Interview: Shawn Britton


Many Americans share perceptions about their northern neighbors that are seldom rooted in truth. For some, beer-guzzling bear wrestlers come to mind. For others, hockey hosers dominate the mental picture. Calgary, Alberta native Shawn Britton fits none of these maple-soaked stereotypes. Our friend Boozefighter Josh met Shawn on the El Diablo Run in 2008, and the two bikeriders have crossed paths at a number of events since.

Shawn’s self-effacing nature prohibits him from boasting about his motorcycle exploits, but anyone who rides a twin-cylinder Honda across three countries is officially a superhero in our book. Read Josh’s interview with Shawn and we think you’ll agree—this chipper Canuck has “Captain Canadian” written all over him.




Name: Shawn Britton

August 21, 1973

Hometown: Calgary, Alberta, Canada. That's the Hinterland

Occupation: Builder of fences





Bikes: A bit of this, a bit of that: a 1944 Royal Enfield WDCO 350 single; a stupid old panhead in a shovel frame; a hellishly frustrating '77 ironhead; my jewel of a Honda CB450, circa ’81. Only the Honda is a running bike—the rest are collecting dust

Outside interests: I thought motorcycles were a lifestyle? I really dig wrenching on almost anything. As Canada descends into the time of endless night, I'm working on a '68 VW Notchback and a '51 Chevy 4-door Deluxe


Why are you so awesome? I am how God made me? Hell—I'm not awesome, I'm just a dude

Your most radical chopper adventure: Tough call. I've ridden my Honda all over the place: four weeks in Mexico, Riding to the Gypsy run then to Atomic Custom's Ground Zero solo, went to Disaster Daze in Vancouver, Fuck I sound like I'm dropping names, “Hey look at how awesome I am!” What a dick! Seriously though, last April a few of us Canadians were lucky enough to ride with the Vegas Crew to the Biltwell Bash. Four of us rode from Lake Skinner to Oceanside. Flat out through the mountains and splitting lanes and acting like dicks. Just jamming hard with good friends. That was pretty rad

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever built or made: I built a fire extinguisher in a mason jar with baking soda, vinegar and a straw in the lid. It actually sucked real bad. It couldn't even blow out a candle. I don't know what the raddest thing I have ever built is. I think everything I have made so far could be better. But I am pretty happy with my Honda.

What got me into motorcycles: My friend Joel built a rad choppabobaloolah out of a ‘72 or ‘73 Honda 350. It was stupid loud, the exhaust was a full bore megaphone, it was a total death trap and it was awesome. He built it all himself and would rave endlessly about how awesome it was to ride like hell all over the place. So I had to find out for myself. He was right. Thanks Joel, you changed my life

What five albums would you take to a deserted island?
The Sadies, New Seasons; Priestess, Hello Master; Slayer, South of Heaven; Patsy Cline, Best Of; The Black Keys, The Big Come Up. But realize this list will change in about ten minutes—can I just take my iPod? How about a book? I'd take “Siddhartha” by Hermann Hesse

What’s your favorite food? Street food. Anywhere I've ever been, street food is always the best. Pick a busy vendor. And for what it's worth, “tacos de cabesa” means “head tacos.” Yep, made with the meat from the head. Eyes, brains, cheeks. Good stuff

Favorite drinks: On a hot day, pineapple juice and soda; on a cold day, Mexican hot chocolate




What’s your vendetta against Mexico? What?! I love Mexico! I'd let it move into my place if it wanted to. OK, here's the deal with me and Mexico. The decision was made for a bunch of us to go on the EDR in ‘08. By the time the rubber hit the road, there were only two of us. No big deal. Graham and I drove to Temecula, unloaded our bikes and ripped around town for about 45 minutes. Then Graham's bike ate shit and tore up the stator. So it goes. We got it fixed the next day—big props to Bob at Temecula Motorcycle Service!

Since we departed well behind everyone else, we thought one of us should drive the truck and the other could ride his bike. Graham rode first and we swapped at the US/Mexico border. Forty-five minutes later, I'm on the side of the road with an overheating bike. In the truck it went. The next day, I think I have my shit dialed and go for a ride. It was a real international affair, Eric from Vegas, Paul from New Hampshire and Graham and me reppin' the big cold Canada. We're having a great time and about 30 minutes out I hear that awesome deep down knock that signals the end. So I did what I thought was best and twisted the throttle ‘til it would go no more and continued to down shift ‘til the bike locked up. I sat at the side of the road while the truck came to save my ass.

