For custom motorcycle fans, The Bike Shed’s annual gathering at the Tobacco Dock in London, is probably the most anticipated event of the year this side of the Atlantic.
Triumph entered all guns blazing with an incredible variety of custom machines. The D*Face customs featured alongside a Street Tracker, Rusty Bobber, Scrambler and Café Racer. Old models and new were celebrated, with other customisers such as Erne’s Euromotos bringing their ‘Dark Matte’ 2012 Speed Triple and FCR Original’s Green Legend.
It’s hard to describe the Bike Shed show in one word. Honestly, it has it all. Whiskey, tattoos, haircuts, cocktails and street food permeate the huge open vintage-themed Tobacco Dock. This is far from a traditional exhibition space. The original brickwork of the Grade 1-listed building and vast timber beams seem to echo the classic motorcycle vibe and retro-inspired fashion.
Unlike the usual motorcycles shows, the Bike Shed is all about craftsmanship on a smaller level. Individual artists, small workshops and talented customisers. Of course, there are bigger names involved – Triumph for one – but there’s a real sense of celebration of the custom community on a personal level. In an age of computers and virtually-augmented-everything, this show is all about working with your hands. Metal, leather and mechanical components are masterfully combined to create kinetic artwork.
In this environment the engine, frame and exhausts are the heroes – rarely contained by excess faring. Mark Drury brought his 1958 Triumph T110. A beautiful metallic blue tank, high bars and scrambler tyres mirror a Steve McQueen-style ‘60s look, but also harbours a touch of modernity with its metal-flake paint and fat rear tyre. It’s not quite like anything we’ve seen, and that’s the essence of this show. No two motorcycles are the same.
It’s tempting to say it’s like stepping back in time, but this really is something new. The custom motorcycle movement today is as vibrant and forward-thinking as ever, from superchargers and electric to modified production bikes and unique design.
We caught up with custom builder Anton Knutsson and Throttle Dolls member, Susanna Gray, who travelled over from Stockholm, to get their thoughts on the show: “It’s incredible, I love it. The atmosphere is really chilled and there are some amazing motorbikes here. I tend to keep myself away from what other people are doing in their workshops for most of the year, so it’s intriguing to see what everyone’s been up to. Triumph brought some great-looking bikes.” Anton stated.
“There’s so much to enjoy, from seeing the best customs, buying records and meeting like-minded people. We’ve already been and got tattoos,” Susanna added. “Well, you know, we’re here so why not.”
A relaxed outlook is everywhere you look – people who enjoy motorcycles enjoy life. As the saying goes, you never see a motorcycle outside a psychiatrist’s office (unless it belongs to the psychiatrist!). Next year’s show is already booked in, so mark 24-26 May 2019 in your calendar.