David Goldman

The Motorcycle Portraits: Sinje Gottwald

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 Sinje Gottwald, a motorcycle adventurer who's been mostly on the road for years, on a variety of machines.  While she began her RTW trip on a BMW GS, she's currently traveling on a CAKE Kalk through Africa, in an attempt to set a long-distance record with an electric motorcycle. You can follow her amazing Instagram feed here.

The Motorcycle Portrait of Sinje Gottwald and her BMW GS, taken while she was touring North America in 2019. [David Goldman]

Tell us about yourself:

So My name is Sinje, I come from Stuttgart Germany, and I was born there in 1983. My mom is Korean, my dad is German, and I got into motorcycling cause my dad: he used to travel a lot on motorcycles in the 70’s and so he always told me all of his stories. He rode all the way from New York to Ecuador he also rode from German to the Ivory Coast and all those stories that he always used to tell me and my siblings were always so interesting to me so that’s when I first got into motorcycling. I used to ride on the back of his motorcycle since I was about 5 years old.

Sinje in her happy place, riding through the desert in Mauritania in Feb. 2020, before the Covid lockdown complicated her travel plans. [Sinje Gottwald]

How did you first get interested in motorcycles:

I first got into motorcycles because of my dad. He used to travel a lot and I thought it was really cool what he did. When I turned 24 I got my license and went on my first big trip to Morocco.  When I first got my license 10 years ago, I just wanted to ride a motorcycle - that was basically it. I just wanted to ride. I had different pictures in my head of course. You know, freedom and being able to get from one place to another. I’ve been traveling around the world on a motorcycle for 27 months now, and after being on the motorcycle for such a long time, the way l look at it and the way I feel about riding motorcycles has changed completely. I often get asked if I couldn’t do this whole trip in a car or in some other vehicle. I think riding a motorcycle in places, especially places that are unknown to me, is very different. People always - wherever I stop - walk up to me and are interested. They want to know about the bike, they want to know what model, even people who are not interested in motorcycles generally, they want to know about the bike, they want to know where we’ve been.  I think the bike is a magnet somehow.  To me it’s more of a door opener, it helps me to get in contact with other people in different places, and I think you wouldn’t have that if you were in a car.

Sinje in Cartagena, Colombia in May 2019: "I just wanted to take a picture with these beautiful women but then Teresa, Yveth, Maritza and I ended up spending some time together chatting about life and my journey while laughing so so much - it really made me very happy" [Sinje Gottwald]

Tell me a story that could not have happened without motorcycles in your life:

When I decided to go on this trip around the world, I only had about 3 months to prepare for the whole trip.  And I didn’t have a bike. First I had to decide on and get a bike within a very short period of time. I talked to a couple of people and every person told me to get a different bike, so at one point I just decided to go and take a look at different bikes.  When I found this specific bike that I’m riding around the world with now, I knew exactly that it was going to be it. It’s a 1994 Urban GS PD, an old BMW, and I decided to take it, first because I felt very comfortable with it, and second it’s an old bike so it’s very mechanical. I thought it would be easier to get it repaired once I was in countries where there are no mechanics for bigger bikes.

Sinje's current mount: a CAKE Kalk AP on which she is riding down the West coast of Africa, hoping to set a distance record on EVs. [Sinje Gottwald]
I left Germany in 2017 without any mechanical knowledge, and I didn’t know much about this bike, but I was confident I would always find someone to help me. That’s what I thought.  After only three weeks, when I got to Istanbul, that’s where for the first time the bike it just didn’t run anymore. I went to a gas station to fill up and after that it just didn’t start anymore. It was about 100Km outside of Istanbul and people don’t speak English there. I had no idea what it could be, I tried to jump start it but it wasn’t the battery so I was stuck there and also desperate. I had checked out from the hotel in the morning in Istanbul, and the guy at checkout told me that he loves motorcycles; he gave me his business card and said 'if you ever get into trouble in Turkey or if you ever need anything while you are here just give a call', so I was really lucky that I kept his card. I just called him and told him I was a bit outside of Istanbul and the bike wasn’t starting and so he organized everything from Istanbul. He sent someone to come and pick me up and tow the bike and while all of this was happening (it took several hours) but while all of this was happening he was already trying to find out if there was any good mechanic in the city who would be willing, and who knows about old BMWs. I got to Istanbul after about three or four hours and we went to an old tiny garage in the old part of the city. I got introduced to this guy who works on old BMWs, and he immediately started working on the bike and took the starter apart, and told me that it was the magnets had got loose.  He repaired it for the next two days, and for the next two days I was their best friend. They invited me to dinner, they took me out for a ride, they gave me another bike to ride for those two days, they invited me to their family. After two days the bike was in perfect condition again, and I wanted to pay for the work he did on the bike, but I wasn’t allowed to. So that was my experience in Istanbul for my very first break-down of the bike.

