This had become something of a recent tradition, but is going to be the last, now we are no longer printing four magazines a year. As with previous years I haven't chosen vintage or archive photos, even though we've used some beauties. These are all either commissioned by us, or contemporary photos we've used. They're from the four issues we made this year: SB52-55. We have sold out of SB52, but our friends at Adventure Spec have stocks of all this year's issues in their UK, EU and US warehouses.
We will be posting the ten best artworks of 2023 and our art editor, Andy Garside will be weighing in with the favourite spreads he has designed in the preceding 12 months, too.
Click these links for previous 'Best of' posts. Excuse me while I blow our trumpet, but we produced some really good stuff.
Thanks for your support over the years. Keep tuned for exciting Sideburn stuff in 2024.
1. Dimitri v Gille by Kayadaek
Shot at the El Rollo race at Wheels & Waves in Spain (that Sideburn acted as consultants for the very first El Rollo, just saying...), this photo sums up the very best of Europe's innovative take on 21st century flat track, for me at least. Two hard riders, the unique Dimitri Coste and Belgian Gille Leenknegt, with their own vintage motorcycle aesthetic going hard on a pair of Meriden Triumph twins in front of a big, enthusiastic crowd at an event that incorporated flat track as part of a bigger event. Europe led with that, in modern times at least.
The shot was taken by Kati Dalek, one of the nicest and most enthusiastic fans of the custom and racing scene you could ever meet.
2. Ryan Wells by Tristan Afre
The MotoAnatomy x Royal Enfield racer Ryan Wells flying at the Arizona TT. Proper, proper air from a twin. This photo was part of Tristan Afre's Photo Portfolio. Is Wells 8ft in the air? The landing broke some of the Enfield Twin FT's components. They weren't meant to jump like a CRF450.
What an impact (excuse the pun) Royal Enfield has had in the sport. We've followed this project since it was a concept bike, and they've stepped up to SuperTwins in a way that few would have expected from an air-cooled twin made by a company with no relevant race experience.
Buy Sideburn 53
3. Travis Newbold by Jon Wallace
I first met Travis in Las Vegas, at one of Gene Romero's indoor races, in January 2010. He looked like he just spent three weeks on tour as part of the brass section of a hard-drinking ska band. Brimmed hat, stubble, work jacket with patches, loose-limbed charm, a twinkle in his eyes and a smile on lips. He was there racing a junkyard XS650 (that he still races and wins on, more than a decade later). We've been friends ever since, meeting up both in the UK and US.
This photo encapsulates Travis. The Trackmaster frame was left to him in a will. Travis made the deranged expansion chamber himself. He's out there ragging it, with a goofy smile on his face, in his shorts, with Maggie the border collie setting the pace. The sunlight, the freight train, the composition, all captured beautifully by Travis's good friend, Jon Wallace.
4. Hero by Gary Inman
I've never chosen one of my own photos before, but this was from a trip to Rajasthan in January 2023. I'd been invited on the trip by Vintage Rides, and was part of a small group of French riders, and an Indian guide, riding Enfield 500s around the Northern Indian state. A couple of the riders, who were very competent on the road and good riding at close quarters in groups, were struggling badly with the small sections of deep sand and the mud, and we were making slow going at times. This was one such moment.
The confident riders in the group got through the sand, then waited for the strugglers. Meanwhile, this young woman rode through, feet up, like the surface was as smooth and predictable as the back straight at Brands Hatch. She was slightly amused by the tourists making a meal of her local lanes.
The trip was so great, we have partnered with Vintage Rides to offer it as a Sideburn trip for March 2024. We have a couple of spaces left. Details about Sideburn Trails of Rajasthan 2024.
Read the report in Sideburn 53
5. Cheetah Meteor by Kazuo Matsumoto
The best photos make you wish you were there, and this one delivers that feeling in spades. Cheetah built this incredible Harley WL750 for the Born Free Custom Show, and shipped it from Tokyo to California for the event. Unlike a lot of the show bikes, Cheetah couldn't wait to ride it and get some desert dust into all its nooks and crannies.
6. Billy Ross by Kristen Lassen/AFT
We used a tight crop of this photo on a page for the Top Threes regular we ran for a few issues. It's hard to read the young racer's face. At first I thought it was the self-confidence of a young man near the top of his game, but now think it's mixed with the resignation and disappointment of being towards the back of a fast SuperTwins grid. Whatever, I hope Billy has the brain space to store these moments, lining up at the pinnacle of the sport he loves, at a time he is young, fit and good-looking, and has just about everything ahead of him.
7. Godspeed by Tom Bing
Tom Bing showed me some of his shots outside Rusty Gold in Amsterdam the day after he took them and I was, and remain, gutted I didn't know about the shoot. The photos, including this one, were taken during a night of filming a proof of concept short film for a bigger movie project called Godspeed. These two characters are part of a wholly imagined violent bike gang in a near-future world.
Read about the movie project in Sideburn 55
8. Gille by Braking Point Images
Fast rider, gorgeous bike, cool celebration, great location, just enough motion in the tyres: Jon Braking Point had the sense to remain, or head to, the Greenfield TT's jump to catch Gille with the checkers.
Read about the bike in Sideburn 53
9. Toria by Ava D'Antimo
We ran a feature of artists with their motorcycles in the Art Special, Sideburn 52. This is UK artist Toria Jaymes, with her new KTM in her new British Columbia home. I like it so much because there weren't a lot of women in motorcycle magazines (unless they were paid models in various state of undress), or women in motorcycling in general when Sideburn started. Flat track, custom bikes, and motorcycling is still predominantly male, but there are a lot more women involved, and that is nothing but good.
10. Tokyo Connection by Sam Christmas
Taken by our old mate Sam Christmas outside Tobacco Dock, East London, on set-up day for the Bike Shed show, at the end of a hectic week. The week before this shot was taken, the Indian FTR was completely stock. I spent the day removing the standard bodywork, exhaust and fitting the new 19in wheels, that Hagon laced up for us, and Dunlop had supplied DT4s for. On Sunday I collected Cheetah from Heathrow. He'd flown in with the bodywork. We fitted it and filmed a video (below) on the Monday (with the help of Steve Nichols on the spanners), then Cheetah and I want on a tour of the UK, before dropping him off with Leftie in London for a couple of days. We met back up on Thursday before the Bike Shed and the bike's presentation. Cheetah is the best and I love this shot of two friends pleased with a plan that had come together.
Read about the bike in Sideburn 54.