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The Verona Motorbike Expo. Italy.


























Spent last weekend in one of 6 giant warehouse type buildings at the annual Verona bike expo. Its a massive event with all types of bikes, old and new, custom and stock. Its was a pain in the arse asking people to look after the booth while I went for a piss but I still had a great time. Got to see lots of old friends and made plenty of new ones. So many good custom bikes too, there is such a lot of diversity in Europe these days. It warms the cockles of me heart it does. Ciao, ti amo.

Mike Vandegriff


Have you ever met someone that could find beauty in anything they see? That is Mike Vandegriff to a T. The way Mike captures things is so natural and real, with just a touch of artistic chaos. Mike is truly remarkable when it comes to how he gets his angles and is always looking at things a little differently then most. I have seen the dude first hand, climbing on building roof tops and diving under bikes to get the right shot, the shot he knows he wants. I am a big fan of all his work, not just his motorcycle stuff. We have become pretty good friends over the last year and I am grateful to have met such an amazing person. Not only is his vision as an artist amazing but his outlook on life far exceeds most. He is the life of the party and the first person to make you laugh. He is so humble and good natured as a human being too! I am so happy he has put his nerves aside and is willing to showcase some of his amazing work at Fuel Cleveland May 9th. Here is a little interview we did the other day. Enjoy! 

-Mikey Revolt




Mike Vandegriff, where do you call home? 

M: Indianapolis, IN

How long have you been in photography?

M: I've really been into photography since high school so roughly close to 15 years now. I was lucky to have a killer photo program in high school that pushed me into studying photo on a serious level later in college here in Indy. 

What is photography to you as person? 

M: An outlet for sure. It drives me on a lot of different levels. Some things I get excited about shooting that are happening "in the now" like live band shows or even bike shows or rides. Then on the other side of the coin I love being able to control every aspect of a shoot from lighting to wardrobe to whatever little details I can bring out. 

Is there other mediums you dabble in or have mastered artistically? 

M: I have always dabbled in drawing and painting(on canvas). I got kind of really discouraged using painting as my major in college and switched to photo primarily but I still come back to it all the time. I do a little bit of elaborate rattle can stuff with tanks as well in the paint realm but I'm merely just having fun with that stuff when a good challenge arises that a friend is willing to let me have free reign over. 



You have been in some bands over the years, did you take your camera with or was it mostly music business only on the road! 

M: Always gotta have my camera on the road. I've always shot bands locally here in Indy and the tri state area while playing shows and doing the "weekend warrior" kind of thing but shooting on tour is a lot of fun as well. 

What are some of the craziest things you have ever done or seen? I have personally witnessed you in a "man thong" as yu jumped into a pickup truck bed pool, I know you can top that!!! 

M: For reasons of personal incrimination I am not allowed to discuss said crazy things. ;-) Let's just say I know how to have a good time but it's not always 100% legal. 



What kind of bike do you currently have and any challenges, hiccups or fun things about it?

M: Well, I have quite a few bikes but my main project at the moment that has been the culmination of the last 4 years has been my 2005 rubber mount hardtail 1200 sportster with rubber mount free floating 4 foot exhaust. When I first set out on the project in the fall of 2010, no one and I mean no one was making any kind of hardtails for rubber mount sportsters. Hell there was just no market, the damn things hadn't even been around long enough for people to even wreck them enough to end up in a scrap pile to chop them. I could have easily dumped a few thousand bucks into a hard mount sporty, bought a paughco frame and rolled the fuck out but I wanted something that was gonna be different than anything anyone had ever seen and something that was a challenge. Honestly almost every single part on that bike is custom made from scratch from a number of different shops or on my friends garage floors through many late night chop sessions. Each part had its own "hiccup" as you will in trying to make it work on the bike. I've honestly learned more about building bikes from this project more than the last two bikes I did combined. The list of hiccups are too long to even list but the worst of it all is the exhaust. Broken and cracked two times and mended on the fly enough to get home. The process of trial and error for making rubber mount free floating 4 foot tall exhaust sturdy enough to support itself was one of the hardest challenges of the whole bike. Through it all though I have met and bonded with some amazing people along the way that I never would have had the chance to meet if it weren't for that pain in the ass machine. 


If you could only choose one bike in the world to have which one would it be? 

