Chippa Wilson Talks Motorcycles With British Customs
The art of turning obsession into livelihood.
Chippa Wilson has perfected the art of turning his obsessions into his livelihood. He has made a living from pro surf, as one of the most technical aerialists in the world (perhaps, even, the most). He’s made enough to purchase land in his beloved Cabarita, where he enjoys the big open spaces and the freedom to indulge his other passion: Motorcycles. See, Chip is becoming entwined in restorative motorbike culture, just as he is entwined in professional surfing. British Customs recently dropped a spotlight on Chip’s love of building retro motorcycles with his own hands.
The interview offers a glimpse into Chippa’s world right now. Having just built a bike called the Beach Sled, made from a Triumph Bonnevile T100 and inspired by the desert sleds ridden by Steve McQueen, Bud Ekins, and Eddie Mulder, Chip has been spending time on his Caba Ranch, watching the world grow busier and continuing to indulge his love of spinning wheels and boards. Let’s dive into a snippet:
British Customs: Tell me about where you grew up.
Chippa Wilson: I grew up on the East Coast of Australia, and moved from Sydney to Cabarita Beach when I was young. That’s where I started surfing. Cabarita Beach is a tiny surf community, but it’s changed as it’s gotten busier; but I guess everything is getting busier. I don’t really like that: I wish things would stay smaller and simpler.
BC: What’s a day in the life for Chippa Wilson like?
CW: It depends on where I am. If I’m home, and the waves are good, I’ll make coffee and go surf. Then when I get back I’ll let the chickens out, get any eggs they laid, and go surf some more. But if I’m on a surf trip, all I do is surf.
BC: What got you into riding motorcycles?
CW: I remember watching flat track races on TV with my dad when I was a kid and thinking it was the coolest thing. After seeing those, I knew I had to get into it myself.
BC: You’re pretty close with your dad. What kinds of things do you guys do together?
CW: We surf together a lot. I got him into it. He still surfs with two reconstructed knees at 60. Which is awesome. Growing up, I used to watch him make houses. He used to do everything with his hands, and that inspired me.
BC: What keeps you on the bike?
CW: Exploring new grounds and new places. That sense of freedom you get. Cruising is the best. I love going from dirt to tarmac and then hopping from cafe to cafe around Cabarita.
BC: Is the feeling you get while riding at all like the feeling you get while surfing?
CW: Totally. You feel disconnected from all the noise in your life. You can just reset and enjoy yourself.
BC: What about retro things do you like so much?
CW: Vintage things have style, and they’re classy. They’re not overdone. They’re simple; like less is more. They’re just easy on the eyes.
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