Krazy Horse: Rideout Revival
Krazy Horse look to put the community back on the bike
I am guilty of motorcycle prejudice. I think of leather waistcoats, handlebar moustaches, choppers and boisterous gatherings, but I also like to think it is not my fault, with the likes of monster-hit boxset series Sons of Anarchy helping to feed that perception. But that is the United States, and this is Blighty.
There is no doubt there are still those who conform to not conforming, but we are entering a new age of bikers concerned with fashion, scenery and experience.
Entering the Krazy Horse motorcycle and lifestyle shop in north Kent, it’s obvious. Modern, smart displays featuring everything from stylish Dickies shirts and Pike Brothers jeans to speciality coffee.
“Motorcycling has changed massively, with the fashion, trends and people riding now,” says Paul Welch, the manager of Krazy Horse in Welling.
“People’s perception of motorcycling through social media is also changing.”
This change is even more apparent as we meet the team – trendy and tattooed co-manager Ben Godfrey from Herne Bay and petrol head Rebecca Drane from Gravesend. You don’t sit down to an artisanal coffee or non-alcoholic beer when going shopping too often, but if Pistonhead Flat Tyre 0% lager and Rok Soba Zero Fear 0% beer (from Gravesend) are on offer, I could get used to it.
“We want to create somewhere to hang out and have a refreshment of calibre that also allows them to ride out,” says Welch. “Pistonhead and Rok Soba are a godsend.
“We have all been out 10 years ago and had a non-alcoholic beer and it tasted horrible, but fair play to them, they’ve got it right now.
“As they say, throttles and bottles don’t mix.”
Having arrived in Welling in 2017, Krazy Horse has taken on traits of its HQ in Bury St Edmunds, which houses an award-winning street food-inspired café.
“We want to be seeded in lifestyle and culture, and not just a commercial entity,” explains Welch. They want to take people on a journey, both metaphorically and literally.
RIDEOUTS & GATHERINGS
Krazy Horse has been revving up its involvement in community events for a number of years, including the sponsorship of an alternative sports event at the Grade II-listed Rom Skate Park in London, and has several links to street sports and street art. Welch, a former BMX rider, actively encourages the link, with a local street artist placing his pictures at the store.
“We are not all just motorcycle enthusiasts,” he says. “It is important to engage in the community.
“Of course you have the top-line focus of selling bikes. But the holy grail is to establish somewhere where you can retail motorcycles but also offer the lifestyle.
“What has happened at the moment is that the lifestyle and community central hubs have been around places that don’t sell motorcycles. It’s a clothes store, or a café. We have managed to fuse the two.”
Welch and the team have begun their monthly evening gatherings at the shop, offering coffees and 0% beers, with some 30 bike fans turning up to the last one before we printed.
“We really need to get people to not be afraid,” says Welch. “When you look at the store, it can be a fish bowl because it’s a showroom with seven glass walls. We have to think ‘Do people feel intimidated?’ and ‘How do we break those boundaries?’.”
There are plans in the tail-pipeline for a Kent ‘rideout’, with bikers gathering at Krazy
Horse before heading into the countryside or to the beach and, with only minutes between the store and the M25, A2 and M2, they have a perfect position to gather riders from across Kent, London and Essex.
“When you want to ride out, within 15 minutes you’re heading to the countryside and we’re 40 minutes away from the sea breeze, pebbles and sand – we need to start shouting about that,” says Welch.
“The Kent riding community has dissipated somewhat in the last 10 years. No one has really put something on the map, where a community can start to grow again. And we’re on a bit of a mission to re-engage.”
A new Krazy Horse app includes notifications alerting riders when the team are organising an event, keeping things spontaneous and varied in terms of times, dates and locations.
“As long as we can capture upwards of 20 people on each ride at the beginning, enough people will know us for that to grow. It could then become 20 very different people on each ride. Then it snowballs.
“We’re cautious that people don’t get bored. We have got to be creative enough to choose certain locations and we need to tap into what’s going on in Margate, Herne Bay and Whitstable.
“So if there’s a gig, or a new restaurant, and they don’t mind accommodating guys outside on bikes who are willing to spend £30-£40 in their restaurant, that’s what we’re reaching out to. Get in touch with us. We can rally the guys and come down!”