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The Brooklyn Invitational motorcycle show– photography by Steve West

“In it’s 8th year, the Brooklyn Invitational is far from growing long in the tooth. The last couple of years has seen the invitations going to a broad range of builds and builders. This year was another broad range from the Quail winner of Revival Cycles to the wicked creation from Ehinger Kraftrad. The show wasn’t just inside Root Studios either, hundreds of bikes filled the streets for blocks in every direction. Also this year the annual Indian Larry block party was just around the block in their new location. There you could see every kind of bike you know with more than plenty that wouldn’t have been out of place inside the Invitational. If you didn’t make it this year or before, chances are good it’ll continue to be better and a relevant event to see what’s going on in the custom moto scene.” –Steve West of Silver Piston

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The Brooklyn Invitational motorcycle show — photography by Steve West

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Kind and patient persistence does pay off. Ann Simmons-Myers, the photographer behind these amazing images that follow, finally after 3 months agreed to allow TSY to publish her Biker series dating back from 1983-1985. It’s very close to her heart, understandably, and I’m so grateful to be able to share these with you now. Ann, thank you very much. And Corrina from LA, thank you as well. These images are just incredible glimpes of authentic “livin’ the life”, taken I believe in Tucson, Arizona– my hometown back in the ol’ school days.

ann simmons myers Dr D Madd's 357

Dr. D Madd’s .357, 1985 — Photograph © Ann Simmons-Myers

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Our friends over at SouthSiders MC run one of the hands-down, best bike sites going, and were kind enough to feature TSY in their ongoing feature called “Your Favorite Five”, which pretty much speaks for itself.  Picking just five bikes is near impossible, so there may be a sequel coming up…

\Via SouthSiders MC–

Blogs have become an incredible tool of communication, bringing over a decade a level of power to the multimedia publishing that print barely reached in a century.

Nevertheless, the rules remain the same : real & exclusive content, real writing, real photography make the difference that provides readers and not zappers. The Selvedge Yard is among the best true web publications. Based on the fascination for “Americana” and the American style, his maker, Jon Patrick is also a fashion contibutor to the Italian men’s fashion ruler GQ. Jon’s roots are plugged into the American Movie History.
Some for beauty, some for brawn – all for their importance. How do you pick five? Should I stick to the classics, so its apples to apples? We’ll see…

Harley Davidson XR-750

Harley Davidson’s dominating, and sexy as all hell, flat track racer. First introduced in 1970, and seriously upgraded in 1972 as the aluminum “Alloy XR”, it not only became an icon on the dirt track, it was also Evel Knievel‘s weapon of choice. With its classic H-D orange/black graphic appeal and clean, uncluttered form – it’s a bike for the ages.

Husqvarna 1970 400 Cross
Husky’s icon that became synonymous with another icon – Steve McQueen. Featured in his 1971 film, On Any Sunday, Husqvarnas were the most badass and beautiful motocross bikes of their day, with their 400 Cross becoming a highly coveted classic. The legendary Malcolm Smith tore it up alongside McQueen on an innovative eight-speed Husky 250, which he also used to handily dominate the competitive off-road circuit. Hell yeah, Husky!

1953 Triumph Blackbird

In the 1950s, there were more Triumphs sold in the U.S. than any other country. Their top-end Thunderbird 650cc vertical twin, with a little tinkering, could top out at 130 mph. A great bike, but fairly limited in offering. They were available in one color only – blue. So when public demand cried-out for a black Triumph, they finally released the Blackbird in 1953 – and it still slays me every time I lay eyes on her. Another important note – Brando, a motorcyclist himself, rode his own ’50 Thunderbird in the iconic film, “The Wild One”.

1940 Indian Scout

This beauty once belonged to none other than, you guessed it – Steve McQueen. Here you see the motorcycle company’s iconic Indian Head logo on the fuel tank. I personally prefer the pared-down Scout over the heavy-looking Chief, but they are beauties too. By the 1940s, Indians began to sport stunning paint jobs with up to 24 colors available, and several two-tone options – making them some of the most beautiful bikes ever produced.

