Chopping under the influence

If you’ve been following any chatter about Classified Moto, you might know I only started paying attention to motorcycles a few years ago. I’m not sure why it took me so long. As a card-carrying gearhead of 20-plus years, maybe I just had too many four-wheeled hobbies to take on motorbikes. But more likely, I think I was simply turned off by the mainstream customs I was exposed to. Too flashy, too clean, too chrome, too cookie-cutter. So when I took the plunge and got a bike, I looked beyond reality TV for some role models. What I found changed my whole two-wheeled experience, and I couldn’t be more grateful. That’s probably too much setup, so anyway, here’s my list of the bikes (mostly bikes) that inspire me on a regular basis. In no particular order.


My first bike. A 1981 Kawasaki KZ550. Got me hooked. Now owned by Norma Kwée in Boulder, CO.



The Norton from “The Motorcycle Diaries”. That movie actually made me want to get a bike and take an epic journey.



This bike is probably the one that I remember seeing first. But pretty much anything from Wrenchmonkees is an inspiration. Huge.



The Jules Verne of the moto world, Shinya Kimura is truly gifted. I saw a picture of Brad Pitt on one of his bikes and was blown away — by the bike.



“The” Virago. Not knowing anything about bikes, I saw the Zero Cafe XV and thought all Viragos must be cool. Then I saw a Virago. This bike proved to me that pretty much any bike has a chance to be cool. Huge influence on Sunny’s “Reciprocity” XV750.



I love this bike, but really, it’s just a representation of Deus Ex Machina — the Australia-based group of creative geniuses that inspire me on a daily basis. Everything they do is a reminder to enjoy yourself on and around bikes. Extra thanks to Deus.



Yes. I understand this isn’t a motorcycle. But my fascination with the original Mad Max movie makes a cameo in a lot of my bikes — sometimes when I’m not even going for that effect. The movie was above all an incredible feat of art direction, right down to the Sunny Delight paint scheme on Max’s Interceptor.



Believe it or not, this bike by G-Spot Customs inspired me bigtime. If Deus is on the “we’re all friends here” end of the spectrum, G-Spot occupies the “my way or the highway, dumbass” end. When I wanted to put a modern front end on my XS850, I Googled every conceivable combination of words to find someone who had done it. This bike showed up and confirmed that it could be done.



One night I witnessed a guy in shorts and a t-shirt on a KTM Supermoto doing one block-long wheelie after another while riding through historic Richmond, VA. I was appalled and impressed at once. Left an impression.



Evidently a good condition Evel Knievel stunt cycle fetches upwards of $500 these days. I remember launching mine so far it cracked Evel’s helmet. It was my first invitation to the moto world. Only took me 33 years to accept.

Please note that with the exception of the KZ550 listed above, I don’t claim any credit for ANY of the bikes/cars/toys/photos in this post. If you own one of them and would rather not be on record as having influenced the bikes of Classified Moto, please email me. I’ll make a note of your grumpy attitude and remove them. — JR


  • JasonL


    You've got great tastes John. Shinya is the only guy on Discovery's Biker Build-off who I liked watching. That or Indian Larry (RIP). You might also like Jesse Rooke's stuff. He's here: Also, completely dug the Mad Max movies. Goose was an early inspiration.

  • Eisele


    I'm crushed that there's no 1997 DR650 Barbie Dream bike on here

  • brad


    Do a search on Facebook for 7 Inch Daredevil.Trust me, you'll like it...

  • Chris Czel


  • Pourquoi j’aime et je supporte Classified Moto… « Un pneu dans la tombe


    [...] John Ryland, pour ceux qui ne le connaîtraient pas encore, aime les belles choses, et partage avec moi de nombreuses sources d’inspiration. [...]

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