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Urban Motorbiking ( featuring Spencer Murphy)

Exploring Bike-Life and the urban dirt biking subculture with renowned British photographer Spencer Murphy.
Often a sport of spectacle, urban dirt biking is a modern phenomenon that is witnessing a surge of young enthusiasts across the country. Captivating as it is dangerous, rare snapshots of the sport show bikers performing heart-stopping stunts with their modified machines on the city’s abandoned roads and industrial estates. Away from the often hostile public reaction, this is where riders can practice their tricks before meeting up in larger groups for ‘ride-outs’. Mounting their Sports Bikes, Quad Bikes, Dirt Bikes and ATV’s, these urban riders perform for the thrill and passion of the sport.
This controversial movement, with its rebel association, is what first drew London- based photographer Spencer Murphy to documenting the urban biking scene in Britain. Inspired by the American documentary “12 O’Clock Boys”,  Murphy set about on a mission to uncover and capture the underground world of the UK’s biking scene.
In an exclusive conversation with the photographer, we find out what it was like capturing images of the often elusive bikers. As a rare double-bill, we also speak with members of the bike team Supadupamoto’s, Izzy and Naomi, to discover what drives these young bikers passion for the sport.

SPENCER MURPHY

An Interview with the Photographer

I will always remember the feeling as I drove up the strip. I was greeted by nearly 50 riders, all on different bikes, masked and track-suited. That sensory overload; the noise, the smell and the fear of the unknown, will forever be cemented in my memory.- Spencer Murphy

I’m originally from the Kent countryside, and I’d seen the American documentary and was aware that there was a culture over there. So I was kept an eye out to see if one had developed here. Eventually I started to see groups of riders drive past me and read the odd news article but I had no idea how to make contact.
It was really difficult and I came very close to giving up. Eventually I found social media was the best point of contact and after a lot of unanswered emails and about half a year of research, I came very close to giving up. Then, one rider finally replied. Once I’d made it past that barrier, things became easier.
I THINK THAT REBEL LIFESTYLE IS PART OF BIKING’S DRAW. TRYING TO CONTAIN IT IS IMPOSSIBLE. - Spencer Murphy
People are understandably worried about how you’re going to represent them when what they do is borderline illegal. When I was a kid there were no skateparks and we were forever getting moved on by police and security, it was part and parcel of the sport. It’s what drew me to want to make my work about it.
The strips that they congregate in are seen as practice spots, and it wouldn’t take the edge off even if they were given a legal space. In America, they now have legal strips at certain times of the day and it’s a big family and community thing, they have cook outs and music. America is just the perfect environment for it; wide, smooth roads, vast areas of abandoned industrial landscape. 
There is a big ‘Give us somewhere to ride’ movement. I was in a remote mountain village in Spain for a job recently, and as I wandered through the streets, a young man dressed in a tracksuit and high top trainers wheelied past me on a dirt bike.
I still find myself watching videos posted on Instagram, if I feel I can add another layer to it, then I may revisit it. I feel it’s a chapter within something bigger I’m working on.
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Project Tags

  • Photography,Editorial, Sport, Social Interest

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