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Ryan Quickfall

Ryan Quickfall

 

Bikers aren’t exactly known for their of love art but take a moment to appreciate the work of Newcastle based illustrator Ryan Quickfall and that old Scarface poster of yours might find itself in the bin and replaced by something much, much cooler. If it’s good enough for the walls of Kenny Roberts, it’s good enough for your man cave.

 

His signature style can be found gracing the pages of some of the trendiest bike magazines including Dice and Sideburn and King Kenny isn’t his only celebrity fan; both Guy Martin and Colin Edwards are clients and some guy called Snoop Dogg was snapped wearing one of his T Shirts. It doesn’t stop there either, as well as famous names and trendy magazines he’s worked on behalf of some of the coolest two wheel brands there is. Just last week he was at London’s Bike Shed for Harley Davidson and he’s currently in the middle of a project for Californian racer and builder Roland Sands. Luckily for me he’s squeezed me into his busy schedule and I’ve got him for the next hour so we head to Newcastle’s Dat Bar. Not for the tasty pizzas or many beers on tap but because when it’s bike mad owner wanted it decorated it was Ryan and friend Marc Ross that he turned to so the punk-meets-wall of death setting they created seems a fitting place.

 

DatBar

 

First thing I want to know is how does a lad from Rowland’s Gill end up illustrating full time for some of the coolest brands and top racers? It’s not from Art College that’s for sure and if you were his tutor I suggest you look away now. “That was a total waste of time” Ryan recalls “You don’t need an education for what I do”. What you do need, I’m told, is determination and to be prepared to put in some serious graft and stick it out. “I’ve spent more time not making money than actually making it”. Thankfully, that would eventually change when Gary Inman from Sideburn spied his work on Instagram and the exposure the magazine brought saw Ryan’s workload snowball to the point where he found himself in a position many other artists can only dream of; earning a living from their work.

 

Ryan Quickfall

 

What caught the eye of Inman and countless others since was Ryan’s style; solid black line work and bold colours used to create pieces influenced by B-Movie posters, comic book art and retro skate graphics. If you didn’t follow all that don’t worry, I didn’t either. Admittedly I stole it from previous interviews done by people way more arty than myself. All you and I need to know is that the results are stunning and luckily for us will include a motorbike 99% of the time. “I’m inspired by Motorcycles. The riders, the culture, the people around them and the movement you can express in illustrating a motorcycle.” Needless to say Ryan is a biker.

 

His first bike was a Honda NC30 in HRC Colours and by the way he reminisces I’d say it was also his first love. “It was awesome. So mint. Had to be one of the cleanest NC30’s about”. Sadly, as with most first loves it ended in heart break and tragedy. Just a year into ownership a delivery driver reversed his truck over it and that was the end of the little V4. An R6 followed on which he put 23k miles and even now still talks fondly of, despite it throwing him down a wet and oily central motorway in a crash that almost cost the illustrator an arm. The bike fared better than the rider and was relatively unscathed but when Ryan committed to becoming a full time artist he needed to free up some cash so the Yamaha had to go.

 

HARLEY+CALI

 

He’s since returned to two wheels, not as a menace on public roads but as a flat tracker on a dirt oval. Knowing that I’m a road rider Ryan explains why, for the foreseeable future at least, he’ll only be riding on a track and his rhetoric is hard to argue with. “You can only go so fast on the road before you’re going far too fast and even then you’re still holding back or looking for hazards but on the track you can get so much aggression out which you can’t really do on the road”. As you’d expect when someone like Ryan decides to dirt track they don’t throw their leg over any old bike. There’s no lightly modified dirt bike here. Instead he’s called on friend and fellow racer Mike at Survivor Customs to put together a 560 Rotax for him. Apparently the Newcastle based fabricator is a dab hand at building flat trackers. “He knows what frames to use, the right geometry to have and what engine to use so I just let Mike do his thing.” Of course Ryan had some say on the aesthetics, putting the finishing touches to the bike by designing it’s fuel tank and number board but don’t expect no show bike. “It’s mechanically sound but it’s rough and ready. It looks best with a dusting of mud on it and dent’s in the tank. I didn’t want to spend too much money as I expect it to get fucked in it’s first season”. The season in which said bike is likely to “get fucked” is the rookie class of the DTRA, a series that let’s complete novices attempt to get sideways on dirt tracks for relatively little money. It’s known for it’s accessibility and Ryan’s keen to sing it’s praises. The only downside is that most of the tracks are down south.

