Monday, August 10, 2009
Well they saved rock and roll from Pat Boone and Fabian....now maybe the Brits are the best bet to save American Flat Track.
You may recognize the name Gary Inman. He's the guy that did that great piece in Cycle World about Chris Carr traveling to the UK. For the Triumph owners out there...if you were wondering who wrote the flat track article in the Triumph owners magazine a few issue back, it was him. Now Gary and co-conspirator Ben Part are turning out their flat track manifesto on a bi-annual basis. Sideburn magazine is like a shot of epinephrine straight to the heart of the flat lining sport. The magazine hit the stands last year and the guys are currently prepping their 4th issue.
A few weeks back the highly anticipated package arrived from Great Britain. The digest sized Sideburn is closer to Punk Planet than Cycle World with it's DIY approach, artistic layout, and features on the everyday, average Joe's giving it a go on the dirt tracks. That's not to say Sideburn doesn't feature everyone from the greats (like Dick Mann and Kenny Roberts) to the stars of today and beyond (Jared Mees and Brandon Robinson) but a considerable amount of time is given to the people who make flat track fun and are doing it without big name sponsors or a drive for fame and stardom. There are also interviews with the guys behind the bikes. The most recent issue featured a wonderful visit with Ron Wood and covers everything from his Nortons to the current BMW project.
Perhaps the most enjoyable articles are those highlighting the burgeoning European flat track scene. The magazine has featured indoor racing with Chinese mini-bikes, beach racing in near arctic conditions, and flat trackers assembled from bikes U.S. riders would scoff at. It's these things, along with interviews with builders, racers, and features on some gnarly race bikes and street trackers, that make Sideburn so refreshing.
The first article in Issue #1 begins with this bit of information:
"Flat Track is still a fledgling sport in Europe. The scene is being developed in the U.K., Holland, and Germany by grassroots enthusiasts. People who want to race. To entice many maybe drifters in the totally amateur Euro flat track scene the rules are kept to a minimum. Rule 1 = No front brake. Rule 2 = Tire tread must not be deeper than 6mm. Any deeper would not just rip up the surface, but may encourage a clashing riding style and speed. Other than that, just about anything else goes."
Perhaps these guys are on to something. While the U.S. scene is arguing over exhaust dBs, restrictors, stock frames, singles, and the best way to save "our" sport, the guys across the pond are just racing. Not worried about style points or which OEM is giving more to the sport, these guys are making flat track more accessible by running whatever will go fast and turn left. That and turning out some badass magazines.
Check out the Sideburn website for more details and ordering info. The guys also have some cool merch to check out. The wife is now sporting the Dick Mann shirt while yours truly is kicking it in the Gene Romero. You can get these in a variety of colors as well as stickers and patches.
There's also a Sideburn blog that is updated daily and posts everything from street trackers and vintage bikes to race results from all over Europe and the U.S.