Since the first motorcycles took to the road, they’ve been objects of fascination for artists. The trouble is, not many of those artists were actually riders, and images of motorcycles in popular culture ended up as symbols for things that weren’t always good, and ignored what makes them amazing. In this episode, I speak with Tempus Deficit, an artist who has been part of an explosion of art about motorcycles, by motorcyclists. Things get a little nerdy, but there’s no mistaking what motorcycle art says about our community, and why we should all be fans.

Show Notes

This is ‘Copilot’, the painting Doug talked about in our conversation. It nails the goofy sense of wonder that characterizes all of his work, and for some of us, riding itself.

First things first: If you’d like to follow Tempus Deficit and maybe own some of his work for yourself, you can find him on Etsy, right here. His Instagram handle is @tempusdeficit. To learn a bit more about him, here‘s an interview Doug did with NYC Motorcyclist about a year ago, and a selection from his work featured there.

This is the homage to ‘Copilot’ Doug’s son created. Could there be higher praise?

I don’t know whether Oil & Ink was the first to formally exhibit art at custom motorcycle shows, but John Christenson has without a doubt been the most determined and professional about promoting this aspect of motorcycle culture. Whenever I see art at a bike show, I feel like the exhibitor owes a debt to Oil & Ink’s wonderful traveling pop-up galleries. You can learn more about Christenson and his work here.

Borrowed from the web, here’s an example of Lorenzo’s work with Oil & Ink. Though darker and more dangerous than Tempus Deficit’s, it shares his ability to conjure up the kind of alternate reality that characterizes a great ride.

Lorenzo Eroticolor is the artist that Doug mentioned had become a friend and supporter. Not all of his work is motorcycle-centered, but it all captures the feeling of an era that inspires a lot of what’s going on in both motorcycling and motorcycle art today. I haven’t seen his work in that context, but it’s hard to imagine that it and the bikes around it don’t amplify each other tremendously. Here’s a link to his web site.

Doug mentioned a few other artists whose work mattered to him. Among them, David Uhl,  Christopher Myott, and the late David Mann. The work of Uhl and Mann is obviously much less whimsical and more what you might expect when you think about motorcycle art, but it paved the way and, for a lot of people, remains true to its subject. Christopher Myott, to my eyes at least, is more ‘new school’ and lighthearted. It’s easy to see why Doug likes it.

We spoke briefly about El Solitario, who I discussed last fall in my interview with Hugh Francis Anderson. El Solitario’s mission seems to be to provoke, whatever it takes. I don’t love all their bikes, but I love their irreverence, which they’ve managed to maintain even as they’ve morphed into a more conventional commercial enterprise. Here is “The Impostor,” the bike Doug mentioned, and that gave the motorcycle media fits when it was unveiled a few years ago.

In my introduction, I mentioned Olivier, a listener from Belgium. It turns out that in Europe, motorcyclists are popular fodder for cartoonists. You just don’t see this kind of thing here in North America… it’s awesome and hilarious. Here’s one example, Joe Bar Team (start on Wikipedia, and Google your way from there), and another, Rag Racers.

Finally, here’s what you need to know about Across the Board, the band that performed this episode’s playlist recommendation, “Sonic Boom.” Their web site is here, and you can buy that tune for your very own listening pleasure on iTunes.

With the riding season coming to an end for many of us, this seems like a good time to take stock. But as we reflect on the places we’ve been and the memories we’ve made, are we forgetting something? In this episode, I talk with someone who thinks the answer might just be gratitude. Jay Segarra was once a Marine. Now, he’s a motorcycle mechanic. But it’s what happened in between that taught him to take nothing in life for granted. Jay talks about the machines that nearly killed him and then ultimately saved his life, about the love that gave him a second chance, and about how everything we need to be happy is right in front of us.

Show Notes

Talking to Jay Segarra made me think of this print, which hangs in my office. It’s by Douglas Thompson, who goes by the handle Tempus Deficit, and I’ve always loved it. Looking at it now, I think that balloon is all the people in my life who keep me riding. You can follow him on Instagram @tempusdeficit, and see a bit more of his work here. In a world full of aggressive and menacing motorcycle imagery, I think Tempus Deficit is one of the few artists who understands what riding really means to the people who do it.

Here, more or less (it’s missing about 10km), is the route I mentioned at the beginning of this episode . The roads in Southern Ontario are often pretty gridded, so you have to know where to look for a few curves. This loop is a lot of fun, more so than it looks on a map (there are some fun elevation changes on the southern edge), and you’ll see lots of other bikes. It’s a great starting point if you’re touring in the area.

