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Interview: Chris Hunter – Bike EXIF


Posted on February 24, 2012 by Scott in Other. 49 comments

For most motorcycle enthusiaists BikeEXIF is probably bookmarked on their work and home computer. But many don’t know much about the man behind the site. It was created by Chris Hunter, who until a few months ago lived only a few miles away from me in Sydney, Australia. Chris recently quit his full time job in advertising and moved his family to a farm in New Zealand to focus on BikeEXIF full time. Chris has interviewed many motorcycling greats over the years, so we thought it was time the interviewer was interviewed himself. We asked him a lot of the same question he usually asks plus a few more….

Why did you start Bike EXIF?
I couldn’t find any moto sites that really appealed to me, so I decided to start one. It’s as simple as that, really. Most of the big print magazine-based sites are focused on new bikes, simply because that’s where the ad money comes from. Or they’re fronts for flogging insurance. Three years ago, the gap in the market was big enough to drive an R1200GS through. These days, there seems to be a new ‘café racer’ site every week!

What was the first motorcycle you bought with your own money?
I used to have a Vespa, which was perfect for getting around the city and had a surprising turn of speed. But then I wanted to head out of the city, so I bought a Moto Guzzi V7 Classic.

And do you still have it?
Yes. I’ve just moved from Australia to New Zealand, and got the bike shipped over. It passed the compliance check yesterday, so I’ve just had my first ride in two months!

Is there any motorcycles you despise?
I can see some merit in most bikes, even though a particular model might not be to my taste. The only aspect of motorcycling I despise is the tiny minority of ‘bad boy’ riders, the kind who wear Nazi regalia or skull face masks.

Electric motorcycles: Yes or No?
On a personal level, they don’t appeal to me. I enjoy the raw, mechanical aspect of motorcycles. The sound and the fury, if you like. Having said that, I’ve never ridden an electric bike, and the right experience might convert me. I like where Honda is going with the RC-E concept.

Honda RC-E Electric Concept

What is your favorite journey?
I love riding around the Snowy Mountains in Australia (pictured below). It’s a good destination if you live in Sydney and can spare a few days away. I’ve done this trip twice with Adam Leddin (editor of Cycle EXIF), and both times it was a blast. The Snowies are the highest Australian mountain range and there are some truly amazing roads around there.

The Jindabyne road through Australia’s optimistically named “Snowy Mountains”

Which ‘everyday’ modern bikes do you think will become future classics? The equivalent of the Honda CB750 or Moto Guzzi V7 Sport, if you like?

I’d nominate the BMW F800 GS. Genre-breaking, hugely influential, and a sales success. The Ducati Monster is up there, too. Just like the old Triumph Bonnevilles still pottering around today, I think we’ll see lots of Monsters on the road in thirty years’ time.

Who are your real-life motorcycling heroes?
When I was a kid, I was a fan of Barry Sheene. He was the complete package, with huge skills and a personality to match. (I’m sure some earlier riders were cut from the same cloth, but I’m too young to know enough about them.)

The New Zealand rider Graeme Crosby probably deserves a higher profile: in the space of three years at the start of the 80s he won the Isle of Man TT, the Daytona 200, the Imola 200 and the Suzuka 8 Hours.

I admire Guy Martin for coming back after that horrendous crash at the IOM TT in 2010. And Casey Stoner for proving his doubters wrong.

Anyone who finishes the Daker deserves credit too: that’s perhaps the sternest test of all. I’d single out the late Gaston Rahier, the tiny Belgian who took the huge BMW GS to victory twice in the mid-80s.

The legend that was Barry Sheene

Are you optimistic for the future of motorcycling?
I’m cautiously optimistic in the face of increasing threats. In the western world, motorcycling doesn’t have many friends in high places. Legislators ‘tolerate’ bikes: they’re a solution to congestion issues, they’re relatively economical, and they’re cheaper than cars.

On the other hand, they’re much faster than cars. They’re seen as thrill rides, with a high chance of messy and expensive accidents. So there’s a major point of political friction in our increasingly sanitised, regulated world.

