Revolution: A celebration of art, film and motorcycles

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British artist Grayson Perry was among the punters who visited Revolt Motorcycles’ second bike show, Revolution, in Hastings, this weekend.

For an incredible celebration of custom bikes, engineering and design, mixed with art and film the guys at Revolt put on a spread not worth missing at the Baker Mamonova Gallery.

The organisers, Jake Robbins and Shaun Fenton, filled the gallery with pre-war, retro, classic, vintage and racing specials.

For Jake the show is about promoting the craft and art work. 

“We try to be eclectic and all-inclusive keeping all the sub-cultures of motorcycling together, from having choppers to superbikes here. We also try and look at it from a non-motorcyclist’s point of view,” says Jake.

“We want to celebrate the engineering and the amount of work that goes into these bikes, which is just insane. So if you’re an observer you don’t see it. We just want to open people’s eyes to the oddball stuff.”

This year’s show saw 25 artists and Jake and Shaun hope to come back next year with a bigger and fresher show. 

“Next year we’re going to evolve the show,” adds Jake. “Every show will be different, different artists, different motorcycle builders. We try to give a leg-up to artists or builders who don’t rate themselves, or realise what they’re doing. A lot of people just do stuff and don’t realise the gravity of what they’re doing. So we try and spot that and bring it out.”

With motorcycle films playing all weekend, MCN got talking to the crowd to find out what brought them to such a unique event.

Custom-bike fanatic and builder Chris Barber, 49, told us a bit about his V6 Maserati motorbike: “I’m here today with my bike here with the Maserati engine. I made the frame and all the body work. It’s taken my five years, so I’ve been busy in my shed. I’ve got a full-time job so this is a hobby really.”

Price wise Chris told us he hasn’t spent much building his bike, which isn’t yet fully completed. “Most of the cost of the bike was materials. The engine I bought for about £250,” Chris explains. “Probably a couple of thousand pounds so far.”

And although not running yet, Chris is thinking about polishing and painting his bike in orange. For more on his creation visit Chris’ website here.

Chris tells us he normally rides Ducatis but isn’t riding at the moment as all his bikes are “in bits” and hasn’t done any miles yet this year. Tut, tut. Better make up for it next year. 

We also caught up with Andrew Sheff, 55, who clocks some serious miles each year on one of his eight motorbikes, “I ride to work every single day and most weekends all weekends and so does my other half, she uses a motorbike as well. So somewhere in the region of 20,000 miles a year.”

Speaking on his 180-mile trip to the event today, Andrew travelled on his Moto Guzzi Stelvio. “My Stelvio is the most comfortable for the miles I’m covering this weekend. I do also have custom bikes but they’re not comfortable. You’ve seen the seats on just some of the bikes today.”

And if you’re at The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride in London at the end of the month, you’ll see Mr Sheff partaking his fourth year there on a custom Triumph Bonneville.

To big mile, or not to big mile?

Claire Moore, 48, who was at the event with her husband showing off their custom bikes, said she was enjoying the mixture or art and motorcycles.

“I think people who aren’t into bikes sometimes don’t realise how much goes into the design of a custom motorbike, but I think to see it with other forms of art that others are more familiar with it kind of makes them realise.”

Claire who owns a BSA Bantam and uses it for her commute to work and doesn’t cover many miles in a year is planning a big trip to Scotland next year.

“I cover about a couple of thousand miles a year and next year my husband and I are planning to do the North Coast 500,” says Claire. “Our trip will be as last minute as possible, because of the risk of rain.”

Claire’s dream is to one day ride to Spain or Italy, despite having never ridden on the other side of the road before.

“Even though I’ve had a bike licence for over 20 years I’ve never ridden on the other side of the road yet, which is weird isn’t it. So I’m a bit scared, but I’ll be fine. It’s the same with changing gears on the other side if you’ve got an old bike as opposed to a new bike. That’s quite weird and it took me a little while to get used to. When I first went from a Japanese bike to a British bike I was a bit shocked. You end up jamming your gears because you think you’re braking, but your brain soon works it out. So I’m hoping it’ll be the same with riding on the other side of the road.”

Claire and her husband own The Baron’s Speed Shop, check them out here.

Custom builders

Layla Leatham, 57, came to the Revolts event with two bikes. 

“This one here I got back up and running after a few years and I use it every day around Brighton. It’s a BSA frame, an A10 Plunger frame, with a Triumph 5TA engine, it’s a BSA/Harley back wheel, CB750 extended front forks, Suzuki trail bike front head lamp and the other bits are custom. It’s a pretty reliable machine, it’s got modern, electronic ignition with even a vanity mirror on the side. 

“It does go fast, like motorway speeds, but you wouldn’t jump on your grandma and do that with her, you know? You’ve got to nurse these kinds of bikes along. I built her for the first time in 1985. Overall probably didn’t cost me that much, the bottom yolk, which I made up,  is an articulated thing. That allows you to rake it and make it have this custom look, without cutting the frame. There’s nothing on this bike that can’t go back to its original bike. The bottom yolk also has a top ball joint off of a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. There’s even a washing machine part on there as well, which just came about as I was going along. The bike is also not heavy on the steering.” 

Despite not having the bike (picture above and in the gallery of this article) in the rain, Layla says, “I’ve probably done about 2000 miles this year.”

There are two events which Layla is interested in going on before the year is out and will hopefully cover more of a #ride5000miles target. “There are two, one is called the Trip Out. It’s a fantastic event and I can’t praise it enough. The other is called Twisted Iron, which is very similar but more for extreme radical, one-off builds.”

For more visit on the Revolution visit,

Maria Vallahis

By Maria Vallahis