Style Rider, Nick James Fraser – BMW R65

Style Rider aims to document the world’s most stylish motorcycle riders, be they riders of classic, custom or cafe racer steeds. Focused on the intersection of motorcycle culture with individual style, here we speak to photographer Nick James Fraser about roadside repairs, functional gear and the simple joy of riding.

Name: Nick James Fraser

Residence: Sydney, Australia

Occupation: Commercial & Editorial Adventure lifestyle Photographer + Filmmaker

Instagram: @nickjamesfraser

Today’s ride: 1984 BMW R65 with heavy modifications including a ’91 BMW R100LT front end, brakes from a 90’s BMW R100LT paired with 70’s R100 Splitter and Custom braided lines, Vonzetti subframe and seat and Suzuki TU250 rear shocks. The bottom end has been completely rebuilt after snapping a crankshaft, the final drive after snapping a pinion bearing and a new Flywheel after it snapped and lodged itself in the crankcase. Reconditioned top end, new clutch, all new wiring, and upgraded charging system continue the list of alterations.

I rode the BMW as a commuter bike for over five years. This meant a lot of the bits and pieces were assembled on the roadside, or late at night in the shed due to a breakdown. So many parts are little brackets or odds and ends I found lying around and made fit. For example, the Camera Shoulder Rig bracket that holds on the right hand fisheye mirror, the XS650 Headlight, or the Harley Davidson Rear Fender. Four boating eyelets act as tie down points, and the platform that holds my tool roll is affixed to the crash bars with the Rocker Shaft Retaining Clamps from a Toyota Hiace 2L Engine block. Much of the bike was built with minimal tools; in fact for many years all I had was a Leatherman and a shifter.

There are some keepsakes as well from different travels. A small green bangle was given to me in the Himalayas by an elderly Tibetan Refugee – she said it would stop any harm befalling me as long as it was with me. A Nepali Yak Tooth hangs from the bars, along with the Yak Wool scarf rolled up at the back for the cold nights. Finally there is a wooden carving of a goats head that I got from a local herder in Mongolia; along with the sheep skin which is one we ate whilst riding horses on the eastern steppe.

Describe your style: Some have said it’s a touch Mad Max? It’s not that I really aim to be in that category, it’s just that I have a very pragmatic approach to building bikes, and to life in general. I tend to go for things that are functional, comfortable and hard wearing. For many years I wore a tatty old leather jacket that I was given. The right arm eventually wore out and got torn off (I see how Max managed it), and so it definitely added to the look. I was recently lucky enough to be gifted this beautiful Belstaff Trialmaster by Ramsey Sayed and it suits my style perfectly. Hardwearing, comfortable, weather resistant, and serviceable, this will be my jacket for many years to come. 

Favourite items: ‘66 Land Rover Series IIA. ‘84 BMW R65. Leatherman. Belstaff Jacket. And of course my Off-grid Camera Pelican Case which acts as a portable office. On long trips, I will change to the single seat and mount the case to the back of my bike, allowing me to take my laptop, camera gear, and a fully solar powered A/C Power Supply allowing me work from anywhere. 

Next purchase: I’m trying to strip back on the purchases and be grateful for what I have already. I’m now at the stage where I am simply focusing on maintaining my stuff, which seems to be a never ending process. 

Best local ride: Slightly north west of Sydney, there is beautiful National Park called Bobbin Head, which you can link up to the Old Pacific Highway, following it up to Wisemans Ferry, St Albans, Laguna and back down through the twisties of Galston Gorge. It is fantastic because there is a beautiful change of scenery, big sweepers as well as tight hairpins, a few ferries, and several brilliant little roadhouse stops along the way!

Best distance ride: Saigon to Hanoi, Vietnam, shortly followed by Sydney to Tasmania through the snowy mountains. 

Tip for stylish motorcycle riding: Do whatever you like, no matter how weird. Then rock it. 

Next motorcycle trip: I really want to check out the salt lake in rural South Australia. Also pretty keen to try and ride across the Nullarbor to Perth.

Why do you like riding? The smell. The feel. The sound. Your senses are so vivid on a motorcycle. You are on such a fine edge. There is no better way to explore. You can go just about anywhere, regardless of terrain. It’s so immersive.