"Motoring brands don’t come much bigger than Harley-Davidson. In fact, brands in general don’t come much bigger than Harley-Davidson. It’s a name that transcends industries, cultures and the seven continents. And probably Mars when we colonise it. "
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Richie Finney doesn’t take himself too seriously.
As he twiddles his perfectly waxed ‘tache, a beaming grin spreads across his face. “I’ve always been a bit odd,” he smiles before regaling tales of riding Royal Enfields in the Himalayas and memories of touring across the Transkei, India, Norway, Thailand, Cambodia and Burma.
If it has two wheels and an engine, Richie’s probably ridden it. If he hasn’t, there’s no doubt that he would. It doesn’t really matter where, or why, but the genius behind the Captain Fawcett grooming brand will happily throw his leg over almost any machine and disappear off into the sunset – be it on the open road or any type of surface, however tricky, that enables movement.
Because while he might not take himself or life too seriously, there’s absolutely no messing about when it comes to Richie’s love of motorbikes.
“There’s something quite primordial about it all and you get a sense of freedom that’s not available in a car or a cage,” he said.
“You can cut through traffic, be in touch with what’s going on, feel part of everything and be in tune with the road. It’s quite spiritual. Not much is going to hold you back and you can make progress when others are stuck. It’s a feeling of slight rebellion and throwing a finger to the world.”
The lover of travel has seen plenty of it while holding onto handlebars over the years. As a sound engineer in the film and the TV industry, Richie would often head out under the stewardship of local riders to explore when a shoot ended for the day.
It’s something he was then able to give back to the biking community after setting up and running tours for the Harley Davidson museum and starting his own business, Saddletramp Adventure Travel.
So where next for Richie? And what country or iconic route is on the wishlist as he continues to weave his way across the globe?.
“I’ve pretty much gone everywhere I want to go,” he nodded.
“I’ve got Melbourne, Australia to come and I’m organising a Harley tour for 2019 that will take in Monument Valley, Death Valley and San Francisco. I like to provide an experience and ride I would like, and then some. We’ve started a tour at the Ford Motor Company, gone through Michigan and over the Upper Peninsula, dropped into Milwaukee and then 1,400 miles later ended up at the Harley Davidson Museum.
“New Zealand is a must, it’s definitely on my wishlist. I hear the roads are pretty empty and it’s a slower pace of life so that’s somewhere I want to go.”
Having learned to ride on a little BSA Bantam in the 1970s, taking out a few barbed wire fences in the process, Richie’s turned the throttle on far too many bikes to mention.
His personal collection has also grown although picking a favourite is nigh-on impossible with each marking a milestone in his colourful life. From the 1975 Golding with a sidecar that his son “Jack used to fall asleep in as a child as soon as they’d reached the end of the road” to the “faintly ridiculous” Harley Ironhead Sportster Chopper, each means something different. They provide different types of rides for different purposes – although it’s the Indian and Harley brands that are arguably his favourite.
“Harley has a great following. It’s an iconic motorcycle. It actually steps aside run of the mill motorcycles,” said Richie, whose Captain Fawcett venture has become a Harley Davidson brand ambassador .
“The company was started in 1903, which is actually two years after Indian, and there are many detractors. I mean if you are a sportsbike rider and are happy with doing 180mph, or even 95pmh in first gear, then a Harley isn’t necessarily going to float your boat. But there’s an increased awareness and popularity with the Sportster which was first designed by Harley in 1957.
“It’s still a continuing model which is incredible. It’s over 60 years and now the younger kind of audience are actually taking these smaller Harleys and customising them and making them really quite special. There’s something about Harley Davidson that’s very difficult to pinpoint. One of their advertising slogans is; ‘If I had to explain, you wouldn’t understand’. That’s a little bit cliched but there’s that primordial engine note, that pop, pop, pop, pop, potato, potato, potato.
“If you’re a Harley Davidson enthusiast, there’s not much that will shake you.”
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