Here’s Jay, alongside his Harley Davidson Tri Glide. You can follow Jay on Instagram, where he posts pictures of the bikes he’s working on, along with the occasional glimpse into his life and philosophy… he’s @sega702.

Early in our conversation, Jay and I enjoyed a little nostalgic reverie for the Honda 70. The Monkey (then called the Trail 50) got all the glory for being so cute, but the 70 was an object of true lust and the bike that launched the dreams of millions of riders… of a certain age, anyway. Here it is in red, the way Jay remembers it.

Thanks again to Redlight King for giving us the thumbs up to feature “Comeback” in this episode. You can buy it here, watch the video here, and learn more about Kaz and his other projects here. Redlight King was also featured in Episode 5. My wife introduced me to his music after working with him on a commercial project, and I have become a huge fan.


They say you never see a motorcycle in front of a therapist’s office. Most of us, in fact, freely admit that there are days when we just ride to stay sane, and that sometimes the only place life makes any sense is inside our helmets. In this episode, I talk with someone who has put that to the test more than most. Cat Martin is a lifelong rider and a riding instructor who recently endured a series of painful losses in her life. She talks candidly about continuing to ride through that pain, and what your motorcycle can – and can’t – do for you when the chips are down.

Show Notes

This was the Instagram post that caught my attention last March. It was an amazing moment of vulnerability for someone whose feed was usually full of friends, bikes and rides, just like yours or mine.


Besides teaching, Cat Martin is an active member of Toronto’s burgeoning motorcycle community. You can follow her on Instagram at @bikercat13, and meet lots more of the cool people who ride the streets of North America’s fourth largest city. One such cool person she mentioned was @wobblycat, whose travels are also worth a follow.

When we talk about our bikes as therapists, as Cat and I did, most of us are talking about getting through tough times and bad days, but there are some riders out there who are chased by the black dog every day. Google offers up more than 8 million search returns for the query “motorcycle and depression”, so it’s impossible to suggest a definitive one. Especially interesting reading are the forums, where riders are amazingly frank about what their motorcycles mean to them as they fight their difficult and personal battles. Here’s a random example from ADVrider, and here’s one from Reddit… but there are many, and that says something all by itself.

Among motorcyclists, the most prominent advocate for mental health is arguably the Movember Foundation, though it focuses its work on men. Nonetheless, Movember and the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride have brought the difficult subject of depression into the conversation in our community, and hopefully will inspire more ways to support riders who suffer from it regardless of who they are. You can learn more about the Foundation’s work here.

An important closing thought: Your bike might help you stay sane, but if you’re in a crisis, riding it is only going to make things worse. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or showing signs of clinical depression, park your bike and get some help. You won’t be sorry, and that bike will be waiting for you when you’re ready for the road again.

If you enjoyed this episode’s playlist recommendation, you can learn more about The Weather Station here. Their music is available on iTunes, among the other usual places, and ‘Kept It All To Myself can be found here.

No motorcycle brand inspires stronger emotions, deeper loyalty, fiercer criticism and maybe more seething envy than Harley Davidson. With 115 years of history behind the bar and shield, more North Americans ride Harleys today than any other make, and the brand is so famous globally that its name alone is worth $5.7 billion dollars. Yet behind the corporate story remains a stubbornly indiosyncratic motorcycle company whose products still turn heads and haunt dreams, and whose riders are still a tribe of their own. In this episode, I talk to former Harley Davidson insider Steve Piehl about what makes the company tick, how it’s changing, and where the magic will come from to see it through its second century.

Show Notes

A screen grab of the New York Times article that inspired this episode.


The article accompanying the picture above appeared in the New York Times on June 22, 2018. Here’s a link, but be warned that this content may only be available to subscribers. I love the idea that within days of being “allowed” to drive anything at all on public roads, she was on a bike. Motorcycle people really are all the same.

I wasn’t making that number up about the value of the Harley Davidson brand. Interbrand, who has been tracking this stuff for years, ranks Harley as the 77th most valuable brand in the world… just ahead of Netflix (though Netflix is gaining fast. Make of this what you will). I think this is a point that a lot of pundits miss when they obsess about Harley’s recent volume declines: there is a ton of goodwill, here. Their future doesn’t hang on the next bike, but on the millions of people who adore the bar and shield.

The 77th most valuable brand in the world, worth $5.7 billion… or roughly 335,295 Fat Bobs.

If you were in a canoe somewhere, there is, I suppose, a slim chance that you missed the MoCo’s announcement this summer of some radical additions to its product line (in this episode, I said that the announcements were made in August, but in fact the date was July 30). The new products are part of a larger initiative called “More Roads to Harley Davidson”, and you can find the official corporate version of what they’re up to here.

