Handcrafted Custom Bike Documentary: Ian Don- Black Cat Customs
During this series I wanted to talk to the builders that inspire me, In the first 2 years of Purpose Built Moto I was given some amazing opportunities. I’ve worked with Universal store, City Beach Australia, BMW Australia and We Are Explorers on some amazing projects. While I was undeniably grateful for the experience, my mind often went to the people that motivate me, that I look up to and that some people may have no idea about.
When Electric Bubble and I came up with the idea for the custom bike documentary I really wanted to put a spot light on guys that are doing something far outside my own field of work and that really push me in my experience of building, design and business.
Ian Don was our first stop on the journey south from the Gold Coast. Ian had caught my attention with his 1952 Triumph bobber. I first met him in his home town on the Central Coast NSW in 2016 and called him to drop in for a beer. I was welcomed into his tiny garden workshop, and we sat down for a great talk on our drivers in building bikes and our relatively short history with motorcycles. I was blown away that this incredible machine we were drinking beer in the presence of and it was his first ever bike. That experience cemented Ian and his new venture – Black Cat Customs – in my list of featured builders for the project.
The bikes that come out of the Black Cat Customs workshop are all Pre-unit Triumphs. A conscious decision by Ian to work on his favourite type of motorcycle. Allowing him to hone in on his style quickly. The Triumph’s that have been built in his small workshop while I say they’re bobbers, have a style all their own. Generally starting with a bucket of parts, the vintage british bikes are meticulously crafted into a really unique custom that can’t be put into a box. Low, Slightly stretched and with no compromises in craftsmanship. The Pre-unit customs find a great balance, with low set tanks, large thin tyres and a completely stripped bare approach to a motorcycle, no one is building bikes like this. Hand making a lot of components and small parts on the bikes and learning different skills on each build.
I really respect the uncompromised style in his approach, and a real focus on the old school of hand making parts that you can’t find. The thing that drew me to Ian the most was that motorcycles didn’t come to him until a few years ago, and before that he was a construction tradesman, just like me. Seconding the idea that you don’t need it to run in your blood, all you need is enough drive and patience to work towards perfecting your craft.
Make sure you check out the full Handcrafted Documentary below