This week we met with Ben Harrison, the man behind @blackhertssocial. Ben’s enthusiasm and adoration for motorcycles goes beyond riding them and has lead him to build custom bikes which can be bought by anyone, in his spare time from his salon. We went to Ben’s garage, and got to see the bikes for ourselves, and we even saw Ben take them out for a spin.
Read below our chat with Ben, all about the bikes, the rebuild process, his dream road trip and more.
Tell us about Blackhertssocial, what it is and how you started it?
Blackhertssocial has evolved through different stages, to start with it was just a social for me and my friends, and we’d get together and have a drink messing around and pulling them apart to see what we could do so that was the social aspect of it. And then it evolved, to building custom bikes and becoming a bit more of a brand.
Have you always loved motorbikes?
I got into motorcycles when this young guy showed up at my shop, I was cutting hair, and he showed up on this little Honda bike and I thought “gah that’s cool”. I thought it was really hard to get your bike license, but talking to him about it he told me “all you need to do is get your CBT and you can ride one of these” so I booked my CBT there and then (while I was cutting his hair!) and got my first bike the same day.
And then one thing lead to another and I bought a 1977 Honda CG125 and that was the start of it. A couple of weeks later I bought an 80’s Honda CG125 and then me and a good friend of mine, spent loads of time pulling them apart in a garage and trying to work out how we could make them a custom motorcycle and that’s how we got here.
How many bikes do you work on, or have you worked on, on average?
I don’t even know, I’ve lost count of the amount of Honda’s I’ve been through. Not so many Harleys - getting more into them and learning to understand them more. I’m trying to move away from Japanese bikes.
Currently, I’ve got 6 bikes. 3 of them are working, and the rest of them are all in bits.
What is your dream model bike?
I always wanted the Yamaha XS650 which I’m about to start working on but now I’m looking for an early 70’s Harley Davidson Shovelhead or even a 60’s one would be cool. So yeah it changes, but when I first got into bikes it was Honda C50 but every time I get my dream bike, the goalpost moves.
Who inspires you when it comes to building bikes?
A lot of the Japanese builders always inspire me, bratstyle their wicked, anyone that’s building bikes and not overdoing it but keeping it simple inspire me.
What do you find the hardest challenge when building bikes?
It’s a box of worms. You don’t know what you’re gonna be opening up on every bike you’re taking apart. You go in with great plans and then something doesn’t fit, or there are different nuts and bolts. Each bike is different, so you never know exactly what you’re going into, or how the best way to solve the problem is. But electrics! They are my biggest hate.
Once you’ve built the bikes what do you do with them?
I usually ride them around for quite a bit and enjoy them. Soon I get bored of them and want another project, yeah so then I just sell them. At one point I was doing raffles and giveaways and giving the money to charity as well, so that was always good, but now everyone is doing raffles so I just enjoy the bikes until I move onto the next project.
How long roughly, does each bike project take you?
In lockdown when I was working on them everyday, it would take me about two months. This isn’t my everyday job, it’s just my hobby, so at the moment, I’d be happy to do 2 or 3 a year.
What is most important to you when it comes to clothes when riding your bikes?
I love vintage clothes, stuff that has a bit of history to it, like the bikes. I like keeping it relatively plain, I don’t go too crazy. It’s all about good quality for me, and comfort when riding my bikes. Things that are a bit looser, and a heavy ounce denim, but yeah quality is the most important.
Who or what has inspired your style?
It’s not anyone in particular, but more a culture. The surf and skating culture definitely, it’s always been a massive influence to me. Stuff that’s looser, and moveable on a skateboard. I’ve always been a skater since I was a little kid.
Great! And can you do any tricks on a skateboard?
Yeah I can do some tricks! I never go as hard now, I’m a bit older and I don’t want to break a few bones or be signed off work for a little too long ha. But I want to learn how to skate ramp a bit better, so that’s my next mission!
What drew you to Wax? What is it that you like about the brand?
One of my friends came into the shop wearing one of the Overshirts and it looked like good quality and I liked it. So yeah I looked into the brand and loved the style and the quality.
What is your dream trip to take on a bike?
Aaah, I’d love to drive across America. And one massive regret, when I was in Vietnam I didn’t ride a bike there as I wasn’t into them back then, so I will go back and do that.
What would be your dream bike to do that on?
It’s gotta be a Harley Davidson if I’m riding across America! An old shovelhead, or a panhead, or something like that, to ride across America on.
What would you soundtrack your trip across America with?
The weight by The Band, you can’t beat that song when it comes to roadtrips. I can envision myself driving through the desert with that blaring out my headphones without a doubt!