Harley-Davidson Captain America Chopper

Growing up in the ’70s, there were 2 bikes that were emblazoned in my mind – Evel Knievel’s H-D XR-750, and Easy Rider’s Captain America Chopper. The vision of Peter Fonda, it was built by (I love this part…) a Black brother – Ben Hardy from Los Angeles, starting with an old ’52 Panhead Hydra-Glide bought at a Police Auction. It became an instant icon that brought choppers to the forefront of motorcycling, and really raised the bar for custom builds. Two were built for Easy Rider – one survived. Hell yeah, Captain America!

It’s hard to stop at five, I feel a “Part II” coming on…


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Great old shot of a 1921 Indian Scout (via)


The 1920s marked a decade of growth and model expansion for Indian.  The Powerplus-era street bikes, known for their durability and performance, gave birth to the new Scoutin 1920 designed by Charles B. Franklin– featuring a 37 cubic inch (600 cc) V-twin engine.  The low-slung Scout model, with its long wheelbase, innovative semi-monocoque construction, three-speed transmission and helical-gear drive, was an immediate hit with performance riders on the street, dirt tracks, and endurance circuits alike.  The Scout wasn’t the most powerful bike on the market, but it gained a following for its responsiveness and agile handling.  In 1928, Franklin masterfully tweaked the Scout, and in the process created the 101 Scout— with an even stronger frame, superior suspension and steering, longer wheelbase, increased fork rake, lower seat, addition of a front brake. and beefed-up engine putting out 45 cubic inches (750 cc) of displacement.  The result was what many consider to be the best bike Indian ever built.


The New Indian Scout– Power, Swiftness, Stamina, Economy!


You can’t wear out an Indian Scout, or its brother the Indian Chief.  They are built like rocks to take hard knocks– it’s the Harleys that cause grief.

Sport riders and racers were drawn to the 101’s performance– and the new Scouts enjoyed a strong run dominating the competitive scene.  Unfortunately, the 101 model lasted a scant four years in the Indian model lineup.  The country’s Great Depression forced Indian to cut production costs– and the 101 Scout was an unfortunate victim of downsizing. In 1932, to cut down production costs, Indian began pairing the Scout engine with the larger Chief frame. The matchup resulted in a motorcycle that was bulkier, heavier, and according to many– not as capable on the performance front.


The legendary 1929 Indian 101 Scout motorcycle– many would say it’s the finest bike Indian ever made.


1922 saw the introduction of the Scout’s big brother– the 61 cubic inch (1000 cc) Indian Chief.  Soon to follow was the Big Chief, introduced in 1924 with a 74 cubic inch (1200 cc) that could easily cruise at hit 85 mph fully stock– and in the hands of a masterful motor-head could be tuned to scream at well over 100 mph.  In 1940, all models were fitted with Indian’s signature sweeping skirted fenders, and the Chief was fitted a new soft-tail frame– vastly superior in terms of rider fatigue when compared to rival Harley’s rigid hard-tail. The Indian Chief soon cemented a reputation as being the very best touring motorcycles money could buy for quality, comfort and performance.


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A rare peak inside the early days of the engineering dept. at Indian– year unknown.


Charles B. Franklin joined Indian in 1914, and was the first ever formally trained engineer on staff since the motorcycle firm officially opened its doors in 1901. Franklin’s background in engineering, as well as racing, gave Indian someone expertly qualified for the position. Born in Ireland in 1886, Franklin was a graduate of the Dublin College of Science in 1908, then joined the engineering department of Dublin’s municipal government. He was passionate about motorcycling, personally owning several makes and models before finally fixing his sights on Indian in 1910. Franklin entered several local motorcycle competitions where his riding ability and success in the events brought him to the attention to the UK Indian importer, Billy Wells. He was a member of the famous Indian racing team that swept the 1911 Isle of Man TT, gaining second place behind Oliver Godfrey, and in front of Arthur Moorhouse, in the historic first 1-2-3 finish for Indian.


1916 Indian Powerplus 1000 cc motorcycle

A brief primer on the Indian Powerplus–

1907 was a major milestone year for Indian– for it’s when the iconic American motorcycle company introduced the first of its V-twin engines.  They continued to improve upon the design, and marked themselves as leading innovators when in 1911 Indian introduced the next generation of the Powerplus– OHV (overhead valve), four-valves-per-cylinder racers.   In 1916, Indian ushered in their widely popular 61 (998cc) flathead V-twin.  The powerful engine distributed its power through a three-speed, hand-change gearbox, with foot-operated clutch and all-chain drive.