Needless to say, the announcements fired up the pundits and trolls, so there’s plenty of commentary to read online. If you want to get your feet wet with some reasonable reporting from a motorcyclist’s perspective, I’d suggest this, from Cycle World.

Maybe this is just some kind of podcaster Stockholm Syndrome, but the more I learned about Harley Davidson as I prepared this episode, the more I affection I felt for the brand and its bikes. I’m still doubtful there will ever be one of its battle cruisers in my barn, but Harley’s new bikes seem to offer the promise of some MoCo flavour in a style that might suit me. Of the bunch, the one I keep gawking at is the Streetfighter. Even this bike writes an attitude cheque I can’t cash, but at least I’d only be pretending to be fast (versus fast and badass). I’m keen to ride one. My Monster is on notice.

Harley’s Streetfighter. The MoCo is late to the sport naked party, but what an entrance. Photo from

Meghan Patrick’s cover of “Unknown Legend” comes from a Warner Music Canada anthology album called “Covered in Gold 5.0”, which you can find on iTunes. The artist’s web site is here.

You know the look. The one your parent or partner gets as you gear up for a ride, the one that says, “why couldn’t you have taken up golf?” Sometimes, being a motorcyclist means being misunderstood by the people who know you best. But what if it didn’t? What if the people closest to you shared your passion? In this episode, we meet Peter and Jonathan Boulton, two motorcycle podcasters who were born into a motorcycling family. Their story might make you a little envious. And the reason why turns out to be something every motorcyclist needs, even if our riding family is simply each other.

Show Notes

You can get to know MotoGPete and Swiggy better by subscribing to Noco Moto. If you have room in your listening life for one more motorcycle podcast, you won’t regret it. Here’s a link to their iTunes page.

The forum discussion that I mentioned at the top of this episode can be found here. It actually meandered through a few themes from the original poster’s cri de couer, not just the one that caught my attention – riding as a family. It’s an interesting window into how riders deal with the conflict between responsible parenthood and their personal passion.

A lot has been written about how to engage your loved ones in motorcycling, though not so much about whether it’s a good idea. If you’re tempted, these two articles seem like good starting points for thinking about it. This one, from Cycle World, touches on Pete and Swiggy’s idea of making riding a gift. And this one is more of a how-to, from Motorcyclist.

And if you just want to get misty and feel good about the idea of sharing this with your kids, you can always count on Moto Geo’s Jamie Robinson to remind us that, in the end, this is supposed to be fun. Check out this charming video from Moto Geo.

A still from the Moto Geo video, “Family Tradition.” Even with all the product placement (the guy’s got to make a living), if you’re a parent, you can’t help but be charmed.

Hamilton, Ontario, seems to be a pretty creative town, having now provided two of my TML playlist recommendations. This time, the band is Whitehorse, and a special thanks to them for allowing me to excerpt “Downtown” for this episode. You can get to know them better at their web site, which is here. And you can by the track (or the whole album, which is much more sensible), here.

Freddie Spencer, in the zone. This photo is from

Awareness is how motorcyclists survive. And, for some, it’s also how they win. That would seem to be the story of Grand Prix legend “Fast Freddie” Spencer, an extraordinary talent whose awareness was so acute he could tell who was pursuing him on the track by which flags were waving in the stands… at 200kph. That gift would help him win multiple world championships, along with the still unequaled achievement of doing so in two classes in a single season. In this conversation, Freddie Spencer talks about his journey, and the hard-won lesson that awareness isn’t just a riding skill. It’s a way of life.

Show Notes

Be sure to join me and the rest of the motorcycling world on May 26, 2018, for SyncRide. You’ll find everything you need to know about this record-setting ride for motorcycle safety right here.

Freddie Spencer speaking at a press event organized by EatSleepRIDE in advance of the Toronto Spring Motorcycle Show.

If you aren’t already a knowledgable fan, the best place to begin getting to know Freddie Spencer’s story is at his web site. This article from the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame expands on his remarkable record as a racer.

Freddie’s career unfolded in the age of video, so there is literally too much content on YouTube for me to recommend a single definitive clip. The picture that emerges from watching a few, though, is pretty vivid: a calm, introspective and generous character off the track, and a lion when the visor goes down. This video captures the energy of the double championship win as it happened. After that, get ready to lose a rainy afternoon discovering this legendary rider, and epic era in motorcycle racing.

