As the mad genius behind last year's Rollerburn, Sideburn & Sideblog, and with Dirt Quake coming soon, we wanted to get a little deeper under the skin of the outspoken bike journo and editor, Gary Inman, so we invited him down to the Shed and asked a few simple, loaded, questions... THE SHED: Dirt track bikes are a pretty small niche to theme a magazine around - but there's clearly more to it that sliding around a dirt oval. Why do you think the machines, the culture and the iconography fit in so well with the new ethos of biking simplicity and 1970s roots that is also seen in the cafe racer and brat style custom scene? GARY: I think the simplicity of dirt track style bikes appeals to a lot of people both new to biking and with a long history of riding. They look like the bike an 8-year-old would draw if you asked them to sketch a motorcycle. They're muscular, no nonsense and those wide bars feel good as soon as you get them in your hands. Another positive is the fact that a street tracker, or what most people would describe as one, is a pretty easy bike to build and you can even start with a 125 Honda. It's inclusive. As for the sport of dirt track, the aesthetics are appealing and haven't been exploited, so people think they're finding something fresh. The sport itself is still very blue-collar, unlike road racing that seems to be all about money, and MX which just appears, to me, to be a corporate logo fetish on knobblies. No one looks cool in MX pyjamas.

Gary carves it up around the dirt oval

As for being a small niche to base a magazine around, that's the point. We're not trying to compete with newsstand magazines and we never could. We're not trying to compete with anyone. We started it for our own amusement and people liked it. We fed off the enthusiasm.

Gary & Rollergirl in Rollerburn promo pic - by Drogo Michie

THE SHED: Rollerburn was raw and real, sticking two fingers up to Health & Safety dragging roller girls up the strip on flat trackers piloted by the likes of Guy Martin. Is Dirt Quake gonna top that? GARY: Lots of the key people involved with Sideburn races dirt track, but that's not all we do. So Rollerburn was a mixture of bikes, music, art, the kind of independent companies who sponsored or took vendor stands and, of course, the cool rollergirls - who, like dirt trackers, go fast and turn left. We always wanted to have an indoor dirt track race element to Rollerburn, but the venue put the kibosh on it. We tried to work out how to do it outside, but it just wasn't going to work, so it was the only regret regarding an event. We kept our mouths shut about the rollerball drag race, because there was no way we were going to drop that. We did it towards the end of the night in case someone pulled the plug after we' done it. They didn't and no one got badly hurt.

Guy Martin at Rollerburn

That's the background, now Dirt Quake. We've wanted to co-promote a race for the last three years, but it wasn't until Short Track UK saw what we could do at Rollerburn that it really struck home that it might be a good idea for them to do something this big with Sideburn. We've got some good ideas to make it a memorable night, and the same team organising it, so we're sure it's going to be good. We never want to let down the people paying a tenner to get it, so we lose sleep over the organisation and details of stuff. It'll be worth the grief if people enjoy it as much as Rollerburn. As for topping Rollerburn, well, it'll be different and we're relying on UK and European chopper, road bike and street tracker riders being willing to get on track for the demo races to add some extra spice. We know it'll be the most exciting thing they do all year, but we also know it takes balls to get on track and race, perhaps for the first time, so we hope people sign up for it. They do in America. It'll be fun and they'll be in the same pit and on the same track (at a different time) with Europe's fastest flat track racers, so that's a draw too.

This could be you, at Dirt Quake... Wait. Is that our very own Bazza at the front?

THE SHED: Sideburn seems to have really hit a nerve as an integral part of the new-school of old-school bike aficionados. So, where next for our style of pure and simple biking? GARY: Can I answer this in a roundabout way? Sideburn isn't about 'old school'. It's often about DIY and cheap, so it might seem we cover a lot of old bikes, but we cover brand new Kawasaki race bikes and street tracker builds, like Mule's Streetmaster. What I like about the way a certain area of the motorbike world has gone is the crossover of scenes. I like dirt trackers, 'period correct' Harley bobbers, choppers, GSX-Rs, Lambrettas, Fantic Caballeros, and the other half of Sideburn, Ben, has equally broad tastes. It seems other people like a wide range too and the internet sites illustrate that. The narrow-minded people (and websites) bore me. So things will mutate, like they have over the last few years. Where next? Well, because of the internet people think a scene is over when there could be ten of that style of bike in the whole world. How often do you see a street tracker on the road? As an aside, I do think Triumph might build a street tracker-based Bonneville soon.

"Dear Triumph, Please can you build your bikes more like Mule's Triumph Streetmaster"

THE SHED: Will we stay one step ahead of EU strangulation and the boredom of hyper-powered bikes tamed by traction control, or is this all a flash in the pan, doomed to fizzle out along with with fossil fuel. Are we all doomed? I reckon it's only people's apathy that will kill biking as we know it. If people keep rolling over when it comes to legislation then yes, but motorcyclists don't do that. Also, new legislation is very rarely applied to older bikes, just future production, so we could still ride and modify old stuff. And I don't think people are bored of hyper-powered bikes. You might be, but the Panigale has a long waiting list and I'd swap our FT500 for one. ... Check out lots more from Gary at SideBlog, but don't just read his stuff online for free, subscribe to the Sideburn in print and make the world a slightly better place. Additional pics credits to elsolitariomc.blogspot.com
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