Pipeburn: Can you introduce yourself?
Paul: I'm Paul McKinnon, owner of Evolution Motorsport (centre above, without dress). I'm a die-hard circuit racer and have been since age 11. I have two trades; mechanic and watchmaker - but my passion is fabrication.
PB: Tell us About Evolution.
PM: Evolution Motorsport is a 4-year-old business based in Brookvale, in Sydney’s northern beaches. We pride ourselves on quality workmanship. I started out with the view of motorsport fabrication as that's where my background is, but I have now realised that business doesn't always go the way you first thought. We now cover all areas of vehicle fabrication work, whether it be bikes, rods and customs or racecars. We survive because you can't buy everything; some things just have to be handmade.
PB: You have a history of working with racing cars - how did you get into bikes, and what influence does it have on the end bike product?
PM: I started racing karts at age 11. I won 3 Australian championships and participated in the Junior World Titles in Italy and finished 8th, all with engines built by my dad who was a watchmaker. When it was time to build myself a racecar, a mate told me "do it all yourself, buy a TIG”. I took his advice and have never looked back.
Building bikes started by helping a mate with his. I build bikes with racecar quality fabrication, whether it’s rusty, polished or painted - the quality of workmanship is there. Even though less than ten percent of people can see the differences in the level of craftsmanship between builders, I will never compromise on the quality.
PB: How many bikes have you customised?
PM: I have done 8 bikes all up, with 2 more half done sitting in the shop. My personal highlight would be making a hard tail jig – there’s too many pissed hard tails out there. That and building my lastest bike - #18. I handmade the fender, seat and fuel tank out of aluminium. I hard tailed it, made the rear brake set-up, pedals and gear lever. I'm very proud of that bike.
PB: What bikes do you own and ride?
PM: I own two of my own builds. #13 which I just hard tailed and am about to fit a sportster tank to. It’s a CB250. And #18, which I built to sell.
PB: Do you supply bikes as well as customise owner's bikes?
PM: So far, they have supplied all the bikes. Two of the bikes I have built were to customer specs, two were done where the customer gave me a budget and free rein and the others I built for myself and sold on. We will build to budget and style - if a customer wants, the customer gets.
PB: What is the process you go through with the average customer. How much of the end product is you and how much is them?
PM: The process so far has been that the client has brought me a bike and I've built it. Simple as that. The end has mostly been my influence but not totally. A client can have as much say as he or she likes.
PB: What happens if a customer starts to "loose the plot", so to speak?
PM: So far no one has lost the plot, not completely anyway. (Just wait ‘till he builds my bike – Andrew)
PB: Does Evolution build bikes just to enter into shows?
PM: I don't build bikes just for shows, I mainly go to shows to get the Evolution name out there; I love building bikes and want to make sure I have a future doing it.
PB: A lot of Evolution's bikes seem to be a little "rat". Explain.
PM: I love the rat look. I love rat rods and bikes. I believe it shows off the workmanship and creativity more. Good paint can cover bad work and rust is free, but I know they aren't for everyone.
PB: What are some of the bikes that have influenced you as a customiser?
PM: My main influence would be bobbers. I always thought you couldn't build cool Jap bikes, but after owning a Harley that opinion changed. I had a 2010 Iron Sportster Dark Custom 883 Iron, now I'd much prefer a chopped Jap bike. I do enjoy riding Jed's 69 Iron though - it’s an experience.
PB: Where do you see the Sydney custom bike scene in 10 years?
PM: I think in 10 years the custom bike scene in Sydney will be huge. So many people love the old-school look that many bike builders are bringing it back; even manufacturers are doing retro releases.
PB: By the way - what's your favourite watch?
PM: The Omega Speedmaster Automatic.
P.S. Paul has agreed to let me shoot his bikes for the blog, so keep your eyes peeled for more photos and specific details of Paul's sweet, sweet work...