India’s fledgling custom chopper scene is ripe with young talent with limitless amounts of energy and creativity, dedicated to customising motorcycles to match the image in their head. However, it took an influx of traditional cruisers with big-bore engines to finally keep up with their imaginations. Bikes with the kind of muscle that would do justice to the builders’ extravagant visual language and contain the angular extremities found in their rough drafts.

Some of India’s most promising custom motorcycle builders will be found at the Harley Rock Riders concert. Harley-Davidson, pretty much started the custom chopper craze, having given the world the first, traditional hardtail chopper and starting something of a revolution. A lot of Harley’s entry-level motorcycles make for excellent urban choppers, while being highly capable highway cruisers. Meet the teams that have been selected to showcase their work at the Harley Rock Riders concert.


 

GODSPEED CUSTOMS

Helmed by Nikesh and Neel from Cochin, Godspeed Customs were first noticed at the India Bike Week in 2014 where they won the ‘Best customized Sportster of the year’ award for transforming a Forty-Eight into a Bobber. The duo met at the event, stumbling upon a common goal of creating ueable and functional designs which look really good.

What’s your core design philosophy?

We wanted to be known for hand-fabbed, hard-ridden, real-world motorcycles. We don’t want our bikes to be just show ponies, but race horses that can take your breath away. And what we believe is “Less is More”. All show-winning bikes are festooned with trinkets and farkles, but 99 percent of them don’t know where to stop. The restraint required to critique one’s own work with a realistic eye and say, “That’s enough” or, “That’s just too much” is usually the difference between a bike that looks like a Christmas tree and one that’s a work of art.

Which Harley-Davidson, according to you makes an excellent project bike and why?

All H-D bikes provide you with a perfect platform or canvas. But we prefer a Sportster. It’s just because it gives you a lot of options to work with, and they adapt to very different styles without ever looking bad in any one of them.

Has music ever inspired your designs?

It definitely has. In our design philosophy, we do not have a 3D drawing to look at and sculpt the bike. It’s more in the head. There are times when you sit in front of the bike listening to the likes of Pink Floyd and Nirvana for hours in the night to just imagine what’s going to work and what’s not. The music really helps you find solutions and it has a calming effect on you. By the way, I am not saying this because we are going to participate in Harley Rock Riders, but it is a fact.

Name 3 things a custom builder cannot live without?

An open mind, creativity, and the right attitude. You need to have an open mind to learn. So much is happening in the world of motorcycles that you need to move with time. And sometimes move ahead. It’s not necessary that you start as a master welder or craftsman but you can always learn and try to become one.

 Tools or imagination, what does a custom builder learn to use first?

Definitely imagination, because there you start the process, and tools just help you with a part of the process. Your imagination opens up a whole new world .

Motorcycling to you is….?

It’s an expression. So many expressions combined like (happiness, peace, freedom, anxiety, relaxation, focus, surprise and the list goes on). And sometimes you can sum it up as an “Expression of Life”.

 


TJ Moto

Tushar Jaitley created waves with his first ever custom H-D Sportster which was touted as one of the 10 best global customs of 2014  by ‘Pipeburn’ an international, custom bike website that showcases the world’s most innovative choppers.

What’s your core design philosophy?

There’s no core design philosophy as such, I just like to keep things simple and clean.

Which Harley-Davidson, according to you makes an excellent project bike and why?

I think the Sportster series has excellent project bikes.

Has music ever inspired your designs?

It does play a role, here and there.

Name 3 things a custom builder cannot live without?

A donor bike, tools, and a whacked out brain

Tools or imagination, what does a custom builder learn to use first?

I think one starts using imagination long before they start customising

Motorcycling to you is….?

A form of expression between two wheels.

 


EIMOR Customs

The colourfuly named East India Motorcycle Revolution (EIMOR) started off with a few rudimentary tools and a bucket of moonshine. It’s operated by the duo of MJ and Saikat, who’re based out of Hyderabad and aim to apply their artistic sensibilities to the world of motorcycle building.

