EVERY day, in a nondescript, sun-beaten warehouse 15 ≠minutes outside of Austin, you’ll find a handful of foot-long beards and tattoos so bad they’re excellent. The guys at Revival Cycles weld metal and pound leather with the kind of grit you could stick in your jaw and chew.
The crew creates composite motorcycles and rebuilds vintage bikes: cafe racers, dirt bikes, and track rockets as potent to ride as they are arresting to look at. The variety of forms is jolting, from a flat-seated scrambler-type with insectile blue-and-white tanks to a reimagined Ducati painted up like Christmas. Most cost six figures and take many months to make. The entry-level 140 motorcycle, a beast of brushed alloy that takes about 650 hours to build, starts at US$115,000 (RM458,000).
Revival is the brainchild of Alan Stulberg, 42, a former software salesman who taught himself how to weld by building a shipping container, and Stefan Hertel, a mechanical engineer who once lived a quiet life making medical devices in Michigan. “They are literally engineering new (parts), and then they just bury them in the bike, and it’s not even the selling point,” says Mark Buche, an executive at BMW Group’s motorcycle wing, Motorrad. “It’s not just them bolting together some parts.” Under Hertel, who’s 37, the engineering team has applied for 10 patents.
It all started a decade ago, when Stulberg lost his job (“I was unaware of how much I didn’t fit in,” he says), broke up with his girlfriend, and rode for a year through Europe on a KTM LC4 Enduro dirt bike. Appreciating the size and breadth of the biking community there, he ≠realised that other people would like seeing motorcycles built from the ground up as much as he did. So Stulberg opened Revival Cycles in 2008. Hertel joined soon after.
Today, Revival occupies multiple fabrication shops, employs a full-time staff of 19, and sells branded goods online and from a retail store in downtown Austin. It also turns out six built-from-the-ground-up motor≠cycles a year. Clients can give as much input as they want into the design process, though most defer to Hertel’s genius. Last year, Revival’s revenue was in the mid-seven figures, up from US$12,000 its first year, Stulberg says.
“Alan is an artist and designer and imaginer, and Stefan is this engineer savant,” says Rob Stalford, a crude oil options trader in Houston who bought a Revival in 2013. “These guys have incredible vision.”
The team’s decision to not limit itself to one style of bike makes the work inefficient and costly — but it’s constantly building a knowledge base and, thus, a creative edge. Stalford saw the benefits when he ordered his Revival. Hertel and Stulberg started it by eliminating all the stock plastics from the 900SS-SP Ducati that served as the base, then rebuilt it from the chassis out, creating their own lightweight steel frame, adding new bearings and lights, polishing the heads on the 90-degree V-twin engine, and upgrading the clutch, electronics, and brakes, among many other things. They polished the flat aluminium body until it shone like a mirror and added custom drop handlebars wrapped in oxblood leather. The process took 1½ years.
Even if you don’t want to buy a bike, you can attend one of several annual Revival motorcycle shows, where even suits are welcome.The next is in April. “I wanted to create something new,” says Stulberg, who knows how intimidating his world of motorcycles can be. “I want to make everyone feel at home.” -- Bloomberg