Digital Exhibition: Nina Kaplan
Name: Nina Kaplan ( @niinhellhound )
My childhood years were really steeped in motorcycle culture. My dad Jerry Kaplan is very mechanical and an avid motorcyclist, growing up his Norton was in the garage; it was a 1968 P11 that he bought new in May of ’68 and had ridden in Europe upon his discharge from Viet Nam. As a family, we used to go to all the Norton Owners Rallies and campouts in California and across the Pacific Northwest. My Father’s interests in motorcycles were varied, and through him I was exposed to a lot. When I was 12 or so my Dad began drag racing a Kawasaki Ninja at the Sacrament drag strip. He and my brother were also avid dirt riders, and I would tag along with them sometimes. I remember going to a trials bike events and outdoor motocross events which blew my mind. I was amazed at what these riders got their motorcycles, the control of the power and the technique of the different riding styles captured my imagination. Although unknown to me at the time, growing up going to these different motorcycle events had a big influence on me.
My desire to become a rider of my own grew in my early thirties. I graduated college in Northern CA and moved over to England where I lived for 7 years and completed some further education related to my fields of study. I moved back to California and stayed at my parents’ house while I sorted out my next plans. My Dad has a Cagiva Elefant 650, a dual sport bike that he would let me take around the country roads. I spent a lot of time riding that bike and riding with my Dad and learning to ride a motorcycle on the streets. I used my whole first paycheck to buy my first motorcycle, it was a 1982 cb900c, a capable and fun bike. I rode it all over the East Bay and San Francisco and found some amazing lady friends to ride with whom continue to make up my motorcycle family today.
My evolution through motorcycles is ongoing. After selling my first motorcycle to a friend, through a mechanic at Glendale Harley Davidson I bought a 2008 Dyna Street Bob. I rode that motorcycle a lot, and took it on my first big trip riding on the El Diablo Run from Temecula to Mexico with two other lady riders. I attended the first incarnation of the Babes Ride Out event, an all-women’s motorcycle ride and campout in the Anza Borrego Desert, it’s still happening and now going into its 7th year, it’s an event I still avidly attend, and where I always connect with amazing moto women.
I added a 1991 Harley Davidson Sportster to my collection, I got this bike with the intention of customizing it. It was a very fun motorcycle for zipping around LA, it had an extended front end (6inches) over stock, and short shocks behind which gave it a cool stance.
I ride as often as I can on both local and long rides. Some of my favorite trips have been a cross country ride with Harley Davidson and 4 other women riders. We traveled from NY to CA connecting with amazing women riders along the way. I wanted to recreate the cross country experience again for myself on my own motorcycle. I found a 1994 Harley Davidson FXRP which is an old police motorcycle through a friend of mine. I rode that bike 5,000 miles over 8 states from LA to Montana in summer of 2016 on my own. I still have the bike and its my forever bike.
I am in the process of selling my sportster so that I can build the chopper of my dreams.
Recently, I became interested in riding dirt bikes. In 2017 I acquired my first dirt bike a 1976 Yamaha iT 400 2stroke, it was a fun first bike lots of power but not very modern. I rode that dirt bike as long as I could keeping it running. Recently I bought my brothers 2006 Kawasaki KX 250f which I ride avidly.
There are many things I love about riding motorcycles. I love the freedom and adventure of traveling on two wheels. I love the connection you feel with the machine, and I love to develop my riding technique on curvy roads and in the dirt as well. I love the visceral experience and feeling raveling through space on a two wheeled machine. I relish all the ‘helmet time’ I can get, an opportunity I see for tuning out from real life and focusing on the ride and the machine and the road ahead.