Dynamic duo and life Partners - Michael Barragan of Evil Spirit Engineering and Photographer Casandra Wages tag team life well. Global contributors and motorcycle influencers, they showcased another chapter of the Barragan Wages adventure in the latest issue of Dice Magazine. We wanted to find out more about what makes them them... so we asked...
Tell us something about the two of you?
We talk, we work, we ride, we listen and push each other further all
the time. We are a team.. we have been working together, living together
and loving each other 24/7 since we met.
Cassandra loves motorcycles more than I do. Her grandfather was very
connected to the biker culture when she was a baby. It's almost like it
was bred into her.. riding is ingrained in her, it's pretty inspiring.
Like any relationship, you can't survive on one common interest. The two
of us, from my perspective, complement each other. We are very
different in some ways, but somehow that's what brings us together. We
do photo shoots together, run the shop together, we collaborate on the
bikes, and raise my kids together. We just have this overall common
goal... and it doesn't matter who is the lead on a specific project.
What is it about woman riding now?
I got my first bike when I was 5, my dad taught me to ride it in our
back yard in the high desert. It was a crappy little dirt bike. My
brother was smaller than me and not as coordinated yet so I was always
the one who rode him around with me on our adventures. In the winter I’d
tie a sled to the back fender with rope and pull him through the snow.
My grandfather built bikes in the 60’s and my grandma always rode on the
back with him, most of the ladies did back then. When he passed away,
she gave me his bike, his leathers, the old club photos. She knew how
much I loved it all. I still ride that sportster and am building a
panhead based on one of his old builds now. So, to answer your question…
I can really only speak for myself and tell my story. I don’t know what
it is about women riding now. I mean I know that statistically, it’s
happening quite a bit more. And I know that riding motorcycles reaches
and speaks to so many people.. it’s incredibly inspiring. Maybe it just
took the girls a little longer to catch on.
think it's simple. I think the girls are done letting the guys have all
the fun. We can communicate with people all over the world quickly now
thru the internet, this has allowed all the girls that want to ride to
hook up. I mean, in all honesty, it has allowed everybody to hook up. I
think the entire sport of riding/building/fabricating.. what ever you
want to do.. grew in numbers because it's so easy to communicate with
people everywhere. It only makes sense that the girls have gotten
together as well. Personally, I used to like hauling girls around on the
back of my bike, but the novelty always wore off quickly because I like
to feel light when I'm riding. Going to SF with Cassandra on her own
bike is a lot more fun. It's a great thing to share with a close friend
when you cross the country.. smelling and feeling every change that
surrounds you, and it's even better to share it with some one you're in a
relationship with. I love to watch her ride and to give her the lead.
It's awesome. Plus, I think she looks great on her bike. Who doesn't
like to stare at their chick? :)
I really love delicate strength and balance in a bike. When you see
something and you’re like “how is that even possibly rolling down the
road?” We’re in the middle of my first bike build which of course will
be a collaboration. I personally am feeling influenced by my
grandfather’s and his friends choppers (from the photos I have) and
M: Well I've been building for a
while now, and I've gone thru many personal phases of what inspires me.
I started by just trying to keep my old shovel chopper that I bought
2nd hand and was heavily 70s inspired 20 something yeas ago running. It
broke down a lot. That began a precedent of me wanting to create a bike
that was efficient. Once I began really focusing on bikes specifically, I
went thru a phase of wanting to hand make every part on the motorcycle
and using the most modern components available like STD heads or an
engine and a Baker 6 in a 4. I've always liked to do distance so finding
speed without vibrating/tearing a bike to pieces was important. Then I
got into a phase that I wanted make all the old stock junk we would find
at swap meets be as reliable as possible. I think my bikes have bounced
back and forth from future performance driven machines to late 60's
early 70's inspired bikes. In all honesty, I'm trying to combine the
two. I have been for a while.. I get distracted and go off on tangents
now and then, but those two precedents really resonate with me. I ride a
sport bike often, I motocross as much as possible, and I built a drag
car and am always riding the motorcycles I build and I try and always
improve my designs. I consider all of these elements while being
efficient like I said in the beginning. The bottom line is, I love being
creative. I build bikes like I write songs.. I just try and convey a
feeling that’s honest. My influences are old cars, drag racing,
motocross.. anything really. Music has heavily influenced my way of
expressing myself with the bikes.. I just let them, like a song, evolve
within themselves. Usually after I get started the bikes take me on a
trip searching for what I think they want and need and the bike lets me
know when I get there.
Where do you guys go riding?
