It was great being a part of 1st Annual NYC Motorcycle Film Festival in Brooklyn last week. Lots of great films and filmmakers were exposed to fresh eyes hungry for inspiring motorcycle art, culture, and history on the screen. An interesting after-film Q & A brought up a seminal motorcycle film of the 1960s, “The Leather Boys”, not just necessarily for the striking “Ton-Up Boys” and bikes– actually more for it’s place in history for being the first British film to be rated ‘X’ for having homosexual themes than actual nudity of a graphic nature,  per se.

I was first exposed to “The Leather Boys” as a teenage fan of The Smiths (it was a very influential and transforming film for Morrissey, and many young gay men in England). Clips and images of the film and it’s stars were used in The Smiths’ video “Girlfriend in a Coma” and their single, “William, It Was Really Nothing.” In a 1988 NME interview at the Cadogan Hotel (where Oscar Wilde was arrested), Morrissey even said, “I’m almost quite speechless now, it’s a very historic place and obviously it means a great deal to me… to be sitting here staring at Oscar’s television and the very video that Oscar watched “The Leather Boys on.” (The ‘Oscar’s television’ comment, obviously an impossibility, is Moz being snarky and insulting the intelligence of the NME  reporter…) Hearing “The Leather Boys” being referenced all these years later by filmmaker Eric Tretbar (Girl Meets Bike), and Paul d’Orleans of The Vintagent made me want to take a closer look at the historical influence of “The Leather Boys”, of which there is several layers.


Rita Tushingham and Colin Campbell in the iconic British film, “The Leather Boys”, 1964.

Continue reading


In all of history it has happened only once. Only one man has ever won the World Championship in both motorcycle and auto racing– John Surtees. In 1956, at the wee age of 22 yrs old, he became the 500cc motorcycle World Champion. Then in 1960, he switched full-time to auto racing, and was crowned Formula One World Champion in 1964. At 26 yrs of age, he’d become the only man ever to win a World Championship on two wheels and four. There has been no one since, and perhaps nevermore.

Grand Prix motorcycle racing career
Active years 1952 – 1960
Teams Norton, MV Agusta
Grands Prix 49
Championships 350cc – 1958, 1959, 1960
500cc- 1956, 1958, 1959, 1960
Wins 38
Podium finishes 45
Pole positions N/A
Fastest laps 34
First Grand Prix 1952 500cc Ulster Grand Prix
First win 1955 250cc Ulster Grand Prix
Last win 1960 500cc Nations Grand Prix
Last Grand Prix 1960 500cc Nations Grand Prix



May 10, 1964 — Ferrari designer Mauro Forghieri (ITA) manages a yawn as driver John Surtees (GBR) prepares for practice to begin in the pits. Monaco Grand Prix, Monte Carlo — Image by © Phipps/Sutton Images/Corbis


Formula One World Championship career
Active years 1960 – 1972
Teams Lotus, Cooper, Lola, Ferrari,Honda, BRM, McLaren, Surtees
Races 113 (111 starts)
Championships 1 (1964)
Wins 6
Podiums 24
Career points 180
Pole positions 8
Fastest laps 10
First race 1960 Monaco Grand Prix
First win 1963 German Grand Prix
Last win 1967 Italian Grand Prix
Last race 1972 Italian Grand Prix


Continue reading


A cool piece on Steve McQueen rating six bikes for Popular Science magazine back in November, 1966–

“First of all, I don’t set myself up as an expert on either setting up machinery for racing, or in the actual sport of racing itself.  But after 25 years of desert riding in Southern California, TT scrambles, Hare and Hound, and a bit of racing in the wet Six Days Trials in East Germany n 1964– I sure hope I picked up a little bit about motorcycles and riding along the way.” –Steve McQueen

At the end of the day, McQueen heavily favors his own hybrid desert-rippin’ beast that he put together with the help of the Ekins brothers–

“I used a Rickman-Metisse frame– a revolutionary piece of equipment that does away with the oil tank. The oil circulates through the tubes of the frame, which keeps it cool…I used a 650cc Triumph engine as the powerplant for this bike.  The drivetrain and gearbox are also Triumph.  It has Ceriani forks with 7 1/2 inches of travel for a real smooth ride, and a BSA crown.  The fiberglass fenders and tank hold the weight down to a notch under 300 pounds.  The rig is the best handling bike I’ve ever owned.  And the power– it’s like supersonic.” –Steve McQueen


“If you can’t cut it, you gotta back out.”  –Steve McQueen

Continue reading