Freddie Spencer continues to be a fixture in the motorcycle racing scene, appearing just about everywhere that matters in the sport. If you have a chance to meet him, do it. You’ll be astonished and delighted at how much he is ‘one of us’. When I met him at the press event in Toronto, he said, “I care about motorcyclists, because I understand,” and it’s true. Me, if I had to pick one event I wish I’d attended, it would probably be this one.

“Feel: My Story” is a great read, for its window into both an amazing time in Grand Prix motorcycle racing, and the life story of someone who reached its pinnacle at the age of 24, with his whole life still ahead of him. Here’s a link to Amazon’s U.S. page for the book, which is also available on most other Amazon stores, including the U.K., Australia and Canada.

Morten Granau offers a free download of this episode’s TML Playlist track here. I was unable to reach him to let him know I would be recommending it, but I presume, because he’s sharing it with the world, that this falls comfortably under the heading of ‘Fair Use’. I’m not sure I’d trust myself to listen to it while I ride, but for me this trance classic simulates what it must feel like to be so calm at speed that you notice everything. Including the flags waving in the stands.

Thanks, Freddie.

Oliver and Bruce Springsteen. I grabbed this photo from Oliver’s Instagram feed, so I don’t have a credit for it, but it’s richly deserved.

Right from that very first ride, motorcycling is about pushing ourselves a little further, beyond our comfort zones, beyond our perceived limits, and sometimes beyond common sense. Does this hunger to do more ever stop? Not if you’re Oliver Solaro. ‘Canada’s Ice Road Biker’ has just returned from delivering half a ton of desperately needed supplies for the sled dogs of Churchill, Manitoba… with a home-built snow bike. This conversation with one of motorcycling’s bigger-than-life characters is a master class in ingenuity, humour, and how when things go wrong, it just means better stories.

Show Notes

Here’s a link to a collection of Oliver’s photos from the Sundog Project. A cup of hot tea is recommended for viewing these. I’m still shivering.

If you need a little Brokentooth in your social media feed – and you do – I recommend following him on Instagram (@bwokentoof and @sun_doggie). He’s also on Facebook, here and here.

Churchill, Manitoba, has suffered greatly since the rail line – its only land link to the rest of Canada – was washed out in the spring of 2017 (the town lost its deepwater port in 2016). The politics of this issue are above my pay grade, but this article gives you a taste of how challenging the situation has been for the town, and how treacherous it now is to get there. If the arrival of supplies for humans is such a cause for celebration, you can imagine how difficult it’s been to sustain their animals. (It’s worth noting that the ‘cat train’ of tracked vehicles in this story delivered 9,000 kilograms of supplies; Oliver delivered close to 1,000 kilos with a motorcycle)

For more background on Oliver and his previous exploits, you can’t do much better than this excellent piece by Tim Huber for Common Tread.

Here’s the trailer for Jory Lyons’ film about Oliver, ‘AKA Brokentooth’. The film is well worth the watch, if you get the chance, especially if, like me, you’re prone to complaining about riding weather.

Here’s a link to that article in the Owen Sound Sun Times with a photo of a kilted Oliver taking his snow bike on its shakedown cruise to a local pie shop.

After I reached out to the Jerry Cans to get permission to play this excerpt from ‘Northern Lights’, I wrote Oliver to share the song with him. It turns out – and I guess I shouldn’t be surprised – they are one of his favourite bands. You can learn more about them here, and you can buy ‘Northern Lights’ for yourself here, among other places. Sincerest thanks to the band for sharing it with us… it was perfect.

A Note About Facebook.

I know I said a while back that I was going to fire up a Facebook page for This Motorcycle Life, and I did. Sort of. However, on second thought, I’ve ended up requesting my accounts be deleted. I hope that doesn’t cause any inconvenience or irritation for TML listeners. I’ll look forward to continuing to contribute to the fantastic motorcycling community on Instagram (which I know Facebook owns, of course) and on Come say hi!

For some motorcyclists in the north, winter can be just too much to bear. Some of us ride anyway. Some of us grit our teeth and wait. Some of us escape to an island for a few days. Me, I go to California and pretend it’s not happening, and this year, you get to come along. In this mini-episode, my notes from a few weeks in LA… the traffic, the culture, the canyon roads, and a chance encounter with a fellow rider who reminded me of the one thing we all share, no matter where we ride.

Show Notes

The view from the top of Stunt Road.

