Highlights

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With nothing but a rough outline, some destinations and bike riding in their plan, they did what we all think of every now and then: get on a plane and get lost. We will let Helen and Anthony do the talking from now on, taking you back to a trip that included an all-electric chopper, some of the best custom bike builders around and a broken-down van.

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Lost on purpose: Lift off!

So, what’s this all about? Well, with our lives becoming so frenzied we thought it would be important to take some time to get lost. But in and amongst this disorientation, we do have a purpose – hence the name of this tour. Part of this purpose is to support the very talented Ricky de Haas of “Wannabe Choppers” who’s been invited to exhibit his custom chopper at “The One Moto Show” in Portland, Oregon.

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We need to talk about this a bit first because it’s not your average chopper. In fact, it’s not your average anything. Built predominantly from aluminum, which is cast in-house by Ricky, this custom chopper is also electric. The design, the execution and the notion in a bigger sense is beautiful and progressive – totally worthy of our support. Custom design is brave, and deciding to push the boundaries of what people think custom design should be, in such an unflinching manner, is inspiring.

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Along for this screwball-of-a-ride is our friend Niels Peter Jensen. He's an ex-pro mountain biker, TV Presenter and designer. Without a doubt, collectively we are the epitome of a petrol-fueled motley crew, descending upon Portland then planning to travel down through California to Los Angeles. This tour will be one to remember, immersing ourselves in the LA custom culture, meeting as many people as we can and seeing as much as possible. Well that’s the rough plan; so, with the best possible intentions, we’ve strapped ourselves in and we're ready to get lost on purpose…

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We arrive in LA in a cloud of post Bourbon haze, pile on some tacos then jump on a quick connecting flight. Transporting us onwards and upwards to Portland, Oregon and to the beginning of our very own American Dream. Turns out, the American Dream resides inside a beaten-up Chevy van found on Craigslist. This will be the Lost on Purpose Tour Van for the next few days. And right now, it’s taking us to an old pickle factory in Portland where The One Moto Show will be held.

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The One Moto Show first began nine years ago in an abandoned warehouse, set-up to celebrate rare, kooky and unconventional custom motorcycles. This show is as much about people - their excitement and dedication to their craft - as it is about their custom creations. It’s an out-and-out cultural gathering. Ricky’s chopper stands pride of place in the pickle factory alongside some cracking good builds. Wannabe Choppers is definitely in good company here. We’re lucky to get a sneak peek before the show starts, absorbing the insane details only found in custom design. Unique motorcycles are accompanied by artwork, clothes, accessories, amazing food and drink – it’s a festival for the soul, if your soul craves motorcycles.

We spend the majority of the show meeting up with a ton of rad people, really top-notch folk - one of which is Carl Bjorkland of Super Rat. A custom creation built by the Bjorkland brother’s sits in the entrance of the show; the hand-crafted details and attitude of this fierce post-apocalyptic beauty queen reflect the personalities involved and the stories Carl tells us. Super Rat have a film too, “Out of Nothing,” a documentary about the world of land speed racing at Bonneville. Ant has told us all about Carl and Super Rat before and their overall ethos is exactly what we were talking about – reality on the scene, dirty and beautiful. One bad life decision after the next because none of us were ever going to conform to a 9-to-5 existence. The One Moto Show definitely illustrates exactly what we’re trying to find, a real scene with real people.

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...the hand-crafted details and attitude of this fierce post-apocalyptic beauty queen reflect the personalities involved and the stories Carl tells us.
Carl

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Collectively we’ve met and partied with some hugely inspiring designers, builders and enthusiasts at this show. Learned from them, met up with friends, made new friends and we've enjoyed some damn good fried chicken. This is a show we'll have to return to next year. We've had a blast and it's kicked off our tour in the best possible way. Thank you, Portland, it’s been special.

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We pack up the tour van and head south. The plan is to keep driving until we hit Sonoma, California. So, feeling really squished in the back of the Chevy with the chopper, all of our luggage and a bunch of helmets we hit the road. After a few more hours on the road, we end up dropping Niels off in Sonoma - agreeing to meet him in Pasadena - and the remaining crew continue onwards.

