Make It Your Own
Words by Ben Giese | Photos by Dean Bradshaw
With almost 8 billion people in a world that is more interconnected than ever, individuality is at a premium. With our increasingly busy lives and the constant stream of media and information being fed to us, it’s easy to feel lost in the rat race, which is why creativity and self-expression are so important. It’s why the recent revival of “makers” and DIY creators is so refreshing. It feels good not only to make something, but to make it your own. And I think when you get down to the core of it, beyond Instagram and the trendy motorcycle builder culture, the sense of fulfillment gained from creating something with your own two hands is what makes customizing bikes so special.
That natural desire for self-expression (and my obsession with motorcycles) is what drove me to spend three cold winter months in my father’s garage turning wrenches and grinding metal. I knew this would be both an enjoyable and therapeutic project that would get me away from the computer screen, but what I didn’t anticipate was the genuine satisfaction I would feel from the entire process. It was not only an exercise in design, but putting my hands on every nut and bolt of the machine enabled me to become acquainted with all the hidden corners of my motorcycle from the inside out. Through this process I formed a stronger bond with my bike. It became a part of me more than ever before. Or maybe it was the other way around. Either way, it became more than just something I owned; it became a reflection of myself.
I wanted to transform my air-cooled Triumph Scrambler into a true “scrambler” that could take me well beyond the paved city streets of Denver and deep into the mountains and deserts of the Southwest. So, once the overhaul was finally completed, I headed out to the California desert to put it to the test on the rugged back roads and sand washes of Joshua Tree. The only thing I was looking forward to more than the process of building this bike was actually taking it out and getting it dirty. And it rode like a dream, just like I had imagined.
I am not a professional bike builder by any means. I’m simply a graphic designer with a vision for what I want and the tenacity to figure it out. Which means you can do it, too. And I guess that’s the message I’m trying to get across. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Make mistakes. And don’t hold back on your creative ideas, because the world could use more self-expression and individuality.