My other worry is the lack of interesting bikes from Japan. The Euro makers are the ones building great motorcycles, so they’re seeing the big sales increases. Japan seems to be stuck in a rut, with endless mild rehashes of identikit sportbikes. (But if that’s why more and more people are customizing older bikes and restoring classics, it’s fine by me!)

Ducati Sport 1000 – Yes, the Europeans are doing it right.

What is your current state of mind?
Unsettled. I’ve just switched from a full-time job to running EXIF full-time. I’ve also just moved country, and I’m about to move into a farm that needs major renovation. My office is a kitchen table. There’s too much going on at the moment.

Have you ever regretted posting a motorcycle on Bike EXIF?
I wouldn’t say ‘regret’. I do sometimes look back and think, “Yeah, that one wasn’t as good as I thought it was.” I can usually tell what reaction a bike will get, but a few times I’ve been caught on the hop when a flame war has broken out in the comments. But then there’s the privilege of posting a truly great bike, or helping an unknown builder make their name.

There’s a lot of negative comments about vintage Firestone tyres these days. Where do you stand on the whole topic?
If you ride a +100hp machine, there are better tyre choices. If you have a cruiser or bar-hopper type bike, I think Firestones are okay. Matt Machine commented recently, “I have ridden a bike with Firestones fitted to the front and back. I found that around town the tyres performed well, except for a single hitch … under extreme cornering I found I lost some grip at the front … the tyre edge does not seem adequate.” Having ridden through Sydney with Matt, I can say he’s not a slow rider. If he thinks the tyres are ok for the casual rider, that’s enough for me.

Exhaust wrap. Yes or No?
If it’s used to cover up shoddy welding, no. If it’s on a clichéd CB750 with checkered stripes, no. Otherwise, I don’t mind it. It’s a popular styling feature at the moment, but still rare on the road. Like most trends, it’ll probably fade away. People will then find something else to pick on.

You have all the money in the world, what bike do you buy?
There’s no one single bike I would elevate above any other. There’s a handful I love, though. I adore the machines of AC Sanctuary, Officine RossoPuro and Walt Siegl—the whole resto-mod thing. I love Radical Ducati. Anything by Deus, The Wrenchmonkees, Classified Moto or Café Racer Dreams gets my attention. If you put a gun to my head, I’d probably take a Moto Guzzi Ambassador that’s been rebuilt by Ritmo Sereno.

A Ritmo Ambadassor – image sourced from a site called “Bike Excessive” or something…

You recently left the city life of Sydney and moved to a farm in New Zealand. Will we be seeing quad bikes now on Bike EXIF?
Definitely not! We might see a few more vintage dirt bikes though. I have a soft spot for old Bultacos, Montesas and Husqvarnas.








  • DStereo

    Loved this interview. Love Bike Exif and Pipeburn. Happy Morning! Thank you.

  • DougDevine

    Really interesting read, glad the both of you are not bashing eachother. The thing I personally think that could be changed or a new combined site for the builders who don’t put the emphasis on professional photo shoots, with that being said you both are doing wonderful things in the motorcycling world so keep it going. Also I would love to see more nontraditional 2 strokes,( just my opinion). Keep riding and writing!

  • BikeEXIF and Pipeburn, two of my favorite websites.
    Reading this interview is like watching a fight between Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed (I let you decide who’s the Italian Stallion).
    Thanks guys for this great time!
    ;]

  • mondo

    Nice to see the love going back-and-forth between my two favourite moto sites. You guys are an inspiration to my passion for great design and photography. Cheers, boys!

  • A great interview from the Godfather, Chris Hunter. I’m always so interested in the people behind the sites, especially Chris, he’s a guy who forged a path where there was no road and he made a lot of motorcycle builders rightly famous along the way.

    Hats off to Chris and thanks so much to Pipeburn for the great interview.