What’s your core design philosophy?

 Being riders and engineers ourselves, we believe that the bike should first ride good before looking good. We try to build bikes which are practical and at the same time aesthetically sound. There is no compromise on the quality and the pleasure of riding but the bike has to look good, but not at the cost of riding comfort and practicality.

Which Harley-Davidson, according to you makes an excellent project bike and why?

We would say HD Street 750. It is a beautifully designed bike, with a lot of scope for customization. To make it something more than a stock motorcycle can be a challenge but it has powerful acceleration and great balance. We have done custom painting on all possible Harley models, but a complete design overhaul has been done for the Street only. It was more challenging because no customized accessories/components are available for Street 750.

 Has music ever inspired your designs?

We are musicians ourselves. MJ has always been a talented singer. I (Saikat) am a bass player and vocalist in my band The Songsmiths. Just like music, for any work of art, we need to have an acute sense of balance, aesthetics and ability to know where to stop. Because music is not only about a flurry of notes, it is also about silences.

Name 3 things a custom builder cannot live without?

 Motorcycles, a workshop and an imagination

Tools or imagination, what does a custom builder learn to use first?

 Any day it is imagination. It always starts with imagination. And it is a pleasure to watch it take shape.

Motorcycling to you is?

Motorcycling is our identity. It is everything we live for.

 


 

TNT Motorcycles

Having been cheated by a local custom builder, the indignant duo of Naveen and Nitin sought to set things right by using their decade long experience in developing and designing Original Equipment Manufacturer componentry to create a custom bike that they would like. Their first creation ‘Shunya’ was made larely out of in-house fabrication and machining.

What’s your core design philosophy?

Core design philosophy at TNT Motorcycles is “Creating the unknown”. Building motorcycles to me is like creating an artform, not just an automobile.

Which Harley-Davidson, according to you makes an excellent project bike and why?

The Haley-Davidson Sportster series is among our favorite models to customize, Forty-Eight in particular. Belt positioning on the right side provides an additional opportunity to go for thicker rear tyres.

Has music ever inspired your designs?

Building a motorcycle is more or less like creating music. The way different notes come together to form a symphony, lifeless metal merges together to bring the soul of a motorcycle to life.

Name 3 things a custom builder cannot live without?

Dreams, Tools and A Hard Tail Chopper

Tools or imagination, what does a custom builder learn to use first?

Imagination of course, but a lot of details change when you hit the workbench.

Motorcycling to you is….?

Therapy, Freedom….. the way of life.


MOTO MIU

With the outstanding success of their first ever custom job – the Katanga Uno (We’ve ridden it here), Saurabh Shirke and Arjun Bafna’s MotoMiu customs got off to an incredible start. With their detailed knowledge of Harleys and their use of state-of-the-art tools, MotoMiu is dedicated to providing ultra-functional, lightweight and elegant Harley-Davidsons that run and sound just as good as they look.

What’s your core design philosophy?

My core design philosophy with this motorcycle was “How do i extract the maximum juice from this 1200cc motor”? So we opted for something race-oriented and decided to go for a blend between cafe racer and a modern street fighter.

Which Harley-Davidson, according to you makes an excellent project bike and why?

It totally depends upon what kind or style of motorcycle we are building. For this particular project we opted for a Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight, because that 1200cc motor just gives us the cafe racer/street fighter blend that we were seeking.

Has music ever inspired your designs?

Yes it does. Currently listening to new age electronic music and my friends says it shows.

Name 3 things a custom builder cannot live without?

1.Love for motorcycle

2.Imagination

3.Engineering  Knowledge

Tools or imagination, what does a custom builder learn to use first

Imagination first and then tools. Because it’s a cycle if you can’t imagine then you can’t create and to create you need tools

Motorcycling to you is….?

A way of life. If I’m not building one then I’m riding one across the country.

Go and show your support for your local custom builder at the Harley Rock Riders concert at the Richardson & Cruddas Foundry, Mumbai this Friday and Saturday (Oct 30-31).