There’s a definite trend towards the sleek and contemporary in the custom scene right now. We see it in the smooth metallurgy of builders such as Auto Fabrica, JvB-Moto and Vagabund, and the CAD magic of guys like Paolo Tex.
But this Swiss-built Ducati is a reassuring reminder that old school craft is still alive and well, and to be found in the most unexpected locations.
‘Hector’ is a Ducati Hypermotard 796, probably the last machine you would expect to get the old-school treatment.
It comes from the oddly named workshop Be Unique 2.22, a collective of six petrolheads based in the small town of Magden, about an hour’s drive from Zürich, the largest city in Switzerland.
Lead mechanic Adrian Frommherz has been working on bikes since he was five years old, we’re told.
At Be Unique he’s joined by a metalworker, a boat builder, a leather worker, the custom bike builder Tobi Doppler, and a photographer—Markus Edgar Ruf. Markus took the shots you see here, and filled us in on the details.
So where did the spark for this most unusual build come from? It’s a commission from Tresor Contemporary Craft, a fair in Basel that promotes traditional techniques and design in the 21st century. Which explains the rough-hewn appearance of this modern Hypermotard, as well as the numerous obvious welds.
“We deliberately kept a hammered finish and the traces of the metal working tools,” says Markus. “This bike has been designed without a computer.”
“We got inspired by old race cars, airplanes and boats. The bike recalls a time when motorsport was a synonym for having guts and being dangerous.”
The bodywork hints at what Markus calls “innovative sheetings”—aerodynamic designs knocked up for speed testing, as with the Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union ‘Silver Arrow’ cars, or even Burt Munro’s Indian.
The monocoque is made of aluminum and consists of three parts, with welding lines intentionally left visible. Metalsmith Reto Berger tackled this side of the job, and the frame was modified slightly to accommodate the new bodywork.
There is no modern technology here: everything was hand-made, as it would have been 50 years ago. That includes the mahogany wooden panels, installed by boat builder Jan Lüscher and finished with marine-grade paint.
The tuck and roll seat was the work of leather man Andy Mackay, who normally specializes in luxury aircraft and classic cars.
The contrast between the hand-made bodywork and the modern drivetrain of the Hypermotard is striking. Especially when you consider that the guys behind this build get together after hours to pool their talents, and describe their approach as ‘punk rock.’
Mechanically, the Hypermotard is virtually standard—so performance is not affected at all. There’s just a custom exhaust hidden inside the belly pan, which stretches almost the full length of the wheelbase.
With 113 frisky Italian horses on tap, the Ducati can still wheelie at will. And will no doubt deliver a shock to drivers overtaken at 120 mph on the Autobahnen.