The Wheels & Waves festival in Biarritz, France, is a lesser known event right now (when compared to thinks like the international shows, BMW Motorrad Days etc). But it's becoming pretty influential. Fashions come and go in the automotive industry, and right now, cafe racers, customs and one-off builds are about as bang-on-trend as you can get.
BMW Motorrad was one of the first manufacturers to see the potential - bringing cool heritage bikes to display - like a pair of beautiful Ernst Henne supercharged land speed record bikes. Then BMW Motorrad started teaming up with cool custom makers to produce bikes like the Blitz R NineT custom, with the world’s first 3D-printed fuel tank.
This year, the big surprise from Motorrad was the Path 22. Secretly working away behind the scenes with renowned painter Nicolai Sclater (Ornamental Conifer), who hand-drew a fun Wheels & Waves-style scheme on a very cool cafe racer'd R NineT, and legendary surfgear maker Mason Dyer who was commissioned to shape a board to haul alongside, on a special factory-made surfboard carrier, BMW turned a stock bike into something unique.
BMW Motorrad’s chief designer Ola Stenegard was quoted by US motorbike magazine Cycle World saying: “I know it needs a wetsuit carrier too. But then we’d have another one-off piece to explain we’re not going to produce!”
So, why is it important? The perception of motorcycles, both in the UK and worldwide, is changing. Everything from the Long Way Round to the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride and the current crop of Hollywood hearthrobs with a love for bikes (Orlando Bloom, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, James Macavoy, Michael Fassbender and more...) are changing the public perception of two wheelers.
Bikes are no longer seen as dangerous, cheap or rebellious and quite rightly, are being recognised as the fun, aspirational and enjoyable vehicles that bikers know and love.
Whether you're commuting, travelling the world or simply having fun, motorbikes can be a big, beautiful part of your life.
And concept bikes like the Path 22 show people that bikes are incredibly versatile and can be all about fun.
You might not be able to buy one, but anyone who saw the Path 22 at Wheels 'n Waves, or the photos online, might think of motorbikes in a new light. And that's great for everyone who rides.