Going sideways fast at the first ever Fourforty Classic  

Words: Tim White

Images: Tim White, Nick Giblin

In the subculture of vintage bikes, enthusiasts have been collecting and restoring these machines for many years, but some take it to the extreme. They are prepared to get loose on their 40-year-old bikes down metal roads at hectic speeds and even race them against others. 

The concept behind the Fourforty Classic was to get these old bikes out of the shed and up the hill for racing with like-minded individuals who are ready to risk the gravel gauntlet and bask in the golden glow of nostalgia.  

The racetrack and surrounding area provide epic views, spanning across the Waitemata Harbour and a full view of the track from the pits area. Loose-metal flat turns with only 4×4-tyre groves to rail, and a straightaway reminiscent of the Mount Maunganui Downhill, which was conquered by some of the OGs who entered. There were classes spanning every year from 2010 down, and the only prerequisite was that the frame date of manufacture had to match the class you entered. 

Weeks before the race, the internet was a buzz with projects, speculation and good-natured banter. Come race day, everyone was ready to go. Perfect conditions were set across Auckland, building the anticipation.  

Race day was on, and thirty riders converged on Auckland’s Fourforty gravity park. The stage was set for an epic day with lots of stoked enthusiasts keen to check out more than 80 rigs spanning the evolution of the mountain bike.  

With riders amping, it was time for racing. The riders were divided by bicycle era and paired up for elimination-style battles.  

Nothing but smiles beamed from the riders’ faces as the stoke peaked for the Mega Avalanche-style race. This event was the equaliser and began with Fourforty’s take on a traditional Le Mans start, except for this version the riders found their bikes had moved and were upside down. 

“I’ve never seen so many competitive racers stoked as this crew.”

I’ve never seen so many competitive racers stoked as this crew. What’s rad about an event like this is the connections made with other riders and enthusiasts. Watching friendships being made is as special as the rare and treasured bikes on show. I think scenes like this should be celebrated— inclusion, generosity and camaraderie are all traits that could be seen among this crew.  

Eventually the dust settled on the racing and the riders emerged out of the carnage and haze for the main event: the Show and Shine. The time had come for your machine, that you’d meticulously built up from carefully sourced artifacts, to flex its parts 

The judges—myself and Anae Brown from T White’s Bikes—were tasked with choosing the winners. The level of vintage bike builds in New Zealand is epic. The range included everything from the legendary Morrison Sidewinder right through the gamut of iconic brands. 

At the end of the day, an event like this is all about getting people together to socialise, compete, ride, and soak up the vibe. This crowd was amazingly supportive of the event, jumping in to help when needed it and going with the free flow.  

It was an event for the people, by the people, and it shows in the photos, with some of the biggest smiles you’ll see since the invention of the bicycle.

Massive thanks to Byron Scott at Fourforty for letting us go rogue in his bike bark, as well as Zane, Anae and Warren “The Waz Man” Gill, plus everyone who helped on the day. 

We’ll be back next summer for another Fourforty Classic, but this time it’s going to be even bigger, so get busy in your garage digging through those parts bins, fiending those swap meets, trawling online selling websites. 

The Fourforty Classic was made possible by Fourfourty Mountain Bike Park, T Whites Bikes, Hallertau Brewery, and Badd Optics.