Style Rider, Jake Simkin – Kawasaki KLE500

Style Rider focuses on the intersection of motorcycle culture and individual style. Here we speak to war photographer, adventurer and film maker Jake Simkin about his love of functional clothing, raw apocalyptic bikes and selecting a style that is authentic.

Jake’s personal style is compelling and ideally suited to his work. Everything he wears fits the criteria of functionality first, appearance second. It is Jake’s rugged sense of style that elevates the functional choices to the aesthetically pleasing. Nothing illustrates this better than the beaten up, ridden everywhere, Kawasaki KLE500 selected for this shoot. This bike is as basic as it comes stylistically, yet here it is elevated to a go everywhere adventure bike, ridden with purpose.

Name: Jake Simkin

Residence: Yarraville, Victoria

Occupation: Adventurer / Film maker

Instagram: @jakesimkinphotos

Today’s ride: 2006 Kawasaki KLE500. I have ridden this motorcycle all around Australia, from Melbourne across the desert to Perth and up to the Top End. It feels part of me and represents my personal style better than the nicer looking Harley Davidson choppers I build. There is something about this bike, its practicality, its never say die attitude and the raw apocalyptic styling that I find captivating.

Describe your style: Practical. As a photographer, adventurer and daily motorcycle rider, I have little use for gear that does not work well in a variety of conditions. Today I am wearing Blundestone work boots, Clutch Selvedge jeans, Tobacco California Moss Riding jacket, Tobacco Wasteland Vest and Hedon Helmet all from Moto Est. The sunglasses are from Ducati when they had the Desert Scrambler launch. My camera sling bag is from Defy in Chicago which carries around my Leica SL2 and lenses for travel photography. Watch is by Suunto.

Favourite items: Tabacco Wasteland Vest and Leica SL2.

Best local ride: The Forest roads around Apollo Bay in Victoria.

Best distance ride: Through Samanghan Valley in Afghanistan. I rode to a job for the French NGO Solidarites on my Suzuki DRZ400. It was in the middle of nowhere. The valley is often going through a river which necessitated plenty of river crossings and over 20 kilometres of riding in the valley with no break. I was attacked by large Afghan sheep dog which was the same size as my bike. The bike fell on it with the exhaust burning the dog and throwing me off the bike; the dog went yelping through the valley. The villagers had their own dialect so even speaking Farsi was hard but I managed to get to the village I was meant to go to. Adventures like these always stay with you.

Tip for stylish motorcycling: Buy good quality, rugged gear. Motorbike jeans that last the distance and helmets that look good after many years. And, choose a style that suits you. It doesn’t matter what other people are wearing. Authenticity is the key. Wear it like you mean it.

Tip for best looking safe riding gear: Moto Est. Great products that work.

Next motorcycle trip: I am picking up a 1966 Harley Davidson Panhead Shovel in Mildura that I won in raffle. The collection of this motorcycle will enable me to shoot some of the road movie I wrote up around Lake Tyrell.

Why do you like riding? I rode BMX’s as a boy so it became a natural progression. It is my time really, my commune with myself and the road; the best place to be.