The UK Bikelife movement is young, but in the past 2 years its growth has been dramatic. Quickly becoming a fully-formed subculture and underground sport scene with hundreds of riders in dozens of groups across London and further afield.
The primary aim of the Bikelife scene is to bring young bikers together to ride, perform tricks and share videos and photos to a large and engaged social media following.
In the eyes of the police, UK Bikelife is just the latest menace to hit the streets of London. The group are seen and often portrayed as a violent criminal gang with a complete disregard for authority, and are allegedly responsible for serious and multiple levels of illegal activity; from unlawfully performing stunts on public roads, to the massive increase in motorcycle theft in London, and the rise in moped snatch-and-grab robberies. They are seen as such a threat to the public that a police task force has been set up to tackle this spike in bike related crime. From using tazers on riders to sending out helicopter surveillance -at much cost – to impounding and destroying bikes for a multitude of vague and tenuous reasons.
However the reality of the UK Bikelife scene is much more complex and far less sinister than the police or mainstream press would have the public believe.
Riders in the scene are predominantly young disaffected males from working class backgrounds who use riding as a means of escape from the harsh realities of daily life. Through social media they can create and curate modern outlaw celebrity images, and as a result they are increasingly idolized by their rapidly expanding following. Parallel to the rise in popularity is the increase in the level to which they are vilified by the media. With regular negative coverage from major news organisations like the BBC, Channel 4 News, The Daily Mail, The Guardian and The Mirror. In 2015 a Halloween rider out event in London saw international coverage.
This series of photographs aims to subvert the stereotype that the riders in the Bikelife scene are bad people doing bad things and aims to instead emphasise their skill and dedication to performing stunts, the strength of their community and bonds, their defiantly British resistance of oppressive authoritative figures as well as the ups and downs of life in the scene from the joys of sharing deep connections with others through bikes to the unity that arises when a member is injured or dies.