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Lee Bender interview, By Brad Westcott

Where did you grow up and when did you first get into skating?
I grew up in Orland, Indiana. It’s in the North East corner of Indiana. It’s a small farming town that’s an hour away from any major city. I grew up there at my grandparent’s farm and I just saw kids in town, my friends, and neighbours skateboarding. Started skating with them and it just grew from there and we ended up moving into a big town about an hour away called Fort Wayne when I was in sixth grade. It all just went from there, met hundreds of kids, skated all the time and didn’t care about anything else.

So how did you make it out of a small Midwest town?
Well I made it out of Fort Wayne because of Billy Khan, Jub, Chad Hitsman, and Scott Treudo. They all moved around from Indiana to Minneapolis or Atlanta and were constantly on the road traveling and I was stuck because I was younger than all of them still in high school. As soon as I was old enough I was pretty much gone. Every weekend we would go somewhere else from the East Coast to the West Coast.

Lee Bender interview, Photo by Brad Westcott
Lee lives and breathes it

What do you think about the constant influx of Midwest kids into Arizona? Do you feel like you might have contributed to this in any way?
Well I wouldn’t say contributed but I would say that I passed it along because my friends that I mentioned before were always traveling and I just wanted to do that. When I started doing that with Rick Eusey who is originally who got me out to Arizona from Indianapolis after I had lived in Santa Cruz for a year. I think it’s rad that kids get out and do stuff rather than sit in Fort Wayne, or Indy, or any of those towns. There’s just so much to see and do out here skateboarding wise you know? I mean why stay put?

What would you tell any kid from the Midwest reading this stuck in the snow?
To leave…There’s a lot more out there than that. The Midwest is a rad place but there’s other stuff that’s a little bit more enticing.

Lee Bender Frontside Rock n' Roll,  interview By Brad Westcott
Front RocknRoll in the shallow end

All right, so for those of us who don’t know you, when were you diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and how has it affected you?
I found out on my 28th birthday so it was June of 2007 and it was kind of heavier at first than it is now probably because I’m used to it. Basically my hands and feet are numb and my balance is slightly off. It was worse a year and a half ago when I was first diagnosed but pretty much now life is somewhat back to normal. I still drop dishes when I’m doing dishes and my balance is off to the point that skating is weird or anything that rolls or slides out from underneath me, like hiking sucks so its affected me that way but other than that it’s no different than before.

Lee Bender interview, By Brad Westcott

So since you were diagnosed what have you channeled all of your energy into?
Motorcycles, that’s about it. I got into motorcycles in the middle of 2004, just old vintage Hondas. Rick Eusey and I kind of got into them together, he got a bike first and I started saving up and then I got mine. I just started working on bikes and then with the diagnosis and not being able to skate, motorcycles kind of took over and now it’s pretty much all I do.

Lee Bender interview, By Brad Westcott

What do you think attracts so many skateboarders to riding motorcycles?
I’d say it has to be the feeling of freedom. It might sound stupid to someone who hasn’t ridden before but the only way I can describe it is when your riding with your friends through town it’s like being 12 and exploring new downtown for the first time but instead of on a skateboard, your doing 80mph down side streets jumping speed bumps and stuff. Even getting out in the desert on the desert roads and the freeways going 100mph, there’s nothing like it really. So it’s like being a kid all over again which is great.

What do you think about all of the motorcycle blogs online?
I think they’re cool; they’re kind of like the old skateboard zine scene from the late 80’s to the early and mid 90’s. It’s just new with the internet and everyone can kind of show what they’re doing and what they’re into and the stuff they’ve seen. So it’s rad because everybody’s got their own style just like skating and their own flavor of stuff so it’s cool to see what somebody that you don’t even know half way across the world is into. It gives you ideas and you can sometimes build off it and it’s pretty inspirational.

Lee Bender Rolling in, interview By Brad Westcott
Rolling in

What’s the name of your blog and what do you put on it?
It’s called and it’s basically stuff that I find interesting or entertaining. It’s not all motorcycle stuff, probably only a quarter of motorcycle stuff. I do it so that my friends back home or people that I’ve met from all over the place can see what I’m up to and what I’m into.