We are always working in one way or another. I joke that all of our
dates are test rides… can’t tell you how many times I’ve been dressed to
the nines feeling like a million bucks riding through the city, and 10
minutes later I’m missing a dinner reservation or a party, pulled over
on the sidewalk of some gas station in Hollywood holding my phone light
as a flashlight so Michael can look at a pushrod or something. I really
love it though… those are truly the best times.
Well usually we use the bikes to cut traffic down and turn a 45 min
drive into a 20 min drive. There is a lot of traffic here so when it's
heavy we usually use the bikes for errands. As the story goes, I spent
more time riding before I started building bikes. When we go out we
usually take the day and go to Ojai mountains or the beach. The other
day I went with a friend tooling around Griffith park to the 110
Pasadena freeway back to downtown for some fun. Usually I can make a fun
ride locally cutting through town staying off the beaten path.
California is a pretty fun place to ride whether it's local or if you
stretch your legs. The last little trip we took was to San Francisco
shooting for Saint.
What is it about LA? What about Burbank?
As I understand it, Burbank and the area around it is actually the
birthplace of hot rods… there is so much history around here and the
city still maintains a comforting small town feel. Our shop is 15 mins
from Downtown Los Angeles and 30 mins from the beach. Griffith Park in
our back yard has 52 miles of horse trails in it that we get to escape
into on horseback. I can’t complain.
M: LA is a
place you have to live in to completely understand. It's not for
everyone, but I call it home. My mother moved here when I was a kid in
1979 from NY. I stayed until high school and came back when I graduated,
following a dream of a life in a Rock Band. I think LA/Hollywood and
most of California is a place where people come to dream.. anything
goes. Here the simple answer: people come to be an actor or a model or a
musician. But, you can start any business here... the resources that
are available are unimaginable. I've found over my 26 years here that
you can find everything here to do anything you want. Look, it's
beautiful here. I came here following a dream of music and I stayed
after touring the country for over 10 years. Maybe someday I'll leave,
but for now California is some place I like to keep exploring. As for
Burbank, I just ended up here. I bounced around the Los Angeles area for
the better part of 25 years. I initially focused on Hollywood, having
returned here pursuing a music carrier in my 20's. It's funny cause
motorcycles then were a lot like they are now. Run by the youth!
Hollywood was wall to wall bikes in front of every bar. It was
unbelievable actually the amount of bikes that would line the front of
the clubs like the CatHouse or the Rainbow Room or English Acid.. on a
nightly basis. Anyway, it's to be expected that I became completely
immersed in that culture which, like now, was just a group of people
young and old that lived and breathed everything motorcycle/hot rod. The
only way to truly understand this place is to live here. It has so much
history. Stars lived in the Canyons and played the local clubs and
drank at the local liquor stores and diners. I mean the beach Boys wrote
a song about a corner on sunset strip as it goes to the Pacific Ocean
from Hollywood "Dead Mans Curve." Man in the twilight you can probably
go through that corner at close to 100 mph. I've lived everywhere from
the coast in Malibu/Venice to Pasadena, Downtown LA, Alhambra, Hollywood
proper, shit I think I even lived in Beverly Hills at one point. None
of this by real choice.. I just floated around sometimes on couches
trying to survive in this town. There was always a garage with a
workshop and old fuckers that were showing me the ropes. What was the
Question again? Oh yeah, Burbank. Well I passed thru and came back
because I liked it. It's quiet, my shop and home are a few miles from
each other. There is parking & my kids can run around. We basically
live as if Griffith park is our back yard. There are 52 miles of horse
trails there that we use sometimes on a dirt bike in the middle of the
night. Bob Hope and Betty Davis came here to get away from Hollywood way
back when it was countryside… in some ways it still is. There is a
community that resided here starting in the 50's I'd say, that helped
shape a lot of the car culture you hear about and see influence period
cars of today. The energy is still alive in places like this. Which is
one of the reasons I like it here. All of my bouncing around has landed
me here and it's perfect for my family and my shop. What more could I
really ask for?
What keeps you stoked?
Any kind of new creative project and our family. From film production
to fashion shoots, knucklehead builds to photo books, there is never
enough time in the day. It’s very satisfying and inspiring, and there
are so many talented people surrounding us. Keep an eye out.. we have a
lot of big work coming soon!
M: My family,
watching my kids grow, exploring the California coast with them,
camping. My girlfriend who loves bikes I think more than I do. Taking
road trips, going to get a bike or paint wherever it may be.. sometimes
500 miles away in any direction. Building bikes that are in my brain,
and having customers that want those bikes. Doing what I love.
Michael Barragan // @evil_spirit_engineering.
Photographed // Casandra @dustdiablo
Interview // Michael Lelliott @saint.cc
Michael Barragan shot on location in San Francisco with his Panhead.
Featured in DICE magazine issue 64.