Style Rider, Chris Paola – Triumph Bonneville

Style Rider focuses on the intersection of motorcycle culture and individual style. Here we speak to Chris Paola about the custom work on his Triumph Bonneville, WW2 Americana and his favourite pair of Red Wings.

Name: Chris Paola

Residence: Melbourne, Australia

Occupation: Train Driver

Today’s ride: 2012 Triumph Bonneville. The frame has been chopped down to tidy up the rear end. It’s got Staintune pipes, Savvas reupholstered custom seat, the air box has been removed and replaced with some K&N pod filters along with a fuel map to match, plus a bunch of brass cosmetic additions. Ohlins shocks on the rear, Ikon springs up front with a heavier fork oil to make it point in the rough vicinity of where I’d like it to go. The front brake calliper has been replaced with a modified 3 piston unit from a VFR and topped off with a direct mount reservoir to clean up the bars.

Describe your style: Simple and functional. I generally get around in jeans, boots and a black t shirt. If I need to dress it up a touch, I’ll throw on a Henley. There’s a touch of WW2 Americana that creeps in that ties in nicely with my interest in that period of history.

Favourite items: Probably my Red Wing boots. I’m on my second pair, which gives me great flexibility. The old pair generally gets worn on the moto, the new pair for everything else. A close second would be my Laird Baker Boy hat. I’m always so happy when the weather turns a bit cooler so I can break it out.

Next purchase: I’ve been keeping an eye out for a well-worn Belstaff Trailmaster, or a Barbour waxed cotton jacket in similar style. I enjoy the thrill of the chase of finding good quality clothing on the second hand market. Saying that, I also have a bad habit of just pulling the trigger on something new if I get to a point where I’m frustrated with the hunt.  Bike wise, I’m maxed out in terms of space. I just bought a KTM 1190 Adventure for touring, but I’d love to do a V-twin street tracker build in the not-too-distant future.

Best local ride: I really enjoy the hustle and bustle of riding home from work; weaving in and out of traffic, normally with a cold beverage at the chequered flag. If the weather is nice I’ll extend the ride by cruising down along the Williamstown waterfront.

Tip for stylish motorcycling: Keep it understated and clean. I think backpacks ruin the look of a rider, so try and find alternative ways to carry your stuff. Or better yet, just carry less stuff. Make sure you’ve got a nice hat to cover up the helmet hair at the pub or cafe. But I think most importantly, whatever your style is, just own it. Confidence is the key.

Tip for best looking safe riding gear: Shop around. There are so many companies producing gear that looks good and will save your skin if the worst should happen. Gone are the days of dressing like Rossi or a gang member to ride a bike.

Next motorcycle trip: It’s not on an overly stylish bike, but I’m heading away on a 4 day trip through Corryong, Tathra and Omeo in November. It’s organised with a bunch of people from work and I have it on good authority that we’ve got a Sandman—iconic Australian Panel Van—coming along as the support vehicle! Following on from that, I’m heading to Tassie in February for 12-14 days of empty wilderness roads.

Why do you like riding? I got my bike license on a whim in my early 20s, as something to do. I never expected to enjoy it as much as I did. The freedom I felt on a motorbike was like being 8 years old and riding my BMX around the streets. I still get that same feeling every time I throw a leg over one of my bikes, regardless of the reason for the ride.