ZIGGY MOTO’s creative director talked about his custom-made wheels
Paul has always been passionate about motorcycles, especially about how they go hand in hand with leather, a material that offers a natural protection that lasts every turn.
Riding them was just not enough, though. He took his product design background + tech expertise & created Ziggy Moto, a UK-based workshop specializing in custom-made bikes. His design process is inspiring & free: from digitally drawing, to 3D printing molds, to finally building, everything about it makes him hyper. Like if creating new bikes from pieces that were ready for the scrapyard was more than a practice, but a form of expression.
What truly excites him, tho, is the complexity behind the wheels. For Paul, it’s not only about the looks, it's about functionality, it’s about perfect performance. That’s why he decided to combine the simplicity of classic bikes with futuristic aesthetics – which he creates by mixing different shapes & references – plus the benefits of modern elements, like brakes & electrics.
And it doesn’t stop there. He also plays with materials wisely, putting together the durability of fiberglass with textures that get that technical feel ++ he tops it all off with factory finishes – the goal is to do it better than the original, or go home.
Now, after our intense chat, Paul got pretty excited about a future bike design concept that truly reflected this unique relationship, a design that pushed what leather can technically do. The material isn't news for Paul. Actually, it could be described as an old friend from his past adventures: for him, leather apparel makes the real biker experience complete. His personal favorites are the sets from Dainese, a brand known for its leather garments specially made for racing.
But hey, Paul, back to the all-leather bike: we have an idea for its name.
How about METCHA?
We’d be psyched.
Check out the full interview with the creative director of ZIGGY MOTO below. 💨
First things first, how did you find your way into the Riders universe?
I’m actually a product designer by training, but I’ve worked in branding for most of my career. Bikes are merely a passion, something I’ve always loved but didn’t actually get involved with until I was 26. My parents were never keen on me riding bikes and I managed to bury the desire for a number of years until I saw a yellow Ducati Monster parked along a back street. It was that bike that tipped me over the edge. I loved the look of the early air-cooled monsters and I had to have one, so I booked a direct access course and three lessons and one test later I was on my way to pick up a yellow M600! It was pure bliss and I’ve never looked back. I’ve remained a massive fan of Ducati but I love all bikes, anything on two wheels is captivating. The custom scene came a little later, a combination of my product design background, a practical ability, and a love of bikes. It was inevitable and also a creative release that my day job didn’t always provide. Following my own concepts and being able to realize something that I could actually ride was amazing.
In which personal way do your creative director and bike builder skills meet and upgrade each other?
Sometimes, as a creative director, you feel as though you’re not always achieving your best work or the projects can start to feel a little repetitive. Bike building became my therapy. My first job was as a modelmaker for film and television, it introduced me to lots of techniques that I’m able to revisit and use in the creation of my builds. It’s a little unconventional and I’d love to be able to shape metal like some of the pros, but I simply don’t have those skills yet! My approach usually involves building the design in Cad, this allows me to visualize the designs and get a reasonably good idea of what I want to achieve. From this point, I have everything I need to create 3D printed parts that I can then make into molds and replicate in fiberglass. Fiberglass is so much stronger than 3d prints. They’re great for creating forms but they’re simply not tough enough to last as a functioning part. So the process is quite labor intensive, but, eventually, I get what I’m after.
We see you biking around even while social distancing. How does being a biker in the first place change your perspective on creating new bikes?
Bike building is still a form of expression but unlike a painting or a sculpture it actually comes to life and has to perform, you turn the key in the ignition, throw a leg over it and you’re away on your own artwork. Beyond appearance, there’s a function that has to deliver… how cool is that! It can’t just be aesthetic oriented, you need both form and function to coexist and less is often so much more. Once you strip all the plastic off a bike it’s amazing how similar they all look. I like the challenge of creating distinct character and personality without putting too much back.
How did you start to merge your bike building ideas to go beyond and turn them into more futuristic and unique designs?
I guess it’s intentional but it’s also a reflection of the aesthetics I love, the Ducati Monster was a good example. It’s a timeless classic, but there’s a lovely contrast of the simplicity of older bikes with the purposefulness and aggression of a sports bike. I want my designs to be as clean as possible, I want them to celebrate the simplicity of the original bikes but with a contemporary edge and the benefits of modern elements, like brakes and electrics. Clean lines, short tails with an aggressive stance. Fit for purpose but all the while retaining a retrospective, classic feel.
How do you feel about the community looking for unique bikes with more imaginative and bold ideas?
There are some amazing builders out there, guys and girls able to create the most stunning works of art, technical shrines of excellence -- but while I can appreciate so many of these for their technical excellence, I don’t always feel the urge to ride them. I want to design bikes that people feel an inexplicable need to get on and ride. I want the entire bike to come together seamlessly and not one part should stand out. The whole bike should just sing in harmony… that’s the hope anyway. Bold by its entirety, not just the details or quirks.
Can you walk us through your creation and conception steps?
I’ve only built about 10, but every bike has been based on a different model, so the learning curve starts from zero every time. I usually start with a style of bike that I love and then pick its character. Purpose, proportion, personality and styling is pretty much the order of development. Take the CX I’m working on at the moment, the purpose = street scrambler, proportion = short, upright, and muscular, personality = contemporary skateboard style, styling = clean, functional elegance… and that’s pretty much the blueprint for the build. It’s how I've approached most builds so far.
What is the secret of choosing the perfect material for each design (handlebars, seats, etc)?
Honesty to materials is key, I want a factory finish wherever possible or even better than the original. My bikes often have a contemporary feel and, while I love leather, I’ve yet to incorporate it into a build. But, whatever I use I insist on great quality. I often go for contemporary finishes and textures that feel technical and functional. Now that you’ve mentioned it, I feel inclined to weave leather into my next build, with lovely detailed stitching.
With such powerful machines & the desire to take them on big adventures — from trips to competitions — how does leather apparel improve the rider's experience?
There are some aspects of riding where there could be no other material. I have a set of Dainese Leathers that I use on track, I’ve had it for years. They still fit and feel great on top of looking even better with age. They carry a number of battle scars and have been professionally repaired after a sizable crash on Paddock Hill at Brands Hatch, but that’s a great example of genuine sustainability and the ability to repair and reuse rather than discard and replace. Only leather can do this.
Do you tend to reuse or upcycle materials such as leather? Where do you find yourself in the context of making more sustainable choices for your creations?
I figure every build is a positive step for the environment. Reduce, reuse, recycle. That’s pretty much the ethos of custom builds. Taking something that was heading to the scrapyard and give it a new lease of life, and very few custom builds end up as high mileage bikes, so that’s good too!
Can virtually generated concepts drive the custom motorcycle scene into a new direction? What are your hopes for the future of this design culture?
I hope so, I can imagine so many more concepts than I can actually build for real, but now and again something I’ve imagined and visualized on my computer or sketchpad captures my enthusiasm enough for me to get my tools out, and that’s an incredible feeling. With every build I allow my imagination to run a little further…I hope the stuff I do inspires others to do the same.
Ziggy Moto got us trippin’.
Want a ride from [metcha originals]?
Hop in. 🏍