“Being your authentic self is the number one thing”Conor O’Donnell – TheBritishMotorbiker
Like so many members of the motorcycle community, for Conor, riding is about so much more than just getting around or a hobby.
Usually, when you talk to a motorcycle enthusiast, there tends to be depth to their story and their love of bikes. Whether it’s a physical condition, a mental health struggle or even the midlife crisis, there is often a challenge that leads someone to take to the bike, and through riding they find a new zest for life. For Conor, the challenge started when he was 11 years old and he woke up in the middle of the night in excruciating pain.
“It just happened overnight,” says Conor. “Literally from one day to the next. I was an active kid, who played rugby, did sprinting, then one night I just woke up, crying, in pain, and the next day I couldn’t walk properly. My legs just went from strong to just waste away, just bone, there was no movement, and just no strength there at all.”
It’s a condition called neuropathy, or inflammation of the nerves, and for Conor it was in his legs, ankles and feet. It stopped him from being able to walk properly, and all sports and activity had to stop immediately.
“I couldn’t run, I couldn’t do anything” he says. “I was living with chronic pain 24.7, for about 6 or 7 years of my life. My school wasn’t very understanding of it, so it affected me in very difficult ways. When I got to the age where I was allowed to drive a car, I tried it, but I couldn’t manage it. I just couldn’t move my feet. So I just gave up on it.”
Years went by and a young Conor endured surgery after surgery, but he persevered through the pain and went to university, graduated and started to work. It was the location of one of his jobs, with no public transport connections, that forced him to look at mobility solutions.
“Motorbikes have sort of always been there, but I had just never really considered them as a live option. So I just tried it, I booked a CBT when I was about 25, got on that bike that day in the car park and for once I could actually use it. I don’t move my foot to change gear like other people, I have to move my whole leg up and down, I have my own way of doing it, but I took to it.
“I bought a 125 cc the next week and started to commute rain or shine and I was just hooked from then on. Then I graduated to bigger bikes. I started to take photographs go on trips and explore and it started to grow.”
Then pandemic hit and the company Conor worked for folded, he felt it was the time to try something new, so he moved into the world of motorbike content creation, which then took over and became its own thing.
His style of content has changed over time as his audience has grown, but above all, Conor strives to keep it authentic. He doesn’t want there to be a discrepancy between his online life and his offline reality.
The Evolution of The British Motorbiker
“It has evolved over the years, for sure, but I really have just stuck with it. I’ve always been sure to maintain a presence, to post regularly. That’s important. I put myself out there, I’m not afraid to show who I am, the real me, whether I’m angry or sad, I‘m talking about my mental health, or breaking down in tears on camera, because of the messages I have been getting.”
“Being your authentic self is the number one thing, I’ve tried to do that from the beginning, by sharing my highs and my lows and taking people on the journey.”
And Conor’s audience responds to what he puts out there, so too do some of the world’s leading motorcycle brands, who have identified Conor as a valuable partner to work with to promote their machines.
“I’m very lucky to get the bikes I do on loan” says Conor. “It all started with Ducati, so I owe them a hell of a lot to be honest with you. The scrambler I first bought was a Ducati Sixty2, a 400, and they don’t make them anymore, they’re very rare. I was always posting about this bike and that kind of caught their attention, so then they started giving me other bikes to try and post about, it just opened the door for me. Now I work with many manufactures and have branched out into fashion and safety gear as well. I’m moving into travel and automotive so there’s so much in front of me, it’s a very exciting time.”
“The last few years, for me, it really has been an amazing journey.“
Thank you to Conor for sharing your inspiring story with us at The BMIC.
Be sure to follow TheBritishMotorbiker on Instagram to see Conor’s latest adventures in the world of bikes, cars and fashion.
All images are provided and published with the permission of TheBritishMotorbiker