This week, Niall told us about his Hoodlum cruiser, rockstar lifestyle, and an upbringing surrounded by motorcycles and sidecars.
Tell us a little about yourself.
Sure. I’m a local guy – went to school near Brighton. I’ve been in bands as long as I can remember but the last few years have been mad. My band, Stone Angels, have toured the UK playing shows, released our first album, the highlight for me being when we supported Skindred. I saw the band play at the Concorde 2, then a year later I was on stage with them. Walking into WH Smith and seeing myself on the cover of a magazine was also a crazy moment. Some doubt how bands can sustain interest today. But I think there’s always gonna be a place for heavy rock in the hearts of British people.
Tell us a little about your bike.
I ride the Sinnis Hoodlum 125, with faux leather panniers for a little bit of storage when I’m out. I like the low ride height as I’m quite short. It goes quite well with my rock n’ roll look. I never thought about buying a cruiser but as soon as I saw the hoodlum in the shop, all in black, I loved it.
It’s a proper badass cruiser. I’ve only had it for 5 months – got it as soon as I passed my CBT. It’s a great starter bike with looks that could kill. When I sat on it I just felt so comfortable on it. It felt like the bike was made for me.
How did you start riding?
Well, my parents have been riding bikes as long as I can remember. There’s a photo of them bringing me home from the hospital in a sidecar somewhere. That wasn’t arranged. Dad was just riding around on that – it was his only transport at the time (my mum was in the sidecar too). I’ve only just got on two wheels but it’s one of those things, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do but it’s just a case of finding the time and money. I made a deal with my parents. See, they bought my brother a car so they said, “if you pass your CBT we’ll help you buy a bike.” My brother was never interested.
Which of your dad’s bikes was your favourite?
My dad has been riding since his teenage years and had so many bikes. I’ve ridden pillion with him on BMWs, a Norton Commando, and a BSA Bantam. But the Norton Commando was always my favourite. I must have been about seven or eight when he had that. I’d go to friends’ birthday parties and he’d turn up with me on the bike. It’s one of those bikes that, like the Hoodlum, has a bit of show about it. It impresses.
What’s your favourite route?
I’ve ridden over to Bexhill and Hastings via seven sisters and all the windy B-roads – that was my first long ride and I did it with my cousin. It was a good way to bond with him over motorbikes while exploring the countryside. We wound down all the bends through little villages ending up at the seaside. It was great. I’ve also been riding out to Whiteways Cafe recently (near Arundel) with my friends to get to know other bikers and to take the Hoodlum out and show it off.
What’s your favourite piece of kit?
Apart from the actual bike itself, it would have to be the Sena 3S I installed in my helmet. As a musician, I can’t live without music, so being on the road, on an amazing bike, with some great tunes in my ears – it just makes for a perfect day. And obviously, it’s great for using with any sat nav when I need to get somewhere new.
What’s your best advice for new riders?
Expect the unexpected. You may be the safest rider out there, always staying at a sensible speed, keeping a good riding position. But any hazard can come from anywhere. Though I’ve only been riding a short time, it’s taught me a lot about other road users. Always be aware of your surroundings and other drivers around you.
What have you learned about life from riding?
I’ve always been told by my friends and other musicians I know that biking is the way to go. It’s a community like no other – it can unite anyone from anywhere around the world. And it’s true, I’ve made friends with other bikers from all sorts of places – from people just down the road all the way to New Zealand. The Hoodlum is my first and only mode of transport, so to have that freedom and just hit the road and go anywhere, it’s incredible. I just put music on and get lost in the ride. There’s nothing quite like it.