M: Ewwww, damn,......I'm gonna come out of left field and say any Vincent Black Shadow. Either that or the fucking "King Kong" double knucklehead in the Harley museum, not that I could even ride it. I would just sit on it every day and sport wood and make "braaaaap" noises. 



Is art and photography an escape, an outlet or a passion for you? 

M: Definitely an outlet but on most occasions a passion for sure. Just depends what the project is or what the event I'm attempting to shoot. Obviously I'm gonna be a lot more passionate about shooting something provocative or exciting like a bike event than a wedding or something of that nature. Basically, if the subject gets my blood pumping,....then chances are the end result is gonna be something amazing. 

Who or what motivates you and inspires you as an artist? 

M: It's kind of weird, I find myself either being inspired by my peers that are doing great things "in the now" or photographers from long long ago that were doing incredible things before people even had the balls to think of it. By far one of my favorite photographers to this day is the work of Andre Kertesz from the 1930's. The kind of things he was doing back then were unreal and so ahead of his time. He could have been killed for the photos he took, I always respected that. Being a photographer isn't always about playing it safe. I find the more dangerous or compelling the situation is,....the more likely an incredible image is gonna blossom from it. 



Camera preferences, do you like digital or film better? You have a wide array of cameras, whats your favorite?

M: I actually refused to even touch digital until around 2008, so until then it was nothing but film. I still try and shoot film as much as I can but obviously the convenience and cost of shooting digital usually out weighs film in the end. I truly believe though that as many filters as we can put on things digitally, it will never possess the true aesthetic that film can capture. So, to answer the question,....I prefer film but,....I can't always afford it. 

Where is one place you would want to just drop everything, jump on your bike and go right now if you could? 

M: Las Vegas,...sounds cheesy but in all my travels and tours, that is the one place I've never been. I also feel like a bike trip there would turn into some Hunter S. Thompson nightmarish freak out adventure real fast...well as much as I can freak out on red bull and ginger beer that is. 

Where is the coolest place you have ever been to?

M: Honestly Detroit kind of blew my mind. I have been traveling to Gary, IN for several years to photograph the ruins of that city but Detroit is just like the most insane wasteland I've ever seen. I can really appreciate the beauty within its decay. 



How are you always the life of the party and sober as a bird being straightedge? I commend you on it! 

M: I've always just tried to lead by example I guess. It doesn't always take alcohol to have a good time, it just takes the energy of the people around you and your own willingness to have a good time.

Favorite 80’s or 90’s TV show? 

M: "The State" on MTV, back when it didn't suck so horrifically. 

Do you have the winter time blues with all this snow falling everywhere or you keeping busy with other things? 

M: I honestly get at least a minor form of depression every winter as do a lot of people but I usually just focus more on music when that happens and try to channel that into something constructive. It's easier to write dark and gritty stuff when you aren't happy. 

Anyone you would like to give a shout out or thank? 

M: Well, I know it's gonna sound cheesy, but I have to thank you for believing in me enough to give me a shot at presenting my work at this show.

Don't forget to check out Mike's photos at Fuel Cleveland May 9th and check out more of his crazy shenanigans on www.instagram.com/mikevandegriff


BF7 Invited Builder : Paul Cox

I have said this many times but has never rang truer...one of the hardest things we do is select the builders, but it is also can be one of the most fun & rewarding. We have had some really cool & interesting guys come through this process over the years and Paul Cox is one of those guys. It's really crazy how all this works...I remember watching Paul & Larry on Biker Build-off ( yes I watched every one & love them)  and being blown away with what they were doing..... flash forward a decade or so and now I'm doing a show he's in...that's nuts!  Paul's body of work is amazing and goes way beyond building motorcycles. He is a old world craftsman, an artist, a true professional and a gentleman....builds a mean chopper too. Last year Paul went above & beyond to show the Born-Free crowd what he was capable of and he definitely delivered. He's back this year and just sent in a few pictures and words on what he is up to...     
 
I’m very proud to say that I’ve been asked back to be a part of this year’s Born Free
Show #7. When I built my bike for the show last year, The Guillotine, I felt really driven
to pull out all the stops and basically re-invent and re-engineer everything involved with
the project. This tends to be my approach to most things in my world, especially
motorcycles. I see something in front of me, and have a need to change, improve or
completely make it over from scratch. I feel a painful excitement when I know what I
“want” to do, but also know that there is not enough time to truly achieve it with balance
and grace. It’s a daily struggle. There should be a 12 step program for those of us with more ideas than time.

