Lighting the Cherrybomb



Sure, it's a fairly simple bike, but knowing its pretty unshapely origins, Stephen has really turned this 1981 Honda CB250n into something very charming and humble. He built his own bridge to a classic Cinderella story. But with more feist.

This episode was actually intended to be No.4. I had already shot interviews with Mark Hawwa and Jordan Kightly and was set to shoot Mark's on-road footage the day after a SCR ride to Lithgow.

But during that ride, on which Mark was riding a mates' Bonneville and Jordan was riding Mark's SR500, Jordan and some road debris rendezous'd on the wrong side of up, which ended in an exchange of harsh language and tumbling bike parts for a short distance.

Thankfully Jordan was discharged from the hospital with a sprained wrist and some mild embarrassment, having just written off his good mate's pride and joy.

Needless to say, I was now two riders down and left with two episodes half completed.


So, I had to find another rider keen to volunteer some time. Thankfully, Jordan suggested I should try Stephen Broholm, whom I'd met briefly at the Sydney Cafe Racers "Festival of Ton" in 2012.

Stephen is well known by the Sydney Cafe Racers crew. Even though he didn't have his bike license, he loved the scene so much that he frequently volunteered as support crew with his own 1985 F100 truck on rides, to the joy of many a rider with non-compliant bikes.

I shot Stephen a message via Facebook along with my number and almost instantly got an enthusiastic call back, saying he'd love to be involved.

With each of these videos, I like to try to include some kind of theme that relates to the riders. Fortunately Stephen suggested his own, which related to a couple of transitions that had happened in his own life; being made redundant and getting himself an intermediate bike until he completed a larger build he's working on. His theme was "bridges".


Now, this was great, but also slightly awkward, as Mark had mentioned to me earlier that he would love to do a video of his own, at some stage, about tunnels and bridges (this was after I had started on "Tunnels"). I think I asked for Mark's blessing to proceed! I recall that he was okay with it as long as I didn't shoot on the Sydney Harbour Bridge (which I'll save for his own shoot).

Stephen's shoot with his "Cherrybomb" was done roughly over 3 days on 4 locations. I was keen to find a more economical way of shooting this series after "Tunnels" which was done over 4-5 nights, and hoped to do "Bridges" over two days, but didn't quite get the variation of shots I needed over two days and needed an extra location for some bike shots.

Guardian of "Thor's Hammer", Rogue.

Guardian of "Thor's Hammer", Rogue.

So, meeting Stephen at his flat was great and seeing his "Thor's Hammer" bike, a gorgeous Yamaha XS650 hardtail, that was sitting in his living room was pretty amazing. It's a beautiful image and made me wish I'd developed some mechanical skills over the years, that I could tinker away on a bike while prepping breakfast and watching TV. That and the balls to put a bike alongside the coffee table.

While I took a few shots of "Thor's Hammer", Stephen politely excused himself to go and get his hair sorted. "TH" looked like a real earthy, weathered kind of bike, but it had an interesting mix of new, clean parts on it. It reminded me of Japan for some reason. Perhaps the mix of the old and the new that are inescapable of one another as they are there.

We later headed down to his car space where "Cherrybomb" was patiently waiting for us. For a 250cc bike, this machine exuded a real unassuming strength. Its stance had the look of a bulldog, or silverback gorilla on all fours. Standing up, eyes forward. Alert. At the same time the colour of the tank spoke of sangria and chuppa-chups.

All-in-all, a strangely charismatic, yet tasty cocktail of machinery.

The interview set at Stephens brother, Michael's, garage.

The interview set at Stephens brother, Michael's, garage.

I think I got lucky with the lighting on the first night of shooting. Moving the lights and camera around, I found a nice back-lit set-up which, I reckon, excentuated its sexiness. Gave it a little bit of a 70's film star feel. I had lots of fun shooting this bike here.

We moved to Stephen's brothers workshop about 10 minutes drive away to do the interview. Here was a shop, a little weatherbeaten shack just off the main road, that looked like an old man with a tonne of stories. The floor space was the equivalent of about 3 cars with some extra walk-around room. Up the back was a Ford XB Coupe (otherwise know as the Intercepter from Mad Max) in the early stages of restoration, with a scattering of varous bikes, yamaha trackers, toys choppers.

After the interview, Stephen offered for me to take Cherrybomb for a ride. Being a bit of a Honda fan, I hopped on and blasted up the street. Everything about the bike felt tight and responsive. It immediately had my trust and the fun riding it came very easy. I wanted to ride all night, but it was late and we had a 5:30am start the next morning.


After shooting Tunnels, I wanted to shoot the on-road scenes of this (my second) episode a little more efficiently. Having said that, looking back, there's definitely more I would have liked to have done. But we got some great sunrise shots on the road, although I think I battled a little with the ever changing light conditions.

Later this day we met up at Deus Ex Machina's "Festival of Thump", where Sydney Cafe Racers had a stand and Stephen was competing in a wheel change event. We were both a little too pumped on coffee by that stage, but it was great to chat about the filming with some of the SCR guys there.

I also got to meet Nicci for the first time, after hearing all about her involvement in the build. I think she may have had a late night the night before, but she still turned up looking fabulous and keen to show off Cherrybomb in the line-up.

The gorgeous Nicci, co-builder of Cherrybomb.

The gorgeous Nicci, co-builder of Cherrybomb.

About a week after the first two days of shooting we did a couple of hours of pick-up shots. I needed a little more variation in the edit and invited Stephen to come to a spot that I grew up near and which he'd also ridden past a dozen or so times.

While setting up, I heard the purr of the CB250n engine overhead and knew he wouldn't be too far away. The couple of hours we spent there were great and the shots we captured, I think, became the heart of the episode. Obviously there were two iconic bridges straddling our location, but also, with the sunset it was the perfect mood for this bike, which I really became quite fond of.