The custom bike scene, along with the legions of ‘modern classic’ bikes it’s spawned, has invigorated motorcycling. Beyond the cafés, scramblers and choppers that adorn our Instagram feeds, this retro aesthetic has even crossed over to the mainstream, making moto culture global, fashionable… and aspirational. What is it that attracts us to motorcycling’s mythic past? In this episode, I talk to Hugh Francis Anderson, a young British writer with a passion for bikes and a provocative take on what it means to motorcyclists, and maybe everyone else, too.

Show Notes

Hugh Francis Anderson might have the best job in the world. You can learn more about him and read more of his work by visiting his web site. The article that originally caught my eye is here. It’s a short piece, but I was intrigued that it touched on some themes that most motorcycle writers avoid when it comes to customs, and Hugh’s generational perspective and London roots made him an especially fun interview for this topic.

Our conversation referenced a bunch of brands from the custom scene. Here’s a few of the major ones:

This is Untitled Motorcycles, the London custom shop Hugh mentioned when he spoke about his discovery of this scene. And here’s Blitz Motorcycles, the Paris custom shop that seems to have led the way for legions of interesting European builders.

Two hipster hangouts spawned by the custom scene came up in our conversation: London’s The Bike Shed, and Deus Ex Machina’s Emporium of Postmodern Activities in Los Angeles.

Spain’s El Solitario are, maybe… post-post-modern? Is that a thing? Anyway, their work is among the most polarizing in the custom scene, and while I don’t love all their bikes,  I do love their attitude.

Hugh mentioned a UK brand of moto luggage and clothing, Malle, which I hadn’t heard of, so I looked it up. It’s pretty cool.

I mentioned Brooklyn’s Union Garage in the context of the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride. I love these guys; they were a bit of a gateway drug for me. Check out the DGR next year. It’s a worthy cause to ride for.

Here’s the stunning Brough Superior, the best bike Hugh had seen all year. No words.

And finally, our TML Playlist selection, Daytona ’69, was selected for us by – and used with the kind permission of – Blue Mercury Coupe. You can discover the band and add this track to your collection here. Thanks Steve,  you rock.

With great sadness, this episode is dedicated to my Dad, who passed away while we were in production. Dad rode bikes until he was nearly 80, and though he was quieter about his passions than I am, it left an indelible impression. Chin on the tank, Dad.


The Toronto Motorcycle Film Festival made its debut in September, joining cities like Lisbon, New York and Portland in celebrating this special aspect of motorcycle culture. After our interview in Episode 4, festival director Caius Tenche invited me to moderate a panel discussion with some of this year’s filmmakers and judges. Naturally, I jumped at the chance. It was a lively and fascinating conversation, and I’m excited to share it with you in this special episode.

Show Notes

Motofolk line up for the Saturday night screening at the Revue Cinema in Toronto’s Roncesvalles neighbourhood.

Here’s a complete list of the films selected for the inaugural Toronto Motorcycle Film Festival. Where the films can be viewed free, I’ve linked directly to those. Where they can’t, or I can’t find them, I’ve linked to the film’s web site. To learn more about the members of the judging panel, check them out on the festival’s site.

A.K.A. Brokentooth – Canada’s Ice Road Biker  Maybe it’s about riding a motorcycle in the arctic. Or maybe it’s about the true spirit of independence. Either way, meeting  Oliver Solaro is worth your time. Both he and director Jory Lyons participated in the panel discussion.

The American Wall of Death 

Serrini finds the humour in this ancient piece of motorcycle Americana.

Chasing Evel: The Robbie Knievel Story 

This brutally honest documentary about a lost son won Best Canadian Film honours.

Dream Racer 

This moving story of a privateer taking on the Dakar won both People’s Choice and Best Feature Film honours at the festival. The incorrigible Jacob Black participated in the panel discussion.

The Freedom Machine 

Jamie Robinson creates a feature length MotoGeo adventure. If you love Jamie, you’ll love this.

Giovanni Burlando’s Vision 

This delightful film, the one Toni compared to a “warm plate of fettuccini” won Best Short Film honours.

Hill Climb

Charming proof that there is nothing so timeless and universal as watching people do foolish things on motorcycles.

Howl Seat 

Europe sends us back a boisterous take on the custom bike road movie.

Klocked: Women with Horsepower 

A completely joyful story of empowerment that will leave you wondering if you’ve been paying enough attention to your own dreams.

The Little Person Inside 

This inspiring story about a paraplegic road racer proves both that our limits are higher than we think, and that the love of motorcycles may have no limits at all.

The Monkey and Her Driver

This oddball corner of the motorcycle racing scene provides the perfect backdrop for a story about two women and the true nature of competition.  Director Ned Thanhouser brought the perspective of experience to the panel discussion.

The Road is Calling and I Must Go 

A meditation on what riding feels like. Save this for a cold winter night.

Shinya Kimura – Chabott Engineering 

The custom scene is all about characters, and this portrait of Kimura will leave you a little less certain about the boundary between craft and art.

Take None Give None 

An engrossing documentary about a storied MC that has always flouted even the conventions of MCs.

Trail Master

A cheerful portrait of riders who are committed not just to riding, but to the world they ride in. Director Matthew Sanders participated in the panel discussion, and got more than one participant thinking about riding dirt again.

Virginia’s Harley

Virginia’s quest to build a machine all her own shows us that there’s more to “built not bought” than just bragging rights.

Special thanks and a tip of the helmet to Integrated Media Production Group for handling the recording of this event for me, and to Pfaff Harley Davidson for being such accommodating and professional hosts.