<b>WHEELS AND WAVES 2019</b> BACK TO BASICS IN BIARRITZ

WHEELS AND WAVES 2019 BACK TO BASICS IN BIARRITZ

What started as an intimate setting under the Biarritz lighthouse has grown to become a massive celebration of custom motorcycles. With each year’s attendance exceeding the last, organizers face an ongoing challenge to keep things fresh. But if 2019 is anything to go by, we’d say they still got it.
07-12-2019
Urban

Article

Written by:

DEREK KNIPSCHEER

REV’IT!’s Senior Brand Relations Manager in the racing and urban scene; switching from one-piece leathers to riding jeans while always on two wheels.

Derek Knipscheer
Wheels & Waves Logo

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THE GREATOUTDOORS

Ah, the smell of ocean in the morning... After being forced to set up shop indoors last year due to the poor weather conditions, it was a great relief to be back at the beautiful strip between the ocean and the Cite de l’Ocean building for construction day.

With “Back to the Roots” as their credo for this year, the event had to overcome online criticism with only the event itself to serve as proof whether Wheels and Waves could continue to move forward in the future. With our Tailored Technology setup in place, we were about to find out.

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Husqvarna Svartpilen 701 - 1

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ALL ABOARD

We won’t go into detail about the discussion prior to the event - we’re not one to pick sides and we respect everyone’s opinion - but basically it boils down to different opinions on where Wheels and Waves has come from, and where it is heading.

For us, since our first time attending as one of the few brands present back in 2014, Wheels and Waves has been a place where we encouraged getting feedback from riders who felt attracted to a - back then - small subculture within the motorcycle industry.

We like to ride bikes ourselves and therefore we like to add value to riders’ experience on two wheels, regardless of the segment. Sure, Wheels and Waves has grown - it’s been a while since the space surrounding the lighthouse proved sufficient - yet the spirit of the event remained constant.

Celebrating a different breed of motorcycles, one fueled by creativity, has attracted quite the crowd since its ignition. Like with music, it’s the point when something becomes mainstream that makes the originators wonder; is this what we wanted it to become, or did it get pushed too far?

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IF YOU BUILD IT THEY WILL COME

It’s hard to predict how far the result of a “eureka” moment will carry you. The person who came up with the paperclip probably thought it was handy at the time, and perhaps, Wheels and Waves was never bound to become such an established bucket-list worthy must-do on the calendar of motorcyclists around the world.

Starting as a spontaneous outburst of a group of likeminded motorcycle - and surf - enthusiasts, the event just happened to answer to a desire of more and more motorcyclists around the globe. Whereas a local solution was found in numerous countries where they organized something similar, Wheels and Waves remained at the pinnacle of custom motorcycle events through its unique vibes. Yes, Wheels and Waves has grown over time, but the point is: the original setup just became too small for the interest.

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FAST FORWARD TO THIS YEAR’S EVENT

The weather hasn’t been kind to Wheels and Waves over the last few years. And last year’s necessary call to move things indoors might have tempered enthusiasm with those looking to return - or make their first appearance - at the event.

Might, but didn’t. From the opening day on Wednesday, it was clear that people were led by their personal desire to attend the event, turning up in high numbers virtually all of them riding.

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Royal Enfield

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BEING PART OF THE AUDIENCE

I’ll be the first to admit that Wheels and Waves might not sound like working to most of you, especially if the weather plays along. Aside from spreading the gospel about the why and what around our Tailored Technology design philosophy - and the urban collection that derived from it - we take the opportunity to blend right in.

Who wouldn’t like to ride their bikes around the Basque area for “work,” right? With no space left to bring our own, we were happy to start Wednesday morning with picking up the keys for two brand new Royal Enfields for the day. One on-point Interceptor 650 twin that we managed to snatch from a journalist, and one less obvious choice in the shape of a Bullet 500. Off to the Punks Peak drag race!

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Punk's Peak 2019

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A SINGLE GOOD RUN

After an entertaining run by the Punks Peak contenders at mount Jaizkibel, it was time to head back to the Village. With our photographer claiming the twin, it was my turn to take the Bullet (the bike, that is), keeping the sparkling coast on the left. We’re fortunate enough to say that we ride quite a few different bikes. Both on and off track.

But after a string of bikes that came with all the bells and whistles and packed quite the punch, the Bullet 500 proved to be a welcome change. In fact, after getting used to the unconventional seating position, keeping it pinned down the coastal road meant giving a few nineTs a good run for their money, followed by big smiles from their riders when they caught up with us at the traffic lights.

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VILLAGE PEOPLE

Back to the rendezvous point: the Wheels and Waves village. Setting up shop here means having a spot to welcome motorcyclists and to hear their stories, whether they’re bike or gear related. It allows us to take the temperature within the custom scene, to look at our product development, and to give us a face-to-face opportunity to describe our efforts to visitors from virtually all over the globe; from Biarritz locals to a Kuwait-based globetrotter.

It’s also to attract people to our stand. We were lucky enough to have on-site the bike that was built using inspiration from our hexagonal structure found in our SEESMART™ protectors, as well as the embossing on our race suits; the “DNA Billet Sting.” Get up to speed with this incredible build by Marios and Dino Nikolaidis right here.

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Husqvarna Svartpilen 701 - 2

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AN EVENTFUL EVENT

We’ll let the photography do the talking, but one of the reasons why Wheels and Waves remains high on bucket lists is because of the surplus of events on-tap. With the Village being a gathering spot, from Wednesday to Sunday, the program is packed with sidesteps that encourage you to jump on your bike and follow beautiful roads toward another event.

From the aforementioned Punks Peak drag race, to mud-filled motocross action at the Swank Rally, or even flat track racing at El Rollo; there’s plenty of action for those looking for two-wheeled thrills.

And that’s just the motorcycling part, as there’s surfing, skating, and late-night partying for those brave enough. Adding flavor to our stay in Biarritz, we picked up a few different bikes for the weekend in the shape of two Husqvarna Svartpilen 701s.

A different cat to our previous bikes for the event, the “Huskies” are well known to us since our partnership with Husqvarna, and taking them onto the beautiful costal routes was perhaps one of the best examples of how to mix business with pleasure in a busy but beautiful five days amongst likeminded motorcycle enthusiasts.

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CUSTOM CONTEMPLATION

We’ve been part of the audience inside the custom motorcycle scene since back when people thought it was a mere “wave” that would pass. When we started to engage with those attracted to it, others were quick to point out that this subculture was never going to be a sustainable thing, or in other words: why bother? Since it has matured into its current state, the custom scene has seen a lot of its core audience walk away because of its success; deeming it too mainstream.

History repeats itself in a way, but the point of view changes. We are known to do things differently, we’re not afraid to dive in at the deep end but we’re also not one to pick sides at a crossroads.

The custom motorcycle scene is alive and kicking, making it worth battling the necessary obstacles for new motorcyclists of all ages to participate, thanks to an inclusivity second to none inside the motorcycle industry.

In a day and age where we see the old stigmas from what motorcycling used to suffer from start to vanish, only to be replaced by rules and regulations, it is in events like this that convince people to start doing what we all love doing: riding a motorcycle. And we encourage you to do the same. Ride safe!

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RELIVE THE EVENT

Head over to our Facebook page for loads more photos from our trip to Wheels & Waves 2019.

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Punk's Peak 2019