 

Bootcmp

 

Unlike the racing, when it comes to work it doesn’t matter where Ryan’s based. With 70% of his clients based in America and most of his briefs coming by email his 5th floor studio in the centre of Newcastle does just fine. Even work as bonkers as Guy Martin’s calendar will come in by email or phone which is astonishing when you consider the task at hand; putting into pictures the abstract thoughts of one of country’s most eccentric personalities. This year’s calendar is a prime example; December is a man having an eye gouged out by a fish, June his dog Nigel testing for Ducati, and May is Dracula looking at an Xray of Guy dressed as Optimus Prime. Thankfully Guy’s manager will listen to the ideas, sifting out the craziest and sending on the one’s they think will work. “As long as I draw exactly what Guy has asked for then they’re happy”. Even the man behind the drawings is shocked at how Ryan does it. “I can’t believe that he can put my words into those pictures. I can’t believe how he’s done it” said Guy at the launch of his calendar late last year. “I thought nothing would beat last years but this definitely beats last years, definitely.”

 

Artist Ryan Roadkill

 

So what now for Mr. Quickfall then? Well, he’d like to do more shows where the emphasis is on the art and not the commercial side of things. By the time this hits our website he’ll have just opened a show at Brooklyn’s Union Garage shop where Ryan will be attending the opening night and signing limited edition prints of the ten pieces he’s created specially. There’s also another show in the pipeline, this time in London and if they both go well he’d love to do more. “I’d like to do a show in California. I was out there in September and met loads of really cool people. I just like the whole vibe of the place, I dunno what it is about it, I think it’s helped by the weather or something. I don’t know how or who I’ll do it with but I’m sure I can pull something together”. I’m sure of it too. Even with a packed diary and some nifty contacts in his phone book there’s no sign of the northern illustrator rolling off the throttle. “As soon as you become complacent or believing you’re the next big thing it’s over. I’ve got into this position, thank god, that touch wood, I will never let myself slip back from”. So the sacrifices continue, just last week he had to turn down the chance to go flat tracking with Colin Edwards at the MCN festival of speed because of a pressing deadline and the hard work continues too. After our drink I’m off home but Ryan’s back to the studio where he’ll stay as long as needed to finish an ad campaign. If that means staying there till the early hours then so be it but don’t go feeling sorry for him just yet. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in this hour it’s that he certainly doesn’t see all this as a burden, the opposite in fact. “When you do something you’re really passionate about it becomes your life and this work is my life. It would be intense if I HAD to do it but it’s my passion and I feel really fucking privileged to be able to make a living from it.”

 

To keep up to date with what Ryan does next sign up to his mailing list by following this link.

 

ryanquickfall.com

sideburnmagazine.com

survivorcustoms.com

Survivor Customs Facebook Page

dicemagazine.com

guymartinracing.co.uk

texastornadobootcamp.com

thebikeshed.cc

Coast to Coast on a Trials Bike

Greg Villalobos Creative

 

Yes, you read that right. The thought alone is enough to make your leg muscles ache but that’s the challenge that local film maker, greenlaner and all round creative person Greg Villalobos and a partner set themselves. They were to travel from Whitely Bay across the country by green lane to Morecambe Bay on trials bikes; possibly the least appropriate two wheelers imaginable.

 

Luckily for us Greg (the poor guy without the saddle) filmed it all in a video that bagged him “Best Short Documentary”  at the 2015 Motorcycle Film Festival. It’s one of many great films featured on his website so if you like what you see check out the links below and give him a like on Facebook.

 

 

 

Fore More videos check out gregvillalobos.co.uk or his Facebook Page.

 

 

 

Sad Loss of Local Racer Ian Bell

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I was shocked and saddened yesterday to hear that local racer and business owner, Ian Bell had died racing at The Isle of Man TT with his son Carl who, thankfully, is reported to be uninjured. Understandably the passing of the well-known and successful racer has resulted in heartfelt tributes from bikers and non bikers alike and I’d like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere condolences to Carl, Trudi, his family, friends and the staff at his dealership.

 

I first met Ian when he came to pick me up after my first ever bike broke down in Cramlington just days after buying it off good old Ebay! I knew of Ian but had never met him and didn’t realise it was him that had come to pick me up. In my head a successful racer and dealership owner would be sat in his office next to a coffee machine dressed smartly but here he was in oily overalls wheeling my knackered old CBR into the back of his van. It was only after the journey when speaking to my dad that I realised it was Ian that had picked me up. If only I’d known who it was I’d have asked him all about his racing, sidecars and the TT but Instead it was him asking the questions, eager to find out about my “new bike” and how I was getting on as a new rider.