I ended up driving the chase truck for the rest of the trip. I was super lamed out but it was good because I met a ton of people I may not have otherwise. This epic fail of an attempt lit the fire to go back to Mexico and ride the hell out of it, and I did.

The following winter I rode from Ciudad Acuna to Tampico on the east coast then to Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta on the west coast then north to Topolobampo and took the ferry to La Pas on Baja then all the way North to Tijuana and into the US. All in all I think it was 5,000 miles. I did have my girlfriend driving a truck behind me the whole way but the bike was only a passenger for three days. So that's my Mexico deal. I truly love Mexico. Some of the best riding I've ever done. It's pretty bananas: cliffs, cows, dogs, big trucks. Awesome. Mexico, I love you. Call me.

What’s the deal with Canada:
It's pretty cool up here, man. We can't ride all year long like you tender fellas in California, so we have to make the most of it while we can. The scenery is giant. The Canadian Rockies would blow your mind. We spell things properly: colour, favour, honour. We also use the metric system, you guys down there have to get on board, man, it so easy! It's all based on the number ten! Not everyone up here likes hockey. I've heard it described as America Lite—tastes great less filling

How as the Gypsy Run: Awesome, epic, life-changing, high point, I could go on. Almost 10,000k solo across America on a 450cc rigid Jap chop. I was on the road for three weeks, riding all day, every day, except for one. You get kind of wierd when you only talk to gas station attendants, so when you do meet regular people you tend to talk. A lot. It was difficult for sure but I would do it again in a heartbeat. People always say, “Wow, a once in a lifetime trip!” Hell no! I'll do it again. America has some stunning beauty and fantastic people. Everyone down there should be proud of what they have.

Anything we missed? I'm left handed and I used to play the bagpipes




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Commented on 12-7-2009 At 07:49 am

Shawn KICKS ASS!!!!!

Commented on 12-7-2009 At 08:03 am

Truly an inspiring Canadian, this guy scored a shitload of cool points for Canada.

Commented on 12-7-2009 At 08:12 am

Mucho Respect Senoir!


Commented on 12-7-2009 At 09:01 am

Good stuff

Commented on 12-7-2009 At 09:32 am

hey shawn.... RUSH RULES!!!!

Commented on 12-7-2009 At 09:35 am

Shawn, because of you, I love Canada! Muy bien amigo. Muy bien!

Commented on 12-7-2009 At 09:46 am

Shawn is neat, neat is Shawn.

Commented on 12-7-2009 At 10:29 am

There are not enough good words for this man.

You fuckin rule Shawn. Come back and see us soon ay!

Commented on 12-7-2009 At 10:45 am

Very neat! Some style-chopper!

Commented on 12-7-2009 At 10:46 am

Very neat! Some style-chopper!

Commented on 12-7-2009 At 10:54 am

This Guy Shawn is the real deal. The first time I spoke with him was on the phone when he was stranded in Pennsylvania with a bad rear tire. I called to see if I could give him a hand but he had it under control and said he would hook up with the rest of the Gypsy run pack in Vermont. I did not know at the time what kind of bike he rode or where in Canada he came from, as Canada is only 1 hour from my home in Western NY and we regularly travel to the great white north for the day. He was a no show the first night during the epic downpour. However, he met up with us for the night time adventures on the second night and he rolled in solo on the Honda homebuilt rigid from Calgary Alberta Canada. For all of you not versed in geography that is western Canada above Montana “God's Country”. I was dumfounded that he attempted this without a riding partner or any travelling support. I guess all I think about is Shawn when guys are moaning that someplace is too far or it may rain or their 5 year old stock bike is not a road travelling machine. I whip out my phone and show the photo of Shawn smiling on his Honda.
I was amused at the wit and general good natured guy Shawn is. All I was thinking about when he was telling stories of his trip from Canada to the east coast this guy has it licked. He set a goal and followed through. I am sure he has more stories because when he left the East he was going on the Atomic Throw down in New Mexico then on to home.
After I came home from my trip and was back at work I kept on looking at the calendar telling myself that Shawn was still out there living the adventure. By the way, I now know more comes out of Canada that Strippers, Beer and Hockey Players.

Commented on 12-7-2009 At 11:12 am

I don't trust a country that puts gravy on their fries........just kidding, but seriously that's disgusting

Commented on 12-7-2009 At 04:52 pm

Nice to hear about Canadian riders. I like Canadians, I just wish they would stop sneaking their quarters and pennies into my change. haha

Commented on 12-7-2009 At 04:57 pm

Metric System and Gravy fries - man that's just like Australia!

Commented on 12-7-2009 At 07:29 pm

its not just gravy, its gravy and cheese curds man

that bike is awesome! canada rules.

