Big boys play with their fast toys: Stephen Lloyd's motorcycles

Big boys play with their fast toys
By Walter Ang
September-October 2010 issue
Asian Dragon Magazine

There is a unique sense of fraternity, Walter Ang finds out, when
Big boys play with their fast toys

With a background in geology, Stephen Lloyd moved to the Philippines from the USA more than a decade ago to focus on gemology. He owns a jewelry store, Vie Nouvelle Jewelry, in Peninsula Manila Hotel. From handling metal to produce intricate designs for precious stones, Lloyd spends his down time tinkering with the same materials, only on a larger scale.

A hobbyist builder and collector of motorcycles, the passion for these machines began when he was ten years old. His father had gotten him a Honda Cub motorcycle and issued a challenge, "If you can build it, you can have it."

His collection in Manila includes a Ducati, a Yamaha, a Buelle and a few others that he's built himself. Of course, he rides them as well. And the riding is what it's all about. Lloyd rides a Harley Davidson Chopper all around the metropolis. "It gets me where I need to go," he says. The best part, he confides, is being able to weave through the city's notorious traffic jams.

Beyond the utilitarian, Lloyd notes that riding is a culture on its own. One that engenders a connection between all riders.

Lloyd has even gotten a buddy interested enough to pick up this method of transportation. Christopher Lee, another expat from the USA, has been in the country for a little more than a year doing project management consultancy, with some projects involving small scale mining. The two crossed paths and got along, given their shared positive outlook for the country's business potential in the mining industry.

Lee drives a Buell 1125R and gets a lot of good natured ribbing from Lloyd on safety tips. The two go out on rides when they're not crossing off their to-do lists for work. While they're not part of any exclusive group, they've gotten to know and have become friends with other riders. "There's an automatic respect for other riders when you're a rider yourself," says Lee. "It's all about guys as individuals doing their own thing."

As it turns out, there are quite a number of businessmen and professionals like Lloyd and Lee who also ride. "So really, the cliché reputation that a motorcycle rider is a bad guy is just that, a cliché," says Lloyd.

Public relations consultant Ed Tamayo, points out that one should have an interest to begin with, but that this eventually evolves into passion and commitment.

Tamayo didn't always know how to ride, but got into it pretty much the same way that Lee did. "A friend introduced me to it," he says. This rider of a Harley Davidson Heritage Soft Tail became so enamored with riding that he eventually joined the Mad Dogs Motorcycle Club--a group of professionals, businessmen and executives that rides big bikes and are darn proud of its colors and tattoos.

Getting in isn't simply a matter of signing up. Potential members have to be invited by a member to engage in a "prospectship" that lasts at least six months. But once in, a member has bragging rights to being part of an exclusive international motorcycle club headquartered in the Philippines and has chapters in Thailand, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Beijing.

If the brotherhood between all riders isn't evident enough, the group has even codified its commitment to live up to the values of freedom, courage and loyalty. And less anyone think that it's merely an old boys' club, "the group has always been moved to give forward," Tamayo says.

"We share, however modestly, but from the heart, with other members of society," he says. The group regularly conducts medical and charity missions, especially to disadvantaged children.

It is perhaps an awareness of the risks inherent to riding that propels the group's unique thrust of benevolence. The awareness of the dangers propels any rider, in fact, to never take their lives or anyone else's, for granted. All three consistently mention the word "safety" throughout their expositions on riding as a way of life.

"At the back of your head, you're always thinking `Don't die,'" notes Lloyd. "You're not surrounded by a cage of metal like when you're inside a car." Some tips that they gave for beginning riders include getting a smaller bike with manual shift so that the rider gets used to riding on two wheels and always riding with an eye out for everything else that's on the road.

"Get a cheap one so you won't feel so bad when you wreck it," he says with a laugh. "Because you will definitely wreck your first bike."

It's clear from the way these gentlemen share anecdotes of riding and being a rider that the speed, the heft, the texture, the rumble, the feeling even, that only a motorcycle can provide is a deeply personal experience. "It's you, the bike, the highway. It's your own space, your own time," Tamayo lists off.

Lloyd adds emphatically, "When you ride, you feel free."