 

It only took that ten minute van ride to realise he was a friendly and genuine guy. A fact further reinforced a year later on a sunny Saturday morning when a planned days riding was in jeopardy due to a dodgy tyre valve. All the other bike shops were too busy but Ian said if I was able to ride it down he’d sort it. I hadn’t bought the bike from him, it wasn’t a Yamaha and I didn’t visit enough to be classed as a regular customer but he fixed it there and then and refused to take a penny for it. In an effort to say thanks I bought twenty quids worth of Go Pro mounts even though I didn’t need them; I still haven’t used all of them. The last time I properly spoke to Ian was last spring when I was toying with the idea of buying the new Tracer but still felt lured towards the speed, exhilaration and bum clenching thrills that sports bikes could offer which he said he could understand. Of course he could understand, he raced the TT!

 

Ian Bell Sidecar Racer

My girlfriend and I loved watching Ian and Carl race around Oliver’s mount; their immaculately turned out outfit seemed to be on another level compared to everyone else’s. It’s an overused term but that thing really did look like it cornered as if it were on rails. At the last Spring Cup we watched as the father and son duo waited for the restart of a red flagged race, Ian chatting away to a Marshall for a good while and letting her sit in his sidecar. The fact she was easier on the eye than her bearded, beanie hat wearing brethren may have had something to do with her getting a try, but in my  experience Ian was happy to chat away to anyone, bearded or not. As one customer brilliantly summed up in their tribute to him last night; “he made you feel like a friend, not a customer”

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Facebook Page for North East Bikers
Pretty, pretty please…..

 

Facebook isn’t perfect but neither are websites which is why we’ve got both and we’d love people to follow us on Facebook as well as visiting us here too.

 

Our Facebook Page for North East Bikers is a great way for us to let people know about new features on the site,  remind them about events and share those little nuggets of biking goodness that alone can’t justify an article on the site but should still be seen. It’s also a great way for comments and discussions as websites can just be one way traffic; us talking to you.

 

So click here and give us a like, even better, once you’ve liked us invite all your bike loving northern mates!

 

King of the Classics at Croft

Last Sunday Croft Circuit near Darlington hosted the first round of the Classic Racing Motorcycle Club’s King of the Classics Championship. 30 races and parades over the weekend made for great entertainment that featured solos and sidecars from the 1960’s 70’s & 80’s

Unfortunately the series won’t be back at Croft again this year but information on other races can be found on the club’s website: www.crmc.co.uk.

King of the Classics at Croft

The Boy George

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Out of the eight riders that failed to finish the crash fest that was Sunday’s Argentenian GP, Jorge Lorenzo got the least of my sympathy. I wasn’t pleased to see him crash out, certainly not, but once it was clear he was fine I can’t say I was sad to see him go. Despite being one of the most talented riders of a generation and untouchable on his day I only have respect for him and even that is given begrudgingly. I’m not entirely sure why I feel this way but I get the feeling I’m not alone.

 

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If I were a Rossi fan my dislike would be easy to understand. In their eyes Lorenzo joined the Yamaha garage and was gifted a bike developed by the man he was to depose. To make it worse he copied his leathers, logos, and bike set ups and also started to copy his trademark celebrations too only they’ve never been funny, occasionally go wrong and are more likely to make you cringe than laugh. As Rossi became less competitive things may have simmered down but as The Doctor regained form they were soon at it again, finally boiling over at Sepang in 2015 where Lorenzo decided to stick his oar into the infamous clash that did not involve him. While the Spaniard denied arguing with Race Direction immediately after the race his lawyers did file an intervention in Rossi’s appeal to The Court of Arbitration for Sport , hoping to influence the penalty decision and snuff out Rossi’s title hopes before they even arrived in Valencia. Luckily, Lorenzo’s intervention was thrown out but not before it cemented his status as a prize bell end among Rossi fans.

 

Even if like me, your blood doesn’t run yellow, or any other colour for that matter, and you’re a fan of the racing first and foremost you probably still don’t want to see an on from Lorenzo at the front of the grid. Why? Because that almost guarantees a Lorenzo win and that makes for boring viewing, a race led from start to finish by one man where the only thing that alters is the gap by which he leads. Granted, those performances may be a masterclass in precision and skill but if I wanted to watch something retrace it’s lines with machine like accuracy I’d buy a Scaletrix set. The “Metronome” nickname given to him by commentators could not be more fitting but I don’t mean that as a compliment. A metronome may be consistent and keep perfect time but who wants to watch one when you’ve got the Moto GP equivalent of Keith Moon in Marc Marquez, wild and seemingly out of control yet still keeping the same beat as the metronome. The only time Lorenzo’s racing has had me on the edge of my seat was the final round of the mantequilla22013 season. Trailing Marquez by thirteen points he knew his only chance of taking the title was if Marquez made a big blunder so Lorenzo took the lead, slowed the pack and tried to goad Marquez into making a mistake. Even though that race showed a fight in Lorenzo I’d been itching to see I remember not being impressed but more annoyed by his tactics that I thought were a bit underhand, so on that day I was a Marquez fan.

