Ride dapper

We join the 10th annual Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride to cruise through London in style

Motoring 1 Jun 2022

Distinguished Gentleman's Ride 2022

Attendees at the London Distinguished Gentleman's Ride, photographed by Adam Whitehead

That only delinquents ride motorbikes is a long-standing yet outdated notion, and there are few better events to disprove it than the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride. Held annually since 2012, it assembles hundreds of thousands of bikers worldwide to ride in solidarity, positively representing motorcycling and raising awareness for prostate cancer and men’s mental health. The initiative has raised millions for charities such as Movember and for research into prostate cancer, and participant numbers continue to grow. In fact, 2022 has proven to be a record-breaking year, with 93,456 riders in 802 cities around the globe taking part, and $6 million raised for good causes.

Distinguished Gentleman's Ride London 2022

It may be the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, but as people gather at the start line in southwest London for this year’s event, it is very much an “everyone welcome” atmosphere. Among the 500 riders and their pillion passengers are men, women, toddlers, teens and canines, including Diego the Great Dane, content with his very own sidecar and custom goggles.

Distinguished Gentleman's Ride London 2022

The seed for the ride was planted by a still of Mad Men’s Don Draper on a motorcycle in his finest suit, and so, in true dapper Draper style, participants must wear their best retro get-ups and bring only vintage or modern classic motorcycles, which causes quite the scene as the pack makes its way through Central London. This crowd of some of the finest old bikes is a treat for any enthusiast and an array of gleaming 1970s Italian motorcycles, alongside more than one machine decked out in custom blue and orange Gulf liveries, all get plenty of attention. My ride for the occasion, a Triumph Bonneville Bobber, is less than a year old but its custom cruiser styling certainly looks and feels the part, and it almost goes without saying that it is admired by many of my fellow riders. And with modern classics at the heart of the event, it’s no wonder that Triumph Motorcycles has been a sponsor since 2014.

Distinguished Gentleman's Ride London 2022

However, there is more to it than that, says Miles Perkins, the marque’s head of brand management: ‘There are a few dimensions to it, but the most important one is the community aspect. Most people think you choose to ride for the adrenaline and the rebellious image, but the fact is most people ride motorcycles for mindfulness. It’s peaceful and allows you space to think and clear your head. At Triumph, we are all passionate motorcyclists from the boss down, so when the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride approached us after their first year, it was clear it’d be an opportunity to participate in a community of riding and support something that is really good. I’ve been in this role for nine years and in that time, the number of colleagues who have had a brush with mental health challenges or prostate cancer is palpable. They are ever-present things, so it really resonates on a personal level with all of us as well.’

‘And of course, it’s centred around modern classic motorcycles and our Bonneville plays a massive part in that world. The Bonneville T120 and the T100 are about as pure as you can get in terms of capturing the essence of vintage biking.’

Distinguished Gentleman's Ride London 2022

adamwhiteheadmoto.comgentlemansride.com; triumphmotorcycles.co.uk