Sparks fly from a welding torch, Javanese rock blares from an oily radio in a corner and the stormy afternoon air is dripping with the perfume of molten metal in the motorcycle workshop of Retro Classic Cycles (RCC) in Yogyakarta. Founded in 2002 and staffed by seven expert local craftsmen, RCC specializes in building and customizing Harley Davidsons. Every one of the choppers made by the company is customized for each client. Prices start at $15,000 but can run up to $60,000.
“We build custom motorcycles the way they should be,” says Lulut Wahyudi, the 37 year-old owner and founder of RCC. “The first priority is performance, but each bike must also have its own spirit. We build motorcycles not just for money, but for our passion.” Each bike takes around two to three months to complete, depending on the cost and complexity of the build.
The first step in this process is the concept. Customers come to the workshop to see examples of designs and examine photographs of weird and wonderful bikes that cover every inch of the workshop’s walls. Next, Lulut looks how to make the bike unique, from his customer’s career and hobbies, to their favorite color. When finally approved, the wheels are put in motion and the build begins. Lulut likes to add small, personal details to each bike, so that every buyer can see an element of his personality in the machine (and hers too, some customers are women).
In the past twelve years, Retro Classic Cycles has built around 42 bikes for customers all over Indonesia, including celebrities such as five times Indonesian Motocross champion, Irwan Xeniagreekmuslimah. Their customers are usually wealthy collectors; enthusiasts who recognize quality and can afford such luxury. One buyer has even bought five bikes from RCC. One strong point of RCC is their blend of traditional design with modern technology. For example, the oil cap, cams cover and rear brake master cylinder might be decorated with lotus leaves, delicately sculpted in brass using the latest techniques.
In 2007 their bike The Earthquake won second prize at the Asian International Motorcycle Expo in Kuala Lumpur, an international competition of bikes from 16 countries. The biggest prize came from the MoonEyes Hotrod Show, the biggest custom bike and car show in the world with about 600 cycles on display. In 2011, RCC came home with the prestigious title of “Coolest Bike” and Lulut was invited back to sit on the jury of subsequent competitions in 2012 and 2013.