 

For me Pedrosa is a similar rider to Lorenzo in that he’s successful just a bit vanilla, yet I’m quite happy to see him on the podium and a big part of me would still like to see him win the premier class title he surely deserves. So why the difference in feeling between him and his fellow countrymen? Maybe I need to go back to the start. When I started watching the GP it was 2010, I’d recently passed my bike test and Marco Simoncelli had just moved into the premier class. Like most people I was immediately drawn to him. He was a ruthless racer on track but seemed a likable man off it with warmth, sincerity and a personality as big as his hair. Lorenzo however came across as a completely different character, seemingly void of personality, arrogant and rarely smiling. He was the opposite of Super Sic and the two rarely saw eye to eye. Fast forward six years and Simoncelli is sadly no longer with us and there’s still little sign of Lorenzo’s personality or a genuine smile from him which is odd considering that last year he was paid a reported $7.5 million to be flown around the best circuits on which to race the fastest bikes in the world. I’m not for a moment saying it’s an easy life, I can barely begin to imagine the sacrifices he must have made and the pressures he must face but if that were my job I’d have a smile bigger than the Jokeresque one worn by Marquez and eyes that beemed brighter than Rossi’s. Two men who clearly love what they do and are more likable for it.

 

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With a move to Ducati firmly on the cards he has a golden opportunity to convert some of the haters by lifting a fourth Moto GP title on the Desmosedici and while that would be impressive it still wouldn’t have me rushing out to buy one of his race rep helmets. For me Lorenzo has always been impressive, he’s just never been likeable. Would Jorge be bothered if he read this? I doubt he’d lose any sleep over it put it that way. His job isn’t to entertain people or win a popularity contest, it’s to win motorcycle races and no one can deny he’s good at that, best in the world some might say.

 

Words: Anthony MacLeod

Photos: Motogp.com

Geordie Racer

As the old saying goes racing is the process of turning money into noise and you don’t have to be the manager of a race team to know that it’s probably true, just ask anyone that’s destroyed a set of tyres on a trackday or worse still a bike and they’ll know that riding fast isn’t cheap. Increase the pace to that of a Superstock 600 rider and repeat twelve times over the course of a season and it becomes a whole other monster, as I found out when I spoke to local team owner Steve Kinghorn.

 

His team has spent the last 5 years competing in a variety of national and occasional international level races and hopes to spend 2016 at the sharp end of the Pirelli Superstock 600 Championship. He’s not a millionaire and doesn’t live in Darras Hall as you might expect, but instead hails from the more industrious part of Northumberland and like most of us he holds down a regular job and has family commitments in the form of his wife, Ruth and young daughter, Georgina. How does he do it? I was keen to discover how one man can juggle a modest living and running a professional race team, so popped over for a few beers and found out it takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears as well as the invaluable support of friends and family and of course the all-important faithful sponsors.

 

“When your wife works as a radiographer you can’t exactly hide the injuries”

 

As you’d expect managing a race team isn’t something you stumble into. For Steve it started early with a love of bikes, in particular race bikes. When the time came he got himself a road bike and it wasn’t long before he found his way onto the track and the occasional race. Unfortunately he often found his way off the track, into the gravel and on his way to A and E as in his own words, his ambitions outweighed his ability. “When your wife works as a radiographer you can’t exactly hide the injuries” jokes Steve, but his family didn’t find it quite as funny. Accepting that racing wasn’t for him he started sponsoring riders at club level; an act that outlines the man’s sheer passion for racing and his generosity.

 

SGR Racing

 

At a stormy club meeting at Croft the BSB paddock and international races may have seemed a long way off but when the neighboring team’s awning blew away and Steve offered them shelter he immediately hit it off with their owner and racer, Michael Hill. They shared an awning for the rest of the season and Steve eventually became chief mechanic for Mick’s Taboo Motorsport team. Although he wasn’t paid for his work the team’s success and Mick’s work in commentary and media introduced him to the world of BSB, Moto GP and WSB. Unfortunately it wasn’t to last, a horrific smash at Snetterton saw Michael break his back in two places and despite making a full recovery and a brief yet successful return to racing he decided to call it a day and concentrate on the media side of racing, where he has continued commentating for WSB and managing riders. Although the incident put an end to Taboo Motorsport, it was only the beginning for Steve who was now hooked on racing but without a team.