So are there any sick motorcycle shops in Arizona?
There are a couple of shops that I’ve been to that are rad, but the majority is just people building out of their garages doing what they want to do with their own tools not paying someone else to do it for them. I kind of screwed up and took mine to a shop and had some people help me weld and they charged me an outrageous amount of money and now I’m paying for it. It’s a life lesson. So I guess with 6,000 dollars I should buy a tig welder and learn how to do electronics myself…me idiot.

Lee Bender riding his bike, interview By Brad Westcott
Lee explains this 96 sporty 1200

Lee Bender interview, By Brad Westcott, His bike
The rig

Do you think it’s just as hard to find a core motorcycle shop that’s in it just for bikes as it is to find a core skate shop that’s in it just for skateboarding?
As hard yes, maybe even a little harder because the whole garage built motorcycle scene is more so out of a friend’s garage or your own garage. There are shops here and there but core skate shops are pretty few and far between as well. So it might be the same but at the same time if you’re doing it yourself in your garage then you don’t need to go to a shop.

 Lee Bender interview, By Brad Westcott
Another view

Have you had any close calls since you started riding motorcycles?
Yeah, a couple of times. Not really a close call but the first time I laid my bike down, I was just screwing around peeling out in an alley way and I got going pretty fast and not thinking I pulled the front brake which made the bike slide out from underneath me. I was just standing above it kind of laughing as it did sideways donuts cause it was still in gear and on. About a year ago though this lady pulled out in front of me in Tempe and I was doing about 45 or 50mph and she was going maybe 10 or 15mph and I slammed into the back of her and did a front flip over the handlebars. Luckily since she was taking off I didn’t hit the vehicle with my body at all even though I did an endo into the back of her CRV. So I ended up just sliding down the road on my back for a little ways and got some scrapes and bruises. It ended up being her fault and my bike got totaled and I got a bloody nut sack from it. It was pretty funny because I had to show the photos to the insurance people. That was just a close call because I wasn’t wearing a helmet but it was all right.

Lee Bender interview, By Brad Westcott

What’s up with your new bike? Why do the cops seem to have problems with it?
I think like any skateboarder cops are just attracted to skateboarders. I’ve been pulled over numerous times on it. Most recently I ended up having to go to court and had 1000 dollars in fines for wrong registration, no mirror, and speeding. So I went to court and fought it and got it knocked down to 400 dollars and had to go to traffic school one Saturday morning. It was just a bunch of bullshit. I don’t drive the speed limit that often though.

Lee Bender interview, By Brad Westcott
So what’s it going to be Lee, Hondas or Harleys?
Well I started out on Hondas, old Honda vintage CB’s. I had a 550, a CB360, now I have a CB354. Hondas are fun, they’re quick little bikes for around town but I got a Harley and its much faster and more powerful. Harleys are kind of more fun to ride in a different aspect. I was way into Hondas for the longest time because they’re easy to work on and reliable, you can run them into the ground. But then two years ago John Ponts and a couple of other guys came into town on their bikes and they all had choppers and whatever. John was on his sporty chopper with his paco frame and I could barely even keep up with any of those guys on the freeway, they were just cruisin. It just looked like so much fun so after that I saved up for about four months straight, pretty much just ate ramen and saved every penny I could. In that four months I saved up enough to get a cheap little sportster and I started building from there and collecting parts to what I have now and it’s pretty much done minus the paint

Lee Bender interview, By Brad Westcott
Honda CB354

Any last words? Thanks? Praise?
For all, I could thank Janet my girlfriend for putting up with my racket when I’m tinkering around on my bikes and grinding stuff at 10:30 at night when her sons trying to sleep. I’ll thank Brad Westcott for the interview and TypicalCulture. I’ll always thank Independent trucks because they’re fucking rad guys that are into bikes and cars as well; Lance is amazing. Buddy at RISE skateboard shop and Rick Eusey for helping me to get into motorcycles and working on shit with me, and also my friends and family.-

 Real Skateboards helps out Lee Bender
Real Skateboards, Helping out Lee. Do your part if you can, keep the man up.
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