mean, it was a complete beginner's bike. I'm a small person, and a TTR 125 is a really small bike. So they actually pushed me in that direction. It was a good beginner bike for me.

DG: And where you grew up were there tracks to ride on?

Megs: Yep, but I didn't know about them. At the time, I didn't even know we had such a beautiful trail system. I would just explore fire roads, logging roads, stuff like that. And then eventually I discovered single track. That's where everything started to take off. I didn't have any friends that I rode with. My brother and I actually took turns on the bike: we'd go out together and one of us would like stand in the parking lot while the other went out. And then we'd switch.

Megan Griffiths by David Goldman

DG: You're pretty big on social media. You have like 130,000 followers. How would you say that happened?

Megs: The right people shared my posts. I mean, I started doing some pretty gnarly stuff. When it actually started was when I posted a video of a three foot suspended log crossing. And I guess most people don't picture a five foot three woman riding over stuff like that. That got shared a lot, and people started seeing my stuff, and it started growing from there.

DG: Did you have other young women reaching out to you, saying that you inspire them?

Megs: Yeah, it happens all the time. And it's actually really empowering, to know that I'm having an influence on other women and men. I mean, that means a lot.

Megan Griffiths by David Goldman

 

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.

The Motorcycle Portraits: Bobbee Singh

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, and his Instagram here.  [Photo by Noah Stone]