Vivien Röll & Hugh Reeves

Monday ride across the Röstigraben

Two representatives of the Walder Wyss bikers’ group meet for the first time: Vivien Röll rides from Zurich along the Jaun Pass, Hugh Reeves starts off in Lausanne. Typically Swiss: the two chat in English.

It is the small details that make a bike THE bike. The moustache on the headlight of the Harley. The little Michelin man that beckons half-hidden from under the Triumph’s red fairing.

It is precisely these details that are at stake on this Monday afternoon, up there on the Jaun Pass, where Vivien Röll, an assistant from Zurich, and Hugh Reeves, a lawyer from Lausanne, meet. They have never worked together on a case, never met at a law firm aperitif, never had a chat with each other, they don't know each other - and yet they are somehow connected. This quickly becomes clear when the two of them walk around their bikes, discussing, in English, their machines , that could hardly be more different. On the one side Hugh's brutal bike - “easily gets up to 150 in first gear” - and on the other side Vivien's cruiser - “a comfortable fair-weather machine”.

Vivien Röll: "Once I had made up my mind to buy a motorbike, I first thought of a Triumph. I went to a dealership that sells Triumphs on one side and Harleys on the other. When I stood in front of the Harleys, it became clear: it had to be a Harley. The machines appeal to me and I have the feeling that only a Harley Davidson can turn my hobby into a passion. When I was a little girl I had an electric Harley Davidson as a toy."

Hugh Reeves: "Your very first machine was already a Harley! For me, it was never about a brand. My first motorbike was a Suzuki 500. I always believed that I had to completely understand a motorbike, take an engine apart and then put it back together. My Suzuki fell victim to this (laughs): together with a friend, I started to take it apart. But then it quickly became too complicated for me ... Have you been riding for long?"

"That awakened a desire for freedom in me. That's what I wanted too, to just ride away." Vivien Röll.

VR: "I've always wanted to ride a motorbike, but I've actually only been riding for two years now. This is what gave me the push: during lockdown, I was sitting at home and kept seeing motorbikes go by outside my window. That awakened a desire for freedom in me. That's what I wanted too, to just ride away. I decided to finally pass the licence and get my own bike.

HR: "I started in 2009. Back then, I was 22 and wanted to have some fun. I've had this Triumph for many years now, and what I like about it is that it's so retro. Both in looks and technology. It's pretty rough to ride and has a tremendous acceleration. Raw power, totally crazy actually. Not that I need it, but knowing about it means freedom for me. Before I started riding motorbikes, I thought freedom was a cliché. But it's not."

“Before I started riding motorbikes, I thought freedom was a cliché. But it's not.” Hugh Reeves

VR: "My bike is pretty much the opposite of yours. It's very comfortable, a fair-weather bike. I wouldn't dare ride your Triumph. That feeling of freedom you're talking about is exactly what I'm looking for. And when that freedom vibrates with such power and is so noisy... ... To be honest, I somehow also wanted to prove something to myself. That I can control such a big, heavy machine."

HR: "I know that feeling. It's actually a primitive kind of pleasure. Man and machine (laughs)."

VR: "Now that's totally cliché! When I say that I ride a motorbike, many people ask me: "Ah, a Vespa?" No, a Harley! But then a lot of people think it's cool, and I'm often approached by other bikers."

HR: "Speaking of clichés: I experienced absolute freedom on a motorbike in California. The experience has become etched in my memory. I ride through forests of eucalyptus, wide sweeping curves, I cruise into the sunset (raises arms high, chopper handlebars, swaying his upper body back and forth), that scent..."

VR: "I also associate that feeling of freedom on a motorbike with a certain scent: that of freshly cut grass when you ride through the Swiss countryside. I'm currently rediscovering Switzerland on a motorbike. I've never been on the Jaun Pass, for example. We can do that together again sometime."

HR: "Absolutely!"

Vivien Röll

works in Zurich as an assistant within the tax team and also deals with matters relating to the employment of legal staff. The 25-year-old already completed her commercial apprenticeship at Walder Wyss in Zurich; she has been part of the Walder Wyss family since 2013. She comes from a motorbike-loving community and in 2020 decided that she didn't want to be just a passenger anymore. Röll often rides her bike from Zurich to Thun, where her family lives; always through the countryside, always with an ice-cream break. She rides a 1200 cc all-black Harley Davidson Sportster-Nightster.

Hugh Reeves

works as a lawyer at Walder Wyss in Lausanne. The 35-year-old grew up in Lausanne and studied at the Universities of Lausanne and Geneva. He lived for some time in the USA, where he studied at the University of California in Berkeley and worked for a law firm in Silicon Valley. Since 2016, he has been advising clients of Walder Wyss on all aspects of information technology, intellectual property and data protection and helping companies to enter the Swiss market. Hugh Reeves rides a 955 cc bright red Triumph T595, manufactured in 1998.