The Greasy Hands Preachers
A Moto-Doc on the Artful Side of Building Bikes
Alongside a bus of young and hip Soho House members, sipping cocktails and gazpacho from mini bottles, a dozen riders from Brooklyn’s Jane Motorcycles wearing Ugly Bro jeans and waxed-cotton Belstaff jackets arrived on top of a fleet of BMWs, unchaperoned. They parked near a stone barn over looking endless fields in the Hudson Valley.
It took a few soups for the group to figure out that all could try out the others’ bikes in the fields, sometimes shirtless. Knowing the owners of said machinery — the Bavarians — would not take kindly to the shenanigans that went on, this journalist treaded lightly while riding someone’s borrowed BWM NineT up and down the gravel road around the grounds of the new Grasmere Farm Membership and Lodging Club in Rhinebeck, New York. The NineT, which is BMW’s latest and most successful effort to capture a nostalgic audience still seeking style in addition to performance, invokes a feeling of freedom and childishness. We all want to feel like kids again, especially with our wheeled toys. The owners of Grasmere were willing abettors, if not instigators of such goofing off.
Soon the sun fell and the full moon rose, and the group piled into the barn to watch the US screening of The Greasy Hands Preachers.
It was David Lynch who said, “I don’t know why people expect art to make sense when they accept the fact that life doesn’t make sense.” The Greasy Hands Preachers doesn’t make sense, but it does so in a beautiful way, showing the passion of a handful of mad and brilliant bike builders. Shot on super 16mm film by French directors Clemen Beauvais and Arthur de Kersauson, GHP follows the likes of Shinya Kimura, Deus ex Machina and other soulful builders all over the world to capture their emotional connection to their bikes.
“Passion is important,” Roland Sands said, in reference to the film. Sands is known as the godfather of the frankenbike. His talents have made him one of the greatest builders of our time, if not the most important. “There’s something very romantic and real about building a machine for your own purposes when you have a vision of what you want.” On the film’s ethos, Sands continues, “With enough passion and some talent you can make it happen. Money and knowledge gets you nowhere without the drive to create. Stories add mysticism and legend to bike builds.”
The stories of the film followed guests as they dined in the supposedly haunted manor of Grasmere. Eating family-style and sitting at too-long tables, artisan popsicles were served to finish the meal, before giant speakers began a soundtrack to beat away any lingering, stolid spirits.