Plenty of this too: Sinje keeps a sense of humor about such spills, but says here sand-riding skills are now excellent. [Sinje Gottwald]

What do motorcycles mean to you:

So riding solo as a woman I didn’t really think about it as being special in the beginning, but now that I’ve been on the road for such a long time, I realize that it’s a bit sad, but it’s still very special in our society, in our world, and I only met three other women who ride solo around the world on this trip in two years. I’ve met so many other people; guys, groups, couples, but female solo riders not so many. Wherever I go most people ask me “so where’s your group. Where is the rest of your group?”  When I tell them I’m alone their faces change, everyone is really amazed by it or even surprised, and some people say you're crazy. How can you do it, are you not afraid of being alone on the road as a woman, and sometimes I think it’s really annoying that some people say “as a woman” As a woman it must be so and so difficult or dangerous whatever.  But unfortunately as a woman, you have to be a bit more cautious when you’re on the road and yeah, I do whatever I can so that I don’t risk too much. I also learn on the road that riding around the world alone is inspiring to other women. I didn’t realize that at the very beginning, but now I get lots of emails and messages via social channels and I’m happy that some other women now have got inspired and think that because me and some other women that are riding around the world solo that they can do it as well, and I think that’s a good thing. I think we all as women we have to support each other and I think that’s what’s happening right now. I think the more women that are on the road, I think the more women that will be on the road in the future.  

The awesome vastness of the global landscape means at times you are truly alone, as in the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. [Sinje Gottwald]
Explore other fascinating people in our Motorcycle Portraits series here.

 

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: Shinya Kimura

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 portrait session is with Shinya Kimura, the legendary motorcycle artisan who first came to worldwide attention by inventing the Zero chopper style in Japan.  He moved to California in 2006, and set up shop in Azusa as Chabott Engineering, and began exploring new styles of customizing motorcycles, which evidenced a hand-made quality that was at odds with the dominant fat-tire chopper style of the era.  Shinya has been featured many times in The Vintagent, and we're always happy to see him in our pages.  Here is a transcript of his interview with David Goldman:

Shinya Kimura photographed in his Chabott Engineering warehouse in Azusa CA. [David Goldman]

"My name is a Shinya Kimura. I was born in Tokyo in 1962. I moved to California in 2006. And I have a shop in Southern California named Chabott Engineering. Basically, I'm customizing motorcycles, every kind of motorcycle, riding motorcycles, enjoying motorcycles. When I was six years old, my cousin had a small Honda, maybe 90 cc or 50 cc, I don't know. But he took me on his back seat. That is my first experience of a motorcycle and I was excited. When I was a high school student, most of my friends were riding motorcycles So naturally, I started to ride a motorcycle when I was 16 years old, and my first customized motorcycle was a Suzuki 50cc. I made it like a chopper.  The most exciting experience for me is the Motorcycle Cannonball. It was a cross-country race from East Coast to West Coast taking classic motorcycle like 1920s or Teens or older. It takes 17 days to make it all the way.  At the beginning, I didn't know much about a Teens motorcycle, actually. I took 1915 Indian motorcycle; I got a basket case 1915 Indian but and I fixed it up and made it a rideable motorcycle, but I didn't think I could make it across the country. Actually I got a broken motor maybe several times… I had to fix at midnight to the next morning. Finally I could make it go and I was very excited.  Motorcycling is the only thing which I can do like thinking like breathing or having some dinner. Something very natural for me. I always enjoying riding motorcycles."

Shinya Kimura in a quiet moment in the shop. [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: Max Hazan

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 portrait session is with Maxwell Hazan: motorcycle artist extraordinaire.  Max burst on the custom motorcycle scene in 2012, with innovative creations that had an immediately recognizable signature: silver machines with a light, elegant structure, and novel proportions of their components.  The Vintagent first encountered Max in Brooklyn in 2012, and the following year he moved to Los Angeles, where his career really blossomed, and he vaulted to the pantheon of globally recognized moto-artists. David Goldman asked Max a few questions about motorcycling: here are his responses.