  • Dave Mucci

    I agree with the above comments. If I’ve only got 5min to spare checking blogs, it’s Pipeburn and BikeEXIF without a doubt. Thanks for conducting the interview. Now it’s time to learn more about these Pipeburn folks…

    • $52244477

       yeap!
      i agree!

      i’d like to read an interview…  the other way too!

      BIKE-EXIF interviewing PIPEBURN

      🙂

  • I can’t work without my daily dose of Pipeburn & BikeExif.

    • revdub

      I’m the same way.

  • Adrian Balls

    Great interview and I agree wholeheartedly with his comments about the lack of imagination coming from Japan. The seventies was a great period for Japan and I love that BikeEXIF  keeps that time covered with its great pictures and articles.

  • Menormeh

    Pipeburn, BikeExif, and KneeSlider first thing in the morning keeps your imagination running. Each has its merits and separate style. If I have time, I check out used Ebay machines with Kneesliders indexed search engine. Recently a gorgeousness Ariel Square Four was there………. 

  • Top work to all involved.

  • Scott Pargett

    Chris is a great dude. I’ve watched BikeEXIF grow from the beginning and had the pleasure of chatting a few times. Wish him all the best future opportunities for BikeEXIF to grow. Not easy to take a leap of faith like that, especially with a family, but I’m sure it was the right choice, following your heart always is. 

  • Dave

    a lot of manluv here, yeah babeee

  • Andrew san.

    I’ve been fortunate enough to have my bikes featured on both sites and can honestly say they have both been very professional, courtious and are obviously passionate and sincere when it comes to the wonderful world of motorcycles.

    I too agree that the bikes coming out of japan are just not doing it  for most us, so the answer is……………. D I Y!

    Be brave……  buy an old stinker,  picture what it is you actually want and go for it!

    Between the two of them these sites have definately inspired many people to go and do just that (myself included).

    Cheers lads!    Keep up the good work

    http://nx650elsinore.blogspot.com/

  • I’m one of the unknown builders Chris featured and now building a bike for my first Customer as a result.  Thanks Chris!  I’ll send photos when it is done! -josh

  • Pedro

    Great interview, keep up the good work Pipeburn & BikeEXIF. Great bike choice on Ritmo’s Ambassador

  • Good interview, BikeExif is a great site and so is Pipeburn, both sites are part of my morning ritual. Fantastic that someone is able to do it full-time and inspiration to the rest of us.

  • BikeExif reflects the passion of its editor and Chris is a custom-moto-addicted !!!
    Sites like Pipeburn and BikeExif push the limits and fill the void ,which inevitable is left by motorcycle factories and mainstream moto magazine-based sites.
    Kudos and full throttle guys !!!

  • Hareaway

    Welcome to NZ .

  • Hats off to both Pipeburn and BikeExif! I love the great editorial content and enthusiastic culture you both have created. Both are my morning, afternoon and evening ritual.

  • revdub

    Great interview.

  • Jesús Learte

    It’s like having Tintin and Asterix in the  same album. Great to have here my two favourite pages. Thanks a lot.

  • Great to hear Chris has made the excellent decision to move to NZ!

    • We tried to talk him out of it, but he just wouldn’t listen. Something about wanting to “see a hobbit…”

  • Marvoging

    i have an identikit jap sports bike, but i love BikeExif, “Two wheels good!”

  • Davidabl2

    BikeExif and Pipeburn go together like black beans and rice.

  • Finally the interviewer is interviewed. Nice perspective, nice to hear his voice. Hunter is someone who is quietly (or not) making an enormous positive impact on motorcycling and I commend him. Keep up the great work, Chris. – Jared Z.

  • Zundap

    Way cool choice on the Guzzi.  ..Z

  • Tom

     I’m right there with you buddy. Love the Guzzi’s … yea even the Ambassador. Love old things made new and bikes with classic style and real mechanical bits to get my hands on. Did i tell you i love your V7.

  • Zoran

    Nice interview, I prefer pipeburn though 😉
    Doesn’t he look like Bill Murray on that first picture?!

