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Norm Hartley did it his way

Goodbye to a British biking legend.

Was sad to read about Norm Hartley's passing. If you have the current issue you will have read his story... and that of his son, Louie and their chopper shop in Middlesbrough, Death Grip Custom Cycles.

I only photographed father, son and their Panhead a couple of months ago; Norm was obviously in pain (his bone cancer had spread to his spine and had caused a cracked vertebrae in his neck) but he was cheerful and had some great stories about growing up in Middlesbrough and being obsessed with two wheels from a young age.

He shook me warmly by the hand when I left; Louie later related to me that his dad had really enjoyed the resulting article. I am particularly pleased about that.

And I am glad I was able to tell his story and pay tribute to a man who didn't compromise; who always made an effort to stick it to the man, but treat his fellow man with respect and an open heart. He was the true definition of a biker. His equanimity, toughness and sense of humour will stay with me.

The photo above was taken in the Death Grip workshop; it's Norm, stylin' on a Harley 45 chop in 1970s Middlesbrough at a time when Harleys – let alone chopped Harleys – were as rare as hens' teeth in England. He truly did it his way.

Sincere condolences to Louie and Norm's family and countless friends.

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