Maxwell Hazan in his Los Angeles studio. [David Goldman]

"My name is Max Hazan, I build custom motorcycles here at my shop in Los Angeles. I started building motorcycles about 8 years ago full time.  It wasn’t something that I set out to do; I had crashed a bike in an off-road race and couldn’t walk for a while, and was looking to pass the time.  I always build stuff, and I motorized a beach cruiser bicycle I had in my apt. I decided to build something after that because it went faster then I thought it was going to go.  I was like, 'you know what, we need to use motorcycle parts.' A few years went by and I went back to my job and didn’t think anything of it, but I kept building bikes, and I was selling them.  I had lunch with my dad and he said, “I think you got something here.” He gave me the push to go for it full time and said he would help out if I needed it and he would give me a year.  It actually didn’t work in that year. I was ready to go back to my job and I was like 'you know what, I tried.'  Two days later the phone rang, and someone wanted to commission a bike, and I sold another one after that, and it worked. It was something that I didn’t intend to do, but I’m happy it worked out like that.   

It’s the purest form of fun that I know. 

So, motorcycles.  You know there was not one moment that [they] really hit me. It’s not like 'I saw a chopper one day.' As far back as I could remember I loved motorcycles, I don’t know what it was. These were dirt bikes, there was something I was just drawn to, and I liked it. I grew up riding bikes, but then living in NY and going to college and getting a job, it kind of went away. It wasn’t until years later I was looking at things to do outside of the city, that I got into riding again. Like I mentioned, it’s also how I got hurt. As far as a moment defining when I started liking motorcycles it was literally innate. It was as far back as I could remember. 

I get asked the question a lot, “what does motorcycling me to me?” I always thought I needed some kind of profound answer, and I was trying to think of something, but to be honest, it’s fun.  It’s the purest form of fun that I know.  My brain is always going a million miles an hour, and it’s the one thing that’s actually is calming to me is riding a motorcycle fast.  It’s something that forces your attention to be in the moment. So honestly it’s peace of mind. That’s the biggest takeaway from motorcycling. Doesn’t matter if you are on a track or on a Harley going 20 miles an hour, it’s forced participation in the moment and you don’t have to think about anything else   

So, I think of the experiences motorcycling has given me and the one biggest effect on me is doing it every day for work. I walk into the shop and I literally have to pinch myself every day, I can’t believe I figured out a way to do something I like this much for a living. You know it’s not the best sales thing to tell your clients “I’d do it for free” but honestly, you know I would. I would do this every day."

 
 

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: Anya Violet Aghababian

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 portrait session is with Anya Violet Aghababian: rider, event organizer, entrepreneur.  Anya co-founded the all-women ride/camp weekend Babes Ride Out, the women's dirtbike gathering Babes in the Dirt, and the women's motorcycle gear company Atwyld.  The term badass comes to mind when considering Anya's accomplishments and cultural impact, giving women not only safe places to gather and ride, but also the gear to get there in.   Here are some of Anya's thoughts on riding:

Anya Violet Aghababian photographed at Running Springs CA, Sept, 30 2020. [David Goldman]

First Experiences

I first got into riding motorcycles when I was about seven years old, running on a 50 cc dirt bike. Both my parents had a background in motorcycling, my dad riding a street bike and my mom on any dirt bike. And yeah, we all used to ride trails and race on the central CA coast where I grew up, and it's something that has trickled over into my adult life.

What Does it Mean?

So what does motorcycling mean to me? Fun, it means fun. Every time I'm on my bike, I'm having fun, whether it's by myself or with a group of people. That's pretty much the only reason I ride is for fun.  Today we're in Green Valley Lake at the entrance to some of my favorite off-road trails.

Great Experiences

One of the greatest motorcycle experiences I've ever had was actually this year. Earlier this year, me and seven other girls rode dirt bikes through the Sahara desert for five days, it was an incredible experience through crazy sand dunes and just out in the middle of the desert and dry lake beds. And it was absolutely beautiful. It happened actually right when the whole COVID thing hit: we thought we might get stuck in the desert in Morocco. So we ended up having to cut the the trip a little bit short and banzai back to  get out of the country before they closed the borders. So we ended up being the adventure of a lifetime essentially because so many things happened while we were gone basically the world was falling apart. And here we are ripping through the desert on dirt bikes, trying not to care about it. But when things got really serious, we had to turn around and get out of there and we basically got out of the country by the skin of our teeth.  The memories of that trip will definitely last a lifetime. One of the greatest moments of that trip was climbing this 400 foot tall sand dune - it was crazy. It was like this sea of sand dunes and you're kind of like surfing them, it really feels almost like surfing a wave: you're kind of cresting and coming back down and then peaks and valleys and there's this one 400 foot tall dune and you just gotta like really power up it, but right when you get to the top you have to let off the throttle a little bit so you just peak right at the very top of the dune and it is the most beautiful overwhelming feeling when you are that high up and all you see is an ocean of sand dunes and it's it's was such a surreal moment - I will never forget that.

