Monday, February 09, 2009


Issue #2 of Sideburn arrived today - it's not a chronicle of the hirsute, but a magazine dedicated entirely to motorcycles which break traction in corners. This includes vintage Dirt Track machines and their riders, Flat Track, Speedway, indoor track racing, Japanese Auto Race (which, contrary to the name, is a gambling-based motorcycle race), hotrodders like Max Schaaf, heroes of yesteryear - you name it. You have to hand it to publishers Gary Inman and Ben Part for sticking to a theme, an unusual one at that.

The objects of Sideburn's affection are almost entirely Vintage, even if reconfigured in new ways - such is the emerging ethos of whole new generation of creative motorcycle builders. Not to be confused with the Kustom Kulture Kids, with whom the Sideburn circle overlaps a bit. But not too much - don't be fooled by the nouveau typography (from the amazing Eduardo Recife of Brazil) and inclusion of cheeky photos and the odd tattoo, Gary and Ben have ridden off on entirely unique tangent. Who would have thought to devote an entire magazine to sliding motorcycles?

For example; an article about old cigarette trading cards with Dirt Track heroes from the late 1920's - that's Vintagent turf.

Another article lavishes attention on a mock Harley XRTT flat-tracker (above), built from an '84 XR1000 roadster. After detailing the time and expense taken to build this stunning bike, the owner admits it 'handled like a greased pig on a waterbed' - and sold it off in disappointment! I could add a coda; he used racing Dunlop KR180 flat-track tires, which indeed make a road bike feel squirrely....they're made for the dirt! I've ridden a road-converted XRTT with these tires, and when leaned hard over into a corner, they squirm terribly; but I'd Been Warned about them, so had an idea of what to expect - the bike was actually fantastic - smooth and progressive power, great chassis. Shame about the tires though - another case of rubber which 'looks right' but isn't.

Sideburn interviews 'King' Kenny Roberts, American racing legend, about his brief relationship with the shockingly overpowered Yamaha TZ750 flat-tracker - he calls it a 'good motorcycle', but goes on to explain that if it weren't banned shortly after his Indianapolis Mile win in 1975, the bike would have ruined the sport of Dirt Track racing. Indy was the bike's only win, and the 150mph machine with no front brake was shortly relegated to history. "You were riding a guided missile against something that's 30mph slower [the Harley XR750s], and heavier. It would have killed the racing and it probably would have killed some people... I didn't want to be dead because somebody else on one of those things couldn't get stopped." He also confirms his quote from the day, "they don't pay me enough to ride that thing."

Sideburn's photos and layout are fun and cheeky - kudos to Ben for the art, and Gary for the writing. If you're interested, order a copy here. They also keep a blog of the same name, which is worth a gander.

Below is a youtube video of Max and Jasin Phares during the Sideburn photoshoot in Oakland, having fun sliding their custom Knuckleheads in an empty/gravelly parking lot.


Anonymous said...

many thanks for the props on the VG.
We salute you

hacksaw said...

unbeleiveable this site!
thanks to CWHoyer for sending me here. And of course, thank you paul, for all this good moto syuff.