Motorcycle Funerals provide two-wheeled hearses for bike enthusiasts around the UK.
I spoke to director and Reverend Paul Sinclair on how the business began, the difficulties the floods posed and how the endless media coverage has helped or hindered the business.
How did the business ‘Motorcycle Funerals’ come about?
I was a trained church pastor at Kensington Temple when I first discover an Australian bike with a sidecar deck shaped like a coffin, with a coffin on it.
He used it for funerals. Over there the weather is OK for a coffin out in the open, so it was not realistic for the UK, but the principle was there.
Over the years I found myself serving fellow bikers who had died and when I was almost killed myself I decided to make a proper UK weather sensitive one, so put in the patent application and the rest is history.
As a Reverend do you think it matters what vehicle people ‘go out’ in?
As a 99% rule of thumb I believe a funeral should represent someone’s life, so a Scotsman living in England will often be led by a piper for example.
Vehicles are a big part of people’s lives, even the most committed Christian probably spends more time in a vehicle than in church services and that includes clergy, so how can such a big part of people’s lives be ignored?
As a pastor I see many people helped here, often the family in the cars behind are out on a bike ride with the dead person for the first time! As such it is not just a journey, but an experience, a good one.
You’ve had over 400, 000 hits on your website- how much business does your website bring in? (approximately)
That is only the home page and I’ve discovered it isn’t really that accurate, the real number is much higher, but I’ve left it on anyway. I’m not convinced the website brings much business in at all, but what it does do is enable families to get answers to questions. Very few funeral arrangers would know enough about bikes etc., so it is a great help to them.
We also own www.yourchariot.net, but we are careful to keep them as completely separate entities so folk don’t accidentally get a trike when they really wanted a bike and vice versa. Also, most bikers don’t like trikes and most serious trikers are very clear they are trikers not bikers, so we keep them apart.
With such an unusual hearse service it’s unsurprising that Motorcycle Funerals has featured on several television programmes- did these appearances have an effect on your rate of business?
Actually, it is the other way round. I was well known as The Faster Pastor and when I launched Motorcycle Funerals I turned down many TV programmes for fear of them trivialising it.
In retrospect I over reacted and lost an obscene amount of expensive publicity, but I took the view it was better to be conservative than some sort of celebrity. While this was on one level a mistake, it did actually achieve the goal and so far I’ve never had any bad TV for McF, fun stuff a little bit, but nothing that would embarrass a family. I keep a list of much of it, probably 80% or so here.
You brilliantly compared going out in an automobile hearse to “an Everton fan in a Liverpool strip when they die”. Is it really that bad?
What could be worse than a Liverpool strip? No, not that bad.
Lots of bikers also love cars, but the point is that their lifestyle should be recognised and if possible honoured. If someone likes cars as well, no problem, get them a car, but at the least folk should be offered choice.
Have you had any strange requests or epic adventures?
We get so many strange requests those are now the normal ones. To us a strange request is for a bog standard funeral!
We made it through some astonishing flooding. I must confess I didn’t think we’d make it, but we did. We travel to the islands and find ourselves in tiny villages as well as large cities.
I’ve done six laps of Brands Hatch with the deceased as well as the TT and Darley Moor with coffins too. Just as well I used sidecar racing standard chassis and fittings! We are often asked for a last blast, see youtube.com/motorcyclefunerals for a sample.
Thanks for your time Paul.
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