Anyway, as I planned this year’s attack, I had already started thinking of how to make
this ’46 Knuckle crazy from top to bottom. Huge displacement, about a dozen carbs, 5
magnetos, exposed flywheels with fully engraved cases inside and out. I was planning
an even crazier girder fork than last year with a frame full of steel overlays and lugs set
off by plating, paint, leafing and stripes. Then.... A certain peace crept up from my loins
like the warmth you feel slipping under the blood stained water of a slit wrist bathtub. I
said to myself, “This time, for once, I want to keep it simple.”
 
I picked up a 1946 HD Knucklehead FL engine from my friend and artist John
Copeland. This engine was originally owned by another pal, Andy Camay who sold it to
me years ago, then I sold it to John. It sat up on a shelf behind the bar at Black Bear for
about a year before I got it back for this project. Keeping it in the family. I’ve got the
engine completely apart, down to the bare cases at this point. My approach this time
around is to build a super clean and fun machine with classic details and a few modern
twists. As much as I appreciate original iron, I’ve never been a restoration guy. I’m a
chopper guy. So, if along the way I feel the original heads need more fins or external
drains, I’ll add em. If I want to shave some fins off the original cylinders or cut the relay
block off the cases, I will. I may do a dual Linkert set-up, but beyond that, I’m just going
to build a straight forward 74” Knuckle engine.
 
Another neat piece I’m working with on the project is a 1970’s era Little John 5-speed
overdrive transmission. This predates the HD 5-speed by about 10 years and is an
overdrive instead of just a close ratio. James, from Dudley’s Basement, a decades old
and respected Long Island bike shop, turned me on to this set-up. He had most of the
parts to build two of these rare gear boxes. I’ll pick the best parts of what I got from him
and try to assemble a reliable Little John trans to run behind the ’46. The shift lid is
specific to the Little John case because it has to be longer and guides an extra shift
fork. It’s a ratchet top style, that I may convert to non-ratchet for a simpler, more direct
shift pattern. Either way, it will be hand shift.
 
For the frame, in the light of my new-found aesthetic clarity, I’m going to hard-tail an
old Shovel frame I’ve had knocking around the shop, and clean up the original casting
for light molding and paint. I even thought about going super-sanitary with a tube neck
and no castings, but I do love the organic feeling of massaged lugs and mounts. I’ll
paint the bike here at my shop, and probably have my daughter Dylan jump in to help out.

The sheet metal is still a toss-up whether I go high or low with the tank. I have a little
piece of fender that I’ll probably start with, and maybe work some rod around the edges
to set off the shape. I’m still undecided on the oil tank, but I may weld up a couple old
spun aluminum cylinder halves that I have from a spinner in Queens. Otherwise, I
always dug the woven stainless horse shoe tanks that were being made in the Bronx
years ago. I had considered doing one last year, but didn’t. Maybe this time I will.
For wheels, I have a little spool hub for the front, and an aluminum Barnes quickchange
racing hub for the rear that I had already laced to a 17” Sun rim with stainless
spokes. This hub runs 4-bolt rotor and sprocket. I have a pair of Pirelli Scorpions laying
around for rubber, but I’ve been putting dual-sport tires on choppers for about 14 years now, so I may look into some other options there.

These are my general ideas and direction at this point. So far, I’m loving the feeling of
this project, and it’s a nice contrast to all the ones that I’ve done where I felt like it had to
be crazy and over the top. I still have a long way to go no matter how you look at it, so
it’s back to work for me right now. Good luck to all the fellow builders with your projects
and I cant wait to see. P


Ness Frame For Sale


Vic writes...Early Sportster Ness Hard-Headed frame. Great condition, Never used after conversion. Comes with Swing Arm. I picked this up in Hayward.$795.00
Contact: Vic

Roadside Assitance


Boomer draws the short straw...

Terry's ShuVL - redux







A couple of winters back when Dong and I shot one of the best ShuVL's on the planet for the cover of Greasy Kulture.  Terry's bike raised the bar about a hundred notches. Our photo skills struggled to do it justice, but in the end the feature turned out alright.

Alien Run 2015


April 25th 2015

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