    • Bill Murray?! I’m occasionally told I look a bit like Steve Jobs, but that’s a new one. Made the wife laugh, though.

      • C.

        “Sad Bill Murray” was actually what I was thinking. Cheer up, you’re on a sweet Guzzi!

      • “A bit like Steve Jobs”, true.
        That’s what I thought to myself when I saw you for the first time on the Internet Chris.

  • Samuel Taylor

    Damn it! I want to quit my goddamn advertising job and move to a farm in New Zealand (or maybe Iowa or something). Great interview.

  • bigTomW53

    Of course I have BikeEXIF bookmarked, and now I have Pipeburn, too.

    Great interview.  I don’t agree with it all, but I’m enough of a MC freak to like them all.  He’s got the wrong Italian, among other things:)  And I own two Japanese bikes, too. They do their job exceedingly well.

  • Leandro Marinelli

    Great interview. I wonder why all of us working on advertising share the same dream… 

  • Paul d’Orléans

    Bikerweb workers need love too!  Chris did me the favor of being his very first interview subject…we’ve been in contact since BikeExif was in diapers, and its nice to see the site has grown up so strong and popular.  And Pipeburn too!  Kudos guys, and here’s to our Mutual Aid, as Kropotkin would say…

  • Eric Henderson

    Excellent interview. I am glad to have gotten some insight on the man behind Bike Exif. He featured my bike on his website and also included it in his 2012 calander(July 1967 Triumph Tiger). Hope Chris Hunters Site is around forever!

  • Frank

    Great interview Scott, Exif and Pipeburn imagine the jointventure … 🙂

  • Barney6754

    Couldn’t agree more on the point about the Japanese bike manufacturers lack of creativity with their “sport bike identikits”……they are sitting on what could be a great sales success ie: the new CB1100 UJM style, fabulous bike, unfortunately Honda isn’t doing anything about making the bike available in North America.

    BikeExif and Pipeburn are the top two bike sites without a doubt.

  • Trent Reker

    “these days, there seems to be a new ‘café racer’ site every week!” i love it. great q&a on old firestones. been complaining about those for months. congratulations on being able to make your site your priority and “sticking it to the corporate man,” chris. hope your new kiwi farm works out great for you.

  • Shaken_dogg

    Me and a friend from work have been talking about the lack of options being created for people who want bikes that can go road and dirt with out breaking the bank or being too large. Honda had it right when they made the 350 Scrambler. Big enough for the highway, small enough for the city. Why can’t the japanese companies go back to doing cross-over’s for people who don’t want a race bike or a dirt bike. Then again i guess its just a small market of people who would want them.

  • Thanks @twitter-206344406:disqus. It’s all good so far. However, I haven’t felt this level of physical pain since a misguided (and short-lived) phase in the 90s in London when I belonged to a gym!

  • JimmyR14

    I have only just discovered Pipeburn!  But I have been enjoying Bikeexif for quite some time now – love it. I found it so inspiring that I am now nearing the end of my first major rebuild/mod of a 30 year old bike.  One of the most exciting things I have ever done.

    I too agree about modern Japanese bikes.  I still have trouble telling one from another.  I’m absolutely certain that they perform incredibly well, but damn they look bad!  I have sat on the new CB1100 and made brrrm noises and it is a great looking bike.  I would prefer it if it was aircooled because then I would find it easier to change stuff!  But it has a form and a line and doesn’t look like a transformer robot gone wrong.  It seems that Honda Australia have trouble selling them though – maybe nobody knows they exist here?

  • top blokes all of youz…..

  • motoguru .

    Read the interview back in February when it was published, but just got around to reading the comments. Big thanks to Chris @ BikeEXIF and for sending traffic my way in the past, and big thanks to you Pipeburn boys for sending traffic my way currently from the links page! Keep up the great work!

  • I don’t think there are many sites outside of Pipeburn and BikeExif where the enthusiast can go to see a variety (not locked into one genre) a decent article and have room to voice their opinion (and rib other people for their posts.)