LOWLIFE

They (whoever they are) say that people, consciously or unconsciously (probably unconsciously actually, ’cos consciously would just be too weird), look like, or grow to look like, their dogs.

Words: Nik

Pictures: Simon Everett

Okay, so this is, quite obviously, received wisdom (common knowledge that’s held to be true, but may not be, and usually isn’t), but think about your friends who have dogs, or you yourself and your own dog, and see if you agree with the above statement. Yes? No? Indifferent?

What about people and their bikes? Okay, so this is harder to qualify because, obviously, most people don’t look anything like their motorcycles (well, not unless they were particularly unfortunately gifted by Mama Nature anyway), but there are a few of us who do share some common characteristics with the mo’sickles that we favour.

I’ll use myself as an example for this; I’ve now had my bike, the Future Bike, for 24 years, and it (it’s most definitely an ‘it’ and not a ‘she’) and I share a few attributes – we’re both a little on the large side, we both have a countenance that’s not to everyone’s taste, we both smell slightly funny, and we’re both prone to chronic flatulence. Its is down to a quite short exhaust pipe, mine… umm, isn’t.

Graham and his Buell… taking no prisoners!


Graham, the owner and builder of the Buell chop you see here in front of you, is another who resembles his machine. No, I don’t mean he actually looks like his bike; it’s more that he shares its take-no-prisoners attitude. He’s quite a hardcore guy – back in the early part of the century he was one of the founder members of the Vertical Brits streetbike stunt team, riding his favoured fully faired FireBlades in a style that was more influenced by US stunters The Starboyz than the likes of our homegrown stars like Gary Rothwell and Dave Coates.

In fact, he actually rode with the ’Boyz on a number of occasions at various shows, and shared their in-yer-face attitude to riding and life, albeit with a strong north-eastern English bias. These days he’s into big Yank motors and hot-rods, and runs a very cool bar-cum-barbers in Fulwell in Sunderland where all the cool kids hang out, be they bikers or hot-rodders or something in-between.

It ain’t pretty, but it does the job…

He built this bike back in 2010 when he stopped riding stunt bikes professionally. He’d had a hankering to put together a bike that was minimal, radical and, very importantly, capable of being ridden every day no matter what the weather might do. He sold one of his ’Blades to fund the purchase of a fuel-injected Buell XB12S Lightning engine, of 2006 vintage, and with the help of his mates made a minimal hardtail frame to cradle it. Another CBR900, a 2009 model, gave up its upside-down front end and its rear wheel, and just about everything else he either had lying about in his workshop or was bartered with friends.

No frills, just a lowlife rat

Because it was never intended to be anything other than a day-to-day bike, he adopted a real no-frills attitude to its creation. As he says: “This was the first bike I ever built. It ain’t pretty and, truthfully, it ain’t completely finished, but it’s light, quick, handles and stops on a dime. It was built to be a rat bike using premium parts, to ride locally from A to B, rain or shine, and it’s never failed me. The plan for the future is to completely strip it and start again, and finish it with improvements, but even then I’ll still keep the simplicity of what it is – a lowlife rat.”

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