The side-valve engine design of the Indian PowerPlus proved to be a tough-as-nails workhorse, and in the hands of the new generation of motor-heads and speed-demons of the day– it was force to be reckoned with on any road or racetrack.


1919 Indian Military Powerplus— the motorcycle that helped the US win WWI.


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The bike that got American motocross off the ground-- the 1963 Husqvarna (Husky) Racer.

The bike that got American motocross off the ground– the 1963 Husqvarna (Husky) Racer. This unrestored bike is No. 59 of just 100 250cc race machines Husqvarna built in ’63.


With its signature red and chrome glistening gas tank, the Husqvarna (or “Husky” as it’s affectionately known) was a stunning beauty of a bike, and a mud-slinging beast on the American motocross circuit. Back in the 1960s, the increasingly popular sport of American motocross was bogged down by clumsily modified (not to mention heavy) Harley-Davidson, Triumph & BSA road bikes.  It was lumbering in antiquity and in dire need of innovation.  Enter Edison Dye.

While on a motorcycle tour of Europe, Dye took particular note of European motocross and the lighter-weight, nimble, two-stroke bikes that were in stark contrast to the American scene.  Swedish maker Husqvarna particulary stood out with their alloy engine components, and distinctive exhaust.  He asked motorcycling legend Malcolm Smith (Steve McQueen’s riding chum in “On Any Sunday”) to take a Husky and put it through its paces for him.  Upon Smith’s glowing review, Edison Dye decided to sign on as Husqvarna’s U.S. importer.  The Screamin’ Swede was about to take American motocross by storm.


Heikki Mikkola, the “Flyin’ Finn” was one of the most popular and feared motocross racers of the 1970s. During his illustrious career, Mikkola collected four World Grand Prix Motocross Championship titles.  Mikkola won the 1974 World Grand Prix 500cc Championship on a Husqvarna.

Heikki Mikkola, the “Flyin’ Finn” was one of the most popular and feared motocross racers of the 1970s. During his illustrious career, Mikkola collected four World Grand Prix Motocross Championship titles. In 1974 he won the World Grand Prix 500cc Championship on a Husqvarna.

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From “A Day at the Races” by S. Clayton Moore–

During the pinnacle of Ed Kretz Jr.’s career in the late 1950s and early 1960s, he raced alongside some of the world’s most famous racers, pushing Indians and Triumphs to the very edge of their capabilities. His racing buddies included screen legends like Steve McQueen and Lee Marvin, television stars like Jay Leno, and world-famous racers like the “Indian Wrecking Crew” of Bobby Hill and Bill Tuman.

Perhaps no one in Kretz’ orbit was more famous than his father, Ed Kretz Sr., who won the very first Daytona road race in 1937. Known as the “Iron Man” for his amazing endurance on a bike, the elder Kretz was the greatest motorcycle racer of his time and one of the sport’s first major stars.


Ed Kretz Jr. (on the left) and Ed Kretz Sr. (on the right)

Ed Kretz Jr. (on the left) and Ed Kretz Sr. (on the right) on their trusty Triumphs.


Ed Kretz was born in 1911 in San Diego, and started riding motorcycles out of sheer necessity during the Depression. Another legendary racer, Floyd Clymer, saw his talent and managed to get the young rider to race a new Indian motorcycle. As he progressed through the racing circuit, Kretz quickly became one of the best-known racers in the country. He stood at only 5’8″, but weighed a muscular 185 pounds, and used his sheer physical strength in a style no one had ever seen before.

“My dad was strong like a bull,” his son remembered. “He drove a hay truck and would load and unload the bales by himself. He was shorter than I was, but he was stocky.” That strength served the elder Kretz well during his most famous race, the inaugural Daytona 200 in 1937. The race was already well-known in its first year and went on to become the single most important motorcycle race in America.


Ed Kretz AKA “Ironman” racing #88 for Triumph 

Motorcycle racing great "Iron Man" Ed Kretz Sr. on his trusty Triumph.

Motorcycle racing great Ed Kretz on the legendary Indian.


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