Commented on 12-7-2009 At 08:09 pm

Up where I live, NE Montana (South Canada) I ride with alot of Canidians. They are all cool guys. Oh yeah, gravy on fries is some good eating.

Commented on 12-7-2009 At 08:09 pm

Diggen the bike man. Viva Mexico Cabrones!

Commented on 12-7-2009 At 09:29 pm

Shawn is a super nice guy that is definitely "living" the lifestyle and not pretending. I envy the freedom he seems to have and aspire to do half of what he's done already.
On second thought he's a dick and I'm super jealous.

Commented on 12-7-2009 At 11:47 pm

Base 10 rules!

Commented on 12-8-2009 At 03:05 am

I love the rear wheel with the big hub and the whole bike in this nice "juice".

Commented on 12-8-2009 At 10:24 am

when i am on my death bed, i will remember shawn as one of the most real & legendary motherfuckers i have ever had the chance to hang out with throughout my life. back in 08, we spent plenty of quality time on the EDR & the last time we rode together was when i was escorting him south through NJ to the walt whitman bridge into philly after the gypsy run & a little garage thrash session at mike47s so his honda could have lights & a kickstand again. we shook hands at 60mph & he throttled off into the sunset on that deafening honda twin. the fact that a man who tackles such an insane amount of mileage on a bike most would be scared to ride to the corner store & maintains such a humble attitude speaks volumes of what a real man is. shawn britton = legend.

Commented on 12-8-2009 At 11:01 am

i enjoy your late night "relationship" calls to my house.

i think we may be able to work things out.
i'm just not ready to be physical again with you,but i would like to come over and watch a movie with you?
we should ease into it this time around.

yours untruly,

Commented on 12-8-2009 At 02:38 pm

Truly an inspiration to here that someone would take a rigid Japanese motorcycle and just ride!!! Vive la le Canada!! Go Flames!!!!

Commented on 12-8-2009 At 02:49 pm

Shawn's a vicious baby killer. Met him at a gas stop somewhere in the Nevada desert, en route to The Bash... super chill, super cool.
And he has balls of steel. Ended up passing him 10 or 20 miles later, and I gotta say... anybody who pushes a 450 to the point that it seriously sounds like it's about to explode into his taint is a gnarly mo-fucka' in my book.
Hesh on, Shawn! Maybe we'll cross paths again in some distant dustbowl!

Commented on 12-9-2009 At 09:44 am

Big ups! Respect! When you say you know this guy that is the most real, authentic bad ass motherfucker, your wrong. Unless you are talking about Shawn.
I met Shawn on EDR in 08. He and Graham lent us tools, and money! And when my shifter broke Shawn tore his off his bike to give to me. They gave our downed friends rides and even though I only knew him for a few days I feel like we've been friends for our whole lives. That's the way he treats you. For real.
And his riding trips are ones of dreams. See you on the road brother!

Commented on 12-9-2009 At 06:53 pm

Holy shit!!!...after reading about Shawn and his adventures, and then reading all the fabulous comments from others, I now realize how bad my life truely sucks!!! for that?!?!?

Kudo's to you Shawn...I'm just an old fucker who still dreams about the day when I can take the time do some of the stuff you've already done...If our paths ever cross, I know I'll be a better man having met you...

Larry in MD

Commented on 12-11-2009 At 01:04 am

yo shawn you know a dude named derek that lives in your neck of the woods, builds fences for a living, and rocks a triumph chop? if so tell him to say what up cause i rode one cold and windy night with him here in slc and had a good ole time.

p.s. your bike looks rad! i dig its evolution, all the repairs on it make it like a photo album.

Commented on 12-11-2009 At 01:17 am

oh also your description about riding 10k was spot on!!! couldnt have said it better m self. last summer i was on the road for 3months straight riding around. i feel ya on talking to weirdo gas station workers and having a rad time. i usually found my self flying down the road screaming misfits lyrics as loud as possible.... the texas desert will do it to ya.

thanks for the good read.

Commented on 12-17-2009 At 11:22 am

That kind of mileage on a rigid Honda 450? Im apprehensive about taking my bike past LA or El Centro from San Diego! You sir, are my hero.

Commented on 12-28-2009 At 03:06 pm

Nice rite up. Very interesting to read about someone in our area. May be an eye opener to people from other areas. R

Commented on 1-12-2010 At 06:01 pm

You blowed it up real good, eh Shawn? Man oh Man, to twist that bike to death while ridin it has to be the craziest ! Way to rep the great white north Man. I guess we'll all have to ride down now.


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