Remember your first motorbike? How old were you, 14 or so? Maxi’s first foray into the world of powered two wheel rides was probably not that different than most. The teenager growing up in Bali had been given an old CB125 for Christmas by his dad. It was up to him to take it to the next level. Unlike most kids, Maxi was growing up as part of the Deus family with a dirty big workshop, called a Bengkel in Indonesian, not to mention a number of highly skilled individuals who operated the facility. So onto the husk he put a cacophony of things found, begged, borrowed and no need to elaborate…I think you get the picture.
Once a year late March or early April, the Deus family in Bali dons their silly suits for a day of bikes, beers and belly laughs. An annual little event we like to call the Dress Up Drags. Ostensibly it’s to celebrate a triad of birthdays. Mr Wellman, Hindu Dave and the Duke; In reality it’s just a great excuse for ribald fun. As if we need an excuse.
Countless hours of arms up to elbows in grease, not to mention the huge help of the Bengkel boys the bike was almost ready to ride. A marathon effort the day before saw them litterally bolting and belting to get it ready. A few twilight runs up and down the side street sufficient to give a self-adjudicated assesment that was an ‘all clear’ for the next day.
Sporting a full face and a bright bicycle shirt, Maxi arrived the next morning at the Dress Up Drags to take on all contenders. Young n old came; Word of mouth having done his job and the dirt lane filled with fuel fumes, echoing accoustics and titillating taunts. Locals peered over the fence to see what silliness we were up to giving us our own little grandstand.
What a wonderful day, with Indonesian Darth Vaders and kids in tinsel. The Bali Stig made an appearance and educated all and sundry into the world of wheelies. We had our own little carnival held in private on a back road in Canggu. We were the sideshow. The main event was yet to happen.
The day would have passed effortlessly into evening if it hadn’t been for another trio. This time a collection of tiny things. A tiny fuel leak. A tiny miscalculation. A tiny spark.
Maxi had been doing well all day. Hold his own and showing true ‘No Fear’ 14 yr old attitude. He and Monro had a natural age dealt grudge match going on. Maxi took on all contenders and so it was when he whizzed off down the dirt track away from the crowd. The race ended, he slowed, went to turn. Stalled. Kicked it a couple of times then… Luckily, Natas was right there and told him to drop it…to run. He did both quickly before a stream of heated fuel squirted from the tank into the afternoon light. The crowd moved down the track towards the fire. Mesmerised, no one was able to take their eyes from the dancing flames. Like all great events you should finish with a bang.
It’s the following week; Dhump is holding some photographic classes for disciples and friends in the studio. Today we are doing depth of field and our model, stood in the centre of the studio, was what was left of the bike. It was our still life. Rubber grips wrapped in rice stalks, melted hoses, decimated seat and surface rust were all in stark contrast to the totally white shadowless wall of the room. This metal husk was doing a great impression of something not long for this world.
Maxi, who was also doing the photography class, wasnt having a bar of it and prattled on enthusiastically about the rebuilt. The damage while extensive could be repaired he paraphrased the mechanics from the Bengkel. Just have to pull it all apart and rebuild he quipped. One had to give it to him, even if one couldn’t see the vision he saw in this torched, twisted torso of metal. It reminds of that great Monty Python line, “It’s only a flesh wound”
Perhaps it took a little longer than he first expected. Not everything was salvageable nor easily sourced. Once more he had to go out into the world to beg, borrow or get dad to pay for. Completely stripped, cleaned and reasembled bolt by bolt. Must have been around this time that Maxi thought of the apt name. Imagine him sitting there sanding away and thinking of the Phoenix rising from the ashes.
Most likely it isn’t exactly as he first envisioned. There was constraints which brought compromise There was also opportunities and outside ideas, all of which have left their mark on the design. The front end from his dad’s SX225 a cast off when he upgraded. Tyres coming to him in a similar fashion. Considering the world changes weekly for a teenager, it’s not a biggie. Proud as punch he has been tweaking and tempting this new steed these last months.
Now gathering momentum, these past weeks more about putting it through its paces. “Nearly done” his catch cry and a smile parts lips to expose straight white teeth. The same teeth had been clad in braces when the incedent happened.
So it is almost twelve months later. Maxi almost a year older and scarily, almost a foot taller. We’re riding through the streets he’s as road savy now as most. The image in the rear vision mirror is not longer of a kid. There is now a man in his place.
Later we are leaving the temple. Watching this gangly groover shuck on a collar less leather jacket while the parked bike, non-shalantly casting a leg across his bike. He slides glasses onto his face, looks back, catches an eye and smiles an effortless smile. The moment only broken as he pulls on a matt black open face helmet. It’s then you cant help but think that the idea of a cafe racer back a year ago was a good one and was obviously dictated by the riders style, and compactness of the bike.
Now? Pushing the last little bit of five foot eleven and three quarters he drapes himself over the smallish frame after kicking it into life. He reaches out for the clip on’s. The left foot clicks down. The helmeted head looks over his right shoulder checking the traffic and he eases out the clutch to roll out across the carpark onto the road while getting comfortable at the helm. One last glance back reveals that grin again which speaks volumes about where he is at.