An Exploration of Custom Motorcycle Culture
Gareth Maxwell Roberts reached out to me a while back and asked if I’d like to preview his documentary film, Oil in the Blood. I finally got around to viewing the film, and I’m ashamed to say it took me this long to get around to it. The film is an exploration of motorcycles, specifically custom motorcycles. It’s a work of art in and of itself and is not really about the motorcycles that the 300 or so people who Roberts interviewed spend so much of their life creating and riding.
The film starts out with people talking about how they got into motorcycling and custom motorcycling. There’s a fair amount of the cliched things that people always say about riding right at the start of the film, but once you get past the first couple of minutes, it digs in and people open up.
This isn’t some cheerleading, rah-rah look at the custom motorcycle scene. It’s a genuine exploration. You can tell it’s made by folks who absolutely love bikes and are a part of the culture, but it goes deeper than the typical discussions around the topic. Roberts obviously took the time to actually dig into the philosophy of individualism within the culture of custom motorcycles.
The film discusses how the custom motorcycle scene is progressing, and it discusses the importance of social media and its impact. There’s a movement within the custom bike industry that appeals to new riders. In a world where everything is mass-produced and extremely easy, custom motorcycles represent something different and unique. It brings in younger people who may not have ever ridden before.
This was one of the key things that stood out to me about the film. Every motorcycle manufacturer is trying to find a way to attract new, younger riders, and the custom motorcycle scene seems to do it naturally because of the philosophy of individualism and the cool factor that comes with custom bikes.
The film also touches on the fact that big manufacturers are trying to take a bit of the custom bike pie with a custom-style motorcycle. It’s a testament to the importance of this subculture, and it also goes counter to everything most of these people stand for. They’re there to make art, and a mass-produced “custom” bike might look good, but it lacks the soul of a custom build from a passionate rider. Then there are the manufacturers that support the scene in the right way and commission a build and let the builder have free artistic reign to do what they want. So, there is a way for these manufacturers to be a positive influence in the custom bike scene. At the same time, there’s a fear from many in the scene of becoming too big and too mainstream.
Overall, Oil in the Blood is a deep look at an important, small, and growing subculture in motorcycling. The film releases today, as I mentioned above, and I highly suggest you check it out. It is available for download from iTunes and also available on Amazon. You can learn more about the film here. You can watch the trailer below.