It turns out that I’m not completely off base thinking drivers in Los Angeles are pretty nice, although this particular study doesn’t put California at the top of the charts. I clearly need to see more of America on two wheels. Conspicuously absent from this data, of course, is my personal benchmark for urban riding, grumpy ol’ Toronto…

Here’s where I got the fun fact about California’s human-to-motorcycle ratio. It’s a few years old, but I doubt the rankings have changed very much. It would be wrong to generalize Los Angeles to all of California, of course, and comparisons to Canada leave out the all-important element of geography. Still, subjectively, it didn’t seem to me that there were more bikes on the streets there than on a typical spring day at home, which makes the feeling of belonging there as a rider all that much more remarkable.

Here’s the article I mentioned recommending the ten best motorcycle rides in the Los Angeles area. I can certainly vouch for a few, which makes me think the whole list is worth keeping if you plan to go and don’t already know your way around.

Pulling over for yet another view on Mulholland Highway. The rented Guzzi is from Ride Malibu.

Here’s a link to Deus Ex Machina’s Venice location. It’s a deceptively handy neighbourhood for visiting motorcyclists, with two rental operations a short walk away, an excellent gear shop only a little further (Beach Moto, where I spied Snowcat), and Iron and Resin’s Venice shop a few doors away for your hipster fix. The area is getting a bit groovy, having recently acquired its very own local handle, ‘The Linc’.

Here’s the Petersen’s web site, along with a recent article about ‘The Custom Revolution’ show that opens in April. Paul D’Orleans’ web site, The Vintagent, is here, and very well worth your time if your love of motorcycling extends to its culture and the people who make it tick.

And here is the web site for Heroes Motors’ LA outpost. I didn’t get to the shop where the actual restoration and custom work gets done, but it’s on my list. This place, along with its location, is just about all the proof you need that moto culture is having a moment right now.

If you aren’t familiar with Snowcat, check out his YouTube channel. It’s not my thing, but you can’t argue with the numbers. He’s got an impressive following, and he can do wheelies for days.

Neptune’s Net, a must-see if you’re cruising the Pacific Coast Highway. This is where I met Darren.

Here’s a bit of information about Neptune’s Net. Their own web site was acting funky when this episode was recorded, but it’s not a hard place to find. And the bike parking is all right out front, where it belongs.

And just in case you thought I was kidding about car commercials at Point Mugu

The Pacific Coast Highway, looking south from Mugu Rock. Sorry about the Instagram aspect ratio…

The musical breaks in this episode are from a track called ‘Surfing Day’, by Marcos Bolanos, used here under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial ShareAlike License. Check it out here.

California Lullabye’ is written and performed by Josh Woodward, and used here under a Creative Commons Attribution License. Josh Woodward makes all of his music free to listeners as a matter of principle. You can get to know him better and support his work by visiting his web site.

There must be a reason why some of motorcycling’s most sacred shrines started out as places to eat. So, what does food mean to us? Guy Arnone is an avid rider and motovlogger who also happens to be the executive sous-chef at a Michelin-starred restaurant in New York City. If anyone had an answer, I was sure it would be him. As usual, I got more than I bargained for. Funny and forthright, this conversation is a lesson in what it means to be passionate about what you do, on two wheels or off.

Show Notes

The little town near my home where motorcyclists gather is Creemore, Ontario. If you ever find yourself in the neighbourhood, here’s a fun little route to give you a sense of the riding around the Niagara Escarpment. Once the bikes are parked for the day, I strongly recommend a frosty glass of locally brewed Creemore Springs lager.

Here’s Guy, dressed for work, game face on.

You need to add Guy Arnone to your motorcycling social media feed. You can find his YouTube channel here. There’s also a web site for Meat & Motorcycles. You can find him on Instagram, too, which is how we met. Follow @meatandmotorcycles

I guess everybody knows what a Moto Guzzi looks like, but here’s a picture of one like Guy’s anyway. I have a thing for these bikes, and the V7 seems like a great choice as an urban assault vehicle. Besides being built like tractors and having tons of character, they are about as legit as it gets, heritage-wise. (You might remember my interview with Todd Eagan in Episode 2… Todd might be the best Guzzi tuner around, and renting one of his immaculately prepared bikes is a great way to fall in love with them).  Here’s Guy’s vlog about visiting the Guzzi Museum in Italy. At around 6:50, you can see the Harley guys eating their gelato.

While talking to Guy about Guzzis, I mentioned a podcast called Motorcycles & Misfits. It’s a favourite of mine, and worth a listen. They’ll all hilarious and completely mad, but they know their stuff, have a huge audience, have been doing this longer than most moto-podcasters, and always leave me wishing Santa Cruz, California, was just a little closer. They’re the riding buddies I wish I had. Check it out.

The Brindisi from Verdi’s La Traviata, performed by the MIT Symphony Orchestra, can be found here, if you have a taste for opera. The track is generously made available for use like this under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.

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.