A biker known as @ghb_unknown on Instagram performs a “burnout” stunt at a memorial meet-up in Croydon for a BikeLife member who died in a biking accident in July | ALL PHOTOGRAPHS BY DAN GIANNOPOULOS
A defiant rider tilts his quad bike onto two wheels after police arrive to shut down a “Sunday Funday” event
A masked rider known as Clumsy, who rides for the “thrill, the freedom, the adventure, the risk it brings”, is photographed in Belvedere, southeast London
Unknown riders perform a “tandem wheelie” on a moped in Thamesmead
After coming off his bike at speed and badly injuring his ankle, Paul waits to be driven to hospital by a fellow rider
@bikelife_hitta performs a stunt in Thamesmead. With no proper facilities in which to practise, the majority of bikers use public roads or car parks, despite complaints from locals
Synchronised wheelies at a meet-up in Thamesmead, south London

Gallery: Skid row riders

UK BikeLife: menace to society?

THE SCREECH of tyres and the mass revving of motorcycle engines are an increasingly familiar racket in London’s back streets and industrial estates.

The cacophony signals the arrival of riders from UK BikeLife, a shadowy group that has grown rapidly in the past few years and is now thought to have several hundred members.

They arrive seemingly out of nowhere on dirt bikes, quad bikes and scooters to ride, perform tricks and share videos and photos on social media.

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In the eyes of the police and many members of the public, UK BikeLife is just the latest menace to plague London’s streets. Its members are associated with antisocial behaviour, violence, petty crime and police chases. They are also blamed for an increase in motorcycle theft in the capital.

The photographer Dan Giannopoulos, who spent 18 months documenting the riders, believes the reality is far less sinister.

“They are predominantly young, disaffected males from working-class backgrounds who use riding as an escape from the harsh realities of daily life,” he says. “These images attempt to subvert the current news narrative that these are bad people doing villainous things”.

Visit: www.gianphotography.com and www.instagram.com/dan_gian/

This article was first published in The Sunday Times Magazine