On 27th of September, at the London International Tattoo Convention 2014 – the most prestigious body adornment convention in the world – a unique creation in the motorcycle world was unveiled.
Polish custom bike manufacturer Game Over Cycles revealed a motorcycle created in devotion to the traditions of the modern motocycle and the human culture of the artistic world of tattoos. Built in collaboration with German company Cheyenne Professional Tattoo Equipment and Dutch Zodiac Performance Products for Harley-Davidson, the bike is both a tribute to motorcycle engineering and a work of art.
The Cheyenne Bike, branded The Recidivist, is a bike inspired by the art of permanent body adornment. Motorcycles are commonly adorned with tattoo motifs using an aerograph, however the uniqueness of the Recidivist lies in the fact that the bike’s entire construction is covered in tattooed skin branded directly onto the bike’s tires, tanks, seat, rear fender, lamp and many other smaller elements. Light colored cow hide leather – similar to the color of human skin – is engineered onto the bike. Two tattoo artists from Polish tattoo studios Individuum and Steel Will Tattoo Factory applied traditional works of tattoo art onto the bike using the tools of world-famous brand Cheyenne Professional Tattoo Equipment.
The worlds of motorcycles and tattoos have long been kindred spirits. The theme of the Cheyenne Bike echoes to this traditional relationship. In the USA, bikers used to tattoo for personal reasons – to express their character and lifestyle – as well as their social attitude. In post-war era America, many motorcyclists often led a life on the edge of the law, but in those difficult times they were also very active in helping people from their local communities. The Cheyenne Bike as an artistic vision references those traditions and through its construction and decorations presents a story of a man with strong character – a person, who values individuality, personal expression and sense of freedom.
Stanislaw Myszkowski, GOC founder and originator of the project, explains the evolution of the project: “The idea of creating a motorcycle covered with real tattoos came to me 10 years ago. I have tattoos and I love motorcycles, and I consider them both a way to express my own feelings or character. In this project we wanted to create a motorcycle that would be a combination of the automotive world with the world of tattoos and express their respective characteristics, not only in the construction, but also in aesthetics. We also wanted this machine to combine modernity with tradition. On one hand we built a motorcycle based on the most traditional motorcycle brand in the world, the Harley-Davidson – on the other we integrated the mechanisms of tattoo machines to become integral and fully functional elements of the motorcycle’s construction.”
Below you can find details about technical and decorative elements of the bike:
Motorcycle’s construction: Bikers often tattooed using self-made machines and in reference to this, the bike’s front suspension has the look of a traditional coil tattoo machine. The motorcycle’s construction also include other elements that draw from the look of tattoo machines. All of these parts are fully operational elements of bike’s construction, and the mechanisms of these elements operate in the same way as they do in the original tattoo machines. For example, the exhaust pipe looks exactly like a Cheyenne brand tattoo machine, including the tattooing needles which when you start the bike, move exactly as they do when the tattoo machine applies ink under skin.
Further more, the machine’s design is based on a number of technical solutions drawing from the turbulent lifestyles of post-war bikers. The lever starting the bike has a shape of a bomb detonator lever. The rear light indicators look like brass knuckle-dusters. Front wheel caliper brakes have the appearance of handcuffs, while front clutch and brake handles are formed in the shape of “butterfly” knives. Additionally, in reference to bikers’ at times fractured relationship with the law, the break pump lever is shaped in the form of a section sign. The bike represents the old school style of bike building: front clutch and brake handles are made in the reverse form and construction includes the infamous “suicide shifter” – a mechanism in which the rider needs to remove one hand to change gears.
Construction of the Cheyenne Bike, The Recidivist took five months. The bike is based on the Harley-Davidson Softail model, but from the original machine only the engine – a Twin Cam 96” – and part of frame are left. All other construction elements and mechanisms are original solutions created by constructors of Game Over Cycles. Elements made by the GOC include:
– frame made of C-bars (modified from HD Softail the frame)
– rear swingarm made of C-bars
– front suspension with shock absorbers
– steering wheel with shift paddles and handles
– brake pump
– foot control
– rear wing
– fuel tank
– seat with mounting
– engine covers along with engine barrels
– air filter
– front and rear lamp
Tattoos: Tattoos covering the bike were done by two Polish tattoo artists, Thomas Lech from Individuum Tattoo studio and Christopher Królak from Steel Will Tattoo Factory. The tattoos’ content relate to motifs decorating bodies of people inspired by and rooted in motorcycle communities. By creating both fictional characters, as well references to real people and events, all of the visual motifs adorning the motorcycle tell the story of a man with a turbulent life. On the construction one can find tattooed arrest warrants, guns, cigar, shattered bottle of vodka, knives, razors, scenes from the times of prohibition. None of the tattoos done in a particular place is random and was thought out right from the beginning. Starting from a single element on the lamp, where deliberately a moth was tattooed as it is always attracted to light, to complex sequences of patterns forming a larger story.
Image coloring is maintained in the style of retro tattoos. The only clear motive of color are card elements on wheels. They are designed to separate the individual patterns and elements of story, so that they are more readable. The individual stories are also distinguished by floral arrangements tattooed in between them.
The tattoos are applied even on the parts which aren’t visible at the first sight – elements inside or at the bottom of motorcycle’s components, such as internal sides of cut-in-half fuel tank. The work time for tattoos to be completed took 250 hours.
Leather: The leather was produced by Polish company Kult Motor DRP. In order to give the material properties allowing to apply tattoos, the leather had to undergo a process of special impregnation. Just the tests needed to reach the end result of impregnation for the intended properties of the leather lasted a month.
Game Over Cycles is a Polish custom motorcycles manufacturer formed in 2012. Up until creation of the Cheyenne Bike The Recidivist, the company were most renowned for creating the Behemoth Bike. This bike is a custom motorcycle inspired by and created in collaboration with by the global Polish icon of metal music, Behemoth, particularly the band’s leader, Adam “Nergal” Darski. Last year, the Behemoth Bike won two awards at the European Bike Week (EBW) held annually in Austria. In a Custom Bike Show contest organized at EBW 2013 by Harley-Davidson brand GOC, the machine took second place in the “Radical” category and won the prestigious audience award — “People’s Choice Award”. distribution of aftermarket parts and accessories for Harley Davidson motorcycles