 

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: Robb Talbott

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 Robb Talbott, owner of the Moto Talbott Collection in Carmel Valley, CA.  If you've been to the Quail Motorcycle Gathering or the Las Vegas motorcycle auctions, you've seen Robb and some of his amazing collection of motorcycles, and if you're lucky, you've had a chance to talk with him and experience first hand the joy and enthusiasm he brings to the motorcycle scene.

A Great Memory

One of my great memories and greatest stories happened in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in the winter of 1971. I was drinking beer with my buddies at this pizza parlor in Colorado Springs: later on in the week was a pretty momentous motorcycle race. So after three or four beers (or I think maybe more), my good buddies talked me into doing the Snow Run, which was a race up Pikes Peak on January 1.  And I thought, wow, I've never done that, and it sounds like a pretty exciting race. So they talked me into it. I prepared to get up at five o'clock that morning, and we drove up Pikes Peak to Glen Ellyn (which is somewhere around 8000 feet): the race started there, and it was 25 degrees out. And I was sitting there freezing, I thought 'this is pretty cold'. But I was in my black leather racing suit, and I was really excited to start as number 220!  Then we started, all at once. The adrenaline was pumping. We raced all the way to the top of Pikes Peak, which is 14,110 feet high. I did fairly well out of 225 bikes, I rode to sixth place!

Robb Talbott taken at his Moto Talbott Collection in Carmel Valley CA. [David Goldman]

Sitting up on top though, we understood. We understood how cold it was. There was a thermometer on the warming house Warming House door that said it was minus 32 degrees! And the warming house door was locked! All of us sat there at the top of Pikes Peak, on that barren mountain, freezing to death. The race was run on ice and snow, and of course it wasn't paved in those days. Going down was the coldest! It was a lot colder than racing up because I didn't have adrenaline. People were covering themselves with anything they could find, and one poor fella put duct tape on his face to act as a windshield, but when he pulled the duct tape off, his skin pulled off too. We were back at Recife's that night where the whole thing started - drinking beer. I wouldn't have missed that race for anything in the world. It injected me with enough adrenaline to get me into motorcycles and now I'm almost 73 years old. I'm still into going fast on motorcycles. so I'm really glad I ran that race at speed.

Riding keeps me young

To me riding a motorcycle is one of the most complex, thrilling adventures that I can do for myself.  It can change how I'm thinking for the day, for the week, for the month.  The term 'freedom' is always used, and yes, you're free to a point, but you have to focus so you don't kill yourself. We have cell phone drivers, we have deer, we have animals. We were taught never to hit any animal bigger than what you could eat that night on a plate. Where I live, the fears and worries of hitting deer are incredible. But what does it mean when I get on a bike? I I focus on riding. I focus on the area. I love turns. I love mountains. I just went to Colorado and put almost 4000 miles on my Ducati driving over passes and enjoying the scenery. But that focus is important to keeping young for me: riding keeps you young because you're not in a car surrounded by a heater, or Bluetooth or air conditioning, with rolled up windows. You're smelling roadkill, you're smelling the sage, and when you cross Nevada. you're smelling the fires that have run through. For example, up in Wyoming there were 17 fires in the summer of 2012 that I rode through: you are involved with the world that you're riding through, you're involved with nature, you're involved with temperatures, from the animals to the sun, it evokes danger, it helps your adrenaline stay up.  It's exciting for me going fast on a bike out in the West, that's my favorite place to ride. It wouldn't be the same on the 95 going to Boston from Florida, which I've done.  Riding keeps me young, and I look forward to it, and when I get off that bike, hopefully I'm sore and a little bit cold. I've had a good ride. My day has been made. And then I started planning my next ride. I don't know how I could live without riding, it's definitely in my blood. It's certainly part of my character, and I meet the best people on bikes too. All of us seem to have a common ground. That is amazing. So stay young, stay safe, and ride a bike. I love them. That’s so cool.

 

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: 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]