 

Steve set about starting his own team hoping to be both owner and rider but while he may have forgotten his many offs others hadn’t and in a bid to stop him racing the medics, marshals and staff of the BSB paddock generously dipped into their own pockets to help set the team up on the condition that he would not be the rider. Steve agreed and after he and Ruth added their own money to the pot SGR racing was born, taking it’s name from the family’s initials, Steve, Georgina and Ruth

 

British Superbikes Stock 600When not fettling race bikes or the egos of their riders Steve works with vulnerable kids, a physically and mentally demanding job at the best of times. The job’s shift patterns are both a blessing and a curse, allowing him to attend just about all of the races by banking time, juggling shifts and carefully choosing holidays. However shift work can also mean having to go back to work just hours after returning home from a race or finishing a late shift and driving through the night to make it to a circuit on time.

 

Thanks to Ruth’s job as a Reporting Radiographer at Wansbeck Hospital she’s become an integral part of the BSB paddock by working in their radiography team. The mobile unit will check riders at the track before deciding what, if any, care is needed. Outside of that she helps the team where she can and her nightly banquets for friends and sponsors are known to put the hospitality trucks of the big teams to shame. For daughter Georgina, missing school during term time would mean fines for her parents so she will often join them on a Friday, travelling down with Ruth or her grandparents. Despite everyone’s best efforts the family can’t always make it and it’s those weekends that Steve finds the most challenging.

 

“A rider winning at club level can suddenly find themselves at the back of a Superstock grid”

 

In previous years Steve has chosen riders that have shown promise at club level only to find that the step up is too much for them. A rider winning at club level by several seconds can suddenly find themselves at the back of a Superstock 600 grid and that can be a huge blow to their confidence. This year the team are taking a different approach and have signed Tom Oliver who may be new to the team but will spending his third year in Superstock 600, a class he says he has unfinished business in. Tom brings to the team his friend Aston as his mechanic who does it for nothing more than the love of bikes and to help out a talented mate.

 

“When I look at the books I wonder why I do  it”

 

The arrangement with his riders is of course between them and Steve but boiled down it would appear that he provides everything the rider needs with the exception of their tyres and riding gear. If a rider bins a bike the bill falls squarely on them, a strong deterrent for ambitious overtakes.  Superstock 600 limits the amount of tyres a team can use to four rears and two fronts per weekend but it’s still an expensive weekend for a young rider like Tom and it’s even more expensive for the man footing the rest of the bill. “When I look at the books I wonder why I do it” comments Steve. To put a bike on the grid costs £3k in entry fees alone. He won’t go into exact figures but a season’s costs mount up to a sum that would buy you a brand new Range Rover.

 

Steve Kinghorn

 

With running costs so high sponsors are a necessity for a modest man like Steve and it’s chasing up sponsors that he finds toughest. “It’s not the pressure, the long drives or the weekends away from the family that I hate most, it’s going up to sponsors cap in hand asking for help. That’s the killer”. “A lot of potential sponsors presume they have to pump in loads of money, pay it all in one go or assume their business has to have something to do with bikes but none of that is true”. Luckily the team has found great support in loyal sponsors Painted to Perfection, The Junction Restaurant and AMT Business as well as suppliers Putoline, EBC Brakes, and KAIS Suspension. Despite the big list he’s always on the lookout for additional sponsors. “We’re a northern team and I’d love to get some local businesses behind us as well as the local biking community. If anyone reading this is at a BSB meeting this year then come and find us. We’d love to show people what we do”. While talking to Steve about the struggles of finding sponsors you realise the cruel irony of it, a man that got into this by sponsoring other riders is now struggling to survive and constantly battling to find new sponsors.

“They may be a family team but there’s nothing humble about their aspirations.”

 

With the opening weekend of The British Superbikes just over a week away the team is coming together. The bike is almost ready and the team are confident it has the pace to be competitive. In Tom they have a rider already with experience in a class he is hungry to be successful in. Steve is feeling optimistic, SGR may be a family team but there’s nothing humble about their aspirations.

 

Words: Anthony MacLeod

Images: Ifan Griffiths and Paul Egan

SGR Sponsors

Painted to Perfection

The Junction Restaurant and Bar

AMT Business