Bike: Royal Enfield - Bullet 350
Location: Bangalore, India
Sunil is one of my colleague and one a proud Royal Enfield owner. Royal Enfield is the iconic motorcycle of India. Initially made by English, the production stopped in Britain but continues in India. The Chennai’s factory is still churning out new ones trying to meet a surprisingly high demand for them (it takes more than 6 month to get a brand new one). Unlike other transport Indian symbols (like the Chetak or the Ambassador), the Royal Enfield is still not out of fashion. But according to the connoisseurs, the best Bullet (the most popular model) was made during the 70s-80s. Like the one Sunil has, which is from 1985. His Bullet is simple, rough, respecting the natural class of this bike. He’s also driving it casually, Indian style, sandals, shirt and a simple helmet!
Sunil was dreaming of owning one since he was a child when he was riding his uncle one sitting on the tank and holding the stearing (like many Indian kids do). Since then, he wanted it badly but had to wait a long time to be able to afford it. He finally found this one in a garage in a bad condition and restored it step by step. He admires the way the bike was engineered, simple and tough.
He’s using the bike mostly for commuting in Bangalore. He also did one trip back to his native place in Kerala once (500 kms).
Name: PA (and Max)
Bike: Vespa PX
Location: Paris 10
Pierre-Alexis (aka PA) is what we can call a real parisian. He quickly understood that living in Paris required to own its own scooter, especially when you have to cross Paris every morning, or if you need to escape from the city (like he did once, to Fontainebleau, with his friend Maxime here on the picture). But for PA, this was more than a convenient way of transportation, it was mainly for the “old mechanic” and the loud sound of the engine that are typical of the PX. If PA had to buy a car, it would be a Citroën 2CV ! He also appreciates the look, the fact that it’s not too shiny and that it doesn’t really attract thieves.
PA customized its Vespa PX a bit: first, by repainting it from white to green, then by putting a few army stickers. He’s now considering changing its color again, to peacock blue this time. We’re sure he’ll set a new trend again !
Bike: Peugeot 103 VOGUE
Location: Saint Quentin La Poterie
The story: Jean is not exactly the typical “biker” we often see in Paris. However, I liked his authentic french style and his small “mobylette”. Jean lives in a small artists village in the south of France, he uses his Peugeot 103 to go to the center of the village but also to impress the ladies living there. Jean kindly accepted I took a photograph of him but to one condition: that we send him this picture… in a framed paper format. “Old school” rules !
Bike: Blitz Motorcycle based on a BMW R75
Location: Paris 18
It’s funny how sometimes you meet people by chance. I first discovered the “custom bikes” movement in Australia thanks to Deus Motorcycles. The idea of this new movement is to customized bikes to make them simpler with a kind of vintage look (to summarize). It’s a bit related to the fixies bikes. I loved it instantly.
Coming back in France, I finally heard about a small shop doing also custom bikes in the same spirit, right in Paris, Blitz. But I never went further.
And one day, while I was wandering in the 18th “arrondissement”, I noticed a bike parked in an empty street with a shape that I like. I get close to have a pic of it and it was actually a Blitz motorcycle made from a classic BMW and a Honda tank. Then, Fred, the bike owner’s and Blitz founder arrived! We had a quick chat as he was just coming from a squash game and going away. But it was a good chat because Fred is having a great story.
He was working in Internet marketing and learnt mechanics on night courses. He first realized some custom bikes for friends and finally decided to do it full-time. He’s now running Blitz motorcycle and actually customizing 12 bikes! They have a strong and unique design in the custom scene as they’re always mixing a bike with a tank from an other bike, raw.
I wish I had a longer chat with him, but maybe I’ll pass by their garage in the 17th arrondissement soon!
Bike: Motobécane TT
Location: Paris 2
Simon doesn’t know it, but I really chased him on the “Rue Réaumur” to get this pic. I was riding my own bike, going to work when I saw him and his great old Motobécane. I thought it could be a good picture, specially with this morning light. But as we were both riding, it wasn’t possible to speak to him. So I followed him and waited for the first red light. Then I asked him if he was ok for a pic and we pulled on the sideway. It was very kind of him as he was also going to work. From what I remember, he restored this bike with his father but I don’t know much as we didn’t have the time to talk a lot and Simon didn’t answer to my email…
Bike: Vespa PX
Location: Paris 2
Benjamin was a colleague and I noticed his classy parisian style on his black Vespa PX.
When we took this picture, he was actually going to sell his PX as he was about to move from Paris to Amsterdam. He has been riding in Paris for 4 years. He had a Lambrotta before, an other nice classy italian scooter. But he changed because the Lambrotta was really braking badly. He first chose to ride a scooter because he really had enough of taking the metro. He bought a Vespa PX because it’s one of the few scooter to be nice according to him (and we agree!). The furthest he went with the PX? Montmartre! :) Thanks Benjamin and I hope you’re having a great time in Amsterdam.
Bike: Honda 125 Custom
Location: Paris 12
When I saw Christine, ready to go on her bike, I thought she was special and run on her to ask for a picture. It’s not everyday that you can see a quite old lady riding a bike. At first, she didn’t understand why I wanted a picture of her, “you’re not a japanese taking pictures of everything”. But she was ok and we could even have a good chat. She’s 65 and she’s been riding a bike for 35 years. She started when she turned 30, as before “she was too snobbish”. She never went further than 50 kilometers away from Paris. Why is she riding a bike? She didn’t hesitate and said: “for the wind stroke”! Thanks a lot Christine, I really enjoyed meeting you and sorry about the poor quality of my picture… (but it was dark, you know)
Location: Paris 2
Simon is the first one I shot for this project. I was walking around Montorgueil in Paris, like a hunter looking for his prey. He was actually the perfect prey I was looking for, so when I saw him arriving and stopping at the red light, I didn’t hesitate a second and asked him if I could take a pic of him.
Of course taking a picture at the red light isn’t the best. Specially if you want to have a little chat to get a bit of a story about Simon and why he’s riding this nice red Kawasaki. So I took his email and asked him later.
Here are the few answers he kindly responded to my questions.
Simon has been riding in Paris for 20 years. To escape the metro. To be free to go where he wants, when he wants. For the thrill, for the fun and to be riding with friends.
He’s riding on the picture a Kawasaki from 1999 that he bought for his “sweety”. He’s happy and proud to see her riding it.
The furthest he wants with this bike is Malakoff (city in the south of Paris) but with other bikes he went until Arcachon or Marseilles, alone or his “sweety”.
Thanks Simon for having been the first just to say “yes” and for the answers.