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On the way to LA, we head over to El Mirage and take Ricky’s electric dream machine out on the dry lake bed. The drive alone is stunning; mountains, sculptural trees, burned out and abandoned cars interjected with pops of color from Taco Bell. After visually overdosing, we set up in the middle of the lake bed take a ton of snaps, chug some beers and hang out. This place certainly does something to you and as we're the only people here, it makes the experience even more affective. After a peachy day absorbing what travel and custom life is all about, we head to Manhattan Beach to chill out and reflect. We also meet back up with Niels for tacos and Jack Daniel’s at a neon-lit bar just off the beach and talk about our next adventures in California.

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Wednesday, we pick up a pair of R-nine-T Urban GS motorbikes courtesy of BMW Motorrad US. Then Ant takes us over to Roland Sands’ place to introduce us to the team. This space is no ordinary workshop – it’s the dream. Roland is a great guy and his team are a super cool bunch too. We initially met up with him at The One Moto Show so it was good to catch up again here in Los Angeles. It’s a very inspiring place to be, in amongst it, behind the scenes, immersed in so much heritage.

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Next, Ant decides to take us to another cool shop in LA, so we visit Max Hazan at his workshop where we randomly we bump into Brandon LaJoie (who we met at The One Moto Show). Brandon is a super talented photographer and he’s here to take pics of Max Hazan’s super talents. So much talent. Did we mention this group was talented?

Seriously – Maxwell Hazan. His work takes your breath away; exquisite artistry, genius engineering – no pretense, just a celebration of the creative process and the endless possibilities of custom motorcycles.

Also, Max is a ridiculously nice guy so this is a happy place to be. Whilst we geek out on his current builds, Brandon takes some great pictures of us invading Max’s space; so good in fact he’s become a future co-conspirator at LiCK. This day just gets better and better and every element of it is a constant reminder of why we love this life so much.

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Thursday, Niels takes us to Silver Lake on Sunset. We park up at Atlantis Motor Garage and have a look around their shop. These guys have a great set-up here, with a lot of custom classic projects going on, car and bikes. Definitely worth a visit if you're ever in the area, which you should be - Silver Lake with its mixture of vintage shops, independent boutiques, record stores, restaurants, cafés, surf shops and tattooists, reminds us of a sunnier and cleaner Shoreditch. The intense colors, modernist architecture, amazing people, tasty food, vibrant street art and palm trees - what's not to like?

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We ride over to The Arts District after that to visit Chris Richardson, old skool chopper builder and founder of LA Speed Shop. He’s just embarked on a new project called, “The House of Machines,” so Chris shows us around and tells us about his plans for this great venue, which opens this month. Everyone we meet, Chris included, have the most exhilarating attitudes - encouraging and positive. Los Angeles is a place to thrive and it’s certainly the perfect city to be part of something unique, a real custom community and another example of the real scene we're on the search for.

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We’re moving from Pasadena to Venice for the last leg of the tour. Niels is flying home so after filming and taking some more pictures, he leaves and we meet up with Ricky again. Wandering down Venice boardwalk, we look around and soak up the atmosphere, diving into a few shops to buy some obligatory “I heart LA” goodies. Then we catchup over a few beers. Ricky tells us about the people he’s met and how he’s spreading the word about his electric bike and Wannabe Choppers. Quite a chilled day – which was needed and appreciated amidst the chaos.

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The last day sees us ripping around LA trying to get a few last-minute meetings in before we pack up and head to LAX. We stock up on food for the plane and spend this downtime reflecting on being lost on purpose in California.

The elements of this trip that really stick with us are the people; their positivity, encouragement and enlightening outlook on life is contagious. Combine that with the aesthetics and culture of LA, an insanely blue sky, brilliant sunshine and there’s no doubt about it, this is where we want to be. Usually, we would return to the UK depressed as hell, with severe post California blues and wind up drunk under the misery of grey skies and grey attitudes.

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However, this tour was so positive, hopeful and promising that this time we're returning fueled with dogged determination to work harder so we can spend more time in California. So being lost for a few weeks has in fact helped us collectively find focus again. Los Angeles is a paragon of cool and if you’re the right person you can see the real people and the real beauty of the place, after all that’s what we wanted to do, throw away the gloss and find authenticity. We achieved a great deal and made life-long friends, we made memories and got inspired. This tour was sincerely an adventure to remember.

But there’s no time to get sentimental, because we need to plan the next trip…

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Photographs by Anthony Partridge, Brandon LaJoie and Helen Stanley, instant photograph by Matt French. Written by Helen Stanley and Anthony Partridge.