The Uzer Brothers began their business by turning a Triumph into a Bobber in their living room. It soon became their passion. Alongside their production business, they then founded The Bunker Custom Cycles brand and started redesigning old motorcycles for their owners.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
We are brothers who are fans of vintage motorcycles. Contemporary bikes cannot fulfill our needs. We are interested in ones that were made between 1950-1990. However, we are not interested in returning them to their mind condition. We’re more interested in what we can add to or remove from these old ladies; how we can customize them. Every new bike that enters our workshop excites us with the design possibilities. With each new bike comes the exploration process; which is what we seek I guess. Our real inspiration sources are cafe racer and bobber of their times.
Can Uzer (30) Skater / Engineer
I’ve been skating since I was 18, I’m in the VANS team for Turkey. I started my own business importing and selling skate parts in 2004, during my 2nd year of college. I began with the distributorship of jart skateboards and added Supra footwear to my portfolio as well, but after 4 years I dropped Supra because I found that I didn’t enjoy what I didn’t produce. Meanwhile I had also been taking 3D Animation and Video Post Design classes from Bilge Adam and that helped me do freelance video shooting and editing. That went on to become a production company on its own. Now I’m a director of cinematography and director of editing as well.
I’m Mert Uzer (28)
I graduated from Yıldız Teknik, Communication Design. Before I left to become a full-time motorcycle person, I was a senior art director for 41? 29!. I’ve been working there for 5 years and the team is like a second family to me. I was very happy with the work I was doing there and the opportunities I had, but I had major problems with the advertising industry. I decided to quit and give my design energy to bikes. I still continue my relationship with advertising through Bandit Productions. I direct and do the artwork for digital projects.
Bandit is our production agency, active since 2011. We specialize on digital advertising because creatively, we find it more fulfilling than TV or other mediums. For example a digital projects that generates custom content for users and its potential problems intrigue us much more than standard advertising. Content is the new king.
Fotoğraf: Onur Aynagöz
What was the first custom bike you built and how did you feel upon its completion?
We took the first step in 2009, turning a 1961 Triumph into a bobber. Can had bought this bike in the beginning of 2008 from a mechanic called Norton Ali, an expert on English motors, and it was falling apart. We took it into our living room, ripped it apart and redesigned it. It took about 8-9 months. During this time sometimes Can carried the bike to Ali and sometimes we invited him over. Actually, the reason it took so long was that we didn’t exactly admire Ali’s cursory, fast but effective solutions. Most of what he did couldn’t get past our perfectionist eyes. Can went over the bike countless times. We just couldn’t stop upgrading. There are endless resources on the net and we finished the project benefiting from both Ali and the net. It’s hard to explain the feeling upon completion. What’s certain is that this experience grew our appetite towards new projects.
How was Bunker Custom created?
After finishing the first Triumph, Can got a second one and we got started on that project. Meanwhile I’ve been eyeing the BMW R series of 80’s. I also bought a R65 and we got working on that as well. Naturally, our living room was no longer enough so we carried our work to the warehouse Can has been using for his import-export business. In about 1-2 years we no longer fit there either and we moved to our present place. The name Bunker and branding happened slowly over time, very naturally.
Fotoğraf: Onur Aynagöz
Fotoğraf: Onur Aynagöz
Why are vintage motors indispensable for you?
We have more than one answer for that. First of all, the new bikes are like closed boxes. We believe complex electronic circuits and high technology components alienate you from the motorcycle you’re using, keeps you from getting to know it. For instance in case of a malfunction, you have no choice but to bring it to its own maintenance and repair service. I guess that’s what they want in this period that we’re living in. This weakens the bond between the bike and the biker. Vintage motorcycles are built using basic principles that everyone can understand, learn. If you spend enough time getting to know your vintage bike, there is nothing you cannot personally interfere with.
The second reason is that we are not comfortable with the consumption habits of our age. With the effort and thought you put into your custom bike, you can create a unique look and feel for your bike. This sets you apart from all the same bikes everyone is riding, making it a vehicle that fits your aesthetic and ergonomic needs. Building a tank or a bumper by hand especially for “that” bike or reshaping the basic form and lines for the desired look makes the motorcycle more and more specific with each step. Giving the bike a new form and posture is the most fun part of the job.
Could you tell us a bit about the process of building a custom bike?
A likeminded motorcycle owner finds us and we meet. Usually we get along well and a new design team of 3 is formed. A new design is shaped varying on the existing form of the bike, the owner’s taste and our own touch and we begin. First step is the parts that will be cut off and reshaped. We order the parts that will be added. If s/he desires, the owner can be a part of the labor. They usually do, and we encourage it; it speeds things up and their involvement is what we want as well. After the work is complete, it is driving and discovery time for all of us. With the delivery, we also give our “welcome to the club” presents; a ring and a leather license cover.
How do the custom motorcycles you build change their owners’ lives?
We draw projects that will please both the owner and ourselves aesthetically. This makes everyone happy at the end of each project. Since this also becomes a design built around the owner’s ergonomical needs, the feeling of belonging and ownership are maximized. We believe driving a motorcycle differs from driving a car. You cannot see a motorcycle as just a vehicle. At first it sounds weird but a copywriter friend of ours called the situation between a biker and his motorcycle a “relationship”. He is right!
How do you like İstanbul? Are there places you escape from it with your bikes?
We like İstanbul the most between 3 AM and 6 AM. You find the city in a different state when there is not a soul around. Nobody but us odd fellows on the streets. We set off to find new places and routes. A bit of discovery and a bit of escaping, we might say. On the road we are looking to shoot photographs and video. We haven’t really spread out but we’re aiming for that “Where the hell am I?” feeling when we turn on the engines.
Is there a route you would recommend for those who want to take a trip with their bikes?
For beginners, we recommend İstanbul – Ağva – Karasu. It’s a relatively easy route with an amazing nature. Of course, it’s even more beautiful in spring or autumn. If they stay away from the highway as much as they can, picking side roads, then the trips turns into a discovery. Actually if we should give one general advice for those planning a trip; it’s not to view this trip as a way to get from point A to point B. When you’re aiming to reach point B, it’s transportation, not a trip. Loses its charm.
What are your plans for the future?
We have plans around Bunker. We want it to become a brand that provides limited edition accessories for likeminded people. We want to design accessories that people with aesthetical concerns like us cannot easily find. Stop light, signals, tanks, bumpers, saddles, leather saddlebags, gloves, etc. Accessories that the bikers need to explore and to customize their own bikes.
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