What’s with all the excitement around the 9T? It seems like everyone’s hungry to throw their touches on this bike.
I believe that the general trend in motorcycle design and manufacturing for years now has been towards nostalgia and the nods to the past when motorcycles were less marvels of technology and more machines that required connection to the rider that stirred the soul. For years, levels of technology and specifically trends towards making the rider numb to the road hit a high water mark with bikes like the modern Goldwing and BMW’s own touring bikes. This has had a trickle down effect towards the performance and less expensive supposedly simpler machines to a point that is isolating for the rider and certainly isolating design-wise. Also, it seems manufacturers have been pushed to cover up all that ugly computer technology with plastic fairing and covers versus getting clever and spending more time and money with how they packaged all that technology.
The 9T seems to have been designed with a different vision in mind, to stir the soul visually and physically first and then use technology to only further those goals . With its classic BMW R-series lines, throwback nods like spoked wheels, standard telescoping forks, something that resembles vintage headlights and other obvious styling cues, its obvious that Ola and crew’s bullseye and focus was never to wow us with technology, power or track day prowess. They seem to have specifically focused on building an homage in this final iteration of the classic and respected air/oil-cooled R-series BMW and to have it go out in a style that the original designers would have recognized and approved of. It’s this soul that seems to be resonating with a riding public that is hungry and nostalgic for simpler times in the two-wheeled world.
Is there another BMW you would like to throw the Revival twist on?
I’d say there isn’t a BMW motorcycle made today that I wouldn’t be able to sink my teeth into and find inspiration in, but the new liquid-cooled GS is next on the list. In fact, we picked up a brand new loaded GS from the local Austin dealer today for a new client and will helping it to shed what will likely be 20 lbs. of plastic in the coming months. It too, will trend towards the nostalgic days of BMW’s gone by. This time we’re looking towards the early Paris-Dakar competition bikes for inspiration. Look for a more simplified cohesive and purposeful vintage design vs. the current stealth-bomber inspiration the new GS seems to have.
Having said that, there are still budget limitations on this project and I do wish we could build a GS that didn’t the restraints of finance and funding.
How are things shaping up for the Handbuilt show in Austin this year?
Quite good. The first year was an overwhelming success by all accounts and from all involved and we’ve put together an excellent line up of talented builders, designers and moto nerds whose anticipation seems to be building in ways we never expected. Our intention for the show from the beginning was to not only celebrate the great work of our peers and heroes, but to gather a complete group of moto-obsessed beginners and veterans of all types that would inspire those who have never even been on a bike to get the bug and to be motivated to make motorcycling part of their life as well.
This year’s show should be bigger and even better with a few big surprises and announcements under our hat to come.
Where’s Revival headed?
Revival’s overall goal is to keep stretching our collective imagination towards design and growing our fabrication skills to keep ourselves motivated enough to never ever dread Monday morning.
As with Handbuilt show and outside of Revival our biggest goal is to grow the culture of motorcycling and continue to bring together ALL types of riders to advocate riding and get more butts on seats of two-wheelers. We believe that motorcycles and scooters are a superior form of transportation that more would consider if they were exposed to all the benefits of riding motorcycles vs. all other forms of transportation.
You have this stripped down raw aesthetic coupled with a high end performance twist. Where did that come from?
I’ve always felt that design has an effect on most people that most aren’t even consciously aware of. People often seem to know when a product is well designed because of how it makes them feel or function, even if they can’t articulate why. That effect is something that has always fascinated me, even when I personally couldn’t articulate it. As my knowledge and experience of design has grown, I’ve gained what I think of as a growing design vocabulary. As my design vocabulary has grown, so too has my preference for things that are stripped down to their simplest design factors and elements without sacrificing the original intent and simultaneously enhancing the overall object.
Stefan, our lead engineer and machinist and the most technically-minded one of Revival, has also grown in his design vocabulary, skills and experience. This has enabled all of us to grow our imaginations to higher levels as a team. Stefan also has an obsession with performance that helps prevent us from building beautiful sculptures that can’t be ridden. We believe that a machine built to SOLELY wow the eyes is a bit of a trick and not entirely honest. Sure, many orders of magnitude more people will only get to look at our machines versus those that will actually get to ride them, but to me that doesn’t mean that it’s ok to fool the eyes and forget about the soul and experience. I personally believe there are entirely too many bikes on the ‘custom’ scene that are almost totally unrideable (some that actually ARE unrideable) and thus they only resemble a real motorcycle. Whatever you build should be honest. For instance, Jeff Decker can build a sculpture that pays homage to a motorcycle and I can appreciate it and love it because it’s beautiful and honest, but if someone builds one that has wheels, a real engine and rolls around, but can barely be ridden, then I believe it’s fake and inauthentic and authenticity is the core priority of Revival.
Having said all that, design can be whimsical and fun and motorcycles should certainly be fun as well. The occasional whimsical element of color, shape and material can add a great deal to a machine, but it hopefully never becomes the sole redeeming quality. When that happens, I believe
How would you coin your style in three words or less?
understated, authentic, direct
Wheelies or burnouts?
Dirt or pavement?
BOTH! I would never want to give up one for the other.
Drums or discs?
What’s the fastest you’ve traveled on two wheels?
I honestly have to guess because I’ve never been so relaxed that I could look at the speedo at top speed nor am I person driven by status in numbers. I’m guessing 170mph on modern Suzuki GSXR. I’ve actually been faster in a car.
My 1968 Jaguar E-type 4.2 roadster has been my favorite for about 14 years and it totally changed my perspective on the combination and balance of design and engineering. It sits in our shop lifted above the motorcycles and serves to inspire me every single day. *any air-cooled Porsche would qualify as a very close second. I sold my 993 911 to help fund Revival and I miss it almost every single day.
1979 Honda Z50 Monkey bike at the age of 5
What were you thinking about as you walked into the shop this morning?
A new commissioned custom project design that is headed towards a 1940’s Vincent or 1940’s BMW.