Craig Rodsmith, our favourite Aussie customiser and all-round bloody talented nice guy took a trip from his US shop north of Chicago to visit the home of Moto Guzzi in Mandello del Lario, north of Milan. We spoke to him about his Guzzi obsessions and what it’s like to work with the 97-year-old factory…
There’s a lot of Aussies that feel rightly proud of local boy Craig Rodsmith. Here’s a custom builder that takes the phrase ‘good with his hands’ to preposterous new heights. He now calls Chicago ‘home’ and making some of the world’s best custom motorcycles ‘a job’…
We were lucky enough to interview the talented guys from Untitled Motorcycles recently. They have been busy building bikes, hanging with Jay Leno and doing a small production run of their HyperScrambler. Adam Kay runs the UMC London workshop while across the Atlantic, Hugo Eccles runs the UMC San Francisco workshop.
Can you introduce yourself to our readers? What’s your background?
Adam Kay UMC-LON: I come from a fashion and art background. I worked in the design and production departments of a few high street stores helping to make sure that the original design intent was carried through to production. I left that world to study sculpture at the Royal College of Art- even exhibiting some of my work in a few galleries – before building motorcycles.
Hugo Eccles UMC-SF: I’m a career industrial designer of twenty years- almost as long as I’ve been riding bikes. I originally trained at the Royal College of Art and then spend the next decades working for the likes of IDEO, Fitch and Sir Terence Conran. A few years ago I moved to San Francisco and decided to combine my two passions- design and motorcycles- and build custom motorcycles full time.
Shun Miyazawa is the Product Manager at Yamaha Europe and also the man behind Yamaha Yard Built. I had the pleasure of meeting Shun Miyazawa last year at the European launch of the XJR1300. Shun is a great guy and his passion for motorcycles is second to none. He also has one of the best jobs in the world…
When did you start riding motorcycles and what was your first bike?
At 18 years old I had my first bike – a 50cc Honda Shadow 50. When I turned 20, I got my first “real” motorbike, a Yamaha SR400, which then got transformed into rigid frame board tracker bike over the next 3 years.
There’s no doubt about it, today’s custom bike scene is a tough nut to crack. It takes seemingly endless amounts of creativity, hard work and time. And once you’ve heaped all that onto the altar of the biking gods, there’s still no promise of success. You could spend the rest of your cold, greasy life toiling away in a dimly lit garage and never sell a single bike. And that’s if you live in America. Now try rising to the top of the heap while living in a country that most people couldn’t point to on a map. Sound tough? Not for Slovenia’s Blaž Šuštaršič and his ER Motorcycles team. How do they do it? We quizzed the man recently to find out more.
Maxwell Hazan. If there’s one shining star on the custom bike scene that’s currently at their apex, it’s him. Winner of the Pipeburn 2013 Bike of the Year Award. Ex-New Yorker and nouveau Californian. And, as Scott discovered on his recent sojourn to the Bear State, an incredibly nice guy to boot. We were lucky enough to be able to speak to Max via Skype recently and we are proud to present this extended interview with him. We hope you like it.
Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
“My name’s Maxwell Hazan. I build custom motorcycles. I started thinking I’d build and sell six or seven a year. Then I kind of fell into making these really unique, one-of-a-kind art pieces. It started off really well – I built a bike, it got an amazing response. You featured it on your site and made it Bike of the Year – it was literally the first custom that I built. I kind of fell into this unique bike build thing and it’s going really well.”
Let’s be honest, there’s not a lot of females working in the motorcycle industry. So when I recently stumbled across a site called The Vintage Monkey, I was pleasantly surprised to find it was run by a fiery red head from Sacramento called Shasta Smith. She doesn’t claim to be the female version of Shinya Kimura, but she is passionate about building vintage motorcycles, so we asked her a couple of questions…
READ MORE ►
Imagine, if you can, motorcycling with all the superficial artifice stripped away. What would you be left with? What would remain at the core of the experience? Allow me to tell you. It’s those moments you have when you’re gliding down that perfectly curvy road in the country, five feet off the ground with the sun shining and the warm wind blowing and time standing still while you get to take a fleeting glimpse into the windows of the big house of the gods. This is something, I’m convinced, that almost anyone with a soul, be it male or female, would really enjoy. The thing with motorcycles is that to get to this sublime point you have to negotiate a whole bunch of smoke, horsepower, oil and a mountain of other ridiculously blokey stuff. Stuff that can turn the fairer sex right off the whole shebang – which is a real shame when you think about it. That’s probably why most females I know would much prefer a day of riding horses than revving horse powers. Except one, that is…
READ MORE ►
I’ve been at this whole custom bike blog game for a while now, and if there’s one thing that has always gnawed away in the back of my mind, it is the following conundrum; Japan produces some of the world’s coolest custom bikes and yet, due to the language barriers, the scene is neigh on impenetrable to westerners. To me, it’s always felt like a massive gold deposit that’s been inconveniently placed under an ocean or right next to an active volcano. Everyone knows it’s there, but getting access to it just seems like mission impossible. Then, a few weeks back, it hit me. I have a Tokyo-based mate who I’ve known for over a decade. He’s Japanese born and bred, yet he speaks perfect English – what if we were to get him to help us out? So here’s the first of what I am hoping is many interviews with these Nihon-jin masters. Please bow deeply as we welcome Kengo Kimura San from Heiwa Motorcycles to our humble blog. Otsukare-sama desu!
READ MORE ►
Twinline Motorcycles is a custom shop in Seattle Washington who have been building and restoring loads of beautiful cafe racers and vintage bikes. Last year Jeff (Tower) Pochodowicz took over the running of the shop and he hasn’t looked back. He managed to put the wrench down and answer a few questions for us.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and Twinline?
My name is Jeff (aka. Tower). I took over the management and operations at Twinline Motorcycles in September 2011. I grew up spending most my days riding a bmx bike and at one point my dad bought a Suzuki 125 quad, I loved that machine. I rode the hell out of that bike, breaking tons of parts along the way. Eventually he sold it and my sights turned to skateboarding. On May 25th 2007, my 30th birthday, I bought a Gpz550 off my friend and really that’s were my motorcycle career started, bang. I had no idea that buying that bike would change the course of my life and direct me to where I am today. I moved to Seattle in 2008 and was introduced to Ian and the guys at the shop. My buddy said “maybe these guys will help you get that piece of shit running right.” For a half rack of PBR and 80 bucks i was rolling. I thought the place was cool so I hung around soaking up as much knowledge as I could. In January 2009 i was interning at the shop full time. We changed locations to a larger, better workspace and I worked hard on honing my skills in problem solving, motor builds, fabrication and customization. During the summer of 2011 Ian had the itch to move to California with his family so i decided that taking over the shop was the best way for me to continue doing what I love to do while keeping the shop as a creative hub for the motorcycle community.
READ MORE ►